Each car audio system there is some amplifier but most are built into head units. If you’ve ever turned up the volume on a stereo and noticed a lot of distortion, it’s probably due to an insufficient built-in amplifier. The power characteristics of your speakers also play a role, but a good amplifier can work wonders even at the standard setting.

Whether you are looking to upgrade an existing amplifier or install a new one, pay attention to these three main factors:

  • Number of channels
  • Strength
  • System Compatibility

How many channels do you need?

Amplifiers are available in several different configurations and the correct number of channels depends on how many speakers you have in your sound system. In general, you need one channel for each speaker you want to amplify. If you add subwoofer into an existing system, the single-channel amplifier will do the job. There are also mono amplifiers with class D which are specially designed to use less power and less heat when subwoofer amplification .

Devices with two, four or six channels are more versatile. You can use a two-channel amplifier to power two subwoofers or two coaxial speakers, or you can connect it to one subwoofer or to power two sets of coaxial speakers. If you want to add a subwoofer and provide more power to your full range rear speakers, then a quad amplifier is the way to go. In this case, you can run each full range speaker from its own channel and then connect the other two to the power supply. Alternatively, you can unplug all four coaxial speakers from one amplifier and then install a separate mono amplifier for the subwoofer.

Component systems can be more complex, and you may need more than one amplifier, external crossovers, and other components.

Don’t skimp on power

If you want to get the best sound from your car stereo, it’s very important that you don’t overpower your speakers. This is why many people choose speakers first and then find an amplifier with enough juice to power them. If you’re just working with your factory speakers, you still need to find the root mean square (RMS) value and then choose an amplifier capable of delivering at least 75 to 150 percent of that number.

Power is also an issue if you want to connect the subwoofer to the same amplifier you use to drive your speakers. Connecting two channels of a multichannel amplifier can provide enough power to drive a subwoofer, but it’s not ideal in every situation. If the amplifier cannot match needs your his specific subwoofer in power you’d be better off looking for a separate mono amplifier that can do the job.

Head Unit and Amplifier Compatibility

If you are creating car audio system from scratch, there is no doubt about it: buy head device With pre-outs and an amplifier with line inputs. By feeding a raw, unamplified signal to the amplifier, you will get the purest possible sound.

Most factory head units and many secondary units do not have preamp outputs. If you are working with an existing head unit in this category, then you need an amplifier with speaker level inputs. This will result in better sound than without an external amplifier and save you the hassle of fiddling with extra wiring or adapters.

Aftermarket Car Amplifier Installation

Installation and amplifier connection is not rocket science, but you should think about the location and how you will run the wires while you buy the device. Most vehicles do not come with amplifiers from the factory, so you will need to find a technician to install the new equipment. With this in mind, some measurements before buying an amplifier can make things easier.

Some popular installation locations include:

Checking the measurements of these spaces ahead of time can save you a lot of grief down the road. The same goes for installing component speakers and subwoofers, which are usually not considered when designing your car.

Also keep in mind that you have to supply power to your amplifier, which means you need to run extra wires. You also need to make sure your car’s alternator can handle the increased power draw.

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