What is an Amplifier.....

Subwoofers Back Home Pictures Sound Deadening

Let us begin by first clarifying what an amplifier does. In general terms, it's the powerhouse. It sends the power to the subwoofer, which instructs the subwoofer. Aside from subwoofers, there are thousands of amplifiers that are avaliable in today's market. The question is "which one do we pick"? Similar to what I said about subwoofers, the name of the manufactuerer is important to the user. There are several factors to look at when choosing an amplifier for your sound system. Warranty, Manufacturer, Power Ratings, Channels, and Amp Design. The warranty is the number one aspect to look for in such a product. You can be the most experienced person in the CarAudio hobby today and still incorrectly wire the amplifer by having a weak ground. If an individual purchased the amp through an authorized dealer, then warranty is available. On the other hand, if an individual purchases an amplifier through a non-authorized dealer, then he/she risks the chance of receiving warranty. Many of these non-authorized dealers will tell you "yes, we have a 1year warranty", but it isn't true. The trick here is that they will tell you this during the purchase of the amplifier, but when you come to a technical problem with the amplifier later on, they will tell you "contact the manufacturer." When you contact the manufacterer and tell them about your purchase, what do you think they will tell you? "The product was purchased at a non-authorized dealer, we cannot honor the warranty!!!!!"

Moving on to the power ratings, this is probably the most hardest thing to consider when choosing an amplifier. The amplifier's power ratings are crucial in determining whether that amp will satisfy one's needs or not. It is important that the amp purchased, should have power specfications.If there isn't any power specifications on the amp, you are just guessing at what your amp puts out. Looking at the fuses on the amplifier can give you an approximation of what will the amp do. If an amp is rated at 3000 RMS, but only has 80amps worth of fuses, the amp will surely not produce 3,000RMS. We can look at the following example to show how an amp is rated.

RMS Power Handling with less than .1% THD from 20Hz to 20kHz
1500watts X 1 RMS at 2ohms
700watts X1 RMS at 4ohms

Every single term in that example is important because it would be meaningless without those terms. The "1500" is the amount of watts that amplifier will produce at a given ohm load. The "1" represents the number of channels that 1500 will divide into. In this case, it will produce 1500 in a single channel. Multi-channeled amplifiers can be used for front and rear speakers, along with some components. what does the RMS represent? This term stands for Root Mean Square and is an approach of measuring waveform, specifically AC. Whats the difference between RMS and watts? If an amplifier does not state RMS anywhere in the manual, I would highly suggest you stay away from that amplifier. Most of the time, the power ratings are written on the outside box, so you could see the capabilities of the amplifier. In most cases, watts is just a number that gives customers the "WOW" factor. For instance, if an amplifier states "3000watts X 1 at 1ohm" without any RMS clarification, it can be said that the amp will most likely not put out 3000watts continuously or even 3000watts on a short burst. Watts is known to be a Peak measure, which means the amount of watts it does during a short burst. After extensive researching and testing, it has been clear that Peak does not mean anything nowadays. Numerous amplifiers will state peak measures to grab the customer's attention. Of course, the average consumer doesn't know the difference between RMS and Peak measures, therefore the individual is believed to think that specific amp does that Peak power continuously.

The next term, "less than 0.1% THD, represents the distortion level. THD stands for Total Harmonic Distortion. 90% of amplifiers will produce some distortion when it's being driven to it's max level. As a result, when the amplifier begins to be overdriven, the distortion level becomes really high at a rapid pace. Distortion isn't good for the sub nor the amp itself. Looking for the THD specifications on an amplifier will reassure you the distortion level at a certain percentage is below minimum standards. When an amplifier does not show the THD specs, it can be said that the distortion level is above 1%. An amplifier that produces distortion over 1% gives itself a higher power rating, but at such a high distortion. One thing to notice, distortion leads to burning voice coils of the subwoofers, along with fried capacitors of the amplifier. The following term, "20Hz to 20kHz", tells the consumer the amp's power range during those set of frequencies. Having this phrase in an amplifier's specifications will tell you that the amp can produce power in the normal audio range.

In advanced setups, an amplifier can be pushed to the limits. With plenty of experience, an individual can run an amp below its rated power, give the amp more than its rated 14.4 voltage (which is the standard voltage of a vehicle), along with many other tricks.There are far more factors than choosing a sub with the correct voice coil configuration and the amplifier at the correct ohm load. Once again, these techniques are only for experienced users, who can safely mod an amplifier to its limits. Now, that I have presented you with a basics of amplifiers, we can discuss a few reputable amplifiers. One thing to realize is that if you open up an amplifier and look at the inside, you can basically tell if the amp will do it's rated power or not. For instance, look at the 2,500 RMS amplifiers at this site and tell me if you see a difference between the quality and the non-quality amplifiers. Below is a list of amplifiers that are considered low quality, medium quality, and high quality amplifiers. You can look at the table below to use as a guide when your determining your purchase.

A table showing Amplifier's Rankings
Low Medium High
Boss Alpine RE Audio
Legacy Pioneer Digital Designs
Pyramid Hifonics Fi Car Audio
Lanzar Memphis Kicker
Nitro Power Acoustic Cactus Sounds
Sony Audique Rockford Fosgate
Audiobahn JL Audio Mcintosh
Blitz Audio MTX Arc Audio