Best Amp for Component Speakers: Get Crystal Clear Sound in Your Car
Our top picks for the best amps for component speakers
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There are few pleasures in life as great as driving around with the windows down on a warm, sunny day playing your favorite tunes as loud as you want (singing along is optional). That is, unless your car’s sound system isn’t up to the task. Weak bass lines and hollow sounding speakers definitely detract from the fun of listening to your carefully culled playlist while commuting or joyriding.
However, beefing up your car’s sound system can be a relatively easy and affordable project. If you’re considering undertaking such a task, starting with an amp and a pair of component speakers is a great starting point. It can be a game changer when it comes to getting better clarity, power, and volume out of your car stereo.
If you’re in the market for a new amp for your component speakers, a quick read through our informative buying guide and product reviews will help add clarity to your decision-making process.
Rockford Fosgate R500XD
A quality-made mono D car amplifier rated at 500 watts. It features Rockford’s MOSFET power supply, short-circuit protection, and a muted turn-on. This amplifier also comes with a bonus remote control.
- Impressive cast-aluminum heat sink.
- Good sound quality.
- Thermal-sensing technology.
- Easy to install.
- Maximum sound output is only 500 watts.
- LED lighting is too bright.
- Uses a lot of power.
Lanzar B52 Car Audio Amplifier Monoblock
An uber affordable, yet powerful single channel, 2,000 watt, 2-ohm amplifier that produces a high-quality, crisp sound and is constructed from good quality components.
- Super affordable
- RCA jacks and connectors allow for clean, accurate sound
- Backed by up to 15-month warranty
- Can easily connect multiple amps
- 2,000-watt rating seems overly generous according to some users
- No bass remote control.
Planet Audio AC1800.5 Channel Car Amplifier
This is a five-channel amplifier that can run a subwoofer and other speakers in your vehicle. The unit is bridgeable, and you have the option of connecting it to another amplifier to increase the power output.
- Can power a dedicated subwoofer.
- Allows the user to control the amount of bass coming out of the subwoofers.
- Great sound customization features.
- Tends to overheat at high volume levels.
- Sound distortion can be a common occurrence.
- A few quality issues.
Benefits of an Amplifier
- Better sound quality. Underpowered component speakers are one of the most common causes of low sound quality. An amplifier gives your car audio a power source that can drive your speakers without straining. Unlike your in-dash stereo, an external amp can be developed without compromises and isn’t limited to available space.
- Extra power for upgraded speakers. A factory audio system may not effectively power newly-installed aftermarket speakers that are louder and more powerful than the factory ones. They require more power and peak, something that your stock audio system cannot provide.
- Power a subwoofer. Subwoofer speakers require more power than your stock audio system can provide. Investing in a separate amplifier will help produce the power needed to fire up a subwoofer.
Types of Car Amplifiers
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As the name suggests, the mono-channel amplifier only has a single channel. Since it only has one channel, it produces more power than other multi-channel amplifiers. Due to their limited use, mono-channel amplifiers are ideal for powering subwoofers. Bass speakers only require one channel.
Two-channel amplifiers have two distinct channels. They can run two speakers or bridge together to provide more power for a single component speaker. Two-channel amplifiers have two Classes, A and AB. Class A amps use a single transistor. They are advantageous since they produce a sound that is clear and direct. A significant drawback is that they use more energy, creating a lot of heat in the process. Class AB two-channel amplifiers are made of two transistors. This circuitry makes it more energy-efficient and reliable.
Ideally, this is two amplifiers connected to one. A three-channel amplifier is a combination of Class AB and D circuitry into a single amp. Since there are three channels, two are used for the component speakers and one for the subwoofer. Three-channel amplifiers are popular since they offer a good solution for limited space in vehicles that have compact interiors. However, if you are looking to get your audio system fully amplified, you are better off with other types of amplifiers.
This is perhaps the most common type of car amplifiers. The four-channel amp has four outputs with a capability of powering two speakers with a subwoofer or two front and two rear speakers.
Like a three-channel power amplifier, the five-channel amplifier is like two amplifiers connected to one. It is a four-channel amplifier connected to a mono-block amplifier. This amplifier has the capability of powering four speakers and a single subwoofer. The single channel line is reserved for the subwoofer since it requires more power.
The six-channel amplifier is relatively widespread and only used for specific purposes or in larger cars with much more space. This amplifier has the capability of powering six individual speakers. The subwoofer takes up two channels, while the remaining four channels power the front and rear speakers. If you are looking to build a high-spec car audio system for your vehicle, the six-channel amp is your best bet.
