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Types of Car Amplifiers

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By Ricky C. – Product Specialist

When searching for a car audio amplifier, it may seem intimidating when trying to narrow down which type would be correct for your application.  Out of our selections, we categorize amplifiers by the amount of channels and occasionally by their circuitry class.  You can choose from Amplifiers that are Monoblock, 2-Channel, 3-Channel,  4-Channel, 5-Channel, and even 6-Channel.  Now it’s apparent that some of these amplifiers have more channels than others, but what does this mean?

A 2-Channel Amplifier, like the Kenwood KAC-7205, is primarily used for outputting audio towards two door speakers, or to two subwoofers.  However, you can even bridge the two channels together for higher output towards one channel, like a subwoofer that requires more power.

4-Channel amplifiers like the MTX Audio TC6004 are more popular to be used primarily for amplifying four door speakers.  4-Channel Amplifiers are one of the most popular amplifier choices, purely because most cars have 4 locations for door speakers.

A Monoblock amplifier is also an extremely popular amplifier to chose.  These are single channel amplifiers which usually have more dedicated power built in.  Most of the time, Monoblocks are used to drive a subwoofer, or multiple subwoofers wired together.

So far, what we’ve learned is that if you want to amplify both of your door speakers and your subwoofer you are going to need multiple amplifiers.  The most common combination is a 4-Channel and a Monoblock setup.  This may be common, but you want to save more space.  You want to have less components to manage.  Enter the 5-Channel amplifier.  A 5-Channel Amplifier is basically two amps built into one, a great example is the Kicker ZX700.5.  It’s a 4-channel amplifier which will output a moderate amount of wattage to four door speakers.  But then, it has a little surprise found in its fifth channel.  The fifth channel has dedicated power to output made for higher powered applications, like a subwoofer.  One thing with 5-Channel amplifiers is that they have been designed to do the work of two amplifiers, so they may not have as much overall dedicated power as the previously mentioned 4-Channel and Monoblock combination.  A 3-Channel amplifier, like the Kicker ZX550.3 operates very similar to a 5-Channel, but it will be basically a 2-Channel amplifier and a Monoblock combined.

Finally, the 6-Channel Amplifier. This type of beast wasn’t designed like a 5-Channel with the large fifth channel.  The 6-Channel amplifier usually follows the 4-Channel amplifiers design, but is made for a few more speakers.  These are perfect for adding an extra few custom speakers, or perfecting that audiophile setup.   JL Audio’s XD600/6 is a great example of a hi-fi audio amplifier that pushes dedicated power to 6 separate channels!

Staff writers at Sonic Electronix are experts in their field. In addition to a complete in-house training program, these experts typically have many years of hands-on experience in their specialty. Some come from car audio installer backgrounds, while others come with extensive retail experience.
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