A Powerful Amp Provides Clean, Crisp Music
Most car audio systems have an amplifier built into the head unit. And the truth is, they’re not very powerful and, therefore, not very good.
Amps breathe life into music. If you want the music in your car to be loud yet crisp and distortion-free, you’re going to need a separate car audio amp. Because the whole point of an amp is to increase the strength of your audio, you need to ensure that you get an amp with enough power.
Your goal is to have an amplifier that drives the speakers hard enough without maxing out every time to the music is loud, potentially messing up the audio and damaging the drivers. When you plug a low-powered amp into a typical speaker and crank up the volume, it ends up clipping, which leads to premature speaker and amplifier failure. To figure out how much amp power you need, you should to pay close attention to system compatibility, the right number of channels and your current speaker situation.
The right number of channels depends on how many speakers you have. You need one channel for each speaker you want to amplify. Typically, a monoblock (1-channel amp will do if you're only going to add a subwoofer. Or a 5 or 6 channel system amp if you want it to power all your speakers and a subwoofer. Ch 1 and 2 for front, 3 and 4 for rear and the 5/6th channels for the subwoofer. to provide more power to your rear speakers. Each full-range speaker runs off its channel, bridging the other two to power the subwoofer.
To determine how much amp power you require, you first need to know how much power your speakers need. The last thing you want to do is underpower your speakers with an amp that doesn’t have enough juice to power them. If you’re not upgrading your speakers and sticking with your car’s factory speakers, you need to figure out its root-mean-square (RMS) value. When choosing an amp, you need one that’s capable of putting out between 75 to 150 percent of whatever that RMS value is of the speakers. For example if the speaker has an RMS rating of 100w then 75-150w per channel amplifier will get the most potential out of the speakers.
If you’re adding a subwoofer, you’ll need to use an outboard amplifier with it. After installation, you need more power for bass. Typically, sub amps range from 250w to well over 12KW. The most popular is 500w and can easily fit in to most budgets. Bass takes over 10x the power of high frequencies to reproduce at the same volume level; this why bass amplifiers and speakers are larger,
Another thing to remember is that your car amplifier draws a lot of current from your car’s electrical system. Ensure your power wiring is thick enough to allow the current to flow freely. If there is resistance, this could lead to your amp overworking, overheating and shutting down entirely. Average cable diameters range between 1/0 gauge and 10 gauge for amplifiers. Your amp’s manufacturer should specify wire size and in this case larger is better (look for pure copper, not aluminum or CCA wire for the best performance)
If you need help determining how much power your car audio system needs, Phoenix Gold is recognized for our lines of high-end mobile audio products, featuring award-winning amplifiers, speakers, subwoofers and processors for audiophiles who are serious about the sound of their music. As the gold standard in sound, we want to help you find more reasons to love your vehicle.