In this article: We'll review 7 our best pick aftermarket amplifiers, audiophile/high performance amplifiers and factory & OEM amplifier upgrades for your car.

A car amplifier is the heart of your car's stereo. It's what pumps power to all of the components of the system. Whether you are looking to power a couple pairs of our recommended best car speakers or a pair of monster car subwoofers, you're going to want one of our best amplifier picks to provide your system with the power it needs to sound great.

Most people believe that their car's OEM stereo has enough power for their speakers, or that their new aftermarket stereo that outputs 50 peak watts per channel is enough for a great sounding system. The reality is that whether it's an OEM system with ‘300 watts' or an aftermarket unit with 18 RMS watts per channel, most ratings don't match the demands of an aftermarket system which can lead to poor sound or even damage speakers.

Powering your speakers (aftermarket or not) with the proper amount of power can mean a WORLD of difference in the performance of both subwoofers and speakers alike. You may have the highest performing speaker or subwoofer but without sufficient power, it 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 the crisp and clear music you love. Whether you're using high performance component speakers, subwoofers or OEM equipment, a top rated amplifier is a true necessity to a quality car stereo system.

Here Are Our Best Car Subwoofers of 2022

To make it easier for you to pick an amp that will work for your stereo, we grouped amplifiers into three groups: aftermarket car amplifiers, audiophile and factory/OEM upgrades. If you're looking for something to power your subwoofer specifically via a monoblock, we have you covered in our best monoblock subwoofer amplifiers article.

Best Car Amplifiers for Audiophiles

Some people just have an ear for music. They can tell the difference between subtle tones, identify notes that sound distorted, and are obsessed with reproducing hi-resolution audio for that live music experience. Satisfying the demands of audiophiles can be a challenge. In recent years, several companies have really stepped up the game to produce amps that faithfully recreate music using numerous technological advantages. When you are searching for an audiophile-grade hi-res amp, these products should be some of the first you look into.

1. Best Car Amplifier With Built In DSP

JL Audio VXi Series

JL Audio VXi Series Amplifiers

JL Audio VXi Series Amplifiers Review

JL Audio is a leader in innovative audio tech, and the VXi-Series of amplifiers is the newest feather in their cap. The VXi amplifiers feature some of the coolest and most revolutionary controls on the planet. Buy one of these amps and you will wonder how you lived without one all your life. JL Audio NexD2 switching capabilities provides incredibly realistic fidelity for the most discerning listener.

But what we think really sets these amplifiers apart is their on-board Digital Signal Processor and digital tuning capability. JL integrated a 10-band equalizer, timing alignment, crossover controls, gain control and more directly into the amplifier. And what's even more impressive is the fact that you can control all of these settings via JL Audio's TüN™ software on your phone or computer. This software in its own right is a beast, and brings an enormous amount of tuning capability directly to your phone or computer without the need to purchase additional DSP or EQ components. If you're interested in reading more information about the VXi amplifiers, check out our VXi amplifier overview.

The VXi-Series amps are available in multichannel and monoblock configurations.

Key Features
  • NexD2 CLass-D amplifier
  • Onboard DSP
  • Advanced Rollback Protection to prevent overheating
  • JL Audio TüN™ compatibility for wireless tuning on your smartphone or tablet
JL Audio VX600-1i top view of amp
VX600/1i

Amplifier Type: Monoblock
Power Handling: 400W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

JL Audio VX1000/1i top view of amplifier
VX1000/1i

Amplifier Type: Monoblock
Power Handling: 600W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

JL Audio VX600-2i top of amplifier
VX600/2i

Amplifier Type: 2-Channel
Power Handling: 180W x 2 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

JL Audio VX400-4i top view of amplifier
VX400/4i

Amplifier Type: 4-Channel
Power Handling: 75W x 4 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

JL Audio VX700-5i top view of 5 channel amplifier
VX700/5i

Amplifier Type: 5Channel
Power Handling: 75W x 4 + 180W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

JL Audio VX1000-5i top of 5 channel amplifier
VX1000/5i

Amplifier Type: 5Channel
Power Handling: 75W x 4 + 400W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

