As soon as you start the search for an external car amp, you are going to get overwhelmed by the number of choices. Starting from the different price points, the types, and the classes, all through the available channels, the overwhelming choices make deciding on a car amp very hard task.
That’s why we made the list of the top five car amps, and in doing so made your decision making much easier. In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know about the car amps and complete reviews of our top choices. Dive in!
If you’re looking for a subwoofer to pair car amp with, check out our article reviewing 10 inch subwoofers.
Last updated 7/20/2018.
Best Car Amp 2018
|Model (link jumps to our review)||Image||Dimensions (inches)||Amp Class||Rating||Price*||Order Online|
|1. Kenwood KAC-M1804 Compact 4-Channel Amplifier||5.5 x 3.5 x 1.3||Class D||
(274 Reviews reviews)
|$136.99||Buy on Amazon|
|2. Pioneer GM-D8604 Class FD 4-Channel Bridgeable Amplifier||No products found.||13.3 x 4.9 x 11||Class D||No products found.
(No products found. reviews)
|No products found.||No products found.|
|3. lanet Audio AC1800.5 Anarchy 5-Channel Class A/B Bridgeable Car Amplifier with Remote Subwoofer Control||19.7 x 10 x 2.4||Class A/B||
(183 Reviews reviews)
|$134.99||Buy on Amazon|
|4. BOSS Audio ARM2000 Armor Monoblock Car Amplifier with Remote Subwoofer Level Control||13.1 x 6.5 x 2.6||Class A/B||
(1,651 Reviews reviews)
|$94.99||Buy on Amazon|
|5. Rockford Fosgate778587 R500X1D Prime 1-Channel Class D Amplifier||11.8 x 10.5 x 4.2||Class D||
(1,495 Reviews reviews)
|$194.99||Buy on Amazon|
A car amplifier is a device that increases (amplifies) the volume of a sound in your car, without deterring the quality of the sound. You can check for more information about car amplifiers here.
Yes. There are various types of amplifiers and they are classified by class, channel and by feature. You can read more about each one of them here.
If you love listening to load music, getting a car amp is unavoidable. Adding a car amp to your car audio system will bring a new life to your music. Here you can find some reasons why you should get a car amp.
Here’s Our List of 5 Best Car Amp:
We’ve compiled a hand-picked list of top 5 car amps of 2018. The list is based on our author’s objective review and combination of various opinions from users all over the world. Continue reading to see all of our car amplifier reviews:
1. Kenwood KAC-M1804 Compact 4-Channel Amplifier
If you’re looking for a compact 4-Channel amplifier that will improve the stereo sound of the music in your car, Kenwood KAC-M1804 Amplifier is a great option for you.
Kenwood KAC is a very small amplifier, it measures 5.5 x 3.5 x 1.3 inches which makes it perfect for those who do not want a big amplifier that would take a lot of space in the car. Even though it’s small, it comes with decent amount of power. The maximum power output is 400 watts, and it can deliver up to 180 watts of power at 4 ohms, or 45 watts RMS for each individual channel.
As we mentioned, Kenwood KAC-M1804 comes equipped with four individual channels that can be used to power four speakers without adding additional impedance to the amp. By using the different channel for each speaker, there is almost no chance for overheating or experiencing sound distortion. Kenwood KAC-M1804 offers 82 decibels signal to noise ratio, and this is a measure of sound quality that’s coming to the speakers. 82 decibels means that Kenwood KAC-M1804 offers both great sound clarity and sound quality.
Kenwood KAC-M1804 is a very durable amplifier, and also known as a marine amp because it is well suited for marine applications. It features conformal coated circuit board that shield the electronics from dust, moisture, and corrosion. On top of that, Kenwood features an extruded aluminum heat sink design which assures you that there won’t be problems with overheating due to the prolonged usage.
If it happens thatyour new car amp experiences some damage, and it is in need of repair, you are covered with one year warranty, and you can take it to authorized Kenwood service for a free repair. You can always buy an extended warranty, should you want to.
The installation process is easy and simple, and it may take you about 15 minutes. Kenwood KAC-M1804 comes with RCA output and inputs wiring harness which consists of four pairs of 18 inch wires, and this makes connecting your four speakers easy and simple.
Kenwood KAC-M1804 car amp is a perfect solution for someone who wants to better their car audio system with a compact 4-Channel amp, and bring a clear sound quality to their ride.
Some customers complained about the Kenwood not being loud enough for their liking. And you need to know that this is not a car amp that will boost the loudness of the speakers due to the smaller maximum power of 400 watts, but it will surely improve the sound quality.
