You could easily think of an amplifier as the heart of your vehicle’s sound system — it provides all the power needed for your audio system’s components to work in harmony and perform at their peak capability. While it is possible to have a decent-sounding system without a separate amplifier, you won’t get the subterranean bass response that a dedicated amplifier can give you.
For those who love the low, rumbling bass frequencies in their music, an additional amp will push the bass kick to the forefront. It’s important to remember that in order to get the most from your amplifier, you’ll need to make sure your amp and subwoofer are evenly matched.
Finding the right amplifier to give you the depth of bass you desire can be confusing. We’ve put together this in-depth list of reviews and tips in order to help you find the amplifier that suits your needs.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
The 10 Best Car Amplifiers for Bass – Reviews 2020
1. Rockford Fosgate Prime 1-Channel Amplifier — Best Overall
This Class D mono-block powerhouse from Rockford Fosgate is a perfect choice to power your subwoofer. It has a power rating of 300 watts at 4 ohms and 500 watts at 2 ohms, plenty of power to shake the windows. It has an onboard 12db crossover and infrasonic filter for detailed bass response. Powered by a MOSFET power supply and featuring a cast aluminum heatsink, this unit will be able to keep cool.
The onboard low-pass filter and “punch-boost” will give you some of the best bass possible from your subwoofer. It’s a small and lightweight class D amp, so it’s easy to squeeze discreetly under your seat.
If not installing underneath your seat, the control LED light is bright and can be distracting when driving. The screw mounts are also deep, making tight installations tricky. Make sure to have a long, magnetic screwdriver on hand!
2. BOSS Audio Systems Car Amplifier — Best Value
The Boss R1100MK has a massive peak power rating of 1,100 watts, which makes it our top choice for the best car amplifier for bass for the money. It has an equally respectable RMS rating of 550 watts. It’s a class A/B amp with a high-quality MOSFET power supply, which means high power with little signal noise or distortion.
A variable low-pass crossover allows you to adjust the low frequencies to your own specific preferences. A variable bass-boost gives you the option of adjusting the bass within the boost range to just the way you like it. An illuminated logo-badge adds to its classy aesthetic.
It has a convenient wired remote to allow you to control the sub-level for custom output and quick and easy adjustment. There are user reports of a lower output than the specified rating, which keeps it from our number-one spot.
3. JL Audio JX1000/1D Mono-block Car Amplifier — Premium Choice
This class D amplifier from JL Audio has big power in a small package. A rating of 500 watts at 4 ohms and 1,000 watts at 2 ohms, it will never leave your subs lacking for power. It is a premium amplifier and comes with a matching premium price. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have many user-customizable options, keeping it from our top two spots.
However, its slim size makes it fit easily into small areas, and it won’t get hot like A/B class amps tend to do. It comes with great sound quality, minus the usual noise or distortion commonly associated with class D amps.
4. BOSS A61600 4 Channel Car Amplifier
The Boss AR1600 is a full-range, four-channel class A/B amplifier. Bridging two channels at 4 ohms will give you a maximum output of 800 watts, perfectly acceptable for most 12-inch subs. A variable-bass boost gives you specific control of exactly how much bass you want to hear. Having a four-channel amplifier gives you the option of additional speakers or even subwoofers and the option of bridging channels for even more power.
It has a useful shut-off protection feature if the amp gets too hot, a common occurrence with bigger class A/B amps. However, this protection mode can also be a problem, shutting off the amp randomly without any overheating. Users report distortion when the gain is pushed too high, which is disappointing for an amp in this class.
5. Lanzar VCT 2-Channel MOSFET Amplifier
If you’re looking for an inexpensive amp with high power, the Lanzar VCT may be it. It has a window-shattering maximum power rating of 3,000 watts at 2 ohms. It’s a two-channel, bridgeable, slim-line amplifier with variable crossovers to help you precisely tune your bass. Featuring thermal, overload, and short circuit protection, it’s not likely to blow.
This amp is power hungry, and an additional car battery may even be required to get the most from it. This high power makes it get hot quickly — and cut out quickly too — so its integrated thermal protection is both a strength and a drawback. That said, it’s an attractive option due its affordability and power output, though its unreliability may be a concern.
6. Ignite Audio R1600/1D Mono Block Car Amplifier
The Ignite Audio R1600 is a class D amplifier with a claimed maximum output of a whopping 4000 watts. Realistically, this will give you an RMS rating of 530 watts at 2 ohms and 300 watts at 4 ohms, which is still quite a punch. It features a wired-remote bass-control knob for easy and quick adjustment.
Ignite Audio is not a well-known brand, and this is an amplifier for audio enthusiasts on a budget, featuring low-quality materials. It will, however, give you huge power for a low price, although probably not the 4,000 watts as stated. A class D amplifier with this power rating will have a high signal-to-noise ratio, so you can expect buzzing at high volumes.
7. Rockville dB13 Mono Car Amplifier
This class D amplifier from Rockville has a 2 -hm rating of 1,500 watts and a 4-ohm rating of 900 watts. It also includes a MOSFET power supply, which makes it a high power option for an affordable price.
It has a fully adjustable 12db crossover, adjustable bass equalizer, and a subsonic filter to provide a customizable bass output. Rockville incorporates unique peak-limiting circuity, which it claims will provide distortion-free playback at all levels.
