Best Car Amp Review for Insane Audio and Bass 2017

Our Top Pick
Choosing a winner for this review was hard, but in our opinion the MTX Audio Thunder 500.1 delivers the best value. If you are looking for huge power from your car amp, without compromising on sound quality, this is the one to go for. In addition, its Class D amplification class delivers extremely high efficiency, allowing you to produce huge volume without upgrading your alternator!

Editor’s Pick – Top Pick

Product #Model
1MTX Audio THUNDER500.1 Thunder Series Car Amplifier
2Alpine MRV-F300 4-Channel Car Amplifier
3Boss AR1500M ARMOR 1,500-Watt Mono Mosfet Amplifier
4Rockford Fosgate R500X1D Prime 1-Channel Class D Amplifier
5Rockford Fosgate R250X4 Prime 4-Channel Amplifier

Product DescriptionUsers ScoreOverall Score
Editor choice
MTX Audio THUNDER500.1 Thunder Series Car Amplifier

MTX Audio THUNDER500.1 Thunder Series Car Amplifier

Key Features:  Compact design for easy installation Selectable bass boost Surface mount PCB Class D ...

User Rating: 4 (1 votes)
2 Alpine MRV-F300 4-Channel Car Amplifier

Alpine MRV-F300 4-Channel Car Amplifier

Key Features:  50 Watts RMS x 4 Class D digital platform New design is 40% smaller For an affordable car ...

User Rating: Be the first one!
3 Boss AR1500M ARMOR 1,500-Watt Mono Mosfet Amplifier

Boss AR1500M ARMOR 1,500-Watt Mono Mosfet Amplifier

Key Features:  Singular channel amplifier MOSFET power supply Switchable bass boost 6-year dealer ...

User Rating: 4 (1 votes)
4 Rockford Fosgate R500X1D Prime 1-Channel Class D Amplifier

Rockford Fosgate R500X1D Prime 1-Channel Class D Amplifier

Key Features:  Stealth top-mounted control panel Cast aluminum heatsink Includes wired remote Crossover ...

User Rating: Be the first one!
5 Rockford Fosgate R250X4 Prime 4-Channel Amplifier

Rockford Fosgate R250X4 Prime 4-Channel Amplifier

Key Features:  RMS continuous power Works alongside factory-installed units Class A/B circuitry On-board ...

User Rating: 4 (1 votes)

All factory-installed sound systems come with a basic amplifier, which provides a small boost to sound and audio quality. These standard amplifiers are small, built-in devices that provide power to a number of speakers throughout the vehicle.

Unfortunately, factory-installed amplifiers are rarely powerful enough or efficient enough to provide a truly impressive sound quality. When it comes to enhancing the sound, creating a fuller, more intense audio quality, you’ll need to install a car amp.

A car amplifier is crucial to providing power and volume to any music flowing throughout the vehicle. Not only do they add volume, but they also improve the sound quality, making for a much more enjoyable ride.

Before discussing the best car amps to consider using, our review will first cover the basics of a car amplification system and how to choose the best car amp for you. If you’re looking for info setup check out our wiring kits

How Does a Car Amp Work?

The way that a car amplifier works is this: it provides a boost to the low-level audio signals originating from the lower unit. This provides enough power to move the cones located in the speaker system, generating sound.

Before this signal is amplified, it must move through a preamp. For vehicle audio systems that are more complex, there may be more than one preamp system. The raw signals are moved from the preamp and into the amplifier, boosting power, volume, and tone quality.

Of course, there are a few extra steps involved in the actual process of transforming standard audio into boosted audio, but this relationship between the preamp and the amplifier is the most important point to remember.

Benefits of Installing a Car Amp

There are four main benefits—or reasons—for installing an amplifier in your vehicle. These include:

  • Cleaner, more defined sound at all volume levels
  • Increased audio power
  • Powering an upgraded speaker system
  • Powering a subwoofer

Factory-installed amplifiers typically don’t come with enough power to maintain clarity and quality when the sound system is set to a high volume.

A car amp not only boosts the sound quality, but it is also an invaluable component of making sound system upgrades, like installing new speakers or a subwoofer.

With enough amp power you could have a pimped out car like this one (or in this case a golf cart).

golf cart with amps

Perfect for early morning golf!


Buying Guide for Car Amps

There are tons of different amplifiers available for your vehicle, but before diving right in and buying one, it’s important to know what you are looking for. When it comes to choosing the best car amp for your sound system, there are a few things to consider:

Power Ratings

Amplifiers typically have at least two channels, and these channels will determine the power output wattage. The total power output is measured in watts per channel—higher ratings mean more power and louder volume. 4 Channel and 5 Channel systems area common. 

