Car Amplifier FAQ

Are you in the market for a brand new amplifier? Or maybe your old one is acting up, and you have no idea what is going on. Like all electronic components, amplifiers tend to raise some common questions among users from all walks of life. If you have anything to ask about car amplifiers, this is the place to be. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding car amplifiers:

1What Exactly Does An Amplifier Do?

The amplifier in your sound system plays a very crucial role in boosting signals from power inputs such as the CD player, radio, stereo, or other power inputs in order to generate power for the speakers. Whether it is a subwoofer or an entire array of speakers, they all require some sort of amplifier to run because they are essentially non-electric components. To get the best sound, your amplifier should be well-matched to the other components in the system.

2Why Do I Need An External Amplifier?

Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the factory installed amplifier for your factory installed speakers. However, there are numerous cases where you need to install an external car amplifier. First off, your dashboard is relatively small and will typically hold a factory amp that offers not more than 10 watts per channel. Additionally, your sound system is stock; meaning that the manufacturers were not to concerned about sound quality when assembling your car. If you add a sub and upgrade your speakers, you will definitely need to install a more powerful amplifier to power the improvements. A better amplifier is also a cleaner power source.

3Where Should I Mount My Amp?

In most vehicles, space is sacred and scarce. As such, finding the right spot for a bigger amplifier becomes tricky. For starters, an amplifier requires open air space around it to dissipate some of the heat that builds up during operation. Without a vent, the amp will overheat and shut down. With this in mind, we found that the most popular locations are either under a seat or in the trunk. Under the seats is not only space efficient, but it lets you use shorter cables and keeps the amplifier hidden. The trunk may require longer cables, but it lets the amp remain closer to your speakers and subs which is the ideal location.

Mounted car amplifier with wiring

4How Do I Ground My Amplifier?

No matter what type of amplifier you are using, you will need the appropriate wires to ground it. Your car amplifier draws plenty of currents from your vehicle’s battery as you use it and needs to be grounded. For the most effective results, the grounding wire should be the same gauge as the power gauge. The thick wire must then be in direct contact with the metallic body of your car. To ground your amplifier, the best method involves connecting the wire to an existing bolt or screw that is already in contact with the metal chassis or frame. If you can not find a convenient screw, drill a hole for one. It’s always advisable to ground all your components in one single bolt. Also be advised if this is not done correctly it can fatally electrocute a person who comes into contact with the grounding.

5What Is The Difference Between Amplifier Classes?

Car amplifiers fall into 4 different classes depending on how their internal circuitry is set up:

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Class A Amplifiers-These always have current flowing through the tubes or output transistors which is a highly inefficient way of raising power. Class A amps are huge, heavy and run very hot. However, they produce the least distortion and cleanest output with the best fidelity of any class.

Class B Amplifiers-These operate by flowing each of the output transistors with current for only half the time and switching off when the signal is absent. While highly efficient, Class B amps tend to distort the signal due to all the On/Off output switching.

Class AB Amplifiers-As the name suggests, these are a combination of the above classes. Here, the output transistors power down a tad when not in operation. This increases the sound fidelity and 50 percent adequate efficiency.

Class D Amplifiers-These work by rapidly switching the transistor from On to Off. They significantly increase the amplifier efficiency to levels as high as 90 percent. Class D amplifiers tend to create some high-frequency distortion, but it is unable to be heard by the human ear.

6My Amplifier Is All Set Up But It Won’t Work; What’s Wrong?

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions when diagnosing an amplifier. Make sure you check and repair the following:

  • Is the receiver turned on?
  • Do other electrical components in your car work?
  • Are all the fuses working?
  • Is the amplifier properly grounded?
  • Is the turn on lead properly connected?
  • Have you tried powering one amplifier at a time?

If your answer to all the above questions is yes and your amplifier still does not come on, you should try one more test before calling in the experts. The test includes

  • Removing the in line fuse of the power cable
  • Disconnecting the turn on lead from the amplifier
  • Connecting a shorter length wire between the amp’s positive power and remote terminal
  • Replacing the power fuse

The amplifier should come on at this instant. If your amplifier still does not turn on, you most likely have a damaged unit that needs repair or replacement. Now is the time to call a Sonic customer service specialist (661)-257-9993.

Born in a subwoofer box, music has always been my passion. At the proud age of 9 I began driving. The two eventually met and led to my career at Sonic Electronix.

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