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How to match subwoofers and amplifiers

Find the right amp for your sub or sub for your amp

How to match subs and amps

The secret to great bass is making sure your subwoofers and amp are evenly matched and will properly work together. And this article will help you figure out how to do just that — match amplifiers and subwoofers.

Getting the right sub for an amp, or the right amp for a sub, is like solving a puzzle. A subwoofer has impedance (measured in ohms) which represents the "load" an amplifier will sense on its output. An amplifier will put out different amounts of power (watts RMS) based on the impedance load it "sees."

Solving the puzzle

The amplifier's capabilities (X watts RMS into Y ohms) needs to match the subwoofer's specifications (Y ohms and can handle X watts RMS). Your goal is to get those two variables to match for both the amplifier and the subwoofer.

Below, we cover the important basics of power-matching, impedance, and planning for the number of subs you want, and we approach the situation from both sides of the system:

  • Part A: You have the subs, which amp should you get?
  • Part B: You have the amp, which subs should you get?
  • And also, Part C: You have neither amp nor sub, and want help deciding how to begin.

Start with either part of this article you want, but A and B are both worth a read.


Part A — You have the subs, which amplifier should you get?

The subwoofers need to be the same

Multiple subs wired together must be the same coil type and impedance. If they’re not, the power won’t divide evenly between them, and some subs would probably be over-powered while others get under-powered. If you want to run different types of subs in a system, each type needs to have its own separate amp.

Step 1: How much power? Find out the “watts RMS” rating of the sub

Then, multiply the number of subs you have by the RMS rating of each, to get their total RMS rating. You want to make sure the amp you choose will supply no more than the sub system’s total RMS rating.

Step 2: What impedance? The results of combining coils and subs

Figure out the possible total impedance(s) that the subs can be wired together to form.
SVC = A subwoofer with a single voice coil. It has only one pair of terminals.
DVC = A subwoofer with a dual voice coil. It has two pairs of terminals.

  • 1 SVC 2-ohm sub can only have 2 ohms of impedance
  • 1 SVC 4-ohm sub can only have 4 ohms of impedance
  • 1 DVC 2-ohm sub can have 1 ohm or 4 ohms of impedance
  • 1 DVC 4-ohm sub can have 2 ohms or 8 ohms of impedance
  • 2 SVC 2-ohm subs can have 1 ohm or 4 ohms of impedance
  • 2 SVC 4-ohm subs can have 2 ohms or 8 ohms of impedance
  • 2 DVC 2-ohm subs can have 1/2 ohm, 2 ohms, or 8 ohms of impedance
  • 2 DVC 4-ohm subs can have 1 ohm4 ohms, or 16 ohms of impedance

For more combinations of subs and their impedances, see Subwoofer Wiring Diagrams.

Step 3: Pick an amp that can do both — X watts at Y ohms

Look for an amplifier that can put out power up to the RMS wattage you’ve figured in Step 1, at an impedance load the subs can be wired to form, from Step 2.

Estimating amp power at the odd impedance values:

  • 8 ohms — figure on the amp putting out half the power it would at 4 ohms
  • 6 ohms — figure on the amp putting out three-quarters of the power it would at 4 ohms
  • 3 ohms — figure on the amp putting out the average of what it would at 2 ohms and at 4 ohms
  • 2.7 ohms — figure the same as for 3 ohms, and add a few watts
  • 1.3 ohms — use the 1-ohm spec and take away a few watts
Alpine S-W8D4

Example: Finding an amp for your subs
You have two Alpine S Series S-W8D4 8" subwoofers and you want the right amp for them.

They are DVC 4-ohm subs rated at 300 watts RMS each.

Two 300 watts RMS subs together need a maximum total of 600 watts RMS.

Using the chart in Step 2, 2 DVC 4-ohm subs can be wired together to form a 1-ohm, a 4-ohm, or a 16-ohm load.

The last is too high a load to be practical, so you’ll look for an amp that can put out up to 600 watts RMS into either a 4-ohm load, or a 1-ohm impedance load:

  • up to 600 watts RMS x 1 at 4 ohms, or
  • up to 600 watts RMS x 1 at 1 ohm

Among Crutchfield’s selection of amplifiers you’ll find:

Any one of these high-quality amplifiers would work well with those subs. It doesn’t matter which impedance an amp plays through — 600 watts RMS through a 4-ohm load produces the same volume as 600 watts RMS through a 1-ohm load.