The industry-specific method of categorizing this measurement is RMS, or “Root Mean Square.” This represents the mathematical equation of determining watts per channel. Luckily, you don’t need to know how to calculate this yourself.

What you should be aware of, however, is that you’ll need to take RMS into account when looking for a car amp. It’s best to choose car amps that list RMS ratings instead of maximum or peak ratings, which don’t provide much information.

Think of it this way: your vehicle has a maximum speed, but how many times do you actually reach that maximum? In the same way, you’ll rarely—if ever—reach the maximum power output rating on an amplifier, making it a less than ideal way to gauge power output.

Speaker Power

A high-quality amplifier is only as good as the speakers that it is connected to. If you are looking to use a car amp to drastically increase the quality, volume, and power of your existing system, you may want to consider replacing the speakers as well.

Similarly, low speaker power can be a sign of a car amp that is nearing the end of its service life. By nature, adding an amplifier will mean that you won’t have to turn the volume up as high to get the same results. If you find that you are constantly cranking up the volume, it may be an issue with the amplifier and not the speakers.

Wiring Kit

Aside from purchasing the actual car amp itself, you will also need to purchase a wiring kit. Amp wiring kits come with everything you will need to safely and efficiently hook an amplifier to your vehicle’s stereo system. This typically includes:

  • Speaker wire
  • Power & ground wire
  • RCA cables
  • Fuse holders
  • Grommets
  • Terminals
  • Cable ties

It’s important to make sure that the amp wiring kit contains the correct wire sizing to match the car amp itself. This is important because the cables and wires in the amp wiring kit determine the amount of power that is sent to the amp.

If the amplifier receives more power than what it is designed for, this could cause sound issues and even damage the amp itself.

Before looking for an amp wiring kit, make sure that you check the manufacturer specifications on your car amp to ensure that you are getting the proper wires to provide power to the amp.

Channels

Car amplifiers will come with either 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 channels. Choosing the right channel means having a clear picture of how much hardware you are working with and where you want the sound to come from.

A 2-channel amplifier is the most practical choice for powering one pair of speakers. If you prefer your sound system primarily in the front, this type of car amp is a good option.

A 3-channel amplifier is best suited for supporting a pair of speakers and a subwoofer.

Using a 4-channel amp can provide enhanced sound control for the front, and the back of the vehicle—each channel will hook up to individual speakers. It could also be used for a pair of speakers and a subwoofer, with two channels running to the subwoofer.

If you want something to provide power for an array of sound system equipment, you might want to consider a 5-channel car amp. There are some manufacturers that offer even more channels, too.


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Our Reviews for  Top Car Amps

To help you narrow down your search and find the best car amp for your vehicle, we have created a list of the top-rated car amps that are currently on the market. Each of these car amps come with highly-rated performance, reliability, and most of all, positive reviews from people who actually use them.


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MTX Audio THUNDER500.1 Thunder Series Car Amplifier

Key Features: picture of MTX Audio THUNDER500.1 Thunder Series Truck Amplifier

  • Compact design for easy installation
  • Selectable bass boost
  • Surface mount PCB
  • Class D topology

Despite its small, compact size, the MTX Audio THUNDER500.1 is one of the most powerful car amps in its class. One of its best features comes from its thermal management, allowing the car amp to be used for hours at a time without worry of damaging the unit or interrupting playback.

The surface mount circuit design is an integral part of this amplifier, as it utilizes smaller parts to resist vibration, increase efficiency, and ensure long-term use.

When it comes to car amps, it’s important to allow for customization of sound. Luckily, this MTX Audio car amp comes with all the necessary features for customization. This includes a low pass filter, bass boost, and a subsonic filter to improve sound quality across all music genres.  

The price tag is a little higher, but if you can afford to splurge on a high-quality car amp, the MTX Audio THUNDER500.1 is the best car amp to do it with.

MTX Audio THUNDER500.1 Thunder Series Car Amplifier

One of its best features comes from its thermal management, allowing the car amp to be used for hours at a time without worry of damaging the unit or interrupting playback.


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Alpine MRV-F300 4-Channel Car Amplifier

Key Features: picture for Alpine MRV-F300 4-Channel Car Amplifier

  • 50 Watts RMS x 4
  • Class D digital platform
  • New design is 40% smaller

For an affordable car amp that offers simple installation, the Alpine MRV-F300 is a great option to consider. With a 40% smaller design, this car amp is sleek, slim, and easily installed into your car without taking up too much room.

As a 4-channel car amp, this amplifier is set to add 50 watts for each channel. As far as overall performance goes, this is a solid choice for an affordable piece of equipment.

The Alpine MRV-F300 car amp provides clean, undistorted sound, making it a powerful addition to a car’s sound system.