JL Audio VX600-6i top view of amplifier
VX600/6i

Amplifier Type: 6-Channel
Power Handling: 75W x 6 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

JL Audio VX800-8i top view 8 channel amplifier
VX800/8i

Amplifier Type: 8-Channel
Power Handling: 75W x 8 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

2. Editor's Pick

Sony Mobile ES Series

Sony Mobile ES Amplifiers Best Car Amplifiers

Sony Mobile ES Amplifiers Review

Sony has been adding new products to their flagship Mobile ES lineup since they launched them in early 2021. What started with an unveil of four different sized car speakers and a 10” subwoofer, has now turned into a much more comprehensive lineup of stereo products including three amplifiers – a monoblock, 4-channel and 5-channel.

The Mobile ES line is their highest-end automotive products on the market today, and these new amplifiers showcase their dedication to sound control, quality, and of course sound performance. We unboxed and reviewed a few of these Sony amplifiers, and were very impressed with their power handling, input/output configurations, control panel with granular control over frequency ranges/outputs and of course their stylish design. These are Class D amplifiers, and although they don’t come with a built-in DSP with tuning software, Sony made a noticeable effort to provide as much configuration and tuning control onto the amplifier that they could. Their line-output modes with signal summing, high-level or low-level signal input selection, input mode configuration and range control are among some of the great features that clearly indicate an amp that’s designed for competitive or high-performance applications.

Check out our in-depth review of the Mobile ES amplifiers for more information about each feature.

Sony XM-1ES
XM-1ES

Amplifier Type: Monoblock
Power Handling: 600W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

Sony XM-4ES
XM-4ES

Amplifier Type: 4-Channel
Power Handling: 100W x 4 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

Sony XM-5ES
XM-5ES

Amplifier Type: 5-Channel
Power Handling: 100W x 4 + 450W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

3. Best Compact Car Amplifier

Kicker IQ Series

Kicker IQ series amplifiers

Kicker IQ Series Amplifiers Review

Kicker's IQ-Series is another top pick for audiophile-quality sound. They've been described as “cutting edge, and with the tech specs to prove it you really can’t go wrong with one. They come in a variety of channel configurations including multi-channel (2, 4) or monoblock amps. All IQ amps feature Kicker’s TWEEQ IT Bluetooth tuning capabilities that allow you to adjust the amp's settings on your PC, smartphone, or tablet.

Key Features:
  • TWEEQ IT Bluetooth adjustability
  • Selectable crossovers for each channel
  • Configurable Digital Signal Processor
  • Graphical User Interface
Kicker IQ500-1 front top view of amplifier with logo
IQ500.1

Amplifier Type: Monoblock
Power Handling: 250W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

Kicker IQ1000-1 front view of amplifier with logo
IQ1000.1

Amplifier Type: Monoblock
Power Handling: 500W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

Kicker IQ500-2 front top view with logo
IQ500.2

Amplifier Type: 2-Channel
Power Handling: 125W x 2 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

Kicker IQ500-4 front view of amplifier with logo
IQ500.4

Amplifier Type: 4-Channel
Power Handling: 65W x 2 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

4. Best Splurge Amplifier

Audison Voce Series

Audison Voce Series Amplifiers

Audison Voce Amplifiers Review

“Audison” or “audio” and “sonus” in Latin, has built a reputation for designing and manufacturing high-quality, high-performance car audio products, many of which incorporate leading-edge technologies. And for the stereo enthusiasts who want to enter into the world of car audio through an amplifier of excellence, the Voce is one of the best products available in its class. They're the perfect balance of size, versatility and power. A direct descendant of the notable Thesis series amplifier, the Voce series now brings the legendary Thesis sound quality to a wider range of enthusiasts via a more affordable price tag. It still carries along some of the great features of the Thesis though, including the ability to combine analog and digital technologies. These are among the greatest amplifiers on the market today. All-in-all, an exceptionally built, performing and great looking amplifier.

