Most people think that one best car amplifier isn’t really that much different from the other, as long as it’s built to last. But those who are looking to upgrade their factory car audio setups should know that each amplifier may come with features and specifications that can smoothen sound, increase volume, manage the bass output and overall improve their listening experience with a few turns of a knob or the flick of a button. So no—not all amplifiers are built alike. But how is anyone supposed to know which one is really going to make a difference in their car, or which will end up being a dud and a complete waste of cash? There are so many brands, types, and sizes out in online stores or physical ones, each with a glowing write-up, each being touted as the one that you really, absolutely must have in your vehicle. But salespeople are never going to let you fiddle with that amplifier and take it all the way to its limit in the store—preventing you from really being able to see how an amplifier performs when pushed to the edge of its capacity. As for online stores? Well, you’re just going to have to put a little good faith in them for that.
Fortunately, we’ve done the work for you. Here’s five amplifiers which are considered some of the best you’re ever going to find anywhere. Now you won’t have to scour stores or compare one review after another—this condensed guide is a good primer as to how these models perform and why they are consistently bought by thousands of car owners to upgrade their sound systems. Going out for a spin will never get better than with these five!
Top Rated Car Amplifier Product Review
Rockford Fosgate R500X1D Amplifier
Rockford Fosgate is widely known for its strength in terms of power management and design, and this amplifier only adds to its solid reputation. The R500X1D Amplifier comes with a stealth-top control panel, as well as an aluminum heatsink that will properly manage the flow of heat and air from your amplifier, preventing damage that will shorten the life of your equipment, as well as keep it from emitting those bothersome creaks and high-pitched tinny squeals from a blown amplifier. It comes with a wired remote as well for punch level control, and its much-vaunted Punch boost feature really turns up the bass and takes it to a whole new dimension. Even a factory stereo sounds lightyears better when you have this installed in your car, and the phase switch it comes with will have your subs and speakers working in seamless tandem to bring the party anywhere. The Punch equalizer will give you +18dB boost at 45Hz. Put it together with some good subwoofers and you’ll get the most out of your factory set in no time. Small but powerful even at 500 Watts, with a price that will fit in your budget, it’s definitely worth considering as an option.
Alpine PDX-V9, 5-Channel Extreme Power Density Digital Amplifier
Alpine is well-known for its high-quality sound equipment, and while it is by no means the cheapest option that you’ll see on the market, as soon as you get your hands on one, you’ll see why so many car owners are still willing to pay a premium for their models. The PDX-V9 Digital Amplifier has a good stackable design that will help you save a lot of space in your car, and it’s made with front panel controls as well for your ease of use. If you’re fretting about the power management on this amplifier, it can handle 100 watts RMS x 4, as well as 500 watts RMS x 1—quite a sweet deal in such a sleek and small package. The PDX-V9 Digital Amplifier also has quick-connect speaker connectors that make it a breeze to hook up to your factory set, so you can get your upgraded entertainment system up and running in no time at all. It also comes with the option to connect four of your speakers with two RCA cables, but without using Y-adapters, if your deck has four output options, you can really maximize your usage of it. Excellent sound for something that fits right under a passenger seat!
Polk Audio PA D5000.5 900W RMS, 5-Channel Class D PA Series Car Amplifier (PAD5000.5)
This incredibly efficient five channel amplifier from Polk Audio is going to put a real boost in your car—think of how much of a difference it will make as it can manage subwoofers and speakers in its neat and slim little body, serving as a complete upgrade that justifies its higher price tag. After all, if you can supply power to all your new drivers and get multiple wiring options with just one purchase, that’s way more bang for your buck than grabbing a cheap and quick solution. The included bass boost knob can have you increasing the sound levels of your basslines without compromising the richness and depth of sound projection, or muddying out the highs and mids playing in harmony. A quirky but excellent bonus is that this Polk Audio amplifier happens to be marine certified, so installation is flexible and you’re sure that weather conditions, no matter how humid or hot it gets, aren’t going to put a damper on your extended listening in your car. Its subwoofer channel manages power at 500 watts x 1 channel, per 1 ohm, while the speaker channels, working at 4 ohms, can take 70 watts x 4 channel, and + 200 watts x 1 channel—quite the deal!
Another well-made amplifier, the Kenwood KAC-M1804 is a favorite among car owners because of the convenience of its size and the rated power you can get from it. The RMS Power Rating for this one happens to be 45 watts x 4 channels at 4 ohms, while its maximum power output is set at 400 Watts—and with an aluminum heat sink that’s extruded and primed to keep your amplifier cool, long-term usage will not be detrimental to the lifespan of this shiny little beauty. With four RCA inputs despite its size, you’ll be able to power your car speakers from a space as small as a gap behind your dashboard. Whether you’re using it at 2 ohm or 4 ohm impedance, you can be certain that you will get some quality volume increases and sound management from this amplifier. The circuit board is also conformal coated, an option that allows those so inclined to install it in a boat—which is still a plus for car owners as it won’t be that easily affected by heat dissipation or sudden changes in humidity, and it makes the amplifier a heck of a lot more durable than most other models you can get.
Boss Audio R1100M MOSFET Amplifier With Remote Subwoofer Level Control
The insanely low price has the unfortunate consequence of making some car owners skeptical about buying this amplifier, but make no mistake: the Boss Audio R1100M is going to give you value for money if you choose to trust in their brand. The size is an obvious benefit as it fits well even in the small gaps underneath a car seat, but the power management on this amplifier is also quite solid: it also has two ohm stereo operation that’s very stable and allows you to manage output increases with ease. This amplifier comes designed with an anodized heatsink to ensure rapid cooling and better airflow, and it’s also sold along with a high input cable and connector. The variable boost bass of this model allows you to control the amount of bass you’ll be pumping out to your subwoofers, making for maximum customization of sound blending and transmission. This feature works in tandem with the variable crossover, which can let you change the frequency at which crossover occurs—reducing distortion and adjusting everything to your desired specifications. At 2 Ohms, you can expect to get the maximum power of 1100 Watts, while its RMS Power at 4 Ohms is 250 Watts—pretty good power management for such a tiny design.
Smaller, more efficient designs for amplifiers with better technology and features are coming out all the time, and now you don’t have to settle for taking claims of brands at face value or be blinded by promos on subpar additions. Go around and compare the features of each—these four can be your starting point of comparison if you’re still uncertain. An amplifier can make your daily drive that much more enjoyable, and boost your listening experience during road trips, so think carefully about your space limitations, sound preferences and the amount you’re willing to spend before you commit to a purchase—after all, it’s better to invest in something that can be of use for a long time to come than to spend only a little bit on cheap materials.