How to choose a car audio amplifier


Favorite music, radio broadcasts — that’s what helps to cope with road boredom. Most motorists pay great attention to the sound system in the cabin. Some are not satisfied with the capabilities of the head unit, others have little volume margin, others do not like the audio environment. A car audio amplifier can solve all problems. This is a separate device connected to the on-board network. Amplifiers for car acoustics are able to work with powerful subwoofers, operate with two, four or more channels.

Tension: Debunking the Myths

If we consider the average amplifier for car speakers, its supply voltage is standard 12V. But in some not completely honest sources of information, you can find data that a particular device works with 24V. In practice, this means the following:

  • in the voltage conversion circuit, the power amplifier has a capacitor;
  • when a small input signal is received, the system operates normally;
  • at the moments when the audio sine wave rises above the set value, the amplifier starts to be additionally powered by the capacitor;
  • the supply voltage is doubled (24 volts), which allows more power to be output.


A similar process must be considered if you want to choose a car amplifier with a low price and declared huge numbers of output watts. This means that the device is only capable of short burst of volume. It cannot constantly produce the power indicated on advertising stickers. The honest possibilities that a compact monoblock amplifier or another model is capable of are limited by the parameters of the car’s on-board network.

How to immediately outline the segment of acceptable devices

There are a huge number of car amplifiers on the market today. Models are distinguished by many parameters in which the average buyer can get confused. To choose the right power amplifier, you should consider the requirements for your sound system. What do you want to get, maximum volume or excellent sound quality?

There are other parameters that need to be considered for connecting one or another acoustics. The first thing to consider is sound quality.. It is quite simple to determine it from the documentation for the model. Today, consumers are offered amplifiers of several main categories, with different control schemes for opening transistors.

  1. Category A. Considered an acceptable choice for audiophiles. The amplifier works with an analog signal, while showing a rather weak efficiency. The output power is low, but the sound quality is beyond praise. Even an inexpensive class A mini amplifier will show an almost complete absence of signal distortion.
  2. Category B. This amplifier works with analog audio. Transistor on-opening control technology reduces quiescent currents and achieves greater efficiency and output power than class A. However, signal quality is sacrificed. Distortions are present, but for the average listener they cannot be called critical or noticeable.
  3. Category AB. It uses a hybrid control principle. Thanks to this, it is possible to obtain acceptable efficiency and power, low distortion.
  4. Category H. These are the most common systems. They will never enter the top car amplifiers, but they are massively found in head units, head units. Class H models use the system of short-term doubling of the supply voltage already described above to surge the output power. Therefore, they are often installed in circuits for an active type subwoofer.
  5. Category D. Such amplifiers are called digital. In practice, this is not the case. The signal is simply converted using pulse-width modulation technology. Transistors operate in key mode. Therefore, the amplifier has the highest possible efficiency and output power. At the same time, the level of signal distortion is high even for the average listener. The upper frequency range is also limited. Audiophile such sound quality will bring to hysterics.

There are also various modifications of certain categories. For example, AB + offers a mixed type of key opening with a transistor control technique close to class A, good sound quality, acceptable efficiency. There are also solutions for audiophiles. The Super A amplifier is a system where the transistors never turn off, even at rest. With such a control scheme, distortions of small levels of the input signal are neutralized, and non-linearities that occur during the opening of the key disappear.


Number of channels

Each motorist has his own requirements for the interior audio system. For some, two rear speakers are enough. Others want to surround themselves with sound from all sides. We must not forget about lovers of powerful bass and maximum volume. It depends on such desires how many channels the amplifier will have in the car.

2 channels

The two-channel amplifier shows the maximum sales volumes. These are pretty simple devices. Two main speakers are connected to them, or a 2-channel amplifier is used as a signal source for a subwoofer. This requires a model that supports bridge switching mode to increase output power. If the parameters of the device allow you to directly connect a powerful subwoofer, a two-channel can feed a pair of low-frequency speakers at the same time.