BOSS Audio Systems
BOSS Audio has been manufacturing exceptional audio and video products for more than 30 years. Today, the company offers more than 500 car, powersports, and marine products that are sold in more than 130 countries. The BOSS Audio Systems AR1200.2 2 Channel Car Amplifier is one of its top-selling products
Rockford was founded back in 1973 by American inventor James M. Fosgate. The company has a reputation for superior, quality audio products. Rockford amplifiers were an instant hit after its introduction to the car audio market. Fans praised it for its unique builds and excellent audio performance. Even after the founder left the company in 1981, Rockford continued to expand into the corporation it is today. The company still produces a wide variety of audio systems for cars and households too. One of its popular audio amplifiers is the Rockford Fosgate R500XD.
Skar Audio operates out of a massive state-of-the-art facility in St. Petersburg, Fla. Founded on the principle of designing and manufacturing the highest quality car audio products backed by world class customer support, the company was ranked among NewsWeek’s Best Online Shops of 2020. It offers top-notch car audio components like the SPX-65C 6.5-Inch 400 Watt 2-Way Component Speaker System.
- Under $200: There are a variety of amps for component speakers available at this price. However, the audio products you are likely to find at this range only have the basic functionality with low power output. Depending on the company, products at this price range are popular due to their low cost and decent performance.
- Under $200- $800: The best amplifiers in the car audio market are available at this price range. These amplifiers have extra features, more power output, quality sound, and durable builds.
- Over $1000: There aren’t a lot of amplifiers in this price range. These units are the best of the best. They have multiple functionalities, superior quality builds, features, and sound. These products are designed with the highest-quality materials to offer the best performance.
There are four different Classes of amplifiers: A, B, AB, and D. The categories refer to the internal design of a specific amplifier’s electronic circuitry. For example, Class A amplifiers are known for high-frequency sound but are inefficient due to high operating temperatures. Class B amps, on the other hand, are energy-efficient but experience distortion during peak frequencies. Class AB amps have excellent high-frequency sound, are energy-efficient, but have lower performance compared to Class A. Class D amps are energy efficient, have superb low-frequency sound, but have feeble high-frequency audio.
Gain is the setting that lets a user match the output voltage of the head unit in the car to the output voltage of the amplifier. It's important to note that some head units will have more output voltage than others. The level or gain feature in the amp is responsible for matching the output voltage of the amplifier to the signal that it receives from the vehicle’s head unit. Therefore, if the GAIN or LEVEL is set too high, you will be over-amplifying the sound, relaying a distorted signal to the subwoofers.
Part of the preamp process involves some circuitry known as crossover. The crossover is a process where full range audio signals fed into the amplifier split electronically into separate frequencies. The crossover is like a traffic cop directing the flow of traffic. Directed frequencies are reproduced by specialized speakers such as tweeters and woofers. Car audio systems have two types of crossovers: the active crossover and the passive crossover.
Frequency or Filter Adjustments
Once the amplifier crossovers have been set to the appropriate frequency range, users can dial them even further by using filters. The main idea behind the filters is to send the specific music frequencies to the speakers that can reproduce them. When a user sends all the frequencies to all the speakers, it causes the amplifier to work harder, forcing the component speakers to try to play frequencies they aren’t designed to handle. Therefore, incorrectly setting your vehicle’s crossovers and filters will cause distortion and could potentially damage your amplifier, speakers, and subwoofer.
- Amplifier Inputs: The automobile amp inputs transmit the signal from your car’s in-dash head unit to the vehicle’s amplifier. If it's an aftermarket head unit, it will have RCA preamp outputs that will allow you to connect the receiver directly to the car amp. Some stock car stereos don’t have preamp outputs, meaning you won’t be able to join the amp to the in-dash unit. If this is the case, consider shopping for an amplifier with speaker level inputs.
- RMS Power: RMS means Root Mean Square and refers to the amount of continuous power, measured in watts, which a specific amplifier can produce. Manufacturers often brag about the peak power ratings on amps. The peak power rating isn’t an accurate indicator to consider when looking for an amplifier to buy. The peak power is the maximum wattage an amp can deliver during sound peak. Therefore, the peak power is not sustainable and is achieved intermittently during music playback.
Best Amp for Component Speakers Reviews & Recommendations 2021
Rockford Fosgate is one of the most respected manufacturers in the car audio industry, especially when it comes to building high-quality amplifiers. The R500X1D is designed explicitly for deep-hitting subwoofers and can be used in both cars and trucks. One of the best features in this amplifier is the sound quality. It also has a durable, unique aesthetic look.
There’s hardly any clipping or distortion with this car amp. It also has an impressive cast aluminum heat sink. Amplifiers produce a lot of heat, but this amplifier rarely runs hot due and is a great amplifier for endurance.
