The Actual Heart of the System
The Amplifier Lineup
Just tell us what you’re after.
We simply can not, in good conscience, call this an actual amplifier. Even though that is honestly all it does, it’s not exactly impressive in terms of quality of signal at the volumes over and above what basic head units can achieve. They are relatively cheap and easy to install which is nice, but whether it’s a measurable improvement? In my mind…it still remains to be seen.
The Actual 4 Channel
A good base to start from for any system. A solid 4 channel amplifier will be able to power all your door speakers both mid-range and tweeters to produce good quality, all-round sound. You can even remove the rear speakers from amplification (who needs rear anyway?) and run a subwoofer bridged from two of the 4 channels giving you a full system straight up.
The Full House
5 channel amplifiers have boomed in popularity of the last 10 years. From being merely an afterthought to becoming a go-to for all round amplification. Unlike using a 4 channel amplifier in a 3-way configuration and cheating a bit, a 5 channel amplifier will allow you to keep the amplification for the rear channels as well as adding a dedicated, non-fading, individually controlled (and much more powerful) channel for a subwoofer. This allow you to use different subwoofer combinations as 4 channels are usually limited to a final 4 ohm final load subwoofer. Usually remote level adjustment is available as well so we get the best of all worlds. Pros include ease of installation and less wiring. The only drawback to this style is limited power compared to the individual 4 channel and monobloc offerings of similar tiers.
For when you need a single, high output channel to run a dedicated subwoofer. This type of amplifier will allow you to power even the hungriest of woofers and get the bass you’re searching for. Technologies lately have edged towards compactness and efficiency which is why Class-D amps are at the forefront of the market when it comes to monobloc amplifiers. High power with relatively low current consumption. It’s a perfect recipe for reliable and powerful bass at reasonable prices.
DSP or Digital Signal Processing has been around for a while. Only recently it has jumped from the front bench into the limelight as a necessary component in every day car audio amplification. Due to the nature of factory systems and the needs and desires of the modern day consumer, DSP technology has been incorporated into some of the greatest amplifier designs to date. With it we can “fix” factory EQ curves and modifications designed to compensate for poor speaker design and construction as well as bass reduction associated with limitations in factory amplifier current handling. These issues, among others are commonly “patched” over by factory audio system designers like band-aids on broken legs. What happens when we replace these parts with high quality aftermarket components like speakers and substantial amplifier power is that we remove the necessity for these patches. Without removing the patches we allow them to interfere with the music and distort and muddy the sound, rendering our upgrades relatively useless or at the very least, restricted.
This is only one half of the pie though. What DSP amplifiers also allows us to do is go beyond flat boring and standard EQ and add features such as time-alignment that helps deal with phase cancellations and imaging, individual speaker level control which is paramount to a solid center image and proper positioning of sound from left to right of the dash. Also of course is output EQ, which allows us to set our final output curve to eliminate peaks and valleys in our overall frequency response bringing musical information that was once buried under noise and levels it with the rest of the music. This gives us the ability to hear everything no matter the volume level. No more turning up the volume too much just so you can get that kick you were after. You will hear parts of your favourite tracks you forgot were there or never even knew existed in the first place.