Sound amplifier 2 channels

3 channels

The popularity of such a solution among consumers is steadily declining. The general scheme of connecting two loudspeakers and a subwoofer is inefficient. The system is either not able to swing the low-frequency speaker, or forces you to buy powerful speakers.

4 channels

The four-channel amplifier is very popular as a fairly versatile solution for car interiors. You can go to him connect 2 speakers and a powerful subwooferusing a bridge connection between two outputs. The 4-channel amplifier is able to enliven two woofers at once, which fans of rich bass like.

An amplifier of this class can be used classically. In this case 4 channels are used to connect speakers. To power the subwoofer, a two-channel is bought, or the woofer is not used, rich bass is created by the broadband speakers of the speakers.

Amplifier 4 channels

5 channels

The 5-channel unit is a low-cost alternative for those who want to have a quad speaker and a subwoofer without having to buy two amps.. The system in single device format is compact. However, installing a subwoofer with high power on a five-channel will not work.

6 channel amplifier is not very popular. Its possibilities are simply redundant. The only application model looks like connecting four speakers and a subwoofer in a bridge circuit. However, a 6-channel model is significantly more expensive than a combination of four and two-channel amplifiers.

Basic and additional features

When choosing a car amplifier, the buyer must pay attention to the output power. There are several basic techniques that allow you to match the parameters of the acoustics and the signal source, as well as provide them with normal modes of trouble-free operation.

Important! Amplifier power is indicated in Watts, can be nominal RMS and peak PMPO. When choosing a model for your car, in no case should you focus on the latter. It means only a short burst of power and cannot be sustained for a long time. In order for the sound system to work in normal fail-safe modes, the RMS figure must appear in its calculations.

Responsible manufacturers provide real field testing data in the passports of their amplifiers. In some cases, a certificate is even attached to the device, which indicates the serial number and brand of the device with which the test was carried out. After the scope of the main parameter, power, is determined, it is worth moving on to considering the additional capabilities of the amplifier.


Crossovers can be called high-quality frequency filters. They will allow you to adjust the sound ranges for low-frequency, conventional speakers, tweeters. Good amplifiers offer manual adjustment of the cutoff frequencies. There is also a multiplication system that allows you to make per-channel amplification and completely get rid of external crossovers. Higher-end models offer the ability to change the rolloff in dB.


Bass Boost and others

Grand Bass, Super Bass, Bast Boost mean the same thing. The amplifier is able to cut off the frequency band and separately process the signal in this range. This is very good if you want to get really juicy basses. Good amplifiers allow you to adjust the frequency band manually, as well as independently set the degree of signal boost.

high input

The presence of such an input on the amplifier means that it can be connect directly to the head unit speaker output. This is not an ideal method for receiving a signal. The input of the amplifier will receive all the distortion and interference generated by the not always high-quality amplifier of the head unit. But if there is no other option, High Level Input can become a much needed option.


A device that supports bridge switching circuit, capable of delivering double power from a pair of outputs to a single playback device. The presence of the Bridge option is indicated in the documentation for the amplifier. Also on the terminals there is an icon in the form of brackets. On four or more channel devices, you can determine which outputs support bridging.

Advice! This option is extremely useful if you want to use a powerful subwoofer and at the same time save on buying an amplifier.

line input

Almost all car amplifiers have this option. it main low power signal input. It is to it that you need to attach a playback device to get sound with minimal distortion.

line input


Almost all three or more channel amplifiers are equipped with a fader today. The purpose of this block is to signal level balancing between individual playback devices. With the help of a fader, it is easy to adjust the sound image in the cabin that is optimal for the owner, balance the front and rear speakers, tweeters.

The best models in terms of price and quality

It is unreasonable to include only products that have good technical performance in the rating of car audio amplifiers. The main factor is always consumer opinion. Today, music lovers on four wheels are informed, they find information in thematic communities and actively share their experience in using certain models. The top car audio amplifiers include only those devices that show the optimal ratio of functionality, sound quality, cost and ease of installation and configuration.

