While our review team mainly consists of experts in the automotive industry, we also employ a few audiophiles. A car amplifier can create higher-quality sound to ultimately create a more enjoyable driving experience. You shouldn’t have to settle for the factory speaker setup in your car when there are affordable options to take your car audio to the next level.
With all the different types of products that our team of experts reviews, we pride ourselves on the honest and unbiased review of car parts and car accessories. A new car amp will undoubtedly improve the quality of sound in your vehicle, helping you get that perfect speaker setup you always dreamed of.
5 Best Car Amplifiers
- Best Features: Rockford Fosgate R500X1D
- Best Class D Car Amp: Alpine S-A60M
- Best Power Output: Kicker 46CXA8001
- Most Versatile: Kenwood X8025
- Best Value: Boss Audio Systems R1004
Our Review Standards
To select the five best car amplifiers featured in this buyers guide, our team first combed through dozens of resources such as DIY mechanic and auto enthusiast forums, manufacturer and car audio-specific websites, instruction manuals from manufacturers, and reviews from online retailers. We pay particularly close attention to quality reviews and recommendations that highlight the quality of warranties, customer service support, build quality, materials, and overall reliability.
We also factored in the quantity and quality of online retailer reviews from websites such as Amazon, RealTruck, Advance Auto Parts, and more. We looked at factors such as standout customer reviews, prices, meaningful superlatives, and discount shipping eligibility.
Why You Can Trust Us
Since 2020, we have published over 200 auto product reviews in an effort to make shopping for auto products easier. Our team of writers, editors, researchers, and product experts collaborates to thoroughly vet top products. We try to perform in-house testing on real vehicles whenever possible before making our recommendations.
When testing is not feasible, however, our aim is to make your life easier by doing all the online research for you and presenting that research in the form of easy-to-read product comparisons and buyers guides, rather than outright recommendations. For more information on our testing methodology and how we evaluate every product, check out our methodology page here.
Car Amplifiers Buyers Guide
In this buying guide to the best car amplifiers, we discuss the different types of crossover and what exactly CEA-2006 compliance means for amps. We think these two characteristics of an amplifier should ultimately determine what amp you buy.
Different Types Of Crossovers
There are two basic types of crossovers: active and passive. Active crossovers require power and ground connections, while passive crossovers don’t require power at all.
- Active: This type of crossover means each driver has its own channel of amplification. Additionally, active crossovers tend to have their own level control. This crossover requires a more involved setup than its counterpart.
- Passive: This type of crossover means it doesn’t need to be connected to a power source to work. Passive crossovers offer less fine-tuning capabilities but are easier to install than active crossovers. Passive crossovers can be broken down further into two more categories, component crossovers and in-line crossovers.
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is an independent organization that tests electronic products against manufacturer assertions for common characteristics of a specific product. CEA-2006 is a rating standard created to help consumers compare different amplifiers. A CEA logo on the side of an amplifier’s packaging means it is CEA-2006 compliant.
The two most fundamental qualities of an amplifier are its loudness and how high a quality sound it produces. Due to this, CEA-2006’s fundamental ratings for car amplifiers are Output Power and Signal-To-Noise Ratio. Without a car amplifier receiving official CEA-2006 compliance, the true quality and loudness of sound are unconfirmed and somewhat unknown for an amp.
Class AB Power Vs. Class D Power
One small thing to know about car audio systems is how they are powered. The two primary options on the market these days are Class D and Class AB.
- Class AB: This power class is known for having a very clean and crisp sound, but not being very energy efficient and requiring cooling fans to operate at a safe temperature.
- Class D: A newer alternative, Class D is incredibly efficient, but the sound quality typically isn’t as good as Class AB devices. That said, technology is always advancing to where dips in sound quality are less noticeable.
#1 Best Features: Rockford Fosgate R500X1D
The Rockford Fosgate R500X1D is a powerful amp that will take your car stereo and sound quality to the next level with its rating of 500.0 watts for one channel at 2.0 ohms RMS. This car amp features a Mosfet power supply, cast aluminum heatsink, overcurrent protection, RCA pass-through output, and high-level inputs.
In terms of protection specs, this car amplifier has power supply thermal sensing to protect against overheating as well as short circuit protection and overcurrent protection for circuitry protection. It also features an onboard 12.0-dB LP/HP/AP crossover and an infrasonic filter. LP/HP/AP stands for low-pass filter, high-pass filter, and all-pass filter. Your car speakers can be controlled through your power amplifier via its remote control variable bass boost.
- Cost: Around $210
- Remote control for bass
- Power supply thermal sensing
- Onboard 12.0-dB LP/HP/AP crossover
What Customers Are Saying
Amazon Review Score: 4.8 out of 5 based on over 3,700 reviews
Customers highly recommend the Rockford Fosgate R500X1D and praise it for its sound quality. Several reviewers speak to this car amplifier’s shallow mount and terrific power output. One man claims he spent thousands of dollars trying to fix the power output problem he was having with his car’s speakers, and this car amp is the first one that fixed his issue. Another individual reviewer claims this car amplifier hasn’t overheated once.
#2 Best Class D Car Amp: Alpine S-A60M
The Alpine S-A60M is rated at 330.0 watts RMS and features variable bass boost. The compact design of this amplifier allows it to fit in most small cars. Enhanced Shutdown Performance Technology allows your amplifier to reduce its high power output to prevent overheating without fully shutting off.