2. Pioneer GM-D8604 Class FD 4-Channel Bridgeable Amplifier
No products found.
Ranked #2 by the editor
Amazon rating: No products found.
(based on No products found. reviews)
Pioneer is one of the most known brands when it comes to audio industry, and that’s due to their long history of producing high-quality products at a reasonable price. Coming from a trusted brand, Pioneer GM-D8604 is an amplifier any audiophile would love to own.
Pioneer GM-D8604 is a 4-Channel amplifier that packs quite the power. It has 1200 watts maximum power, providing up to 100 watts RMS for each channel at 4 ohms impedance, and up to 150 watts RMS at 2 ohms impedance.
As this is a bridgeable amp, it gives you a lot of versatility when it comes both to performance and installation. Even though Pioneer GM-D8604 comes with a little higher price tag, it can also be considered as a budget car amp. It is considered as such because of its bridgeable feature which allows you to combine the installation how you wish. For example, you can power two full-range speakers and bridge two other channels into one in order to power the subwoofer with 300 watts RMS.
Another great quality Pioneer GM-D8604 has to offer is the 95 decibels signal to noise ratio, which brings you amazing sound quality and sound clarity. You can also personalize your audio output with adjustable gain control, speaker level inputs, and variable bass boost. Adjustable gain control lets you balance the output level with distortion control, and the variable bass boost allows you adjust the bass from 0 decibels to 18 decibels.
Pioneer GM-D8604 also features a low-pass and high-pass filters. You can use a low-pass filter to output low-range frequencies from the subwoofer, and high-pass filter to output high-range frequencies from the full-range or component speakers.
Pioneer GM-D8604 has improved circuit design that prevents circuit shutdown. Protection Control System has an ability to sense the internal temperature getting high and then modify the input level. There is a light indicator that tells you when the temperature rises, and when a short-circuit occurs.
Installment of Pioneer GM-D8604 car amp is easy, Pioneer will provide you with speaker level output for connection, or you can use your car’s RCA outputs to connect the amp. If anything goes wrong, you’re covered with one year limited warranty.
If you consider yourself a music and car enthusiast, you’re going to love Pioneer GM-D8604. It has amazing features, and it packs some power that can drive four bridgeable channels. Pioneer GM-D8604 offers a lot of versatility high quality sound, however you connect it.
As for the downside, a number of customers reported that one front channel stopped working after some time of use. Other than that, there were no complaints.
3.Planet Audio AC1800.5 Anarchy 5-Channel Class A/B Bridgeable Car Amplifier with Remote Subwoofer Control
If you’re looking for a multi channel amplifier that will make a big difference in your car audio system, Planet Audio AC1800.5 Anarchy will without a doubt do just that.
The Planet Audio AC1800.5 comes with a lot of power. It packs 1800 watts of maximum power, and provides 210 watts RMS for front and rear pairs of speakers when it’s configured at 4 ohms impedance. And, there are an additional 420 watts RMS for powering subwoofer. As you can see, this is a pretty large amount of power.
What makes this amplifier even stronger, is its ability to bridge the channels. Just set Planet Audio AC1800.5 into Tri-Mode, bridge two channels into one, and feed even more power to your subwoofer. This is a great solution if you own powerful sub that requires larger amounts of power. Bridging the channels for subwoofer also minimizes the distortion and maintains apt frequency ratio.
The Planet Audio is a class A/B amplifier, meaning that it has best of both worlds. This means that this particular car amp more efficient than class A amps, and it has less distortion than class B amps.
the planet audio is a class a/b amplifier, meaning that it has best of both worlds. this means that this particular car amp more efficient than class a amps, and it has less distortion than class b amps.
If the interior temperature raises and it comes to overheating, Planet Audio AC1800.5 has a Short Protection that shuts off the amplifier. But if anything else goes wrong, this car amp comes backed up with six year platinum online dealer warranty. So rest at ease, the possible malfunction will be repaired free of cost.
Overall, this is a beautifully designed car amp that can power your whole car audio system. It offers ease of control and a lot of power. The sound quality is amazing, the volume is loud, and the notes are crystal clear. But there are some downsides, unfortunately.
The biggest problem customers had with Planet Audio AC1800.5 is the overheating, and shutting off as a result of that. Getting a fan installed will surely solve this problem. The other notable complaint was about its durability. Some users reported that Planet Audio AC1800.5 lasted them about over a year before it broke.
