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What is an Amplifier?

After lots of thinking and many miles driven listening to your factory speakers you have come to a realization- “I really need to upgrade my sound system”. After a bit of googling for “best sound system” you decide to go to your local car audio shop for quotes and immediately got bombarded with a bunch of words that just don’t really make sense. You want to make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck so knowing the basics of car audio systems will help you- and the salesperson helping you- pick out the product that best fits your car audio needs.

That’s where we come into play! Knowing what different car audio system components does is a huge help when you’re in the market to get a sound system installed in your vehicle. Whether its through us, or another local car audio shop in Houston that does the install we want to make sure you have the knowledge you need to make the right decision when installing a sound system.

Aside from what speakers you choose the amplifiers you pick for your car audio system are one of the most important parts of a sound system. So, the question is- what is an amplifier?

In short, an amplifier does exactly what its name implies- they take the audio signal from your car’s factory or aftermarket stereo and distributes that amplified signal to your door speakers or subwoofers. Picking the right amplifier for your sound system is super important. If you pick an amplifier that isn’t powerful enough to drive your speakers then you run the risk of introducing distortion into your sound system or even end up in a situation where your amplifier gets overwhelmed and will cut off. If you pick an amplifier that is too powerful for the speakers installed, then you will end up burning out your speakers.

While in theory all amplifiers do the same thing at their core that does not mean that all amplifiers are created equal. In fact, different amplifiers are designed specifically to work with different types of speakers. For our purposes we are going to focus on the two most common types of amplifiers you will run into: 4-channel amplifiers and Monoblock amplifiers.

Most common type of amplifier that you will use in a car audio system install is a Monoblock amplifier. These amps are probably what most people think of when they hear the word “amp”. They are used to power subwoofers in sound systems. These types of amps tend to advertise themselves as producing a high wattage of power (think 1000 watts) and are specifically designed to boost the low-end audio frequencies of music that produces that deep and clear bass “thump”. In a complete sound system you will need at least one of these types of amps if you want to install subwoofers in your vehicle.

Woofers like these 8 inch Kicker L7s need a monoblock amplifer to play at their full potential.


The next most common type of amplifier is known as 4-channel amps. These amplifiers are mainly designed to drive the mids and highs of your car audio system. So think of a 4 channel amplifier as the powerhouse that drives all your door speakers and your tweeters. 4-channel amps differ from monoblock amplifiers in that they are specifically designed to amplify the signals in music that make up most of the vocals and the high-end frequencies of music. Most complete car audio systems will use one of these amplifiers to power upgraded door speakers in vehicle. Generally speaking, you don’t really need to install one of these amplifiers if you are going to keep using your stock door speakers because they simply are not designed to handle the power.

Pro audio door speakers like these ProNeo speakers from DS18 will sound best when paired up with a 4-channel amp. Factory and aftermarket stereos simply do not have the power to drive these speakers on their own.


There you have it! Now,  while this isn’t definitely all the information you need to be a car audio expert at least you now have the very basics of amplifiers down! Finding the right audio system for your vehicle may seem overwhelming at first, but we are here to help in any way that we can. If you have more questions or are looking to get a quote for a sound system at one of our Houston locations just give us a call! Remember, it’s your ride made better.

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