A car amplifier is the heart of your car's stereo, and whether you are looking to power a set of 6.5" speakers to a pair subwoofers, we've assembled a list of the best amps on the market.

Most people believe that their car's OEM stereo has enough power for their speakers, 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 watts per channel, most ratings don't match the recommended ratings for an aftermarket system which can lead to poor sound or even blown speakers. In addition, the ratings that might be shown for a head unit or amplifier may be in 'Peak' power, instead of 'RMS' power. For example, a 50 watt Peak per channel aftermarket stereo might actually only be pumping around 15 watts RMS to each of your speakers. And a monoblock amplifier that is rated for 1000 watts might only put out half of that continuously.

Powering your speakers (aftermarket or not) with the correct 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 the 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 your using high performance component speakers, subwoofers or OEM equipment, a top rated amplifier is a true necessity to a quality car stereo system. And if you are going to add a subwoofer, a monoblock amp is an absolute necessity.

Here's a list of the top rated amplifiers of 2017. Click an amplifier to go to the full review, or just scroll down to view all of the reviews:

Best Car Amplifiers 2017 | Top 8

Our RankAmplifierAmplifier TypeChannels OfferedPrice
1.JL Audio Slash V3Class DMonoblock | 4-Channel$$$
2.Audison VoceClass ABMonoblock | 2-Channel | 4-Channel | 5-Channel$$$$
3.Rockford Fosgate PrimeClass ABMonoblock | 2-Channel | 4-Channel | 5-Channel$$
4.Hifonics ZRX (Zeus)Class AB | DMonoblock | 2-Channel | 4-Channel$$
5.Kenwood Excelon XClass DMonoblock | 4-Channel | 5-Channel$$
6.Alpine PDXClass DMonoblock | 4-Channel$$$
7.Polk Audio PA DClass DMonoblock | 2-Channel | 4-Channel$$$
8.MTX ThunderClass D | A/BMonoblock | 4-Channel$$$

Choosing the Right Amplifier

Max (Peak) Vs RMS Power

Lets start by going through some general 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.

Check out this great video from Crutchfield that walks through the key points when you're choosing an amplifier:

Best Car Amplifier List

#1 JL Audio Slash Series V3 Amplifiers

JL Audio Slash Series v3 Amplifiers Review

JL Audio Slash Series V3 Amplifiers Review

Editor's Rating:

5 Stars

Originating from one of JL's most legendary and best-selling amplifiers, the Slash Series v3 amplifiers were built on upon the solid and successful platform that made history in automotive amplification. Tweaked, refined, and renewed, the v3 amps encompass some of JL's latest technology and finest manufacturing materials. The monoblocks are 20% more powerful than previous generation amplifiers with a new patented Class D output circuitry. And the four-channel amplifier offers JL Audio's patented Absolute Symmetry Class A/B output stage, offering a 75W x 4 output.

All Slash Series v3 models feature JL Audio’s R.I.P.S. (Regulated Intelligent Power Supply) technology. This system maintains a consistent power output over a wide range of battery voltages and load impedances. It automatically will adjust to maintain the amplifiers rated output at all times, no matter what the condition or input. And an Advanced Rollback Thermal protection feature keeps your music playing under the most climatically demanding conditions.The JL Audio Slash Series v3 amplifiers are sleek, sexy, powerful and continue to raise the bar in automotive audio equipment.

600/1V3

JL-Audio-6001V3 Best Car Amplifiers

  • Amplifier Type: Monoblock
  • Power Handling: 600W x 4 RMS @ 4Ω
1200/1V3

JL Audio Slash 12001v3

  • Amplifier Type: Monoblock
  • Power Handling: 1200W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω
300/4V3

jl audio 3004v3

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

#2 Audison Voce Series Amplifiers

Audison Voce Series

Audison Voce Amplifier Review

Editor's Rating:

5 Stars

“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, one of the best available products in its class, a perfect balance of size, versatility and power, is the Audison Voce Series Amplifiers. A direct descendant of the notable Thesis series amplifier, the Voce series now bring the legendary Thesis sound quality to a wider range of enthusiasts, as well as carries along some of the great features of the Thesis, including the ability to combine analog and digital technologies. Unfortunately (for now) the Audison Voce Series amps are still a hard to find online, so we apologize if we don't have a provider for some. But none the less, they are among the greatest amplifiers on the market today. All-in-all, an exceptionally built, performing and great looking amplifier.