4. BOSS Audio ARM2000 Armor Monoblock Car Amplifier with Remote Subwoofer Level Control – Our Budget Pick for the Best Car Amp
If you’re looking for a great car amplifier that will breathe a new life into your car audio system, but you don’t have a couple of hundred bucks to burn, BOSS ARM2000 is the right amplifier for you.
BOSS Audio ARM2000 Car Amplifier offers 2000 watts of maximum power at 2-ohms and 1500 watts of RMS power at 2-ohms.
This is a class A/B amplifier with special linear circuitry that gives you great sound quality, with clarity and efficiency, while reducing the level of distortion. BOSS Audio ARM2000 features MOFSET power supply, and its transistor works in the way of quickly switching off or amplifying a signal for high efficiency output.
The most amazing thing about BOSS Audio ARM2000 car amp is its ease of control. This car amp features a wired remote that lets you control the subwoofer. You can also control Variable Low Pass Filter, which allows you to decide which frequencies will pass through to a subwoofer. There is a Bass Boost as well, and it lets you adjust the low bass within the boost spectrum just how you feel like it.
If it comes to overheating, BOSS Audio ARM2000 car amp will automatically shut off to prevent possible damage. But in case something goes wrong with the BOSS Audio ARM2000 you don’t have to worry, because it comes backed up with a six year platinum online dealer warranty.
As you can see, these are all features any great car amp should have. BOSS Audio ARM2000 Monoblock Car Amplifier offers plenty of power and incredible performance. We chose it as our best budget pick for its features, ease of control, and incredibly affordable price. And you will surely enjoy the new sound BOSS ARM2000 will bring to your car.
However, you should know about the drawbacks. The biggest drawback is the overheating of the amplifier. It doesn’t happen that often, but when it does the amp shuts off, and that may be pretty annoying. So if you plan on getting BOSS ARM2000, you should include a fan into your installations – just in case.
5. Rockford Fosgate778587 R500X1D Prime 1-Channel Class D Amplifier – Our Top Pick for the Best Car Amp
Rockford Fosgate, a brand with extremely solid reputation brings us an astounding car amplifier.
Rockford Fosgate R500X1D is a class D amplifier with 500 watts maximum power. It delivers 300 watts RMS when configured at 4 ohms impedance, and up to 500 watts RMS at 2 ohms impedance. The frequency response range goes from 20 Hz to 250 Hz. Also worth noting is that this car amp is CEA-2006 compliant.
With Rockford Fosgate R500X1D you can customize the bass sound quality with an on-board EQ Punch that features +18 dB boost at 45 Hz. Additionally, there is a 12 dB octave low-pass, high-pass, and AP crossover that allow you to further adjust your sound. There is also an infrasonic filter featured on this amp. All this tweaking and setting are enabled through a wired remote control (Punch Level Control) and through a stealth top mounted control panel.
Rockford Fosgate R500X1D comes with a MOSFET power supply, making it very efficient at amplifying or switching the signals. Durability is something you shouldn’t worry about, as this car amp features a cast aluminum heat sink that prevents overheating. Add to that the thermal sensing technology, and you can be sure that Rockford Fosgate R500X1D won’t heat up that easily. As for the protection, this car amp offers short circuit protection and over current protection.
The installment is easy and simple. Rockford Fosgate R500X1D includes RCA pass thru outputs, high level inputs, and real time output. There is also featured phase switch that can change up to 180 degrees.
Rockford Fosgate R500X1D is a single channelamp that doesn’t have features like bridgeable channels that you would find on a multi channel amplifier. This amp is meant for powering a subwoofer, and delivering clear, distortion-free sound to your car. And it does that magnificently.
There is no question about our top pick for the best car amplifier. Rockford Fosgate has a long history of delivering great products that have been praised throughout the years. This model has everything you need to power your sub. The sound coming from your subwoofer will without a doubt amaze you. Along with the provided power and the sound clarity, great selling points are also the ease of control, and protection from overheating and short circuits. This amp is covered with one year warranty.
Out of a total 684 reviews on Amazon.com, Rockford Fosgate R500X1D got 88% five star rating. That means that there are not so many disadvantagesto this car amp. Some users expected more power from this amp, and others experienced some difficulties with the wired remote.
How To Choose Best Car Amp for the Money – Buyer’s Guide
Picking out a car amp is going to be a daunting task because of the endless options you are given. In order to make the best decision, you have to have basic knowledge about the car amps.
In this section here, we decided to list some important facts that will help you choose a great car amp.
What is a Car Amp?