Key Features:
  • High-quality amp with high-grade materials
  • Amplifier Management Processor constantly checks the operating system
  • Hi-Res audio-certified by JAS
  • Remote knob compatible
Audison Voce UNO
AV UNO

Amplifier Type: Monoblock
Power Handling: 700W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

Audison Voce Due
AV DUE

Amplifier Type: 2-Channel
Power Handling: 260W x 2 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

Audison Voce Quattro
AV QUATTRO

Amplifier Type: 4-Channel
Power Handling: 120W x 4 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

Audison VOCE AV 5.1K
AV 5.1K

Amplifier Type: 5-Channel
Power Handling: 75W x 4 + 600W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

All Around Great Aftermarket Car Amplifiers

So, you’ve managed to swap your factory head unit and/or speakers out for some slick upgrades, but the bass is lacking and the mids sound muddy. Getting a powerful amp installed that works with your system is key to getting the full richness and rounded sound from your system. There are literally hundreds of options that can work, but to get the most out of your head unit, you will want an amplifier with the latest tech, features and matching power specs. Keep in mind that many amplifier ratings for power are measured at 14.4 volts. In some extreme cases, you will need to add an additional car battery or modify the charging system to get maximum power from an amp. Take a look at our best car batteries for upgrades.

1. Best Car Amp for Subwoofers & Bass

Hifonics ZRX (Zeus)

Hifonics ZRX Zeus Best Car Amplifier

Hifonics ZRX (Zeus) Series Amplifiers Review

Hifonics builds really nice looking amps that seriously crush the bass. The Zeus ZXX-series meet the demands of today’s head units. This series includes multi-channel and monoblock amps, giving a variety of configurations the power it will need. For example, the ZXX 5000.5 is a beast of an amp, but it can power your entire system. The amp has four channels of full range powered by an A/B-Class circuitry for high-quality playback and a Class-D circuit dedicated for an amplifier.

There are nine models under the Zeus ZRX series. They are:

  1. Two-channel A/B ZRX516.2, 500 watts
  2. Four-channel A/B ZRX616.4, 600 watts
  3. Four-channel A/B ZRX1016.4, 1000 watts
  4. D Class subwoofer amplifier ZRX 1216.1D, 1200 watts
  5. Subwoofer amplifier D Class ZRX1816.1D, 1800 watts
  6. Four-channel A/B ZRX2016.4, 2000 watts
  7. Class D subwoofer amplifier ZRX2416.1D, 2400 watts
  8. Class D subwoofer amplifier ZRX3216.1D, 3200 watts

There are clear reasons why the Zeus series is the top rated car amps. Aside from offering the good range of options in wattage and class, these amplifiers have the Hifonics heatsink for efficient ventilation that helps prevent overheating while under extreme load. They also use military grade Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) that can perform under the most rigid and extreme conditions attesting to the brand’s guarantee of reliability and long hours of playtime.

Other key features::

  • Simpatico Coil Design
  • PWM MOSFET power supply
  • Low RCA input and outputs levels
  • DC, overload, thermal, and short circuit protection
  • Hifonics Surface Mount Design (HSMD)
  • Diagnostics

With all these features, the bottom line question remains: how does it improve the audio? Well, you can expect nothing but quality, high volume output from these amps. Plus, it stays cool to the touch and does not feel like it’s being stressed, even when it’s under the heaviest of loads. This is a keeper and hands down, among the best car amps on the market today.

Pros
  • Good bass output
  • Price tag is relatively great
  • Versatility – can work in most rigid and extreme conditions
  • Great sound quality
  • Wide range of models to choose from
  • Durable and able to handle stress well
Cons
  • Not too much to note!
Hifonics ZRX1216.1D
ZRX1216.1D

Amplifier Type: Monoblock
Power Handling: 200W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

Hifonics ZRX1216.1D
ZRX1816.1D

Amplifier Type: Monoblock
Power Handling: 500W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

Hifonics ZRX2416.1D
ZRX2416.1D

Amplifier Type: Monoblock
Power Handling: 500W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

Hifonics Zeus ZRX3216.1D
ZRX3216.1D

Amplifier Type: Monoblock
Power Handling: 800W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

Hifonics ZRX616.4
ZRX616.4

Amplifier Type: 4-Channel
Power Handling: 75W x 4 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