Does the Rockford car amp have any drawbacks? Well, the angle of the wiring screws has an odd design. This amplifier has wiring screws that are at a 45-degree angle, which makes adjusting them in tight corners difficult. Also, the LED lighting on the remote and amp are really bright.
For our more budget-conscious buyer, the Lanzar B52 Car Audio, Amplifier Monoblock ensures you get the top-notch sound you want at a lower price. This 2,000-watt, single channel, 2-ohm amplifier features terrific frequency response rates and crossover network. RCA connectors give you a dependable, distortion-free sound.
This durable amp is equipped with power and protection LED indicators, as well as a soft turn-on/off. Bass boost circuitry and variable high and low pass filters deliver crisp and clear sound quality. With the RCA line-out jacks, you can easily build multiple amp systems without the need for annoying splitter cords.
Some users are disappointed with the lack of a bass remote control knob, but at least you don’t have to worry about blowing the windows out of your ride by overdoing the bass. Also, many users report that this unit is over rated at 2,000 watts and pushes closer to 850-1,150 comfortably.
This five-channel amp pushes out 1,800 watts of power to enhance the quality of your car audio system. Since it has a built-in variable low-pass filter, you also get the option of connecting a subwoofer in addition to the other speakers. A built-in variable bass boost on the amplifier helps to control the quality of the bass being delivered to the subwoofers.
The unit has a durable build featuring heavy-duty screw terminals, nickel-plated contacts, and chrome-plated connectors. To help ensure a long service life, this amp is fitted with a number of safety features. This includes short-circuit, thermal, and current-overload protection. What’s more, you can bridge two channels into a single connection. This helps to enhance each speaker's sound output and minimize distortion.
The main downside of this amplifier is that it tends to overheat, especially when audio is played at high volume. Another drawback is that some users have experienced quality issues where the amplifier blows out in less than a year. Also, you may frequently experience sound distortion.
The Rockford Fosgate P400X4 Punch 400 Watt 4 Channel Amplifier gets a nod for being a versatile, multi-channel amp that is great for a four-way, full-range system or a three-way system that has a front stage with subwoofers on the rear. High-quality RCA inputs work with both hi and low level audio signals with no need for an audio converter.
You get 50 watts x 4 channels at 4 ohms, 100 watts x 4 channels at 2 ohms, or 200 watts x 2 channels at 4 ohms bridged, giving you plenty of set-up options. It also works well with either factory-installed or aftermarket source units. On-board Punch EQ with +18dB boost takes your bass to the next level.
Yes, this unit is a little pricey compared to some others. However, it delivers serious sound quality and clarity. Pushing too much through this amp without a good venting system will definitely cause it to heat up.
When it comes to a competition-ready, out-performing car audio amplifier, the Skar Audio SKv2-100.4AB Full-Range 4-Channel Amplifier deserves your attention. It’s a competition-grade class A/B 4-channel MOSFET amp that features a kicking 800-watt max power load.
It’s also got heavy-duty 4-way protection circuitry and sizable 4-gauge power and ground input terminals that push maximum power to your component speakers and subwoofers. It produces stable peak power of 210 watts across four channels at 2 ohms and 150 watts of RMS power at 2 ohms.
This amp also features an advanced heat sink design that ensures it stays cool and efficient, even when you’re pushing it to its limits. While this is technically a competition-ready amp, it’s power is really more suited to a daily driver, than serious competition.
This is a four-channel amplifier with a space-saving design that doesn’t compromise on power. It can supply 75 watts RMS power over the four channels to power 2-ohm speakers or 50 watts RMS power across the four channels to power 4-ohm speakers. You can expect it to help the speakers produce a well-balanced sound, with clean and detailed highs and lows.
It has a great build with high-quality connectors that maintain a secure connection, and they have protective end caps to protect the wiring from being short-circuited. Installing it is fairly easy if you have eight-gauge power wires, and a small LED indicator at the top lights up in blue to indicate that it has been connected properly. Since it’s a Class D digital amplifier, it’s energy-efficient, and you can rely on it to enhance the volume of a low-powered audio system.
While the end caps make for an easy and clean installation, they may make it difficult to fit four-gauge power wires. Also, it has a bass equalizer boost, but it may only work for the third and fourth channel.
Honorable MentionHifonics BG-2200.1D Brutus Gamma 2200 Watt Mono Car Audio AmplifierCheck Latest Price
When it’s power you need, the Hifonics BG-2200.1D Brutus Gamma 2200 Watt Mono Car Audio Amplifier delivers it at a surprisingly reasonable price point. This single channel amp delivers up to 2,200-watts of power that will practically blow the doors off your car. You get clear and high-quality 1,100 watts at 2 ohms and 550 watts at 4 ohms.
