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Our article on 8 best 2000-Watt amps is designed to help you find the perfect amp for your new car speaker system. If you don’t know much about car amps, this article will make some things clearer and it will offer you some tips on what to look for and what to avoid when buying a car amp. We will explain the purpose of a car amp, tell you about different types of car amps, and discuss power ratings which are, at least in our opinion, the most controversial topic when it comes to car amps. We have also made a short buyer’s guide where you can find all the important specs you should consider when buying an amp. If you think you already know everything you are supposed to know about car amps and you just want to see some nice suggestions, you can skip to our list of 8 best 2000-Watt amps.
Reasons to Buy an External Car Amp
Car amp is, along with your head unit and your speakers, the essential part of your car audio system. Most of the new cars come with some kind of built-in amp but these amps are usually very small (because of the limited space) and have pretty lame power ratings. In case you want to replace your preinstalled speakers with something more powerful or if you want to install an additional subwoofer, that built-in amp will not be a good match. You will need something stronger that could supply enough power to your speaker system and make it shine. So, any kind of speaker upgrade requires an amplifier. Connecting new speakers to your small built-in amp will hardly deliver the desired results.
How to Choose the Right Amp
Choosing the right amp is not an easy task, mostly because of the false specs (overrated power outputs). To make things easier, we will first describe how the process is supposed to look, and then, we will tell you a few things about power ratings and give you some tips on how to find out the actual power outputs.
Step 1 – Number of speakers/channels
The number of channels on a car amp should correspond with the number of speakers you want to install. You have all kinds of car amps – 1-channel (monoblocks), 2-channel (stereo), 3-channel, 4-channel, 5-channel, etc. Depending on the number of speakers you want to install, you will choose a different amp. So, if you, for example, want to install a new subwoofer, you don’t really need a 4-channel amp. Mono amp would be a perfect choice. If you, on the other hand, want to make some additional upgrades in the future and replace 2 front speakers, buying a 3-channel amp would be a viable choice. So, it’s all about matching the number of speakers with the number of amp channels.
Step 2 – Specs matching
After you decide how many speakers you want to install, you can start checking the specs. The most important ones are impedance and power ratings (peak and RMS power ratings). You should be looking for an amp with the matching number of channels and matching power ratings for the given impedance.
For example, if you only want to install a new subwoofer that can handle 500W continuously and has an impedance of 2Ω, you should be looking for a mono amp with a 500W RMS power output at 2Ω. It’s perfectly fine if the RMS power output is higher than 500W (600W or 700W) but it is not good if the RMS power output is significantly lower. If the RMS power output is lower, your speakers will never reach their full potential and, more importantly, the risk of clipping will be much higher.
Another example – installing four full-range speakers would require 4-channel amp. If all the speakers are the same and they all have 100W RMS power ratings and their impedance is 4Ω, you will be looking for an amp that can output 100W+ (per channel) continuously at 4Ω load.
This process sounds pretty simple but there’s one problem – some of the amp manufacturers are not perfectly honest when publishing specs. So, looking for the right numbers is not enough. The next chapter is dedicated to power ratings and things you should know about them.
|BOSS Audio RIOT||Check Price on Amazon||4.1||Read Review|
|Planet Audio Anarchy||Check Price on Amazon||4.0||Read Review|
|Rockville dB12||Check Price on Amazon||4.2||Read Review|
|Kenwood KAC-9106D||Check Price on Amazon||4.0||Read Review|
|Hifonics BRX2016.1D||Check Price on Amazon||3.9||Read Review|
|Audiopipe APMI-2000||Check Price on Amazon||4.2||Read Review|
|Pioneer GM-D9705||Check Price on Amazon||4.0||Read Review|
|Skar Audio||Check Price on Amazon||4.1||Read Review|
Things You Should Know About Power Ratings
The first thing you should know is that advertised power ratings are usually max/peak power outputs. So, if some amp is advertised as 2000-Watt amp, it probably means that it can push 2000W in bursts (not continuously). In some cases, especially when it comes to reputable manufacturers and expensive amps ($200+), the advertised power ratings will represent the RMS values (continuous power outputs). So, making a decision based only on the writing on the box is a bad idea. You have to dig deeper and check all the specs and concentrate on the power outputs for the right impedance (the one that matches your speakers’ impedance).