Hifonics ZRX1016.4
ZRX1016.4

Amplifier Type: 4-Channel
Power Handling: 60 x 4 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

Hifonics ZRX2016.4
ZRX2016.4

Amplifier Type: 4-Channel
Power Handling: 250W x 4 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

2. Best Value Car Amplifier

Kenwood eXcelon X Series Amplifiers

Kenwood Excelon X Series Amplifiers

Kenwood eXcelon X Series Amplifiers Review

Kenwood's eXcelon X-Series of amplifiers are designed inside-and-out for high-performance audio systems. The X-Series includes two multi-channel amps and a monoblock for powering subs. The X802-5 is a full-range amplifier for powering an entire system. This amp is capable of producing up to 1,600 watts of Peak power, ensuring your front speakers sound as powerful as your subs. An all in one great looking amp.

The eXcelon line offers amps of all channels for almost all applications. Whether you just need a mono for a subwoofer, or require 2-5 channels, you can find an eXcelon amp to fit your audio system’s needs. They’re touted as the brand’s most advanced line of audio products. The amplifiers offer excellent performance all around. They have a perfect 5-star rating on Crutchfield—people love these amps!

The eXcelon X series also allows for more customization of your car’s audio system. For example, the X450-4 channel amplifier utilizes staggered tuning. This means different channels have different levels of output, allowing users to make the amp fit their system’s needs. This makes it all the more loved by users because they can make small adjustments to the system to make music sound just how they want.

So what makes eXcelon’s amplifiers among the best? These amps use Hybrid Digital Amplification technology, which assures low distortion. The construction of these amps also assures that the sound quality is clear and precise at any load and temperature. Whether the notes are high or low, you can expect eXcelon’s amps to output quality audio that sounds like a live performance.

We think that the eXcelon series amps also have a cool, modern design. They have a sleek, black aluminum finish that will look great in any car. The size of the amp is compact too, so if you want to put the amp in a less visible spot you can easily do so.

All around, the eXcelon series is a stout, performing amplifier. It offers tremendous power for a great price. Kenwood also offers a 2 year warranty for their amps to back up their products. They are not only confident in the quality of their product, but also stand behind their authorized dealers who will be able to fix any problem, if one ever comes up.

Pros
  • Good bass output
  • Price tag is relatively great
  • Versatility – can work in most rigid and extreme conditions
  • Great sound quality
  • Wide range of models to choose from
  • Durable and able to handle stress well
Cons
  • Design/style is a little outdated
Kenwood eXcelon X500-1
X500-1

Amplifier Type: Monoblock
Power Handling: 300W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

Kenwood eXcelon X301-4
X301-4

Amplifier Type: 4-Channel
Power Handling: 50W x 4 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

Kenwood X700-5
X700-5

Amplifier Type: 5-Channel
Power Handling: 40W x 4 + 300W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

And if you’re looking for an even smaller design that you can tuck behind or underneath a seat, check out their XR Series (Reference Fit) amplifiers. A high-density mount circuit board in conjunction with an enhanced air cooling and heat control systems allowed Kenwood to create an incredibly compact design amplifier that blows most standard-sized amplifiers away.

Kenwood XR600-1
XR600-1

Amplifier Type: Monoblock
Power Handling: 400W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

Kenwood XR400-4
XR400-4

Amplifier Type: 4-Channel
Power Handling: 75W x 4 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

Kenwood XR900-5
XR900-5

Amplifier Type: 5-Channel
Power Handling: 60W x 4 + 400W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

3. Best Car Amplifier for Easy Installation:

Alpine X Series Amplifiers

Alpine X Series Amplifiers front, side and power panel

Alpine X Series Amplifiers Review

Alpine amplifiers are another great choice for getting the most out of aftermarket speaker and head unit upgrades. The X-Series provides a one-stop solution to getting big, rich music in your ride. There are currently three options in this lineup – a monoblock, 4-channel and 5-channel option. All of which feature a built-in crossover and bass EQ for fine-tuning your system via a control panel located on the top of the amplifier. Alpine also incorporated their ‘Image Defined technology', which creates a superior spatial experience and improves the “bigness” of your music.

