Years ago, in-car audio was a rare and expensive component but today all new cars are equipped with the sound system with cd and/or mp3 player. However, there is an enormous difference between the standard audio system and aftermarket one in terms of sound quality and loudness. For all fans of quality in car sound, there is no doubt that an aftermarket audio system is the only way to go if you want a perfect sound and very important part of it are the amplifiers. This time, we are going to explain to you what are the amplifiers, main kinds of it and help you buy the best car amplifier to suit the needs of your taste in music and your car. So read our guides and product reviews to get the best insight on the amps market.
How Do Car Amplifiers Work
First and foremost we have to explain what the car amplifier really is. The car amplifier is a device which enlarges the audio signal sent from cd/mp3 player to the speakers. In most cases, the car amplifier is necessary since the basic audio signal is too weak and the sound coming from the speakers will not be as good or the speakers will be very quiet. But with the use of the amplifiers, the signal is much stronger and sound coming from the speakers is clearer and more powerful which is something that every audio fan wants.
In its essence, a car amplifier is a very simple device but the type of amplifiers is determined by the channels it has. The channels are terminals, one positive and one negative, that supply power to a speaker. In general, each channel can power one speaker so the more channels you have the more speakers you can power and the better the amplifier is. In some cases, it is possible to combine two or more channels in one to produce bigger power output if needed. That is called bridging and it is used if you have a very large speaker (like a subwoofer) which needs a lot of power and one amplifier channel simply won’t do the trick.
6 Types Of Car Amplifiers To Consider
There are 6 main types of car amplifiers and four classes (A, B, AB, and D) and the main factor is construction and use. The classes of the amps are an indicator of the circuitry inside an amplifier, basically, the construction and number of transistors used. The best car amplifiers are those with multiple channels and biggest power. Here are the most common types of the car amplifiers:
Mono Channel Amplifiers
The mono channel has only one channel and since it has one it produces more power than multi-channel amplifiers. However, because mono channels have limited use and they are mostly used for powering subwoofers since those big bass speakers need only one channel. The main advantage of the mono channel amplifiers is their power and very little heat which they produce during transmitting signals to the speaker.
2 Channel Amplifiers
Two-channel amplifiers have, obviously, two distinct channels and basically, they can produce two speakers or to be bridged to produce more power for a single speaker. There are two main types of two-channel amplifiers – class A or class AB circuitry. The class An amplifier uses a single transistor for sending the sound impulse. The advantage of class An amplifier is that the signal is very clear and direct but the disadvantage is that they use a lot of energy and thus create a lot of heat. The class AB is made of two transistors which make it more reliable and energy efficient.
3 Channel Amplifiers
This type of amplifiers is basically, two amplifiers combined in one. Typically, class AB and class D circuitry are built into a single amplifier and since there are three channels, two are used for speakers and one is used for a subwoofer. It is a good solution for limited space in vehicles with compact interiors but if you want a full amplified sound, you should choose other types of amps.
A common type of amplifiers with four outputs capable of powering four speakers or two speakers and one powerful subwoofer with bridging of two channels. The four amplifiers are used in most cars and they power two front and two back speakers giving a nice audio effect in the car’s interior.
Like the three channel set-up, the five channel amp is basically two amplifiers combined in one. In this case, there is one four-channel unit combined with one single channel amp for powering four regular speakers and one subwoofer. The single channel (subwoofer) is more powerful than the rest since it requires more power. This layout is common and very usable since it fulfills the most tasks and gives enough channels to power four speakers and subwoofer which is enough for great in-car sound.
6 Channel Amplifiers
This is a less common type but usable for a specific purpose, mostly in large cars with much interior room like SUV. It can power 6 individual speakers of four speakers and one big subwoofer due to the bridging of two channels. If you are planning on building a hi-spec audio system for your car, the 6 channel amp is recommended since it will answer all of your needs for power and number of outputs.