AV Uno

Audison AV Uno

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

Audison AV DUE

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

Audison AV QUATTRO

  • Amplifier Type: 4-Channel
  • Power Handling: 75W x 4 RMS @ 4Ω
AV 5.1k

Audison AV 51k

  • Amplifier Type: 5-Channel
  • Power Handling: 75W x 2 + 140W x 2 + 600W x 1 @ 4Ω

#3 Rockford Fosgate Prime Series Amplifiers

Rockford Fosgate Prime Series

Rockford Fosgate Prime Series Amplifier Review

Editor's Rating:

4.9 Stars

Rockford Fosgate has built a reputation for manufacturing high-quality, high-performing mobile audio equipment. Their Prime Series car amplifiers are among their top amplifiers, built on a durable platform with an innovative and sleek-looking design and reliable, clean, and powerful performance.

The Prime Series amps were designed and manufactured with several of Rockford Fosgate’s patented technologies. DTM (Tynamic Thermal Management) is their 3-stage thermal system that distributes forced air to evenly dissipate heat across the amp. A proprietary process called MEHSA allows heat to escape more
efficiently from the MOSFET devices to the heatsink. And Differential Input reduces electrical distortion and interference that could be transferred by your input cables. This combination of proprietary technologies and fine-tuned features results in an amplifier with minimal distortion, incredible heat distribution and control, consistent high-power output, long-term reliability and most importantly high performance. The Rockford Fosgate Prime Series amplifiers are highly regarded in the industry, and for good reason.

R250X1

Rockford Fosgate R250X1

  • Amplifier Type: Monoblock
  • Power Handling: 150W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω
R500X1D

Rockford Fosgate R500X1D

  • Amplifier Type: Monoblock
  • Power Handling: 300W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω
R750-1D

Rockford Fosgate R750-1D

  • Amplifier Type: Monoblock
  • Power Handling: 250W x 4 RMS @ 4Ω
R1200-1D

Rockford Fosgate R1200-1D Best Monoblock Amplifier

  • Amplifier Type: Monoblock
  • Power Handling: 400W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω
R150X2

Rockford Fosgate R150X2

  • Amplifier Type: 2-Channel
  • Power Handling: 50W x 2 RMS @ 4Ω
R250X4

Rockford Fosgate R250X4 Best 4 Channel Amplifier

  • Amplifier Type: 4-Channel
  • Power Handling: 40W x 4 RMS @ 4Ω
R300X4

Rockford Fosgate R300X4

  • Amplifier Type: 4-Channel
  • Power Handling: 50W x 4 RMS @ 4Ω
R400-4D

Rockford Fosgate R400-4D

  • Amplifier Type: 4-Channel
  • Power Handling: 75W x 4 RMS @ 4Ω
R600X5

Rockford Fosgate R600X5

  • Amplifier Type: 5-Channel
  • Power Handling: 50W x 4 @ 4ohm + 300W x 1 @2Ω

#4 Hifonics ZRX (Zeus) Series Amplifiers

Hifonics ZRX Zeus

Hifonics ZRX (Zeus) Amplifier Review

Editor's Rating:

4.9 Stars

Hifonics “Power from the Gods” is a US-based company with an impeccable reputation in the car audio industry. It’s Zeus series draws its strength and design from years of experience in amplifiers so one can expect tremendous power, range, and innovative technologies. In fact, among uncompromising car audio lovers who get very involved in car shows and competitions, the Zeus line of amplifiers is a common choice among competitors and industry guru’s.

