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Quick guide to matching subs & amps

How to put together the best amp and sub combo

Ken Nail has written about car audio for Crutchfield since 2003, after four years as Crutchfield Sales Advisor, and 10 years as a music teacher. He's an avid music listener, whose favorites are classical and film music. When not chained to a desk, Ken spends most of his time training for triathlons and marathons, and likes getting outside for backpacking, downhill skiing, and bicycle touring. He attended West Virginia University, where he received a Master's Degree in Music Performance and a Bachelor's Degree in History.

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Subwoofers and an amplifier

When you're ready to add a subwoofer and bass system to your vehicle, there are a lot of options to choose from. Once you get past the basic question of the size and number of subs you want in your system, you need to decide on the type of sub(s) and the type of amplifier(s) you'll use.

When choosing subwoofers, you can choose between single voice coil (one set of terminals) and dual voice coil (DVC) models (two sets of terminals). Dual voice coil subs give you more wiring options than single voice coil models. Usually, but certainly not always, dual voice coil models are built for higher power handling and performance.

When choosing an amplifier, the most important thing is to pick one with the right amount of power for your subs. Once you've decided how much power you need, you'll need to decide which type of amp to use. For most bass systems, you'll want to choose either a mono (single-channel) amp or a 2-channel amp.

To get you on the fast track to big bass, let's look at four common combinations of subwoofers. We'll check out the advantages of each, the best wiring configuration, then discuss the type of amp to choose. We'll even show you how to hook 'em up!

If you already have either an amplifier or the subwoofers and need help choosing the other piece, be sure to check out our more in-depth article about matching subs and amps

One single 4-ohm voice coil sub

Simplicity, price, and compactness are the big advantages of a single sub system. A single sub is pretty easy to hook up, there are a lot of reasonably priced models to choose from, and it won't take up too much room (although a 15" sub isn't exactly small!) You may not knock over small buildings with one sub, but you can still get a lot of solid bass.

The right type of amp to use
This is a perfect place for a 2-channel amp. By bridging the output of the amp, you'll get lots of power for a relatively low cost. Avoid using a mono amp here — they work best at a lower impedance than 4 ohms.

SVC sub

A single 4-ohm SVC sub, connected to a bridged 2-channel amp.

One 4-ohm dual voice coil sub

Don't be confused about dual voice coil (DVC) subs — having two voice coils simply gives you more ways to hook them up. In addition to wiring flexibility, the advantages of using one dual voice coil sub are power handling (most dual voice coil subs are built for heavy-duty use) and compactness.

The right type of amp to use
This is a perfect situation for a mono sub amp. Why? Mono amps are built to provide the most power at lower impedances, typically around 2 ohms. By wiring the voice coils in parallel, we can present a 2-ohm impedance to the amp and get maximum power output. Check the diagram below for how to hook it up.

DVC sub

A single 4-ohm DVC sub — best when connected to a mono amp.

Two 4-ohm single voice coil subs

When you're looking for big bass, having two subs makes a lot of sense. After all, sound is just the movement of air, and with two subs you can move lots of air! As before, price can be an advantage when selecting 4-ohm single voice coil subs. Sure, two subs will take up more room, but what do you want — trunk space or bass?

The right type of amp to use
This setup is perfect for a mono sub amp. By wiring the two subs in parallel (see the diagram) you'll show a 2-ohm impedance to the amp. Mono amps are built for just this kind of situation, so you'll get maximum power output from your amp investment. Check the diagram below for how to hook it up.

SVC subs

Two 4-ohm SVC subs — a great place to use a mono amp.

Two 4-ohm dual voice coil subs

Wiring flexibility is the key here. You've got lots of different ways to hook up this combination. With two subs, this is a great way to get the pounding bass you're looking for. Hook 'em up and hold on tight!

The right type of amp to use
This is a great place to use a 2-channel amp. When you wire the subs as shown in the diagram below, the total impedance will be four ohms. A bridged 2-channel amp can provide plenty of power at a reasonable price. Get some good subs and a good amp and let it rip!

DVC subs

Wire two 4-ohm DVC subs this way, add a 2-channel amp, and your car will be the "Temple of Boom!"

Want to see more options for subwoofer wiring?