The second thing to know is that you should never take those power ratings for granted, especially if you are looking for a cheap amp (up to $100). These budget amps usually have overrated power outputs. In some cases, their actual power outputs are very far from the advertised values. In case you need an amp that can output 1000W at 2Ω continuously, spending $70 on some 2000W amp that can only output 300W is a complete waste of money.
Luckily, there’s an easy way to calculate the approximate max power output. The equation below is a practical form of the Ohm’s Law and it will help you understand amp’s real capabilities.
The voltage provided by your car battery varies but we’ve decided to use the constant 14.4V value to make the calculations easier. Efficiency also varies and depends on many factors (including speaker’s impedance), but you can use .6 for analog (class-AB) amps and .8 for digital (class-D) amps. The info on the fuse rating (recommended fuse or max current draw) is usually given in the user manual.
You could also check if the amp is CEA-2006 compliant. CEA-2006 is a car amp standard but, unfortunately, it’s not mandatory. Many budget amps are not CEA compliant. If the amp has CEA-certified RMS power ratings, you can be assured that it can deliver the advertised RMS output.
Another useful thing are Amp Dyno Tests. You can find many of those on YouTube. They usually consist of three types of measuring – certified, uncertified, and dynamic. Certified value basically represents the CEA-certified RMS output (clean RMS power with up to 1% distortion). The dynamic value represents the peak power output.
Now that you know the basics, we can move onto the reviews. Our list of 8 best 2000-Watt amps consists of three parts – best under $100, best under $200, and best under $300 so you don’t have to go through the whole list – just set your limit and see our top picks for the given price range. $300 is not the upper limit when it comes to 2000-Watt car amps. Some of them are priced over $500 (up to $1000) but, in this article, we will talk only about budget-friendly options.
Best 2000-Watt Amps Under $100
If you are looking for an amp that can really output 2000W max, you can skip this section. All these cheap amps are advertised as 2000W amps, but they can’t deliver that much. Their actual power ratings are much lower. They could be a good choice if you want to power a 300W(RMS)/2Ω subwoofer or two 100W(RMS)/4Ω full-range speakers, but that’s pretty much their limit.
1. BOSS Audio RIOT R2000M
Editor’s Rating: (4.3 / 5)
BOSS Audio is one of the most popular budget brands. They make car and marine audio equipment. The only problem with their amps are the power ratings. Their power outputs are overrated and that’s something you should always have in mind when buying BOSS amps. We are presenting to you RIOT R2000M class-AB mono amp. The advertised max power output of this amp is 2000W but, in reality, you will only get 500W. So, if you want to power your 300W (RMS) subwoofer, this is a good choice but if you need 1000W of pure RMS power, you will have to pay more.
Inside the box, you will find your amp, bass level controller, mounting screws, user manual, and 1-year warranty. You’ll have to buy the wiring kit separately but that’s the case with all the car amps on the market – wiring kits are never included.
R2000M is entirely black. The housing is made of brushed aluminum. There’s a nice backlit BOSS logo on the top. All in all, it’s nice and stylish. The amp is 15.5in long, 10.43in wide, and 2.25in tall.
The amplifier features high and low-level (RCA) inputs so you don’t have to buy a high-to-low adapter.
R2000M has a variable low-pass crossover filter (50Hz-250Hz) but it doesn’t have a subsonic filter.
If you want more thump, you can use the bass boost knob on the amp or you can install the bass level remote. You can boost the bass by up to +18dB.
For the price, R2000M has a decent power output but it’s not even close to the advertised 2000W. The amp is fused at 60A (it uses 2 external 30A fuses) and when you apply the equation from the introduction, you will get 518.4W.
In reality, you could probably get 600W max. RMS ratings are not published in the user manual but, based on our experience, this amp could probably deliver 300-400W continuously.
R200M features overload and overheat protection.
