There’s one thing that makes any long, or even short car journey, a lot better. The sound system. And one of the most important parts of that system will be the car amplifier. Using one of the best car amplifiers on the market help give you the sound that you’re looking for with a deep bass and crisp highs.
Today, if you buy a new car, even a more expensive luxury model, the sound system is usually only acceptable. Most of the time. But it won’t give you an exceptional sound.
However, if you have an older vehicle, the sound is probably even worse. In either scenario upgrading the amp is the first step to creating great in-car entertainment. There are quite a few to choose from with a range of features and performance levels. And of course, prices.
So, let’s take a look at the Best Amplifiers for Cars currently on the market and find the perfect one for you…
Top 10 Best Car Amplifiers in 2023
1 JL Audio Slash Series 1200/1v3 Mono subwoofer Car Amplifier – Best Car Amplifier for Subwoofers
JL Audio is recognized as one of the most popular names in-car audio systems. They were founded in 1975 and originally were a warehouse repairing speakers. But it was a case of the right place at the right time.
The late 70s and early 80s saw a sudden surge in sales and interest in specialized car audio. JL Audio stepped into the arena. They are known especially for their subwoofers, but the amps are also a quality product.
This is an amp with a reputation but does it justify it?
You are about to find out…
This is not a new amp; in fact, it has been around for over ten years and has remained popular throughout that time. Likewise, it has built a reputation for power and its strong build. It is no lightweight amp either, measuring 23 by 12 by 12 inches and weighing 19 lbs.
The build is hardly what you might call attractive. But then it isn’t that sort of amp. It is finished in an all-black powder coating on the metal casing, including the heatsink and the caps at the end.
Deep and powerful lows…
Designed specifically to power your subwoofer, it has a low signal to noise ratio and a frequency range of 5 Hz – 250 Hz, plus or minus 1dB. That will give you an idea of the depth of bass that this amp will generate. The RMS is listed at 1200 watts.
The inclusion of Class D technology ensures that it will push out a powerful volume, even over a range of voltages and load impedances.
Interesting features built-in…
Perhaps the most interesting is the R.I.P.S system. This stands for ‘Regulated Intelligent Power Supply.’ It means that the output of the amp is maintained by the self-adjustment of the power supply. The R.I.P.S. system operates to keep the volume standard, stable and to maintain low distortion levels.
Also built-in is an infrasonic filter that is fully variable. And a parametric bass EQ. The latter is an important addition as it allows control over the frequency content of the audio signal.
A powerful Mono amp that is designed specifically for a subwoofer. It certainly isn’t what you would call a cheap option. But it has some good features and an awful lot of volume.
- Some very good and innovative sound features built-in.
- Well-made, robust unit.
- Very expensive.
2 Audison 2-Channel 900 Watt Stereo Power Car Amplifier – Best European Made Car Amplifier
Audison is an Italian manufacturer of high-end car audio products. Founded in 1979, they are still based in Italy.
This is another powerful 2-channel amplifier with an output of 900 watts RMS. And is probably not an amp you want to buy as an entry-level product. This is because whilst it produces a high-level performance, it is not the cheapest you will find.
It measures 21.65 by 11.22 by 4.72 inches and weighs 16lbs. So, you could hardly call it a compact unit.
- Powerful 900 watts RMS output.
- Quite expensive.
3 Rockford Fosgate R500X1D Prime 1-Channel Class D Amplifier – Most Durable Car Amplifier
Rockford Fosgate, originally just Rockford, was established in the mid-70s, and have earned a good reputation for their audio equipment. This R500X1D Prime 1-Channel model is a Class D amplifier that has gained a lot of attention. You are about to find out why.
Rockford Fosgate not only makes good amps; they make them at an attractive price. The R500X1D is a good example of an amp that gives you exactly that.