These examples are just the starting point. If you want to explore other ways to wire and configure your subs and amp, check out our subwoofer wiring diagrams. Just select the number and type of subs you have, and we'll show you how to wire them to your amplifier. For more information about how to choose the right subs, read our subwoofer buying guide. And as we mentioned above, if you already have one or the other, check out our more in-depth article about matching subs and amps.

If you have any questions and want straight answers, contact our advisors via phone, chat, or email. Just click on "Contact Us" at the top of any page on our site. 

Last updated July 28, 2016
  • Sam from Washington

    Posted on 10/16/2015 12:01:53 AM

    This was amazingly clear, concise and therefore extrememly useful

  • Ken from Vancouver, Canada

    Posted on 11/7/2015 1:45:39 AM

    I agree with Sam, helped make yet another buying decision a lot easier, thanks!

  • james from norwood

    Posted on 12/16/2015 11:57:16 PM

    Thank you so much ,the diagrams are awsome

  • christopher michael chustz from Ham lake

    Posted on 3/30/2016 9:31:21 AM

    I'm trying to figure out what rating and type of amplifier would best power 4 pioneer TS-W261D's and what would be the best way to wire them. The subs are 350 RMS and 1200 peak and they are DVC 4ohms. Any help would be much appreciated! Thank you!

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 3/30/2016 3:07:06 PM

    Christopher, Wired like this, any mono subwoofer amplifier that can put out from 1100 to 2100 watts RMS into 2 ohms will work well. For example, this amplifier may be perfect for you.

  • Daniel from Abilene, Tx

    Posted on 4/11/2016 9:58:07 PM

    Have 2 kicker dvc 4 ohm subs and a kicker dxa 250.1 amp what is the best way to wire.

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 4/12/2016 1:45:02 PM

    Daniel, If your subwoofers can each handle 62.5 watts RMS, then you can wire them to that amp like this diagram.

  • James from Hastings, MN

    Posted on 4/20/2016 12:40:42 AM

    I have a 4000 watt amp running one 4 ohm SVC sub. If I were to add another 4 ohm SVC sub, do I just splice into the existing speaker wire and run them to the new sub? And what is the suggested speaker wire gauge if I were to do this? Thanks

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 4/20/2016 1:58:58 PM

    James, Not knowing exactly what amplifier or subwoofers you have make it impossible to give advice on how to wire them together. If you want a question answered about a system, you must identify the equipment by brand names and model numbers.

  • Daren Obrecht from diamond bar

    Posted on 4/27/2016 1:13:41 PM

    hello Buck, i have a Hi-fonics Hercules mono block amp. its rated 2000 watts at 1 ohm, 1300 watts at 2 0hms and 650 watts at 4 ohms. i have 2 kicker solo baric dvc 4 ohm subs rated at 650 watts each, 4 kicker cvx 12 inch dvc 4 ohm subs rated 750 watts each . , 3 pioneer 10 inch champion series pro rated at 800 watt eachs, 2 mtx 9500 12 inch dvc 4 ohm subs rated at 1000 watts each and finally 2 memphis bass reference s4 12 inch svc subs rated at 400 watts each. i also have a alpine mrx-m240 mono block rated at 1000 watts for 1 0hm, 2400 watts at 2 ohms and 1500 watts at 4 ohms. lastly i have a mtx 7801 thunder mono block rated at 400 watts at 4 ohms, 800 watts at 2 ohms and 1200 watts at one ohm. i am trying to match up the best pairings for each amp. but i get confused with the amount of watts a sub or subs can be plus or minus in comparison to the subs watts rating. shoukld i ignore the 4 0hms hook ups as a waste considering what i have ? also would a single 4ohm dvc sub wired to 8 ohms present a a 4 ohm load if i hook them up individually to the amp since thge 2 channels for speakers is really just 1 inside the amp?

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 4/28/2016 4:34:54 PM

    Daren, Although virtually any of those subs can get driven by any of those amplifiers, the best matches that stand out to me are: The Hifonics amp driving the MTX subs wired like this for 2000 watts RMS. The Alpine amp driving the kicker Solo Baric subs wired like this for 1500 watts RMS. The MTX amp driving those Memphis subs wired like this for 800 watts RMS. And a single DVC 4-ohm sub can only be wired as an 8-ohm or a 2-ohm load. Wiring two 4-ohm voice coils to the two terminals of a mono amp is the same as wiring them in parallel, resulting in a 2-ohm load.