- Easy to install
- High and low-level inputs
- Variable low-pass crossover filter (50Hz-250Hz)
- Stable at 2Ω
- Reliable performance with less-demanding subwoofers (up to 400W RMS)
- No subsonic filter
- Not stable at 1Ω
- The actual power output is not on par with the advertised value (518W VS 2000W)
2. Planet Audio AC2000.2 Anarchy
Editor’s Rating: (4.2 / 5)
Planet Audio is another budget brand, just like BOSS Audio. In fact, these two brands might be the same thing. It definitely feels like the AC2000.2 and R2000.M are manufactured in the same factory. AC2000.2 is a 2-channel class-AB amp with an advertised power output of 2000W. Just like the BOSS amp, AC2000.2 can’t push 2000W. In reality, it will deliver less than 500W.
AC2000.2 comes along with a wired bass level controller, mounting screws, user manual, and 1-year warranty. As always, the wiring kit is not included (sold separately).
AC2000.2 is 16in long, 10in wide, and 2.4in tall.
The amp has both types of inputs – low-level (RCA) and high-level (speaker level). You’re not going to need an adapter if your receiver doesn’t have RCA outputs.
AC2000.2 has variable sensitivity and variable high and low-pass crossover filters. High-pass crossover range spans from 50Hz-500Hz while the low-pass range spans from 45Hz-90Hz.
If you want to add some punch to the music, you can play with the bass boost (up to +18dB). You have the bass boost knob on the amp and you can also install the bass level remote somewhere in your car.
Based on the fuse rating (two 25A fuses recommended) and amplification type (Class-AB), this amp can output 432W max (see the equation below).
The actual power outputs are quite far from the advertised. Based on the specs, this amp can push 750W per channel continuously (at 2Ω) which seems very optimistic considering the actual max power output. The amp is also bridgeable – if you want to supply more power to only one speaker/subwoofer, you can use it in bridged mode. The advertised max power output in bridged mode (at 4Ω) is 2000W but, as you know, it’s actually much lower.
So, to conclude, this amp is not a good choice if you need something that can actually push up to 2000W. If you power one 1000W/2Ω (or even 500W/2Ω) subwoofer, using this amp is a bad idea. AC2000.2 can power two 100W RMS speakers or one 200W/4Ω subwoofer.
- High and low-level inputs
- Variable high-pass (50Hz-500Hz) and low-pass (45Hz-90Hz) crossover filters
- Bass boost (0-18dB) and bass level controller
- Stable at 2Ω in stereo mode
- Stable at 4Ω in bridged mode
- The actual power ratings are not even close to those advertised 2000W
3. Rockville dB12 2000w Peak
Editor’s Rating: (4.4 / 5)
Rockville is probably our favorite budget brand. Like all the other cheap amps it has overrated max power outputs, but what makes it very different from other cheap brands are CEA-certified RMS power ratings which are much more accurate. Rockville dB12 is a Class-D mono amp with an advertised power output of 2000W.
Rockville dB12 comes along with a wired bass level remote, mounting screws, user manual, and 1-year warranty.
The amp is 13.1in long, 9in wide, and 2.4in tall. It’s sleek and simple with a nice brushed aluminum housing and backlit Rockville logo on the top.
It features RCA (low-level) inputs and RCA preamp outputs. It doesn’t have speaker level inputs and, if your receiver doesn’t have RCA outputs, you will need a high-to-low adapter.
The amp has low-pass crossover filter (50Hz-250Hz) as well as subsonic filter (15Hz-55Hz).
There’s also the bass phase switch (0-180°) and bass boost knob. You can boost the bass by up 12dB.
When it comes to power ratings, this amp, just like all the other cheap amps, has overrated max power outputs. The amp is fused at 60A and it’s digital (class-D) which gives us the max power output of 691W (see the equation below).
So, the actual max power output is not even close to 2000W, but it’s more than you would get with BOSS Audio and Audio Planet amps.
What’s good about this amp is the CEA certification. According to the CEA-certified specs, Rockville dB12 can push 500W continuously at 2Ω or 300W at 4Ω. These values seem much more realistic than the advertised max power outputs. So, if you have a 500W/2Ω subwoofer and you are looking for the cheapest but reliable amp, Rockville dB12 is probably the best choice.
