Most people believe that their vehicle's OEM stereo has sufficient power, or that their new aftermarket stereo that puts out 50 watts per channel (peak) is enough for a great sounding system. But, the reality is that whether it's an OEM system with '300 watts' or an aftermarket unit with 50 per channel, most of wattage ratings are peak and don't represent the true output of the system. For example, a 50 watt per channel aftermarket stereo might actually only be pumping around 15 to 20 watts to each of your speakers. Most aftermarket speakers have an RMS rating of 75 watts and higher, depending on the size, make, model and etc.
To power your speakers (aftermarket or not) with the correct amount of power can mean a WORLD of difference to the performance of both subwoofers and speakers alike. You may have the highest performing speaker or subwoofer but without the power, it ultimately means nothing. Don't let power be the bottleneck of your system. Get an amp that provides your speakers with the power they need to produce crisp and clear music, whether your using high performance component speakers, subwoofers or OEM equipment. And if you are going to add a subwoofer, an amp is an absolute necessity.
Max (Peak) Vs RMS Power
Lets start by going over speakers and amplifier ratings and what they mean.
The difference between “Peak Power” and “RMS Power” is simple, so don’t let it confuse you. RMS Power is a measure of the amplifier’s continuous power. It’s the realistic amount of power that the amplifier is rated for. It’s more of an average of the wattage output over a set amount of time. Peak Power can best be described as the “peak” amount of power that the amplifier can generate or handle in a very short amount of time, a burst. It is not the amount of power the amplifier emits on a continuous basis, but more of a quick burst.
Even though the Peak Power ratings are marketed by speaker and amplifier manufacturers to catch the eyes of consumers, it is not the Peak Power, but the RMS Power that you want to use as a tool to match the right speaker with the right amplifier.
Matching an Amplifier With a Speaker
Now that you know an amplifier’s RMS Power rating is a more accurate measurement of the power output, you can use it as a tool to correctly match it to the speaker(s) and subwoofers you want to use. You will want to match the RMS rating of the amplifier to the RMS rating of the speaker or subwoofer. The closer these two numbers are to each other, the better match you have. For example, if an amplifier has an output of 100 watts x 4 channels RMS, this will mean that you want a speaker that has a 100 watt RMS rating (or in this case 4 speakers with a 100 watt rating). Same goes with a subwoofer.
Here's a list of 2016's best rated series amplifiers for your car to help you match the ultimate amplifier to your car's stereo, speakers or subwoofer.