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

A higher standard in amplifiers is in the Zeus Elite Series (ZEX). This special line of high-end amplifiers tops the charts in sound fidelity, variable bass boost, power, and use of heavy duty materials.

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 prevents overheating. Also, it uses 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? The answer to this question, based on hours of testing, is that the audio is tremendously loud and satisfying. 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.

ZRX1216.1D

Hifonics ZRX1216 1D

  • Amplifier Type: Monoblock
  • Power Handling: 200W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω
ZRX1816.1D

Hifonics ZRX1816 1D

  • Amplifier Type: Monoblock
  • Power Handling: 500W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω
ZRX2416.1D

Hifonics ZRX2416 1D

  • Amplifier Type: Monoblock
  • Power Handling: 325W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω
ZRX3216.1D

Hifonics ZRX3216 1D

  • Amplifier Type: Monoblock
  • Power Handling: 800W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω
ZRX516.2

Hifonics ZRX512.2 Best 2 Channel Amplifier

  • Amplifier Type: 2-Channel
  • Power Handling: 125W x 2 RMS @ 4Ω
ZRX616.4

Hifonics ZRX614.2

  • Amplifier Type: 4-Channel
  • Power Handling: 75W x 4 RMS @ 4Ω
ZRX1016.4

Hifonics ZRX1016-4

  • Amplifier Type: 4-Channel
  • Power Handling: 60W x 4 RMS @ 4Ω
ZRX2016.4

Hifonics ZRX2016-4

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

#5 Kenwood Excelon X Series Amplifiers

Kenwood Excelon X Series

Kenwood Excelon X Series Amplifier Review

Editor's Rating:

4.7 Stars

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!

If you take your car’s audio seriously then the eXcelon series of amplifiers is right for you. It’s the perfect system for music lovers. The sound quality is always reproduced faithfully, playing music the way it was meant to sound.

The eXcelon X series 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 assures that the sound quality is clear and precise at any temperature. Whether the notes are high or low, you can rest assured that eXcelon’s amps will put out audio quality that sounds like a live performance.

The eXcelon series amps also have a cool, modern design. They have a sleek, black aluminum finish which looks great in any car. The size of the amp is compact, however, 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 qualified amplifier for CarAudioNow’s list. It offers tremendous for a great price. Kenwood also offers a 2 year warranty for 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.

X500-1

Kenwood Excelon X500-1

  • Amplifier Type: Monoblock
  • Power Handling: 300W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω
X301-4

Kenwood X301-4

  • Amplifier Type: 4-Channel
  • Power Handling: 50W x 4 RMS @ 4Ω
X700-5

Kenwood Excelon X700-5 Best 5 Channel Car Amplifier

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

And if you’re looking for an even smaller design, 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.

XR600-1

Kenwood Excelon XR600-1

  • Amplifier Type: Monoblock
  • Power Handling: 400W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω
XR400-4

Kenwood Excelon XR400-4 Best Amplifiers

  • Amplifier Type: 4-Channel
  • Power Handling: 60W x 2 RMS @ 4Ω
XR900-5

Kenwood Excelon XR900-5

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

#6 Alpine PDX Series Amplifiers

Alpine PDX Series Amplifiers

Alpine PDX Series Amplifier Review

Editor's Rating:

4.7 Stars

Also a compact amplifier in itself, the PDX is Alpine’s vision of a versatile amplifier that packs a punch. A Class-D amp on a mere 2” tall frame, Alpine made this amp design capable with an effectively heat distribution system that even disperses heat to its heatsinks to cool the entire stack. But the stand-out feature on the PDX amplifier is it’s control and connector design. Easy pop out connections make installing and removing the amplifier a breeze, and it’s front-mounted controls make tuning and adjusting the sound after installation easier than ever.