- Small and compact
- Easy to install
- Low-level RCA inputs and RCA preamp outputs
- Variable low-pass (50Hz-250Hz) and subsonic (15Hz-55Hz) filters
- Phase switch and bass boost (0-12dB)
- Stable at 2Ω
- Reliable performance with a 500W/2Ω subwoofer
- Not stable at 1Ω
- The actual max power output is significantly lower than advertised (691W VS 2000W)
Best 2000-Watt Amps Under $200
The next two amps are rated at 2000W (max power output at the lowest allowed impedance) and, unlike the previous three amps, these can get much closer to those advertised power outputs. If you need your amp to pump 2000W max and you don’t want to spend too much, these amps are the best choices.
4. Kenwood KAC-9106D
Editor’s Rating: (4.5 / 5)
Kenwood is, along with Pioneer, one of the most popular brands when it comes to car audio equipment. Their amps are not crazy expensive but offer pretty good and reliable performance. They are also CEA-compliant which is always a plus. We are presenting to you Kenwood KAC-9106D, Class-D mono amp.
The box contains your KAC-9106D amp, speaker level input cable, mounting screws, user manual, and 1-year warranty.
The amplifier is 13.2in long, 7.6in wide, and 2.2in tall. It features that recognizable Kenwood amp design and it’s quite compact.
KAC-9106D has both high-level and low-level inputs. It also has RCA outputs for connecting another amp.
The amp also features variable low-pass and subsonic filters. Low-pass crossover range spans from 50Hz to 200Hz while the subsonic range spans from 20Hz to 50Hz.
Unlike previous amps, Kenwood KAC-9106D doesn’t come with a bass remote but it has a bass boost knob on the amp. You can boost the bass by up to 18dB.
The amp is fused at 120A (three 40A external fuses) and it’s digital (Class-D). When you apply the equation given in the introduction, you will get the max power output of 1382W. So, it’s not 2000W but it’s better than those budget amps.
KAC-9106D is CEA compliant and it has certified RMS rating at 4Ω. According to the specs, the amp can push 500W continuously at 4Ω. RMS ratings at 2Ω are not CEA-certified but the manufacturer claims that the amp can push 1000W continuously. We are not sure about 1000W – it’s probably somewhere between 800W and 900W. The amp is stable at 2Ω-8Ω. It’s not 1Ω stable.
- Compact and slim
- High-level and low-level (RCA) inputs
- RCA preamp outputs
- Variable low-pass and subsonic filters
- Bass boost (0-18dB)
- Stable at 2Ω-8Ω
- CEA-certified (500W x1 at 4Ω)
- Not stable at 1Ω
- The actual max power output is still not on par with the advertised power output
5. Hifonics BRX2016.1D
Editor’s Rating: (4.7 / 5)
Hifonics amps were quite popular back in the 90s. They were very powerful and reliable but they were also quite expensive. Today, Hifonics is more of a budget brand. Their amps are affordable and they are probably not as good as they used to be (especially when it comes to the quality of components), but they are not bad at all, especially considering the price. BRX2016.1D is a Class-D mono amp with an advertised power output of 2000W. What we don’t like about Hifonics amps is that they don’t offer complete specs anymore. On their website, you’ll find some power ratings but there’s no way to know if these ratings are RMS or max power outputs. In our opinion, these values are probably peak/max outputs.
Along with the amplifier, you’ll get a wired bass level remote, mounting screws, user manual, and 1-year warranty.
The amp looks a bit cheap, mostly because of that shiny aluminum housing. It’s 14.7in long, 9.8in wide, and 2.4in tall.
The amplifier has RCA low-level inputs as well as balanced inputs. It doesn’t have high-level (speaker level) inputs. It also has slave-in and slave-out RCA ports for strapping.
You have a variable low-pass and subsonic filters. Low-pass crossover range spans from 35Hz to 250Hz, while the subsonic crossover range spans from 15Hz-35Hz.
BRX2016.1D features bass boost knob and bass level remote. You can boost the bass by up to 10dB and you can select the frequency you want to boost (30Hz-80Hz). There’s also the phase switch (0-180°).
The amp is fused at 200A and, if we assume that it can achieve 80% efficiency, its max power output would be 2304W (see the equation below).
