If you are serious about improving the sounds coming from your car stereo, then you really need to consider installing an aftermarket amplifier. There are huge range of options out there to suit all budgets and needs.

An aftermarket amplifier can transform an underpowered factory system by allowing you to hook up a few thumping subwoofers. Or if you are designing a system from scratch, the amplifier will be the heart of the system allowing you to install a range of speakers, tweeters and subwoofers.


The Best Car Amplifiers At a Glance

Amazon.com prices as of  2018-09-10 at 04:57 UTC Details

Best Class D Mono Amp
Main Features
  • 2,400 Watt Max Power Output
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    1,200 Watt Continuous Output at 1Ω
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    Single Channel (Mono)
  • Wired Bass Remote for Bass Adjustment

The Pioneer GM D9601 is a compact amplifier that generates some serious wattage. It’s a Class D mono amp, designed for powering one or more subwoofers. Even though it’s small in size, installing this amp in your car will definitely transform your music experience when you hit the road for your daily commute or those long road trips.

Design and Look

The body of this amplifier is made out of hard plastic, yet is nicely crafted and topped with a shiny imitation carbon fibre finish. Considering this is marketed as a ‘budget’ amplifier, it’s well built, feels sturdy and the body fits together nicely with no sharp edges. All of the Pioneer GM series amplifiers use this shell and it gives these amps a more premium feel. 

All of the connectors are located on the sides of the amp. On one end you’ve got the 4 gauge power and ground connectors, the fuses and the speaker outputs. On the other end you’ve got the gain and frequency settings, the RCA inputs and outputs and the remote bass control.

Power Output and Sound

The GM D9601 has an RMS rating of 1200W at 1 ohm, and 800W at 2 Ohm. So the amplifier can offer serious power output, but most people probably won’t manage to squeeze the full 2,400 Watts out of it. Being a mono channel amplifier, it’s meant to deliver power to one or two subwoofer and for enhancing the bass output of a factory system. 

You can connect multiple subs using a parallel or series configuration through the multiple block controls. This will distribute power and is maybe not the best way to use this amplifier. Based on its ohm rating, it can efficiently handle at most 2 subs. 

The general consensus from other reviewers is that this amp outputs a very clean and crisp sound. This amplifier definitely makes the subs thump. Overall, it overpowers a lot of other amplifiers in this class. 

Size and Class

Pioneer GM D9601 is based on class D technology. This reduces its weight, size and makes the amp compact and portable but still manages to help the amp create a fuller and more impactful sound. 

It is almost 50% smaller than comparable A/B class amplifiers, and being a Class D design it will also run cooler than less efficient amps. The smaller size of the amplifier is also influenced by the fact that it uses MOSFET transistor configuration. This gives the amplifier it's power efficiency and reduces heat generation. 

Controls

Also included in the box is a wired bass remote that allows you to adjust the bass output level from a distance. On the amp itself, there is a low pass filter control allows you to adjust tone and sharpen the bass, and the crossover frequency selector.

Pros
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    Portable
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    Lightweight
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    Power Efficient
Cons
  • Not Bridgeable
  • Some reviewers have reported that it can get quite hot
Best Budget Friendly Car Amplifier
Main Features
  • 2,500 Watt Max Power Output at 2Ω
  • Variable crossover and bass output
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    High and Low level inputs

The BOSS Audio AR2500M is marketed as another budget-friendly mono subwoofer amplifier. With a 2500 RMS output at 4 Ohm, it will allow you to easily add some bass to an underpowered factory system.

Design and Look

Not everyone cares about the look or finish of their car amps, since you’re probably going to hide it under a seat or in the trunk. But for those of you that do care, this one is actually pretty nice!.

It’s a tidy design, measuring around 14 by 6.5 inches and weighs only 4.9lbs. It’s made entirely from a grey/chrome plastic that kind of reminds me of the top of a classic engine, and maybe that’s the look that Boss were going for. 

You’ll find all of the RCA, speaker and controller connectors are spread out on opposing ends of the amplifier. 

Power Output

This is a single channel amp with a max power rating of 2500W and RMS rating of 1875W at 2 Ohm, and 938W at 4 ohms. This makes it capable of easily driving one or two subs at somewhere around 900 Watts. 

Some reviews online claim that the RMS rating on this amp is not accurate. Some have observed a lower RMS power output when measured it using multimeters. This isn’t uncommon with some budget end amplifiers. 