Durable and compact…
It is a single channel mono amp that delivers 500 watts of power. By some standards, it is quite a compact unit measuring 8.50 by 6.70 by 1.90 inches and weighing just five pounds. It has a sturdy build of cast aluminum. That also protects the lamp from overheating.
There are some nice features built-in, including a ‘punch bass.’ This gives a bit of an extra low-end to the bass and adds what it says, a bit of punch. Bass controls can also be adjusted remotely. That means you can create a bass sound that suits exactly what you are listening to.
The power/ground connectors are four-gauge, and it has protection built-in for an overcurrent or short circuit possibilities.
It is also fitted with MOSFET transistors, which improve how the amplifier operates. They can alter the output relevant to the power that is received without damaging the circuits.
This is a good amp at a great price point with some nice features.
- Good built-in features with MOSFET transistors.
- 500-watt output with some bass adding options at an attractive price.
- Some may want a higher volume level.
4 BOSS Audio Systems AR1500M Car Amplifier – Best Low Cost Car Amplifier
The AR1500M Car Amplifier is a good example of what Boss Audio does. They make a decent, but not the very best, amp. And then set it at an attractive price point. So anyone who is looking to improve the system, or put the first system in, will get good sound performance and an excellent deal.
Affordable and powerful…
It is well-built with its slim, compact shape, and measures 10.3 by 6.5 by 2.8 inches, and weighs five pounds. Therefore, it is going to be easy to install without taking up too much space. The build is strong and is designed to withstand overheating problems.
Considering its price point, it is a surprisingly powerful amp, pushing out 1100 watts RMS at 2 ohms. It also has some interesting sound controls.
It has a high-tech MOSFET power supply. This will allow the amp to move between high and low power easily. It is also fitted with a preventative short circuit protection system. Should there be a malfunction, then the amp will shut itself down to prevent any damage to any other components.
Easy to customize your sound…
Let’s return to the sound controls. It offers you a great deal of control over sound settings. There is a low pass filter which will allow you to adjust the level of the bass. This is controlled easily and can be adjusted to your preference.
The controls are designed so that you can change the settings from the head unit. This way, you do not have to make adjustments to the amp.
A superb choice for car audio novices…
A solid system that is set at a very attractive price. It will suit those who may be on a budget. Or those who just need a quick, cheap upgrade to an existing system.
- Some useful sound control features.
- A compact size amp giving you 100 watts at an affordable price.
- Some will need a higher quality of amp.
5 Pyramid PB3818-2 Channel Car Stereo Amplifier – Best Budget Car Amplifier
We have to say we smiled a little when we came across the Pyramid PB3818-2. They claim a 5000-watt power rating as if that is a measurement of loudness. It isn’t. Loudness is measured in decibels. Specifications, and their claims, can sometimes be misleading.
Durable and easy to fit…
This amp has a nice compact design that will allow easy fitting, measuring just 16.50 by 12.50 by 4.00 inches. The heat sink is made of heavy-duty aluminum, and there is an LED indicator.
It is a two-channel system that will give you control over the bass boost and adjustable crossovers. There are RCA ports that are silver-plated. This ensures good contact and will reduce the occasion of signal loss.
Decent and clear bottom end…
Low-frequency interference is controlled by a filter, which makes sure the sound is always clear and bright. It is fitted with a MOSFET power supply. Built-in to the system is protection against short circuits or overload.
An amplifier that is designed more for those on a budget than for those seeking a spectacular sound performance.
- A good level of control over the low-end sound.
- Cost-effective price point.
- Many will need a higher quality of amp.
6 Kenwood KAC-M3001 – Most Versatile Car Amplifier
When you are talking about audio, the name Kenwood features prominently. When you are talking about car audio, it sits close to the top. Founded in Japan in 1946, they continue to produce quality audio systems for home and car.
This is an amp that will give you up to 300 watts RMS of power. The Class D amp delivers more than enough for any vehicle.
A miniature monster…
Some manufacturers refer to their products as compact. But you don’t get much more compact than this. It measures 3.88 by 5.69 by 1.75 inches and weighs just two pounds. It won’t be a problem to find a place to fit it.