A car amplifier is a device that increases (amplifies) the volume of a sound in your car, without deterring the quality of the sound.
This device plays a crucial role in the car’s audio system, as it increases the electric signal that car speakers receive, by boosting the voltage of the input signal. By doing so, a car amp notably improves the sound and the volume of your car’s sound system.
Car amps are usually compact devices that are easily installed by proper wiring in any type of vehicle.
The Types of Car Amps
All car amps have the same function in the car audio systems, but they are not all the same.There are various types of amplifiers that are used in car audio systems, and each has its special purpose and properties, and to install them properly you have to know the basic classification of car amps.
Each car amplifier has a class that indicates how the amp’s circuits are designed to increase the electric signal. The class of a car amp is referred to by the alphabet letter, and the class describes the sound quality, the size of a car amp, and the overall efficiency of the car amplifier. There are four main amplifier classes, A, B, A/B, and D.
- Class A: These amps are ‘always on’, meaning that they always have current passing through the output transistors. Class A amps offer clean output, high fidelity, and low distortion, but they create a lot of heat, and they are a bit larger in size.
- Class B: Amps of this class are switched, which means that they can switch off their output transistors when there is no signal that needs to be increased. Class D amplifiers are smaller than class A amps, they create less heat, and they have improved efficiency. As for the cons, class D amps do not offer high fidelity as do class A amps, and they have the potential for signal distortion.
- Class A/B: These amplifiers have current always passing through the output transistors, but they use circuitry that reduces the amount of the current when there is no audio signal present. They are more efficient than class A, but less efficient than class B. And as for the distortion, these amps have less distortion than class B amps, but more than class A amps.
- Class D: This is a newer design that operates by very quickly switching the current on and off to their transistors. This makes class D amps very efficient, but there is a certain amount of distortion at high frequencies. Class D amps are great for driving subwoofers.
This is the most common categorization of the car amps. The number of channels a car amp has tells you how many speakers the amp can power.
- 1-Channel Amps: Also referred as a mono block or single channel amps, are designed for reproducing low frequencies. Single channel amps are most common for subwoofer installation because they feature built-in bass boost and low-pass filters.
- 2-Channel Amps: These amplifiers are used to power two full-range speakers or component speaker systems. Also, 2-Channel Amps are often used to power subwoofers too, and that is done by bridging the two channels into one channel for subwoofers.
- 3-Channel Amps: These amps feature a single channel with low frequency filter that powers the subwoofer, and two channels that power the two full-range front speakers. 3-Channel Amps are not that common on the market.
- 4-Channel Amps: These amplifiers are used to power four speakers, two in the front, and two in the rear of the car.
- 5-Channel Amps: These amps are used to power the whole audio system in your car. They feature four channels for powering two pairs of full-range speakers in the front and the rear of a car, and they feature a single channel for powering the subwoofer.
Another way how car amps can be categorized is by their new technology and features. Car amp manufacturers are always searching for a new addition that will make installation and usage of car amplifiers more convenient while keeping the basic purpose of a car amp the same.
- Micro Amplifiers: These amps are very small, and they are designed to fit in small places such as glove compartment, near a spare tire, and behind a dash board. Because of their small size, micro amplifiers are not the most powerful devices, but they come with enough power for a car audio system.
- Bluetooth Amplifiers: Bluetooth amps are allowing you to send the signal via Bluetooth directly to the amplifier. This means that there is no need for RCA cables that are connecting the head unit and the amp itself.
Why Should I Add a Car Amp?
You may wonder why you need a car amp if you already have one built-in your car. Well, the truth is that pre-installed car amplifiers are often not enough.
If you love listening to loud music, getting a car amp is unavoidable. If the loud music is not your cup of tea because you prefer subtle and clear notes, you will still have a need and an appreciation for a car amp. Adding a car amp to your car audio system will bring a new life to your music.
Here are some reasons why you should geta car amp:
1. To Power Upgraded Speakers: For some people, built-in car speakers are perfectly fine, but some music lovers are not going to be satisfied by the sound of built-in car speakers. And the will eventually decide to get and install high-quality speakers in their vehicle. In order to power the upgraded speakers, you are going to need an adequate car amp, because in most cases the built-in amp won’t be strong enough to power them.
2. To Power a Subwoofer: Anyone who loves clean bass notes will surely add a subwoofer to their car audio system. A subwoofer will provide you with low-frequency clarity, and with it, the bass is going to sound amazing. To drive most subwoofers, you’re going to need much more power than the built-in amp can provide. A single channel, class D amplifier is going to do an amazing job by powering a subwoofer.