Key Features:
  • Class-D Amplifier
  • Alpine ID Sound Stage
  • Built-in crossover and Bass EQ
  • Optional wired bass remote
Alpine X-A90M top view of mono amplifier
X-A90M

Amplifier Type: Monoblock
Power Handling: 600W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

Alpine X-A70F top view of ampliifer
X-A70F

Amplifier Type: 4-Channel
Power Handling: 120W x 4 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

Alpine X-A90V top view of amplifier
X-A90V

Amplifier Type: 5-Channel
Power Handling: 75W x 4 + 300W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω

Price Comparison

Best Factory/OEM Upgrade Car Amplifiers

Many modern cars have factory-installed amplifiers to help produce great sounding tunes. Unfortunately, many of these amps are wimpy and leave you wishing for more. Upgrading a factory amplifier dramatically improves the sound of your car’s system. Many of the most popular cars and trucks on the road today use touchscreen infotainment systems that are notoriously difficult to replace. The good news is that you aren’t stuck with what the factory gave you. Aftermarket solutions to factory amplifiers can be done when using the correct components.

1. Kicker VSS Powerstage

Kicker VSS Amplifiers

Kicker VSS Powerstage Amplifiers Review

Kicker is a legendary brand when talking about bass. Their subs and amps are among the best in the world. The engineers at Kicker came up with the VSS, or Vehicle Specific Solutions to solve the problems with replacing factory equipment. The VSS Powerstage series is available for select vehicles. Components, including wiring harnesses and brackets, are specifically designed to fit and work with your factory equipment while providing a big upgrade to factory amplification.

Key Features:

  • Seamless, factory-looking installation
  • Minimal impact on charging system
  • 32-bit Digital Signal Processor
  • No modifications to vehicle needed

Enter your vehicle information and find the VSS setup for you on Crutchfield or directly at Kicker.

Kenwood P-XR600-6DSP Amplifier combo

Kenwood XR600 + iDataLink Maestro AR Review

The biggest problem with installing aftermarket stereo equipment in modern, infotainment-equipped cars and trucks is losing factory functions. This is true even if you simply want to swap out the factory amp. Kenwood and iDataLink got together and created this solution, the XR600-6DSP amplifier with a built-in Digital Signal Processor built to work with the iDataLink Maestro AR module, sold separately. This package gives you a tremendous amplifier and retains all factory functions you need including fade, balance, and levels that are controlled by factory amps.

Key Features- Kenwood XR600-6DSP

  • 6-Channel input/ 10-Channel output
  • 1,200 watts Peak/ 200 watts RMS per channel at 4 Ohm
  • 32-bit Digital Signal Processor
  • Tuning through app on smartphone or tablet

Key Features- iDataLink Maestro AR Module

  • Works with over 500 vehicles MY 2005-Up
  • Provides full factory features with aftermarket amps
  • Online audio tuning
  • Works with amps from Kenwood, Audison, and Arc Audio

Looking for a different type of amplifier? Check out these list!

About this List

We take our buying guides very seriously. Our top pick car and truck amplifiers that we compiled for this list are based on extensive research and in many cases first hand tests with amplifiers. Our recommendations are guidelines, based on what we think of as high quality amps that have the feature you'll need from brands that you can trust. Our lists originate here, and are not copied from other sources across the web. Having trust in the information that you read here, and the confidence in the product you choose from this list is our top priority. We're updating them all the time too so you can always come back the next time you're looking to buy an amplifier and know that you're looking at the most current top pick products.

Conclusion

When you're reading through all of the options for amplifiers on the market, it can be overwhelming sometimes. This can make choosing your amp difficult. Arm yourself with knowledge first, and better understand how to choose the right amplifier and learn what to look for. Ultimately the right amplifier for you is going to depend on your setup as a whole.

And if you want to get the most out of your amplifier with your speaker setup (or subwoofer), you're going to need to tune your amp. This will not only optimize the power of your amp, it could help you save your speakers from under-power or over-power issues that could lead to damage. It's a critical part to the amplifier installation process!