The Class D design is powered by Ultra-Fi MOSFET technology for ultra high power with minimal distortion. It utilizes high-speed microprocessors with proprietary D/A conversion algorithms that help to efficiently control current consumption.
However, even with controlled current consumption, this amp does tend to get hot quicker than some other options on the market. Users also report having trouble getting the full 2,200 amps out of the unit, but that seems to be a standard problem across the board.
If you’re looking for another budget-friendly option, consider this five-channel amplifier from BOSS Audio. It’s a full-range amplifier, meaning it can run your speakers and subwoofer. The unit features a variable high-and low-pass crossover that minimizes distortion and a bass boost for enhancing low frequencies. It also comes with a remote subwoofer control so that you can adjust the bass output.
Generally, this amp delivers 3,700 watts maximum power that can power 2-ohm speakers. Four channels provide 413 watts RMS power, and the fifth channel (ideal for a subwoofer) can push out 1,125 watts at 2 ohms. It can also be bridged with another amplifier to power 4-ohm speakers. One interesting feature is the amp’s multi-LED backlit illumination that provides visual appeal and enhances the entertainment experience.
The main downside of this amplifier is that it may fall slightly short of the advertised power rating by the manufacturer. It’s important to test the power rating before connecting the speakers to ensure that it’s not too underpowered for them. Also, it can run hot if you listen to music at high volumes.
The Rockville dBcomp5 Mono Competition Amplifier is a massive amp that actually delivers on its promised power. In fact, this is the one amp on our list that users consistently report is under-rated when it comes to power. With 3,500 watts of RMS power, you’ll have to be careful not to blow the windows out of your ride.
This amp utilizes a high-speed MOSFET power supply and optical coupler Class D technology to deliver a minimally distorted, clean sound, even at high levels. It also features fully adjustable 24dB/octave crossover with differential circuitry. You’ll also appreciate the adjustable bass remote control.
This is one of the most expensive amps on our list. However, considering its power rating and amazing performance, it’s still a steal of a deal. It’s ideal for competitive enthusiasts.
- It’s essential to set up your amplifier in a location that is far from all liquids and beverages. If you are going to install it in your trunk, make sure it fits on a spot that won’t get wet. Avoid sprinkling water when cleaning the amp enclosure; instead, use a dry rag.
- Do not plug or unplug your amp from the speaker cabinets when the system is on or playing. There’s usually a slight short produced when you plug your amplifier in and out of the speaker. If you have to connect your amp to the speaker, make sure to plug the cable into the source unit first before plugging it into the amplifier.
- Avoid moving the amplifier once it is on. Its filaments and parts in the tube are usually weak when hot. The slightest shock can lead to a malfunction.
- Use the appropriate load. Impedance and load are very important when it comes most tube amp builds. It's important that the amplifier is set to the correct impedance that matches the speakers. When your amp runs on low impedance or mismatched settings, it strains the unit, affecting its efficiency and output.
- Store your amplifier in a controlled environment. The amplifier setup location is very critical to its durability. Avoid placing it in humid or damp conditions. These conditions are not suitable for your unit and could cause corrosion and rot.
Q: Do I need an amplifier if I have upgraded my speakers?
A: Adding an amp to your upgraded speakers is the key factor to maximizing their potential. You need an amplifier push as much power as possible to get the most out of your speaker and subwoofer capabilities.
Q: How many channels do I need?
A: The number of channels required depends on what kind of power or how many speakers you are looking to boost. You can use a one-channel amplifier to power a subwoofer. A five-channel amplifier, on the other hand, will power two rear speakers, two front speakers, and a subwoofer. Four channel amplifiers are the most common, giving you the capability of boosting two speakers and two subwoofers simultaneously for a great all-around sound.
Q: Do I still need to upgrade my head unit after purchasing an amplifier and new speakers?
A: Not if you do not want to. When shopping for an amplifier, get one that is compatible with your head unit. Some aftermarket amplifiers will not work with stock car stereos.
Now that you’re well-versed in what to look for when it comes to high-quality car amps for your component speakers, it’s easy to see why we chose the Rockford Fosgate R500XD as our top pick. It delivers high-quality, uber clear sound in a variety of different vehicles and doesn’t overheat quickly like some other models.
For a budget-conscious amp that won’t let you down when it comes to power and performance, check out the Lanzar B52 Car Audio Amplifier Monoblock.
Do you have a go-to choice for a high-quality car audio amp? Hit us up in the comments and let us know all about it.