The claimed power output is not as much in reality, and many users complain of its lack of bass response. It’s an affordable amp, however, and a worthwhile point of entry for budding bass lovers.
8. Kenwood KAC Mono-block Car Amplifier
This class D mono-block amplifier from Kenwood will give you a decent amount of power at an affordable price. Kenwood is known for making tough, built-to-last products for the consumer on a budget. This amplifier can supply your sub with up to 1,000 watts RMS at 2 ohms and 500 watts at 4 ohms. It also includes a variable low-pass filter and subsonic filter for greater tonal control of bass frequencies.
The lack of filter switches and gain control is fine for basic sound reproduction, but for serious audiophiles, this a real drawback. It also will heat up quickly when pushed too hard, which in a class D amplifier, also means buzzing and distortion.
9. Planet Audio Mono-block Car Amplifier
This class A/B amplifier from Planet Audio has a clean, high-quality look on the outside but has garnered mixed reviews from consumers. It features impressive specifications: a MOSFET power supply, switchable bass boost and subwoofer level control, and a variable low-pass filter. It’s also not short on power, with a power rating of 1,500 watts at 2 ohms and 750 watts at 4 ohms.
It is a power-hungry amp, hence the MOSFET power supply. It is somewhat notorious for overheating, even with subwoofers matched to the power output specifications. Even when used with low-power speakers, it rapidly overheats, and the bass response on the whole is lacking.
10. Pioneer GM-D8701 Mono-block Car Stereo Amplifier
Pioneer is a well-known player in the audio world for its reliability and budget-friendly products. This mono-block class D amplifier has decent specs: an RMS rating of 300 watts at 4 ohms, 500 watts at 2 ohms, and a MOSFET power supply. Also included are wired-remote bass level control and three-way circuitry protection (thermal, overload, and short circuit).
Its low price makes it an attractive point of entry for beginner sound enthusiasts, with a trusted name behind it. It has low-quality build materials and comparably low power output, which make it fairly limited in its application. While it may be a trusted name, there are plenty of other amps in a similar price range than can offer far more power.
When choosing the right amplifier to get the most bass out of your subwoofer, there are a few important aspects to consider:
A single-channel, or mono-block amplifier, will give you more power and thus more bass response: A mono-block is built with bass in mind. Bass subwoofers put out the lowest possible frequencies — they are felt as well as heard.
A multi-channel amp has more options, though, and the channels can be bridged for more power. The most commonly used variety is a four-channel amp, with options for up to eight speakers. While these amps can work well for bass, sharing the load with other speakers is sure to lower the bass response.
For the real bass enthusiast, a mono-block is the way to go, with all the available power being directed to the subwoofer.
This is the most important consideration when looking for a bass amplifier. Subwoofers take a great deal of power to deliver bass output: The speaker cone needs to travel and move air, so the bigger, the better. Amplifiers are rated with RMS and peak power ratings and have 4-ohm and 2-ohm specifications. These terms can confuse potential buyers, and some companies add to this confusion by only specifying peak power ratings.
A lower impedance speaker (measured in ohms) will take more power. So, a 4-ohm speaker will extract more power from your amp than an 8-ohm speaker. A 4-ohm speaker is capable of more power and is thus usually of higher quality. The amp you decide to buy will have ratings for both, and its actual power output depends more on your subwoofer.
Another consideration is the amplifier class. A class A/B amp is less power efficient but offers a superior audio fidelity. It is more capable of pushing out high power, but it’s also bulkier. A class D amp is far more power efficient but will not give as clear audio quality.
A/B class amps have always been the go-to option for subwoofers because of the superior output they offer. But more recently, class D amps have started to become popular. They are more power efficient, and the audio quality is slowly getting better. With bass frequencies being more about volume and power, the audio quality is not as much of an issue. That said, you may still have signal noise at high-gain settings with class D amps.
Our top choice for the best car amplifier for bass is the Rockford Fosgate R500X1D Prime. With up to 500 watts of power and a compact size for easy installation, this class D amplifier is difficult to beat.
For the money, the BOSS Audio Systems R1100MK packs a real punch. It’s a class A/B amplifier that will deliver the power that your subwoofer needs at an affordable price.
It can be a difficult process to navigate through the maze of sizes and specifications available for bass amplification. Hopefully, this list of reviews has made it easier for you to find the right amplifier for your specific needs.
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 10 Best Car Amplifiers for Bass – Reviews 2020
- 1. Rockford Fosgate Prime 1-Channel Amplifier — Best Overall
- 2. BOSS Audio Systems Car Amplifier — Best Value
- 3. JL Audio JX1000/1D Mono-block Car Amplifier — Premium Choice
- 4. BOSS A61600 4 Channel Car Amplifier
- 5. Lanzar VCT 2-Channel MOSFET Amplifier
- 6. Ignite Audio R1600/1D Mono Block Car Amplifier
- 7. Rockville dB13 Mono Car Amplifier
- 8. Kenwood KAC Mono-block Car Amplifier
- 9. Planet Audio Mono-block Car Amplifier
- 10. Pioneer GM-D8701 Mono-block Car Stereo Amplifier
- Buyers Guide