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Amplifier wiring diagrams

How to add an amplifier to your car audio system

Happy amplifier

Some people think that installing an amplifier in their vehicle is hopelessly complicated and best left to a professional. That's an option, sure. But Crutchfield has been helping people realize they can do it themselves for over 40 years.

To that point, here are diagrams for a couple of typical amp installations to help you see how all the separate components fit together to form a car audio system.

The first diagram shows a total system upgrade using an aftermarket receiver, two amplifiers, and a subwoofer. The second is more specific. It shows you how to add a subwoofer to a factory system.

How to wire a full car audio system 

This wiring diagram shows how a full-blown car audio system upgrade gets wired in a car. The system depicted includes new speakers, an aftermarket receiver, a 4-channel amp for the front and rear pairs of full-range speakers, and a mono amp for a subwoofer.

The extra gear you'll need for wiring the amps includes:

Capacitors aren't usually necessary in a car stereo installation but we included one here to show how it would get wired into a system.

Amplifier Wiring Diagram

How to add a subwoofer to a factory stereo

A lot of folks want to add bass to their system without replacing the factory radio, either because it looks good or is impossible to replace. The following wiring diagram shows the additional wiring you'll need to add a subwoofer to a factory system.

Start by getting a subwoofer amplifier or powered sub with speaker-level inputs. You'll need these items for the installation and to give it that professional touch:  

Adding a subwoofer diagram

For further help understanding how to install your sub, check out our short videos How to add a subwoofer to a factory stereo and How to install a powered subwoofer.

Start building your system today

Now that you've seen how all the components and parts fit together, you can knowledgeably shop Crutchfield's extensive selection of car audio gear and start building your system. 

Give us a call at 888-955-6000 and an Advisor will help you get what you need. If you want to learn more about installing amplifier systems, check out our Amplifier Installation Guide.

  • Chris from Anchorage

    Posted on 10/7/2021

    Hands down MOST POINTLESS DIAGRAM!!

  • Christian Aitchison from Belgrade

    Posted on 9/26/2021

    Question about tapping into the factory stereo wires. Are you only tapping into the rear speakers or all the speakers? Also do you plug in the the wires back into the stereo after connecting the line output converter?

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 9/28/2021

    Christian, If you're referring to the "Add a sub to a factory stereo" diagram, you tap, connect to, the speaker wires without cutting them. Most amplifier speaker-level inputs need two channels of input to work properly.
  • R.J. from Syracuse, NY

    Posted on 9/8/2021

    I am looking to replace the current Mach460 system in my Mustang with either components front and rear and 4 channel amp, or full range 6.5 and tweeter as well as sub(s) with mono amp. The question is while shopping what ohm load speakers should be purchased to create the most efficient and clean sounding setup? Part two of the question is wiring the 4 channel to those speakers, series, series-parallel or parallel?

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 9/9/2021

    RJ, Although rarely mentioned, most aftermarket car speakers have 4 ohms of impedance. There are some that are 3 or 2 ohms, but low speaker sensitivity makes them only a little more efficient than 4-ohm speakers. Your question about wiring is irrelevant for single speakers - "series, series-parallel, and parallel" wiring refer to how two or more devices like speakers can get wired together. One speaker gets wired with its positive terminal connected to the amp's positive output terminal and its negative to the negative amp terminal.
  • Rodney Mullinax from Boron, Ca.

    Posted on 8/16/2021

    I have a 4 channel amp, (Blaupunkt) with a sub with a built-in amp, (Underseat JBL) I plan to run the 4ch to my 4 speakers and then the powered sub as well. Can I run a power block to split the power (4 ga. to 2X 8ga.)? Then split the remote turn on btwn them? Also run RCA's to the 4ch amp and run the 2 RCA out from the 4ch amp to the sub amp? Does this sound correct? Thank You

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 8/17/2021

    Rodney, Sounds good to me.
  • Bruce Lee from Hopewell

    Posted on 8/5/2021

    Can I use my rca output on my mono sub amp to send signal to the rear channels of a 4 channel amp?

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 8/6/2021

    Bruce, Yes you can - the preamp outputs of an amp are there to be used to connect to the inputs of a second amp.
  • Joe jacques from Minneapolis

    Posted on 7/31/2021

    13 taurus keeping the factory head unit. I'm wanting to hook up tweeters 4 door and 2 6x9 to rear deck with 2 3.5 center speakers in the front and back. I have the lc8i and a 5frad with a 4ch amp for those speakers and 2 amps for 2 subs. Is there a diagram for this setup?

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 7/31/2021

    Joe, You should be able to diagram your specific setup from this diagram by changing out the distribution blocks for 3-output versions, have the second sub amp share power and inputs with the first, and wire your tweeters in parallel with the front speakers
  • Jordan t from Bend

    Posted on 7/28/2021

    The way the capacitor is hooked up does it only supply power to the sub or sub and all 4 speakers? I think i want mine to help with sub and speakers but im still a nooby so trying to understand. Thanks

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 7/29/2021

    Jordan, Technically, when a capacitor discharges, the extra power gets added to the whole power supply system. Seeing as most over-powering is done by a subwoofer amplifier, a cap is usually wired nearest to the sub amp. If your full-range amp is over-powering your electrical system, a capacitor probably won't help. A capacitor can solve short-lived bursts of power drain, but not constant over-driving.
  • Cesar from Kilgore

    Posted on 7/18/2021

    Is it possible to connect a second amplifier holding the ground, the power cable and the remote of the main amplifier? without having to run another cables all over the car again?

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 7/19/2021

    Cesar, When you install more than one amplifier, you should use distribution blocks for the power and ground cables, eliminating the need to wire each amp directly to the battery.
  • Robert from Phoenix

    Posted on 7/15/2021

    Okay I get the diagram and I have everything running with that help but how would I wire 4 tweeters total for front and back doors...do I wire them to 4 channel amp or the second amp driving my subwoofer

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 7/15/2021

    Robert, Without knowing precisely what amps, speakers, tweeters, and sub 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.
  • John W Hale from Fort Myers

    Posted on 5/9/2021

    I have a DB Link Audio 200 Amp Fuse and Fuse holder. Can this fuse be use for the main 1/0 AWG cable from the battery (mounted in the trunk) to the starter relay and the power to my JL Audio Amp HD900/5?

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 5/10/2021

    John, Your vehicle's starter relay should not get connected to your amp's power cable. If it fits, a 1/0-gauge power wire with a 200A fuse will work with that amp, although its specs call for 4-gauge wire with a 60A fuse.