PDX-M6

Alpine PDX-M6

  • Amplifier Type: Monoblock
  • Power Handling: 600W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω
PDX-M12

Alpine-PDX-M12

  • Amplifier Type: Monoblock
  • Power Handling: 1200W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω
PDX-F4

Alpine PDX-F4

  • Amplifier Type: 4-Channel
  • Power Handling: 100W x 4 RMS @ 4Ω
PDX-F6

Alpine PDX-F6

  • Amplifier Type: 4-Channel
  • Power Handling: 150W x 4 RMS @ 4Ω

#7 Polk Audio PA D Digital Series Amplifiers

Polk Audio PA D Digital Series Amplifier Review

Polk Audio PA D Digital Series Amplifier Review

Editor's Rating:

4.6 Stars

Any of Polk’s PA D Digital Series amplifiers will offer a great upgrade to your car’s audio system. Whether you’re looking for a monoblock or a 5-channel Class D amplifier,  the PA D series from Polk are a great choice for whatever setup you have.

The Polk Audio amplifiers are great for providing just the right amount of power to your system. And when paired properly with your system, you’ll never have to worry about blown out speakers!

These top rated class D amplifiers also allow for a lot of versatility. They’re bridgeable, giving you the power to create custom wiring options and different power handling ratings. This way you have plenty of options, without sacrificing any efficiency or quality. This also means that this amp is great for all car audio systems.

  1. A. The PA D Digital Amps use a highly-efficient class D design, mitigating the potential of running too hot. It also uses stainless steel hardware, which prevents corrosion in hot and humid environments. If you take a lot of long car trips, this is something you’re really going to appreciate.

For example, the PA D1000 Amp was built to be minimalist and ultra-compact. In general, these amplifiers may be smaller than you expect, which makes them convenient for any size car. This again adds to the versatility of the Polk PA D Digital Series as you can complete setup in whatever way is most convenient for you. You’ll never have to worry about struggling to find a place for your oversized amps. The PA D Digital series amps will fit anywhere!

Polk is certainly not a best budget car amplifier, but it is reasonably priced and you are going to get your money’s worth. The sound quality isn’t sacrificed either. The audio is perfect and the power is really impressive for the size of these amps. Any amplifier from the PA D Digital series is going to offer a tremendous value, both in terms of sound quality and durability.

PA D1000.1

Polk Audio PA-D10001

  • Amplifier Type: Monoblock
  • Power Handling: 500W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω
PA D2000.2

Polk Audio PA-D20002

  • Amplifier Type: 2-Channel
  • Power Handling: 125W x 2 RMS @ 4Ω
PA D5000.5

Polk Audio PA-D50005 Best 5 Channel Amplifier

  • Amplifier Type: 5-Channel
  • Power Handling: 70W x 4 + 200W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω

#8 MTX Thunder Series Amplifiers

MTX Thunder Series Best Car Amplifiers

MTX Thunder Series Amplifier Review

Editor's Rating:

4.6 Stars

MTX Audio is a US based company that’s well-known for its car audio products such as subwoofers, speakers and of course, their amplifiers. They have been producing amplifiers for more than 40 years alongside their subwoofers and speakers. The MTX Thunder Series is their top of the line amplifier and has proven to be one of the best car amplifiers on the market. Here’s why:

Under the small chassis MTX Thunder series are three models:

  1. Thunder 1000.1 1000W RMS Mono Block Class D which has a maximum peak power of 2000 watts
  2. Thunder 500.1 500W RMS Mono Block Class D which has a maximum peak power of 1000 watts
  3. Thunder 75.4 400W RMS 4-Channel Class A/B Amplifier that gives power to any full range speakers

There are only a few words to describe this series: powerful and thunderous yet small and reasonably-priced. These models are the perfect match for limited spaces and professional audio quality. The MTX series amps include features such as:

  • Surface-mount design for minimal vibration even under rough terrain
  • Small size for tight spaces like behind seats
  • An extruded heat sink for adequate ventilation negating any need for an auxiliary fan in times when the amp is used for extended periods
  • Variable crossover and compatible with many types and brands of speakers
  • Low pass filter and subsonic filter

Also, all models have a much-desired bass boost and control panels that are easy to access. With a little tweaking, this amp can seamlessly be part of a full customization for your car’s audio system. You can expect high clarity with low voltage draw from your car’s power supply.