Size and Class

With dimensions of 16×6.5×2.6 inches it’s compact and can easily be hidden away if you don’t want to see it. It’s also pretty lightweight at only 4.9 pounds, so it’s not much heavier than an average laptop. 

Being a class A/B amplifier, it’s a hybrid class, a derivative of classes A and B. This makes it more energy efficient while producing less sound distortion.

Controls

The output can be tweaked using three controls, bass boost, a variable low pass filter and a remote wired subwoofer control. The variable low pass filter gives a range of 40 Hz to 130 Hz. 

It also features short protection, that protects the amplifier from overheating by sensing heat and performing an automatic shutdown. It can also adjust the power output itself if the temperature gets too high. 

Sound

It produces impressive dynamics across various sound frequencies. The audio even at a high gain level doesn’t get distorted and lose its clarity. Like most amps, it gives a very good bass punch while hearing all forms of music especially hip-hop and EDM. 

Pros
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    Energy Efficient
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    Generates incredible power for its size
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    Slim and compact design
Cons
  • Doesn't have a built in fan, so it can get hot
  • Some reviewers claim that it delivers a lower power output than advertised
Best Waterproof Amplifier For Marine
Main Features
  • Waterproof - Marine rating of IP-01
  • Corrosion resistant gold-plated connectors
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    400 Watt - 4 Channel at 4Ω
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    Aluminium heatsink and thermal overload protection

This Pyle Amp is a hard shielded, waterproof, 4-channel amplifier that is perfect for usage anywhere that has the potential to be exposed to water. It is designed to put out those low notes that usually multi-channel speakers aren’t designed to produce, giving you a rich and well-balanced sound. It is, of course, a great upgrade for your car audio system but also finds its use in boats, RVs and ATVs. 

Design and Look

The circuitry of the amp is housed in a silver box with a Pyle logo over it. The body is entirely waterproof. The connector jacks are located on the left and right sides of the box. On the left side, there are dual high-level speaker input connectors, dual adjustable input GAIN level controls, 4 channel amp system, and Dual RCA Input Connector jacks.  Overall, I think the amp looks classy and combined with the waterproof features it’s well suited to all settings. 

Power Output

Each of the four channels of the amplifier is rated 100W and its input GAIN level controls span between 1-300mV. This configuration keeps distortion minimal while achieving an excellent sound quality.

With 4 channels you can customize your sound system in lots of different ways. You can plug in standard speakers, subwoofers and most aftermarket different head units.  The amp offers RMS of 18 watts of power per channel and total RMS of 72watts.

Size and Class

Being a Class AB based amplifier, its fairly power efficient while still creating a decent quality sound with less distortion at higher volumes. In terms of size, it’s very lightweight and compact, weighing in at only 3.95 pounds. It also comes with mounting brackets  in the box. It’s fairly easy to install it with a few screws, and because of it’s size and weight you can fit it under a dashboard or seat without too much hassle.

Controls

The amp has a 3.5mm jack that lets you connect up an mp3 player or a smartphone, The gain knob and other switches are located near the plug and they light up when the amplifier is working. You’ve lots of control over the sound inputs and outputs and can adjust polarity, gain control, input level, volume control, and switch between RCA stereo inputs. 

The soft On/Off feature based on the power protection circuitry protects the peripherals from overload damage. Also, the built-in fuse protection offers short circuit, thermal, overload protection. The aluminum alloy heat sink keeps the amp well vented and prevents thermal issues. The amp has an IP-01 marine rating which makes it fully waterproof and corrosion free. 

Sound

With a 400 Watt output, it's not going to be the loudest amp you can buy. Overall, the reviews for it are good but the sound quality is not going to be as good as other more expensive, higher quality amps. In saying that, the big advantage this amp has over some others is that you can hook up a range of speakers to the 4 channels. This means you can improve the sound range by combining a set of tweeters with a couple of speakers and a subwoofer.  

Pros
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    Waterproof
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    Outputs crisp and clean sound
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    Easy to install
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    Wide stereo and bass sounds
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    Easy to operate 
Cons
  • The channels are not Bridgeable
Best 3000W Mono Amplifier
Main Features
  • Max Power of 3,000 Watts @ 1 Ohm x 1 Channel
  • Variable Crossover, Bass Boost and Subsonic Filter
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    Size:Depth 13” x Width 10” x Height 2.4”

Planet Audio Anarchy Amplifier works in tandem with your subwoofer to give the clearest and loudest sounds. The flexible customizable options offered in this amp makes it one of the best Mono car amps available today. Although AC3000 costs slightly higher than other than Class D amplifiers it comes with greater customizable options. 