How To Choose The Best Car Amplifiers For Your Car
Since there are many choices and quite a few manufacturers of car amplifiers and audio components, you should read this buying guide in order to find the best car amplifier for you. There are a lot of things to take into consideration, not just the amount of money you are willing to spend but the size of your car and your personal music preferences, because, the jazz music needs a different set of audio components than drum ’n’ bass. So, here we go:
What Is The Size Of Your Vehicle?
The dimensions of the car play an important part in choosing the right car amplifier since you can not put a big one with subwoofer in a tiny car or sports roadster. Or put a small amplifier with just two speakers in a big SUV with lots of space. That is why you should first research the dimensions of the interior and the trunk of the car (for subwoofers) in order to narrow down the choice.
What Kind Of Music Do You Listen?
A very important question is about your music taste. The type of music will influence your choice of amplifiers and other audio components because not every in-car sound system is for every music type. If you like music with a lot of strong bass sounds you will look for amplifiers which could power bass speakers or subwoofer. If you looking for more delicate sound, you will look for amplifiers which can power four or six inside speakers for perfect clarity and detail.
Know The Basic Tech Behind The Amplifiers
We have explained to you a few basic of what the amplifiers are and how they work but we suggest to you to learn more in order to know the difference in materials and construction. Knowing the type of cables, transistors, terminals, connectors are used in the making of the amplifier really can tell you whether it is a quality product that will suit your needs or not.
Set A Budget Limit
Since there is a whole industry of car audio systems and car amps it is easy to spend much money. But, set the budget limit and stick to it in order to get the best deals and most for your cash. Some things you need could be second hand and not new since their quality is not affected by previous use so search forums, second hand adds to find the best deals.
Buy Additional Components
If you want a really good and versatile sound system you should invest in some additional components which can make your life much easier and safer. For example, buy remote amplifier controls by which you can switch subwoofer on and off or change the power of the audio impulses which are delivered to speakers. This way, you can change settings of the amplifier to suit different music styles. On the other hand, important gauges are car voltage monitor which shows you the amount of power is used and needed for the proper function of the amplifier and heat monitor. When the amplifiers work with multiple speakers on the peak of its power, the amplifier gets hot. And sometimes so hot that it can cause a fire or burn down of its components and transistors. So if your system is very powerful and the amplifier is under a lot of stress it is advised to monitor its temperature just to be safe.
Top Car Amplifier Brands
There are many companies which produce in-car audio equipment and car amplifiers, however, not all are famous and known globally. We are going to introduce you to a few world-known names in car audio systems which are famous for quality products and a wide line of audio accessories.
Kenwood is a Japanese brand which was established in 1946, but under a different name. During the early 60’s, Kenwood started its expansion, first in America and then the rest of the world. The name Kenwood was introduced in 70’s since it sounded “more American“ and since it was a synonym for high-quality car audio players, amplifiers, speakers, and components. With its wide arrange of products, Kenwood is one of the world’s biggest producers.
Another Japanese factory, Pioneer started as Fukuin Shokai Denki Seisakusho in 1938 in Tokyo as the manufacturer of radio transmitters and speakers. In the early 60’s it was renamed Pioneer and started expanding on the global market. In the early 80s, Pioneer introduced the world’s first CD player for a car and started producing amplifiers and speakers on a larger scale. Today, this company is one of the world’s leaders in the hi-fi market and in in-car audio systems.
James M. Fosgate, the American inventor, and constructor started Fosgate Electronics back in 1973. Very soon his amplifiers become sought after by fans and praised for quality materials and clear sound. In 1981. he left the company which becomes a big corporation and now produces a lot of different components not just for car audio but for home systems also and still uses the same principles of quality and performance.
Japanese company Alpine was established in 1967 as Alps-Motorola, with the help of American manufacturer Motorola. During the years, Alpine made name for itself as one of the premium producers of car audio equipment and components. It becomes famous for many innovations and quality products and is the favorite brand of many audio fans.
The MTX is an American company started in 1979 which is specialized in car audio equipment. During the years, MTX had concentrated on amplifiers and on subwoofers becoming one of the household names in that field.