The design means that it is easy to install. There is no need to connect a remote cable to your stereo in your car. It automatically recognizes a signal and turns itself on.
Not only for your car…
It has a circuit board that has been given a protective coating. This means that it will not only work in your car but will also be suitable for a boat, ATV, or even a motorcycle.
It is fitted with two RCA inputs. This is so you can connect a stereo RCA cable to the head unit from the amp. It also has a MOSFET power supply. There are LED indicators. One to show the unit is on. The other red to indicate there may be a problem.
A good amp, and at the price point, it must be thought of as one of the Best Car Amplifiers.
- Very compact design and easy to fit at a cost-effective price.
- Circuits are given protection from moisture and dampness.
- Some may want more power.
7 Lanzar Car Audio Amplifier – Best Lightweight Subwoofer Amplifier
For those looking for budget options for their car audio amps, here is another option from Lanzar.
Lanzar specializes in offering budget range products and manufacturers a range of amps, speakers, subs, and other audio-related equipment.
Lightweight but with a good low end…
A welcome feature with this amp is that it is another option that has a compact build. It measures only 12.99 by 8.81 by 2.24 inches and weighs just 5lbs.
The output is rated at 650 watts RMS at 4 ohms, and it includes a booster for the bass if you require it. It has a frequency response of 50Hz-250Hz and an efficient crossover network.
Stable and secure…
The build quality is of quite a high standard, and it has been given some useful features. All the terminals that are screw-down and the connectors for RCA inputs are nickel-plated.
This ensures that the connections are good and stable. It also, of course, prevents any rust or corrosion.
Signal quality assured…
Furthermore, good connections will improve the sound and will produce a distortion free sound. There are right and left channel line outs and some useful controls for the low-pass filter we mentioned previously.
For indicators on the status of the amp, there is an LED to show it is on. And another that acts as a warning indicator if something malfunctions.
Of course, at this price point, you are not going to get a top of the range amp. But for those on a budget, this is a decent buy.
- Well-made compact amp at an attractive price.
- Some nice sound features.
- Some will want an amp with a higher specification and performance level.
8 Pyle Hydra Marine Amplifier – Best Marine Amplifier
This amp from Pyle has been designed for marine use essentially. But it can be used in vehicles as well. It claims it is waterproof, but we can find no official IP rating to confirm this.
This is very much a budget range amp. It has four channels and will operate with a variety of extra devices. With the 3.5mm to RCA adapter, you can connect smartphones or an MP3 player. There is some protection circuits built-in. It has soft power on and off as well as protection against a short circuit.
Four channels and gain control…
It is quite a compact unit measuring 11.5 by 5.75 by 3.75 inches and weighing 5 lbs. And so it should not be too difficult to find a space for it. And has a power rating of 100 watts RMS on each of the four channels at 4 ohms. Additionally, it has a gain control that is adjustable by 2-4 ohms.
It doesn’t have a power-on indicator light or LED. Even though it is a budget system, we think that might be considered an omission.
- A basic system at a cost-effective price.
- Some protection for the circuits built-in.
- Lacking some basic features.
9 KICKER CX400.1 400 Watt Class D Mono Amplifier for Car Audio Speakers – Best Value for Your Money Car Amplifier
Kicker is a well-known name in audio circles and usually has something to say with their products. But there are some things you can say about them. First, they are well-made with a rugged build. Second, they are usually good value for money.
But will the Kicker CX400.1 400 Watt Class D Mono Amplifier carry on the tradition of value for money?
You are about to find out…
This is a 1 ohm stable until A Class D, monoblock amp. Monoblock amps are single-channel amplifiers. They are often preferred by some people because of the extra sound quality and power they can produce.
At 1 ohm, this has an output of 400 watts RMS. It also has a built-in boost for the lower frequencies of up to plus 6dB. This is operated by a remote bass controller. Unfortunately, that is not included and is an optional extra.