Design and Look

Planet Audio AC3000.1D has a simple looking exterior. It has a grey-black textured plastic casing of questionable quality. The blue illumination surrounding the logo accents the amp’s appearance and gives it a good musical vibe.  

Power Output

Planet Audio AC3000.1D amplifier delivers a peak power of 3000W at 1 Ohm and 2250W at 1 Ohm.  The RMS rating suggested by the maker is little exaggerated. In fact, the RMS power delivered by the amp is quite lower and this is clear when tested with a multimeter. The amp overall hits hard and sounds great considering that it has a low price tag.

Size and Class

The amp is based on class D design. It makes the amp power efficient and at the same time more powerful in a mono setting. While it consumes less power, it generates less heat. If you listen to music for long periods over long drives, AC3000D can be your reliable companion. It does not shut down over a long period of time like many of the other amplifiers that are intolerant and sensitive to heat. Also, class D design used in the amplifier is one of the reasons why the amplifier is quite compact. 

Controls

It comes with three key controls, variable bass boost, variable low pass crossover, and variable subsonic filter. The bass level can be controlled through remote subwoofer control. The variable boost feature is a high-end feature that many low-end amps lack. AC3000D has it and this allows you to tweak the low bass in the boost range. The connection wire points on the amp are made of plastic. The users need to be a bit careful while inserting power, remote and ground wires. It is well vented and it works without interruption during hot summer days

Sound

You will enjoy all genres of music on this Planet Audio amp. It is versatile and powerful in supporting wide of speakers with appropriate impedance. It senses the impedance of the speakers and avoids overwhelming them with the high power signal. This amp, of course, increases the audio quality but also prolongs the life of speakers by optimally handling them during operation.

Pros
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    Comes with a 6 Year Warranty
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    Easy to setup
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    Provides massive power for running one or more subs
Cons



Best 
Main Features
  • 650 W MAX Power @ 2 Ohm x 4 Channels
  • MOSFET Power Supply
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    Variable subsonic filter and Bass boost
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    Remote controlled subwoofer
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    High & Low level inputs

The BOSS PF2600 is a powerful 4-channel full range amp that is a great option if you are building an entire car audio system from scratch. It can power a combination of speakers, subwoofers and tweeters and is compatible with a wide range of head units. The outputs are bridgeable, so if you just want to beef up a factory system then you can run this amp as a mono subwoofer system.

Design and Look

The amp appears extraordinary mainly because of the LED backlighting. The appearance of the amp resembles the exterior of the classic gaming laptops with red glow light and black accents. 

Power Output

It offers a max peak power of 2600 watts at 2 Ohm. Each of the channels gives out an estimate RMS of 488watts at 2 Ohm. The MAX power rating on the amplifier at 2 Ohm is 650W over 4 channels and 325W at 4 Ohm. On bridging the channels, the amplifier provides 1300W of max power at 4 Ohm. These power ratings are more than enough for hearing music in a car setting. PF2600 has smart heat-sensing technology that protects the amp from frying in case the heat exceeds a certain threshold. 

Size and Class

The amp weighs 10.2 pounds and has dimensions 17×10.3×2.3 inches. It is compact for a 4 channel amp and is easy to install. The instructions in the owners manual are clear and easy to follow. The amp’s A/B design produces less distorted and cleaner sound compared to those based on class D design. Also, the battery power consumed is optimized because of the use of MOSFET transistor configuration. The stable 2 Ohm impedance gives volume and great power. 

Controls

The safety feature of short protection shuts the amplifier in case it gets heated to alarming level or if there is a circuit problem.  It has an input sensitivity control that allows adjusting the input signal based on the capacity of your speaker and sound quality you want. When driving your subwoofers you can remove the high end by raising the low pass filter. The high pass filter is best for balancing the full range of sound. 

Sound

It delivers a well balanced audio signal for the speakers. It is very loud but clear at all gain levels. Depending on how well your speakers can handle the output, the sound delivered is fantastic in all aspects. You can hear good deep and accurate bass with this amp. 

Pros
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    Compact in size
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    Easy to setup and configure
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    Powerful
Cons
  • Requires an alternate power source
  • Can get warm fairly quickly

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