Alpine MRV-F300 4-Channel Car Amplifier

With a 40% smaller design, this car amp is sleek, slim, and easily installed into your car without taking up too much room.


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Boss AR1500M ARMOR 1,500-Watt Mono Mosfet Amplifier

Key Features: 

  • Singular channel amplifier
  • MOSFET power supply
  • Switchable bass boost
  • 6-year dealer warranty

This car app promises to deliver pure bass through a MOSFET power supply, switchable bass boost, and 1500 watts of maximum power. It features both high and low-level inputs and a variable low pass crossover to customize the magnitude of the amp.

What makes this car amp stand out is that the addition of high and low-level inputs allows for additional amps or processors to be added, if desired. The 2-Ohm stable allows for a more fluid, comprehensive power supply, making it easy to obtain additional volume and power.

The MOSFET power supply (Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field-Effect Transistors) quickly alternate between full and non-conduction to maximize efficiency.

With specifically designed circuitry to enhance power output, increase efficiency, and decrease distortion, the Boss AR1500M contains an impressive number of features to benefit any sound system.

Boss AR1500M ARMOR 1,500-Watt Mono Mosfet Amplifier

The MOSFET power supply (Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field-Effect Transistors) quickly alternate between full and non-conduction to maximize efficiency.


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Rockford Fosgate R500X1D Prime 1-Channel Class D Amplifier

Key Features: picture of Rockford Fosgate R500X1D Prime 1-Channel Class D Amplifier

  • Stealth top-mounted control panel
  • Cast aluminum heatsink
  • Includes wired remote
  • Crossover & Infrasonic filter

For those who are looking for a truly powerful boost to their sound system without breaking the bank, this Rockford Fosgate car amp is a great fit. Listed at 650-watt RMS, this 1-channel car amp promises to provide focused audio power.

Along with a MOSFET power supply, this car amp also features a cast aluminum heatsink, short circuit protection, over-current protection, high-level inputs, real-time output, and power supply thermal sensing to protect against overheating.

It also comes with a remote bass control (Remote Punch Control) to maximize bass effects and produce a truly impactful riding experience. Additionally, this car amp features RCA pass-thru outputs, a valuable feature in 1-channel amplifiers.

With a ton of additional features at a reasonable price, this Rockford Fosgate car amp is one of the best amplifiers to consider purchasing.

Rockford Fosgate R500X1D Prime 1-Channel Class D Amplifier

For those who are looking for a truly powerful boost to their sound system without breaking the bank, this Rockford Fosgate car amp is a great fit. Listed at 650-watt RMS, this 1-channel car amp promises to provide focused audio power.


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Rockford Fosgate R250X4 Prime 4-Channel Amplifier

Key Features: picture for Rockford Fosgate R250X4 Prime

  • RMS continuous power
  • Works alongside factory-installed units
  • Class A/B circuitry
  • On-board Punch EQ

This 4-channel car amp from Rockford Fosgate comes with a ton of boosting power. Each channel receives 500 watts of power, and the unit is compatible with full-range systems, component systems, or for use alongside a few subwoofers.

While it has four channels, this car amp can easily be used with less than four speakers if need be, making it a versatile option for a car amp.

It also features an On-board Punch EQ, allowing users to customize their audio, creating the perfect sound each time. As an additional benefit, customer reviews rave about this car amp’s ability to provide intense, booming sound for hours without overheating, making it a great choice for those who are driving for long periods of time.

Rockford Fosgate R250X4 Prime 4-Channel Amplifier

While it has four channels, this car amp can easily be used with less than four speakers if need be, making it a versatile option for a car amp.


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Editor’s Choice: MTX Audio THUNDER500.1 Thunder Series Car Amplifier

Although it comes with a slightly higher price tag, having a high-quality, efficient car amp is priceless. Because it has a wide array of features, incredible boosting power, and a compact set-up, this car amp is our Editor’s Choice amongst the best car amps.

We love all the options for customization, allowing for all types of music to be improved, boosted, and ultimately produce fuller and cleaner sound than ever before.

This car amp can easily be connected to a few subwoofers, or to various speakers throughout the vehicle. While it doesn’t come with ground leads or a fuse, the best recommendation is to use 4-gauge power ground leads and a 60-amp fuse.

Our Top Picks for Best Car Amp for the Money

When looking for the best amp, keep in mind that you will need to consider power ratings, speaker power, a wiring kit, and the number of channels. While not discussed in detail in this article, you may also want to consider size as well, since this will impact positioning and the ease of installation.  

If you’re stuck on deciding which car amp is best, look at the top-rated car amps to see what types of features, capabilities, and performance requirements come with each car amp. When it comes to adding sound hardware to your vehicle, it’s certainly worth it to start with the best.

 

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Best Car Amp Review
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