The frequency response is 25 Hz to 20kHz and has a signal to noise ratio that is below 95dB.
The crossovers at 12dB give you useful control over the sound performance. Therefore, you can set it up to suit your own preferences.
It is a compact amp measuring 6 ¾ by 8 ⅛ by 2 ⅜ inches. Small enough to be able to fit into most spaces in your vehicle.
At the price point, this represents good value for money. So it does fit neatly into that tradition of Kicker giving a decent product at a realistic cost. That means it should be easily considered as one of the Best Car Amplifiers you can buy.
- Well-built, compact amp at an attractive price.
- Stable performance at 1 ohm with some nice features.
- No remote control included.
10 Planet Audio AC1500.1M Car Amplifier – Best Class A Car Amplifier
Planet Audio is a relative newcomer on the block, established as recently as 1996 in California. They bring good quality products at cost-effective prices. They are not so well-known as other manufacturers. So can this amp compete with the others? We shall see.
This amp is thought of by many as one of the best budget range amps on the market. It certainly houses some good features.
Enhanced sound quality…
It is a Class A/B amp. Class A is not the most efficient of amps, but it has a high level of sound quality. It will produce 1100 watts to the speakers at 2 ohms. The design includes variable level inputs. This will let you bring in music from various sources.
It has MOSFET to improve the quality of the sound that is delivered. Also, a low-pass filter. This effectively will remove any high frequencies away from your subwoofer.
A common feature included is the bass boost. This is there to let you make adjustments to the bass sound and get it exactly how you like it.
It is a nice, slim, compact unit with a straightforward design with the Planet logo on top. It measures 10 by 10 by 2.4 inches and weighs just 6.6 pounds.
But does it compete with its competitors?
That was the question we asked at the beginning. The answer is at this price, yes, it does. It has all the basic sound control features you will require and plenty of power.
- Compact design with plenty of power.
- Some good features built-in.
- Some will prefer a Class D amp.
Best Car Amplifiers Buying Guide
A part that replaces something that was delivered with the car it is often called an ‘aftermarket’ product. All vehicles these days come with a stereo that has an amp built-in. So why buy an ‘aftermarket’ amp?
Well, the reason is that the manufacturers don’t usually bother to put a decent sound system in the car. They don’t have to. The kind of stereo in the vehicle is not one of the consideration points for the average customer.
So, where is the motivation for giving you a good system?
Manufacturers of aftermarket car audio equipment, of course, are delighted they don’t, which allows them to make the stuff to replace it with.
For many car owners wanting to get a better sound, upgrading the speakers might be enough. But for those who want more volume and low end, it’s time to get an amp. And possibly some new speakers as well to handle the power.
What to look for?
There are a lot of complexities involved. Basically, each speaker is a channel. If you want to power four speakers, you will need a four-channel amp. Most will make do with two channels.
What are the considerations?
The sort of sound you are looking for must be high on the list. Do you want high or low cut filters or perhaps bass boost? How much power do you want? Always best to look at the RMS figure, not the Peak output. That can be misleading.
Is space a consideration? Some amps are physically quite large. What about built-in protection against short circuits, overheating, etc.? That could be an important issue.
As with most things, you only get what you pay for. But in some cases, you don’t need it to go through the roof. Generally, it is better to stick with well-known brands. But there are some great little amps from lesser-known manufacturers at a lower price.
In the market for a subwoofer?
Oh, and if you still have a tape deck in your car, sneak a peek at the Best Cassette Adapter currently available in 2023.
What are the Best Car Amplifiers?
Our priorities are that it doesn’t take up too much room, so it needs to be compact. We don’t want to have to sell the house to get it, so it must be cost-effective. Finally, it has a decent, but not earth-shattering, output.
We, therefore, would pick the…
A great little amp from a respected manufacturer at a reasonable price.
Until next time, may your music make you merry.