We didn’t find any amp dyno tests for BRX2016.1D on YouTube but, based on the tests done for BRX1116.1D and BRX3016.1D, the advertised RMS outputs are probably slightly overrated. BRX2016.1D is supposed to deliver 2000W at 1Ω, 1400W at 2Ω, and 700W at 4Ω and these are all max power outputs. This amp can probably deliver 1000W-1300W continuously at 1Ω. So, it’s not garbage but it’s also not amazing. If you invest 20-50$ more, you can buy something better and stronger (Audiopipe-APMI2000, for example).
- Low-level RCA inputs and balanced inputs
- Slave-in and slave-out RCA ports for strapping
- Variable low-pass (35Hz-250Hz) and subsonic (15Hz-35Hz) filters
- Bass boost (up to 10dB) and bass level remote
- Adjustable bass boost frequency (30Hz-80Hz)
- Stable at 1Ω
- It looks cheap
- It doesn’t have speaker level inputs
Best 2000-Watt Amps Under $300
The last three amps on the list are our top picks under $300. Pioneer’s amp has the advertised max output of 2000W while the Skar Audio and Audiopipe amps are beasts with 2000W RMS output. If you need perfectly stable and reliable performance, these three amps (along with the Hifonics amp) are our top picks.
6. Audiopipe APMI-2000
Editor’s Rating: (4.7 / 5)
Audiopipe is one of our favorites when it comes to W/$ ratio. APMI-2000 is a Class-D mono amp with an advertised RMS power output of 1944W. You’ve read it well – it’s 1944W RMS, not peak power output. The best thing is that it’s priced slightly over $200.
The package contains your APMI-2000 amplifier, wired bass level remote, mounting screws and wrench, external 150A fuse with an inline fuse holder, user manual, and 1-year warranty.
The amplifier is 16.4in long, 6.5in wide, and 2.2in tall.
The amp has only RCA (low-level) inputs and if your receiver doesn’t have RCA outputs, you are going to need some high-to-low adapter. You also have RCA bridge-in and bridge-out ports for strapping.
APMI-2000 features variable low-pass and subsonic filters. Low-pass crossover range spans from 40Hz-180Hz, while the subsonic crossover range spans from 0-50Hz.
The amp also has a variable bass boost (up to 12dB). You can even select the frequency you want to boost (30Hz-80Hz). In case you want, you can install that bass level remote which does the same thing as the bass boost knob on the amp.
The amplifier has the advertised RMS output of 1944W and that’s exactly what you will get. If you apply our good old equation, you will get slightly smaller values but you can find numerous amp dyno tests on YouTube that confirm these power ratings. We can say with certainty that Audiopipe ratings are very accurate.
APMI-2000 will output 1944W continuously at 1Ω, 1300W at 2Ω, and 770W at 4Ω. If you need an amp that could power your 1000W/2Ω subwoofer but you also want to save some money, APMI-2000 is a perfect choice.
- Excellent Watt/$ ratio
- Low-level RCA inputs
- Bridge-in and bridge-out RCA ports (for strapping)
- Variable low-pass (40Hz-180Hz) and subsonic (0-50Hz) filters
- Bass boost (0-12dB) and bass level remote
- Adjustable bass boost frequency (30Hz-80Hz)
- Stable at 1Ω
- Stable and reliable performance with a 1944W RMS power output
- It doesn’t have speaker level inputs
7. Pioneer GM-D9705
Editor’s Rating: (4.6 / 5)
Pioneer is one of the most popular and most reputable brands when it comes to car audio equipment. We like their equipment not only because it’s affordable but also because their amps are CEA compliant and they can actually deliver the advertised power outputs. GM-D9705 is a 5-channel Class-D amp with an advertised max power output of 2000W (5 channels combined). 2000W max is probably a bit overrated, but the RMS power ratings are more realistic.
The package contains your GM-D9705 amplifier, high-level input harnesses, wired bass level remote, mounting screws, user manual, and 1-year warranty.
The amplifier looks nice and stylish. It’s compact and relatively small (12.4in long, 7.9in wide, 2in tall).