5. Pioneer GM-A3602

Opens a list of the best models from a well-known and popular brand. The amplifier is capable of delivering 400 watts into a 4 ohm load and a bridged circuit. Using 2 ohm speakers, you can get 200 watts per channel. The model is equipped built-in crossovers for manual frequency adjustment.

GM-A3602 can connect to non-standard signal sources. The recognition system will automatically and correctly set the operating mode. The claimed dynamic range exceeds that of other brands in the same price range.

Pioneer GM-A3602

  • compact;
  • good signal-to-noise ratio;
  • crossovers;
  • supports bridging.
  • cuts frequencies;
  • signal distortion;
  • it gets extremely hot when a 2 ohm load is connected;
  • power is low for modern subwoofers.

Pioneer GM-A3602 on Yandex Market

4 Blaupunkt GTA-270

The next participant in the rating is a model for lovers of high-quality sound. This amplifier belongs to class AB and is designed to connect the main speakers. Built-in crossovers allow you to fine-tune the frequency bands. In addition, there is a separate infra-low range filter.

Blaupunkt GTA-270

The model will show good results even when using full-range speakers thanks to Bass Boost features. When connected to a 2 ohm load, the system will provide 200 watts of power to each of the two channels.

  • high-quality sound;
  • acceptable power for the main speakers;
  • excellent sound picture;
  • does not overheat, conveniently placed and connected.
  • bridging is not supported;
  • insufficient parameters for the subwoofer;
  • there is no adjustment of the degree of bass boost;
  • power 70W for each channel.

Blaupunkt GTA-270 on Yandex Market

3. ACV MX-4.80

This four-channel amplifier will appeal to people who are not interested in setting loudness records. With a harmonic coefficient of 0.15%, the device provides very high quality sound. Supports channel-bridged subwoofer output up to 130W.

For loudspeakers, 4 x 80W outputs are available. There is a crossover to separate the high and infra-low frequency range. Provided bass boost function. The system is protected from short circuit, overload up to 30A fuse current, overheating.

ACV MX-4.80

  • price;
  • sound quality;
  • convenient terminals and wiring diagram;
  • ventilation system (forced cooling).
  • not enough power for big subs;
  • no crossover for low frequencies;
  • comments on the size of the input for power wires;
  • There is no bass boost adjustment.

ACV MX-4.80 on Yandex Market

2. Hertz HCP4D

This class D amplifier collects a confident 5-point customer rating. Despite the sound distortion caused by the type of electronic circuits, the model satisfies the needs of many customers.. With bridging support, 130 watts of power is provided for the subwoofer. The speakers can operate on four channels of 75 watts.

Hertz HCP4D

The system shows an excellent signal-to-noise ratio of 100 dB. Two crossovers for LF, HF are offered. There is bass boost function bass boost. The amplifier is protected from short circuits and overloads, there is a warning indicator about a critical situation.

  • quality assembly;
  • compact, easy to install;
  • many settings;
  • does not overheat.
  • bass boost level adjustment is not offered;
  • rather modest power per sub with a bridged connection;
  • for the average user, there are a lot of controls and settings;
  • class D.

Hertz HCP4D on Yandex Market

1. Kicx SP 4.80AB

The leader in the ranking of the best car amplifiers is Kicx SP 4.80AB. This model is captivating the ratio of power indicators, cost and sound quality. The declared harmonic coefficient is only 0.01%. The system belongs to class AB. The amplifier supports a bridged subwoofer connection mode, can drive 4 speakers with a power of 80 watts per channel.

Kicx SP 4.80AB

Model overload protected with a maximum fuse current of 60A. There are bass and treble crossovers, Bass Boost option, emergency mode indicator light. The signal-to-noise ratio of this four-channel amplifier is 88 dB.

  • price;
  • ease of installation, dimensions;
  • sound quality;
  • bridge mode.
  • no reverse polarity protection;
  • heats up when installed in a confined space;
  • relatively low output power to the subwoofer;
  • Chinese assembly, comments on the quality of connections.

Kicx SP 4.80AB on Yandex Market


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