This car amplifier features a low-pass filter and adjustable bass boost to give you ultimate control over the full range of frequencies that reach your subwoofers. Including preamp and speaker-level inputs, you’ll be able to fit the amp in almost every vehicle including those with factory radios. Speaker level inputs allow your amp to detect incoming signals and turn itself on, therefore eliminating the need to run a turn-on wire to your car’s receiver or fuse box.
- Cost: Around $160
- Enhanced Shutdown Performance Technology
- Low-pass filter
- Adjustable bass boost
What Customers Are Saying
Amazon Review Score: 4.7 out of 5 based on around 300 reviews
Reviewers rave over this powerful little car amp. Customers can’t believe how great their car audio setup sounds after hooking up the Alpine S-A60M. One man claims that although this amp is rated at 600 watts, he found it produced 852 watts when he tested it. Others note that this car amplifier clearly outperforms the OEM amp installed in their car previously.
#3 Best Power Output: Kicker 46CXA8001
The Kicker 46CXA8001 produces 1,600.0 watts at maximum power and is an efficient Class D amplifier. This amp features a 12.0-dB variable crossover to dial in for great sound while a KickEQ 6.0-dB bass boost allows you to reach additional low frequencies, making it one of the best car amplifiers out there for bass sounds.
To protect against damaging frequencies, the car amp features a 24.0-dB subsonic filter. Kicker’s FIT+ technology, which stands for Fail-Safe Integration Technology Plus, offers outstanding noise rejection even with factory audio systems. The car amp is also stable down to 1.0 ohm, meaning you have the freedom to add even more subwoofers to your car audio setup. It should also be noted that this amp comes with both vertical and horizontal mounting hardware.
- Cost: Around $250
- Kicker’s FIT+ technology
- KickEQ 6.0-dB bass boost
- 24.0-dB subsonic filter
What Customers Are Saying
Amazon Review Score: 4.7 out of 5 based on over 900 reviews
Customers love the Kicker 46CXA8001 and praise it for making their car audio system sound brand new. Reviewers say this car amplifier is small, yet powerful. One man claims that if you have large subwoofers in your car, this is a great amp to use. Several reviews complain that they wish this car amp included the bass remote.
#4 Most Versatile: Kenwood X8025
Featuring a detachable sliding terminal for a sleek design and easy installation is the Kenwood X8025. This five-channel amplifier has both high and low-pass crossover filters to allow you to optimize your sound. It should be noted that a speaker level input harness is included in the box for connecting speaker wires from factory-installed receivers.
You can use the amp to deliver 50.0 watts RMS to each front and rear speaker while leaving 500.0 watts RMS to your subwoofer. But you can also use the amp in three-channel mode, allowing for 150.0 watts RMS to high-powered speakers and 500.0 watts RMS of power for your sub. Additionally, the amplifier is CEA-2006 compliant and features an output coil with a magnetic shield to prevent magnetic flux, reduce noise, and enhance sound quality.
- Cost: Around $350
- CEA-2006 compliant
- Output coil with magnetic shield
- Speaker level input harness included
What Customers Are Saying
Amazon Review Score: 4.7 out of 5 based on over 120 reviews
The Kenwood X8025 is a great car amplifier according to customers. One man says he used this car amplifier to upgrade the sound system in his Tesla. Another individual reviewer claims to be an audio engineer, he says you can save money by buying another brand’s car amp but it won’t be worth the money like this one is. Negative reviews are few and far between.
#5 Best Value: Boss Audio Systems R1004
The Boss Audio Systems R1004 is a four-channel amplifier from Boss Audio System’s Riot Series. In terms of power, this car amp can perform at 100.0 watts max by 4 at 2.0 ohms or 50.0 watts max by 4 at 4.0 ohms. This car amplifier features variable gain control, allowing you to adjust the amount of signal that is coming out of your receiver. This is a four-channel amp with Class A/B topology, meaning you have the power to run not only your speakers but also your subwoofer.
The car amplifier features Short Protection which automatically shuts off your amp when it gets too hot or if the speakers fail and cause a short circuit, thereby protecting your car amp. The amp also features switchable input sensitivity which offers adjustable control over the input signal from the head unit to provide a customized balance between power and sound quality. It should be noted that this is the only amp from Boss Audio’s Riot Series that isn’t bridgeable.
- Cost: Around $75
- Class A/B topology
- Switchable input sensitivity
- Variable gain control
What Customers Are Saying
Amazon Review Score: 4 out of 5 based on over 4,700 reviews
Reviewers say the Boss Audio Systems R1004 is a great car amplifier to consider if you don’t want to break the bank. Customers note that this amp isn’t designed to power anything more than a few door speakers, but it does it’s job very well. Those with negative feedback complain about a humming noise coming from an issue with grounding.
Best Car Amplifiers: Bottom Line
It is pretty clear that the audio system in most vehicles is an afterthought to automakers. Pairing one of the best car amplifiers, in addition to quality head units, speakers, and subwoofers, can both improve tone and add a lot of power.
Car Amplifiers At A Glance
|Rockford Fosgate R500X1D||$210||8.5 x 6.7 x 1.9 inches||Class D|
|Alpine S-A60M||$160||11.0 x 11.0 x 5.0 inches||Class D|
|Kicker 46CXA8001||$250||12.0 x 4.0 x 9.0 inches||Class D|
|Kenwood X8025||$350||12.0 x 9.0 x 4.0 inches||Class D|
|Boss Audio Systems R1004||$75||7.8 x 9.0 x 2.0 inches||Class A/B|
Best Car Amplifiers: FAQ
*Data accurate at time of publication.