The bottom line is that MTX Audio has come a long way with the Thunder series. They are designed to be universal and used with mix-and-match car audio systems, not to overheat, and to last for years. Between the great features of these amps and the company’s proven track record in consistently producing quality products make the MTX Thunder series yet another preferred choice as one of the best car amps on the market today.

THUNDER500.1

MTX Audio Thunder500-1

  • Amplifier Type: Monoblock
  • Power Handling: 300W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω
THUNDER1000.1

MTX THUNDER1000-1

  • Amplifier Type: Monoblock
  • Power Handling: 350W x 1 RMS @ 4Ω
THUNDER75.4

MTX Thunder75.4

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

7 Comments to “8 Best Car Amplifiers 2017 | Top Auto Amplifier Brands & Models”

  1. Music man says :Reply

    This is a very touchy topic and it all does depend on the application and desired results. Some people setup their car audio and subwoofer setup to where the kick drums and midbass are felt exponentially which is great for rock. I’m more into SQL but to achieve this a few things need to be understood. The subwoofer amp will need to have the capability to SET THE CENTER frequency for the Bass Boost. Most amps do not have this feature or have it hard set at 45-50hz. You will want to research your subwoofer candidates well, I always pay close attention to the Q parameters and especially the FS of the sub, this is the frequency the subwoofer resonates at while operating under free air conditions. I generally like to build my ported boxes tuned very low anywhere from 26hz-35hz however the idea is to have the door speakers/tweeters cover the highs, mids and midbass and make sure the subwoofer is playing low bass, making sure they blend together well, and knowing the limitations of how high you should be cranking up the volume knob on your car stereo.
    Just 2 amps off hand that worked well for me was JL Audio Slash 500/1 or 1000/1 first generation, and Elemental Designs NINE.1 , these amps have the capability to adjust the center frequency to which the bass boost is applied, lows shine and rumbles are felt..
    Some subs that stood out over the years to me were the Eclipse 8812 DVC, Crystal CMPx2, Elemental Designs e15a, Audiomobile MASS 2012 s24 and Audiomobile EVO 2210 and JL Audio 12w6v2

  2. Ok how about a Top 5 Amp list that has not s”Sold Out” to China. There are only 2 Amps to consider when you are really serious about car Audio. Sound Quality, Power Efficiency, Size of Amp in these 3 categories there is only 1 “MMatts” Quite possibly the most underrated amp ever! This amp will destroy JL Audio! & is made in U.S.A.
    When you dont care about power Efficiency but want ear candy then a Linear Power Amplifier is the best sounding amp ever made period. Enough Said.

  3. Azhar T S says :Reply

    What about boss Audio R1004?

  4. Aaron Dunning says :Reply

    I have a 2003 chevy s10 extended cab 3 door. and would like to upgrade my audio system . I have a 12 inch pioneer sub and box with 800 watt amp. I want 1 15 inch sub or something to shake the earth and enjoy music. I want deep deep ground moving bass . so any suggestions would help .within the next 30 days I would like to do this. Thank you in advance.

    1. Frank says :Reply

      Yes go with Orion HCCA or Sundown, i have 2 HCCA 12″ in my 14 ford edge.

  5. Johnathon Kendall says :Reply

    I’m trying to get an amp that pushes 5000 watts to power 2 15s really need the 5000 watts any help please

  6. Arturo says :Reply

    Hi, im currently using a pioneer 2016 head unit single din w DSL front speakers and sub wofer. I would like to consider an amplifier to further enhance the systems. I listen to a lot of vocals and jazz. Would like to experience a a stronger mid range and warmer peformances.
    Pls advise which amplifier can i consider. Of course not overly costly. Thanks

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