3. Sound Quality: The biggest reason for adding a car amplifier is because it greatly improves the quality of the sound.Even though built-in amplifiers are good enough, they often produce a lot of distortion. The car audio system that features an external car amp will decrease the level of sound distortion, and it will provide better response and sensitivity.
4. Louder Volume: An external car amp will increase the volume of your speakers without damaging the speakers, and without hindering the sound quality.
5. Flexibility: If you’re a person that regularly upgrades a car audio system, buying a multi channel amp will provide you with flexibility for powering new addition for your audio system.
Important Features to Keep in Mind
Before choosing a car amp the first thing you need to know is what kind of speakers you have and plan to power with an external car amp. Each speaker has its own power requirements which need to be met accordingly. If you power your speakers with a car amp that doesn’t have enough power, you will likely blow the speakers and ruin them. I know that you may think that too much power might blow your speakers but that is not the case. Blown speakers are almost always a result of not enough power. So, get a car amp that offers more power than your speakers require. This will result in better sound quality. To know what power you need, check the RMS values of your speakers and then buy a car amp that offers at least 75% of that value.
Car amplifiers come in various shapes and sizes, ranging from very small to huge amps that require a lot of space. Because of this variety, you have to determine how much space you have in your car and where you’re going to install a car amplifier. Remember that you need more space than a tight fit,because car amps produce some heat, and that heat needs to dissipate, or it will cause damage to other components.
We mentioned above classes of car amp, and you know that the main difference between them is their circuit layouts. Their circuit layouts tell you how much power is being lost when there is no audio signal, and in that how much heat they generate. Not to complicate things further, if you want a great sound get aClass A/B car amp for full-range or component speakers, and a Class D car amp for powering a subwoofer.
This is another question that you need to ask yourself: How many speakers do you plan to power with a car amp? The number of speakers you need to power will give you an answer to how many channels you need. If you want to power whole audio system in your car, you should get multi channel amplifier. But if you need an amp for powering a pair of speakers or a subwoofer, getting a 2-Channel or mono channel is enough. Another thing worth mentioning, a single channel can power one speaker, but there is another process called ‘bridging the amp’ which allows you to bridge two or more channels into a single one.
I presume that the main reason why you decided to get an amplifier is to improve the sound quality in your car. The sound quality greatly depends on other components of the car audio system like speakers. But there are some technical specifications of car amps that you need to check out, as they can help you when it comes to sound quality. Also, be sure to read reviews about the car amp you’re interested in, and look for reviews that are rated with three stars – they are usually the most honest.
The terms used in technical specifications may be confusing to most people, but you need to know what each means in order to get the best car amp for you.
- Decibel: A decibel is a unit that indicates a sound volume to a specified reference. It tells you how loud is the car amp.
- Frequency Response: This specification tells you the car amp’s ability to reproduce a sound within a certain spectrum.
- Impedance:Impedance is a resistance of an electric circuit to the alternating current, and it’s measured in ohms. Lower impedance (2 ohms) means that you’re going to need more current to produce more power.
- Sensitivity:Sensitivity measures the efficiency of a car amp, meaning a car amp’s ability to reduce power usage and waste heat. The higher the sensitivity, the louder the car amp is.
- THD:Total Harmonic Distortion measures deviation from the wanted signal during the amplification of the said signal. The smaller the percentage, the more accurate the car amp is.
Look for a car amp that you yourself can install in your car. It is always possible to go to a mechanic that will help you with the installation, but there is something truly great when you finish installing something yourself. So try to find a car amp that comes with all required components and with a good instruction manual.
When you’re buying an electric device, it is extremely important to find one that is backed up with a warranty. The warranty will protect you in case anything goes south with the car amp.
Lastly, car amps come with different price tags, ranging from $50 to over $200. Always set a budget, and stay within it because it will save you a lot of time. Price is often not an indicator of the quality, rather the features a car amp has, and you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a great deal. Just look for a newer model that fits your budget and you’re set.
With all these facts in mind, you are well equipped with the basic knowledge about car amp, and you can make your choice.
Customer’s Opinions – See What Other People are Saying
A car amplifier is a device that drives your car sound system, and you have to make a wise choice when you’re getting one for yourself.
Some of the most important questions you have to ask yourself are:
What do I plan to power, speakers or subs?
How many channels do I need?
And which class do I want?
With answers to these question, you’ll have everything you need in order to make the best choice.
I hope our buying guide, and our reviews helped you choose wisely. Enjoy your new sound!
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