  • Josh from Princeton

    Posted on 5/3/2016 7:01:37 PM

    I have 4 P128DVC Boss Phantom 12's. 2400 watts a piece and 1200 rms. I was wondering what kind, ( wattage, channel, ohm) of amp I should be getting?

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/5/2016 3:41:51 PM

    Josh, Those subs are DVC (dual voice coil) 4-ohm subs and I can only think to run four of them using two high-power 1-ohm capable amplifiers, like the Rockford Fosgate T2500-1bdCP, each amp running a pair of subs. You'd wire each pair like this, and the system would be capable of putting out up to 5000 watts RMS.

  • david Benson from Akron

    Posted on 6/19/2016 11:32:19 AM

    i have 2 planet audio dvc 4 ohm subs at 750rms and a 1600 watt planet audio 4 channel amp (til i can upgrade)....wat is my best option for wiring?

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 6/20/2016 10:01:54 AM

    David, The only safe way I know of to hook two DVC 4-ohm subs to a 4-channel amp is like this diagram.

  • Terrence Guyden from high springs

    Posted on 6/26/2016 9:57:46 PM

    I have two boss amps 1500 wat rms im not really sure I have two ps1 punch I was wondering should I run them with a cap

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 6/27/2016 11:06:57 AM

    Terrence, If your vehicle's headlights dim a bit on big bass hits, a capacitor might help.

  • Jalen from Monroe

    Posted on 7/4/2016 3:23:53 PM

    I have a SVC 10 inch subwoofer 4ohm & Im wondering how many watts I need for the mono block amp.

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/5/2016 12:28:53 PM

    Jalen, Not knowing the watts RMS power rating of your sub makes it impossible to know what amp'll be good for it. If you want a question answered about a system, you must identify the gear by brand name and model number.

  • Keenan from Gardena

    Posted on 7/11/2016 10:17:36 AM

    Hello I have 2 3000 watt 12 inch subwoofers being pushed by a 4000 watt planet audio 1 channel amp it's distorting and keep cutting off and smoking amp runs extremely hot

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/11/2016 11:25:23 AM

    Keenan, It sounds to me that either the subs are wired as a load too low for the amp to handle, or the amp's gain isn't set to prevent distortion like it should. If you bought your gear from Crutchfield, you could call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system. Their toll-free number would be on your invoice. If you purchased your equipment elsewhere, you can still get expert Crutchfield Tech Support - 90 days-worth for only $30. Click on this link for details.

  • Peter Botros from Westminster

    Posted on 8/16/2016 12:53:11 PM

    I bought a 12 inch kicker comp vr 4ohm how should I wire it to a hiphonics centurion x 2x 100w amp

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/16/2016 2:44:43 PM

    Peter, The only safe way to wire that gear together is to use only one channel of that amp (NOT bridged) wired like this diagram. Like most 2-channel amps, that one's not stable at 2-ohms when bridged, and doesn't have enough power to drive that sub very well.

  • Lee F from Berrien Springs, MI

    Posted on 10/11/2016 10:05:38 PM

    Will and amp with a single channel 2 ohm 300 watt rating power two 4 ohm 12's with 150 watts each if I run them on the same port?

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/12/2016 10:14:26 AM

    Lee, Wired as you describe and as the third diagram in this article shows, each sub will receive half of what the amp puts out. In this case, each sub will get 150 watts.

  • David from Louisville

    Posted on 10/17/2016 11:31:04 PM

    I just picked up 2 Rockford fosgate p2d4 4 ohm 12s. P2s duel voice coil 4 ohm. Installed in ported box with a output for each speaker. So I wired each one at 2 ohm seperate from each other to get the most out of the amp that I had. The amp is a 2 channel said it would push 155 rms at 2 ohm vs 100 rms at 4 ohm per channel. I believe these speakers are 400 rms each so I'm thinking this amp is under powering these speakers. Was wondering if this amp or wiring could cause damage to speakers? And I'm pretty sure I need to upgrade the amp, any good suggestions for these subs?

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/18/2016 3:00:59 PM

    David, Under-powering subwoofers by itself will cause no damage - playing clipped distorted signals can. A great match for those subs would be a Pioneer GM-D8601, which can put out 800 watts RMS, the subs' exact RMS rating, when wired like this diagram.

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