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What does a car amplifier do? The basics

If you want to improve your car audio system, one of the first things you’ll need is an amplifier. But what does a car amplifier do? And how do you know which one is right for you? In this article, we’ll discuss the basics of car amplifiers and what to consider when shopping for one. We’ll also explain why upgrading your amplifier can significantly impact your driving experience. So read on to learn more!

Have you ever heard your favorite song while driving and wished you could turn it louder? Or maybe you’ve noticed that the sound quality of your car stereo isn’t as good as when you play it at home.

There’s nothing worse than a bass-heavy song ruined by distortion or lack of punch, right? These are both signs that you could benefit from upgrading your car amplifier. But what does a car amplifier do?

What does a car amplifier do?

Simply put, a car amplifier takes the low-level signal from your head unit or radio and amplifies it, making it louder and improving sound quality in the process. All cars have an amplifier built into the stereo system but aren’t usually mighty. That’s why upgrading to a separate car amplifier can make a big difference in your audio experience.

what does a car amplifier do - avoid distortion

However, the amplifier might not be the only thing you need to upgrade. You might need to upgrade your speakers if you’re looking for even better sound quality. But for now, let’s talk about the benefits of upgrading your amplifier.

As we mentioned, one of the main benefits of upgrading your car amplifier is making your music sound louder and clearer. But there are other benefits as well. With a more powerful amplifier, you’ll be able to have the following:

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Louder sound without distortion

If you ever tried turning up the volume on your car stereo and noticed that the sound became buzzy or distorted, that’s a sign that your amplifier isn’t powerful enough. You can turn up the volume with a more powerful amplifier without worrying about distortion.

If the distortion sound is too annoying, it could also be a broken speaker or a bad connection. If unsure, this is an easy fix and should be checked by a professional.

Power your new upgraded speakers

If you plan on upgrading your car speakers, you’ll need an amplifier with enough power to drive them. Otherwise, you won’t be able to enjoy the full benefits of your new speakers.

It’s like upgrading your car’s chassis to a Lambo but keeping the same engine. The new speakers will be wasted if you don’t have a powerful amplifier to drive them.

Power a decent subwoofer for extra bass

And talking about new speakers, one of the most popular upgrades is to add a subwoofer (or two) for some extra bass. But to get the most out of your new subwoofer, you’ll need an amplifier with enough power to drive it.

what does a car amplifier do - add subwoofer

Subwoofers are generally more expensive and require more power than regular speakers. So if you plan on adding a subwoofer (or multiple subwoofers), ensure you get an amplifier that can handle the additional power requirements.

Flexibility to add more channels or outputs

Another thing to consider if you ever want to expand your car audio system in the future, it’s helpful to have an amplifier with additional channels or outputs. This will allow you to add more speakers or subwoofers without upgrading your amplifier.

Traditionally, car stereos come with 2 to 4 channels. But if you plan on upgrading to a more powerful amplifier, you might as well get one with more channels so you have the flexibility to expand your system.

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Now that we’ve gone over some benefits of upgrading your car amplifier let’s talk about what to consider when looking for an amp.

Wattage should be higher than your speaker’s requirement

Wattage is one of the most important things to consider when choosing an amplifier. You’ll want to ensure that the amplifier you choose has enough power (in watts) to drive your brand-new speakers.

As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to look for an amplifier with an RMS wattage rating higher than the peak wattage rating of your speakers and maybe have an extra 50-100% of power on top of that.

The RMS (root mean square) measures the continuous power that an amplifier can produce. The peak power is the maximum power that the amplifier can produce for short bursts. So you’ll want to make sure your amplifier can continuously produce more power than your speakers need.

For example, if your speakers have a peak wattage rating of 300 watts, you’ll want to look for an amplifier with an RMS wattage rating of at least 500 watts.

Remember that the higher the wattage, the more expensive the amplifier. So you’ll need to strike a balance between power and price when choosing an amplifier for your car audio system.

How many channels do you want to add?

Another thing to consider when choosing an amplifier is how many channels you want. As mentioned earlier, most car stereos come with two to four channels.

If you want to upgrade your existing speakers, you’ll probably be OK with a two or four-channel amplifier. But if you plan on adding subwoofers or additional speakers, you might want to consider getting a six-channel amplifier.

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This will give you the flexibility to expand your system in the future without having to upgrade your amplifier.

Do you need a head unit?

When choosing an amplifier, one thing to consider is whether or not you need a head unit. A unit is the control center for your car’s audio system. You use it to select your music source (e.g., radio, aux input, USB), change the volume, etc.

Do you really need a car amplifier?

Last but not least, you need to ask yourself if you need a car amplifier. You might not need an amplifier if you have never suffered from high-volume distortion.

If you’re happy with the sound of your existing car stereo and speakers, then there’s no need to upgrade. If you don’t hear the difference between a basic pair of headphones and a high-quality sound system, then an amplifier might not be worth the money for you.

what does a car amplifier do - enjoy music

But suppose you love listening to music while driving (consider yourself an audiophile) and want to get the most out of your car audio system. In that case, an amplifier is a great way to improve the sound quality of your system and give you the flexibility to expand it in the future.

The bottom line

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to whether or not you need a car amplifier. It depends on your individual needs and preferences.

We hope this article has helped you understand what car amplifiers do and how they can improve your car audio experience. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below! Thanks for reading!