JL Audio JD1000/1

JL Audio JD1000/1 subwoofer amplifier


Kicker KEY500.1

Kicker KEY500.1 subwoofer amplifier

Part B — You have the amplfier, which subs should you get?

Step 1: What can the amp do? Find the RMS power ratings of the amp at different loads

Find the amp’s power, expressed in “watts RMS”, at 4 ohms, at 2 ohms, and, if it can, at 1 ohm. Pick the power you’d like to achieve. The load impedance (ohms) of that rating will be what you want your subs’ total impedance to be.

Step 2: How many subs do you want?

Divide the power you picked in Step 1 by the number of subs you want. This number is the target RMS rating for each of the subs you’ll choose. 

Step 3: What impedance does each sub need to be and how many voice coils?

Using the impedance you picked in Step 1 and the number of subs from Step 2, cross-reference the possible coil configurations that you can use: 

1-ohm 2-ohms 4-ohms
1 sub DVC 2-ohms SVC 2-ohms
DVC 4 ohms
SVC 4-ohms
DVC 2-ohms
2 subs SVC 2-ohms
DVC 4-ohms
SVC 4-ohms
DVC 2-ohms
SVC 2-ohms
DVC 4-ohms
3 subs (1.3 ohms)*
SVC 4-ohms
DVC 2-ohms
(3 or 2.7 ohms)*
DVC 2-ohms
DVC 4-ohms
(6 ohms)*
SVC 2-ohms
DVC 4-ohms
4 subs SVC 4-ohms
DVC 2-ohms
SVC 2-ohms
DVC 4 ohms
SVC 4-ohms
DVC 2-ohms
* Estimate amp power at the odd impedance values like in Part A, Step 3, above.

Step 4: Pick a sub that works for both — (SVC or DVC) X-ohms, Y watts RMS)

Look for subs that are rated at the wattage you figured in Step 2, and are configured as you found in Step 3. This might sound confusing, so let's walk through an example and it'll make sense.

JL Audio JD500/1

Example: Finding subs for your amplifier
You have a JL Audio JD500/1 amplifier and you want it to drive two subwoofers

The amp is capable of 250 watts RMS x 1 at 4 ohms and 500 watts RMS x 1 at 2 ohms.

Let’s say you choose to maximize the amp’s potential and want the system to put out 500 watts RMS. This means your subs have to be wired to form a total impedance of 2 ohms.

Two subs on a 500 watts RMS amp will want about 250 watts RMS each.
So you’ll look for subs each rated for 250 watts RMS or more.

Using the chart in Step 3, for two subwoofers, a final 2-ohm load can be achieved with either two SVC 4-ohm subs or two DVC 2-ohm subs.

So, you’ll look for two subs that are either SVC 4-ohms or DVC 2-ohms, rated for at least 250 watts RMS each:

  • 2 SVC 4-ohms, at least 250 watts RMS, or
  • 2 DVC 2-ohms, at least 250 watts RMS

Among Crutchfield’s selection of subwoofers you’ll find:

Kicker CompC 10"

Kicker CompC 10" component subwoofer

All these subwoofers will sound their best when amplified with the proper amount of power. Differences in size have more to do with tonal qualities and frequency response than with power performance. And optimizing performance is the point of matching subs and amps together.


Part C — You have neither amp nor sub, and want help deciding how to begin

Check out our other article, All About Subwoofers to learn the basics of how much bass you need and how to choose your subwoofers. 

And of course, if you have any questions, contact our expert advisors and they'll be happy to help you build your system. 

  • Shawn Stevens from Rancho Cordova

    Posted on 11/27/2022

    Hello there. I am purchasing 2 Rockford Fosgate R2S-1X10 slim subs. I am trying to setermine the right amp for these as I believe they are single voice coil but some of the specs call them DVC as well. I would like a single amp that can potentially run these as well as a set of seperates. If need be I can always opt for a 2 amp setup. What is your recommendations for this application?

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 11/28/2022

    Shawn, That 2-ohm sub rated for 200 watts RMS will work best with an amplifier that can put out up to 200 watts RMS at 2-ohms, like an Alpine KTA-200M Power Pack. Under no circumstances should you ever use two amplifiers for one subwoofer - that would be dangerous to the amps and subs.
  • Craig from Clarksville

    Posted on 11/22/2022

    I have two Polk DB 1242 DVC subs and the Polk PA D1000.1 amplifier. From what I'm reading I believe wiring them to 1 ohm would produce most bass? All - to amp in parallel and all + to amp in parallel. Am I correct by doing this??