GM-9705 features both input types – low-level RCA inputs and high-level inputs. You will also get speaker level input harness so you don’t have to buy them separately. 4 inputs for the front and rear speakers are arranged in two channels (A and B).
Both channels have variable low and high-pass crossover filters. Crossover filter range spans from 40Hz-500Hz. There are two high /full/low switches – one for each channel. Depending on the type of speaker you want to connect, you can select the appropriate crossover filter (high, low or full). When the switches are in full-range position, changing the crossover frequency will have no effect.
In case you want to boost the bass response, you have to install the remote (there is no bass boost knob on the receiver). You can boost the bass by up to 12dB. The bass boost is centered around 50Hz frequency.
The amp is fused at 90A (it uses three external 30A fuses) and it’s digital (it’s supposed to reach 80% efficiency). If you apply the equation (which is, by the way, more appropriate for mono amps but we are still going to use it), you will get the max power output of 1036.8W which is pretty far from the advertised 2000W. This result made us wonder if this amp can deliver the advertised RMS outputs.
Luckily, there’s no need to worry about the RMS outputs since the amp is CEA compliant (well, actually, only 4Ω ratings are CEA-certified). Based on these ratings, GM-D9705 can push 75W continuously into four 4Ω channels + 350W into one 4Ω subwoofer (650W combined).
The manufacturer also claims that the amp can deliver 100W continuously into four 2Ω channels + 600W into one 2Ω subwoofer (1000W combined). In bridged mode (3-channel operation), the amp can push 200W into two 4Ω speakers + 350W into one 4Ω subwoofer (750W combined).
The min allowed impedance in 5-channel mode is 2Ω. In bridged mode, the min allowed impedance is 4Ω. The amp is not stable at 1Ω.
- Small and compact
- High and low-level (RCA) inputs
- Variable high-pass and low-pass crossover filters (40Hz-500Hz)
- Bass boost (0-12dB)
- 3-channel (bridged mode) and 5-channel operation
- Stable at 2Ω in 5-channel mode
- Stable at 4Ω in 3-channel (bridged) mode
- CEA-certified RMS power ratings (75W x4 at 4Ω + 350W x1 at 4Ω)
- Not stable at 1Ω
- The actual max power output is lower than advertised
8. Skar Audio RP-2000.1D
Editor’s Rating: (4.8 / 5)
Skar Audio is one of our favorite brands. Their amps are very powerful and they are surprisingly affordable. RP-2000.1D can output more than 2000W continuously at 1Ω load which is impressive. What’s even crazier is that it can be yours for less than $250. RP-2000.1D is (along with with the Audiopipe APMI-2000) our top pick when it comes to affordable car amps.
RP-2000.1D comes along with a wired bass level remote, mounting screws, user manual, and 1-year warranty.
The amp is 17.7in long, 6.3in wide, and 2.2in tall. It looks nice and stylish. The housing is made of brushed aluminum. There’s a nice and simple Skar Audio logo on the top, inputs and controls are on one side, speaker terminals and power/GND terminals are on the other.
RP-2000.1D has only low-level RCA inputs and if your receiver doesn’t have RCA outputs, you will need a high-to-low adapter (not included in the package). Also, the amp doesn’t have RCA output ports so there’s no way to strap two amps together and get even greater power output.
The amplifier features variable low-pass and subsonic filters. The low-pass crossover range spans from 50Hz to 220Hz while the subsonic crossover range spans from 0 to 50Hz.
If you want to play with the bass response, you can use the bass boost switch on the amplifier (0/6dB/12dB) or you can install the bass level remote.
The amp is fused at 200A (recommended fusing) and it’s digital (Class-D). If you apply the equation from the introduction, you will get the max power output of 2304W. Since the amp is extremely efficient (up to 90%), the max power output can reach 2600W. So, it’s pretty close to the advertised max output.
The advertised RMS outputs are slightly underrated – you will get even more than 2000W continuously at 1Ω, more than 1400W at 2Ω, and more than 800W at 4Ω. You can find numerous amp dyno tests on YouTube for this amp and they all confirm that RP2000.1D is an excellent amp.
