A car amplifier is one of the most important components of your audio system and needs to be matched to the speakers it will be powering. Some key considerations when choosing an amp are type, power, filters and class.
Types of Car Amplifiers
There are five main types of amplifiers available: Mono, Two-channel, Three-channel, Four-channel and Five-channel models. The type of car amp you select will depend on the number of speakers you need to power. Generally, each channel connects to one speaker. For example, mono is for one speaker, two-channel is connected to two speakers, and so on.
RMS Power Versus Peak Power
Like Subwoofer power ratings, RMS power refers to the continuous power available, whereas peak power is for brief, unsustained boosts in sound. To ensure top sound quality and avoid speaker damage, amplifiers should be matched to the speakers they will be powering.
Car Amplifier Filters
There are two types of filters: low-pass filters and high-pass filters. Low-pass filters send low-frequency tones to the Subwoofers and keep them from producing higher tones. High-pass filters send high-frequency tones to the Tweeters and prevent them from creating lower tones. By filtering the sounds, based on the speakers they are being sent to, your subwoofers and tweeters will perform better and last longer.
While there are many classes of amplifiers, there are four main ones: Class A, Class B, Class AB and Class D.
- Class A amplifiers use a single transistor, are always powered on even with no audio signal, and can become very hot.
- Class B amplifiers use two transistors and exhibit crossover distortion when switching between the two.
- Class AB amplifiers use two transistors and have a continuous, low level current running through them for improved efficiency and less distortion.
- Class D amplifiers are the most efficient, using multiple transistors and switching continuously between them while minimizing crossover distortion through a filter.