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 11/23/2022

    Craig, That amplifier will put out 1200 watts RMS at 1-ohm, which is enough to blow those subs to smithereens. The only safe way to wire your gear together is like this. Two DVC 4-ohm subs rated for 370 watts RMS, 740 watts RMS together, will work best with an amplifier that can put out no more than 740 watts RMS at 1-ohm or 4-ohms.
  • Georgie maese from Sacramento

    Posted on 11/12/2022

    I have 2 10" mtx audio subs. Each one is 4500 watts each idk about ohms or anything like that. What amp should I? Or can I run with these 2?

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 11/12/2022

    Georgie, Without knowing precisely which subs you're referring to, we can't help you with advice. If you want a question answered about a system, you must identify the gear by brand names and model numbers so we can get the right information to you.
  • Viktor Lenchanko from Kaneohe

    Posted on 11/10/2022

    I'm gonna buy two deaf bounce Apocalypse DB-SA272 D2 12" subs. 1500 watt RMS and 2+2 ohms. What amp do I need? Tried looking at the examples above and I couldn't figure it out.

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 11/10/2022

    Viktor, Two DVC 2-ohm subs rated for 1500 watts RMS each will work great with an amplifier that can put out up to 3000 watts RMS at 2-ohms, like a Rockford Fosgate T2500-1bdCP.
  • Jon from Allentown

    Posted on 11/8/2022

    Kicker 10" comp rt 4ohm 400w rms Model- 48cwrt104 What amplifier would you recommend

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 11/9/2022

    Jon, That DVC 4-ohm sub rated for 400 watts RMS will sound great with an amplifier that can put out up to 400 watts RMS at 2-ohms, like a Soundstream Reserve DPA1.2000D
  • Owen from Palm Bay

    Posted on 9/27/2022

    I have two twelve inch kicker comps it's rated 300 rms each and 4 ohmns what amp would be good for that if u don't mind me asking I'm trying to get as much bass out of them without blowing my subs

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 9/28/2022

    Owen, Kicker Comp 12" 4-ohm subs are rated for 150 watts RMS each, so an amplifier for two of them should be able to put out up to 300 watts RMS into a 2-ohm load, like a JBL Stage A3001.
  • Michael Fitzgerald from Owensboro

    Posted on 9/16/2022

    I'm about to buy the 12 in jbl stage speakers and need a good quality amp and don't know what to get. The subs have 250 watt RMS each, so what's the best low price amp to get and does it need to be 250 or 500 watts because I am getting to 12s

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 9/17/2022

    Michael, Give us a call, so an Advisor can help you pick the perfect gear for your system.
  • Tracey Moss from Somersworth

    Posted on 9/7/2022

    Hello! I am wanting to put the Alpine SBV 10-WRA sub in my 2013 Jeep Wrangler. What would be a good amp to go with it? I know I need 2 ohms. Also, I have an aftermarket Pioneer DMH 2660 NEX stereo head unit and new Alpine speakers. I'm not sure the model # of the speakers, but I know they are 80 watt RMS and 240 watt peak. I would like to add an amp for them as well because I just don't think it sounds as good as it could. Any help on what amp I could add for those as well. Thank you for any help!!

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 9/9/2022

    Tracey, With questions like these, it's always better to have a conversation with a real live human. Give us a call and talk to one of our Advisors, who can help you choose the right gear and give you the right advice on how to install it.
  • Chuck from Rio Grande

    Posted on 8/31/2022

    Hello, I want to install 2 Kicker CompR 48cwr104 10" subs in a sealed box in my truck. I want to know if I Should wire in for 4 or 1 ohm, and what Kicker Amp I should use. Really going for Sound Quality not SPL

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 9/1/2022

    Chuck, It looks like the Kicker 46CXA800.1T would be perfect for your application - wiring the two subs to forma a one-ohm load, for maximum efficiency.
  • Riley Wallace from Fort collins

    Posted on 8/30/2022

    I recently have come across two JL audio 12W3v3's inside a Bassworx SW212B. I was looking to replace some of my speakers on my 2001 4runner but I was wondering if you had any recommendation for amps and if that would change if I did upgrade my speakers. Thank you!

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 9/1/2022

    Riley, With questions like these, it's always better to have a conversation with a real live human. Give us a call and talk to one of our Advisors. We can help you choose the right gear and give you the right advice on how to install it.

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