- Low-level RCA inputs
- Variable low-pass (50Hz-220Hz) and subsonic (0-50Hz) crossover filters
- Bass boost switch and bass level remote
- Stable at 1Ω
- The amp delivers 2000W continuously at 1Ω
- Excellent W/$ ratio
- It doesn’t have high-level inputs
- It can’t be strapped
This is the end of our list of 8 best 2000-Watt amps. Hopefully, there was something you liked. In case you want to keep searching, we’ve made a short buyer’s guide for you.
Buyer’s Guide – Specs to Pay Attention to When Buying a Car Amp
Channels (mono, stereo, 3-channel, 4-channel, etc.)
This one is pretty simple. The number of speakers you want to install dictates the type of amp you should buy. When installing a subwoofer, mono amp with an appropriate power output is all you need. If you want to replace 2 front and 2 rear speakers, some 4-channel amp with matching power ratings is the simplest solution. Choosing the right amp will get trickier if you want to replace 4 (or only two) speakers and add a subwoofer. Luckily, there are all kinds of amps on the market. For example, you can find a 5-channel amp with 4 class-AB channels for the speakers and one class-D channel for the subwoofer. This kind of amp is a good choice if you want to replace all four speakers and add a subwoofer.
When it comes to multichannel amps, there’s practically no choice – all the multichannel amps feature Class-AB topology. The reason is quite simple. Multichannel amps are usually used for full-range speakers and they deliver much cleaner midrange and more accurate treble reproduction than the Class-D amps. Class-AB amps get hotter than Class-D amps and they are not as efficient, but the final product (the sound) is much more important than all those things.
When it comes to mono amps (usually used for subwoofers), you can choose between Class-AB and Class-D amps and we recommend Class-D amps because they are more efficient and offer cooler performance, but mostly because they deliver very good and controlled bass.
Power Ratings and Allowed Impedance
We have discussed the power ratings in the introduction so we are not going to repeat the whole story. Here’s a short recap.
- Don’t take the advertised power ratings for granted
- Check if the amp is CEA compliant
- Calculate the actual max power output (use the equation below)
- Search for amp dyno tests on YouTube
The amp dimensions don’t seem like a big deal but they are very important. The available space in your car is very limited and you have to plan the installation of new equipment very carefully, especially if you want it to be unobtrusive and concealed. So, if you want to place the amp under your seat you have to check the dimensions carefully. Also, you must not forget to leave some space to enable good airflow (this is extremely important when it comes to Class-AB amps because they have higher operating temperatures).
The car amps rarely come with all the necessary wires and plugs. You will have to buy some kind of wiring kit separately. Luckily, choosing the right wiring kit is much easier than choosing the right amp. You have two options – OFC or CCA wire. OFC wire is a much better option. It’s more expensive but it’s worth it. The whole OFC wiring kit will cost you up to $150.
Features – high/low-level inputs, high/low-pass filters, subsonic filters, bass boost, etc.
Depending on the price and on the type of amp (mono or multichannel), the number of features will be different.
Some amps have speaker level (aka high-level) and low-level RCA inputs. You will find both input types on many cheap amps. Some pricier amps have only RCA (low-level) inputs but their RCA inputs are capable of receiving speaker level signal. In the end, you have amps with low-level inputs that can’t receive high-level signal. In this case, you will have to buy some kind of high-to-low adapter.
Mono amps (subwoofer amps) usually have low-pass crossover filters so you can select the frequency range that’ll be reproduced by the subwoofer. More expensive amps also have the subsonic crossover filters. Multichannel amps will have low-pass filters but they will also have high-pass filters. These filters are sometimes variable and sometimes fixed.
Most of the mono amps on the market also have the bass boost knob which allows you to increase the bass level. Some of them even come with a bass level remote which can be installed in your car.
Some high-end amps feature support for advanced car equipment like HALOSonic and ADAS.
What about the price?
The good old saying ‘’you get what you pay for’’ applies here perfectly. We have one simple advice – spend more than $100 if you need your amp to deliver 2000W. It’s practically impossible to find an amp that can push 2000W (peak power) for less than $100 (unless you’re buying a used one or refurbished). Most of the amps under $200 can deliver 2000W (max). If you need an amp that can output 2000W continuously, you will have to spend more than $200.
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