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Video: car amplifier channels

How many channels do I need for my amp?

One of the first steps in choosing an amplifier for your car audio system is to decide how you intend to use the amplifier, and thus how many channels it should have. This short video gives you a quick overview to help answer that question.

Check out all our entire selection of car amplifiers at

Read video transcript

Zak: When you're shopping for an amplifier the first question to ask yourself is,
"How am I going to use it?"
"Am I going to power a sub or two subs?"
"One pair or two pairs of speakers, or maybe subs and speakers?"

Knowing this helps you make the first decision: which type of amp to buy based on how many output channels and how much power you need. So then let's take a look at the different types of amplifiers based on the number of output channels they have. Mono amps have one output channel. They're usually used to power subwoofers. And depending on the amp and the impedance of the subwoofers you can connect one, two or even more subs to just one mono amp.

Ken: 2-channel amps offer more versatility. You can use the two output channels to power a pair of speakers like the ones in your car's front doors. And most 2-channel amps can also be bridged. This combines the output of the two channels into a single channel. It's a great way to power a subwoofer.

Zak: 4-channel amps give you the most options. They're perfect for powering a couple pairs of speakers. You can also enjoy the best of both worlds by using two of the amp's channels to power a pair of full-range speakers in the front of the car while bridging the output of the other two channels to drive a sub. You'll get clean highs and powerful lows out of one package.

Amplifiers don't stop at four channels though. 5-channel amps let you power your entire system with just one amplifier. They have four channels for powering your front and rear speakers and a fifth, higher-powered channel for powering your subwoofers. Plus, a 5-channel amp takes up less space and it's easier to install than two separate amplifiers. A 5-channel amp is a good investment if you want to build a system that has a lot of flexibility and room to grow.

Ken: To see all the amps we carry go to and be sure to check out which wiring kits we recommend.

Zak: To learn more about choosing the right amplifier, go to

Ken: And for personal, one-on-one help, call 1-800-555-9408.

  • Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/17/2016

    Angel, 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 your system, you must identify your equipment by brand names and model numbers. Some 4-channel amps have "2ch/4ch" switches that let you send the input signals from ch1 and ch2 to ch3 and ch4. Some amp's remote control will affect only two of the amp's channels, some don't. If your sub is a SVC 4-ohm sub, you can wire it to a couple of bridged channels of most amps.

  • Angel Rodriguez

    Posted on 10/16/2016

    Hi, I have a 4 channel amp (170 x4 rms @ 4ohms) which has a set on RCA inputs for ch 1/2 and another set of RCA inputs for ch 3/4. My plan was to run my door speakers (2 of them at 100 rms) to channels 1 and 2. As well as run my subwoofer (300 watts rms 4 ohms) to channel 3. My Head Unit only has one set of RCA outputs, if i only run a set of RCAs to one of the amplifiers inputs(ch1/2) will i get the sound through all 4 channels? Also should I connect my subwoofer to ch 3 or bridge it to ch3/4? My amp has a max of 1800 watts. I am not sure if i should run it to one of the channels or bridge it. Will i be able to control the sub with remote subwoofer controller that came with the amp without affecting the full range speakers on ch 1 and 2?

  • Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/20/2016

    Ray, Two subwoofers properly wired together to an amplifier will split in half and share equally whatever power the amp can deliver to them. There are almost no benefits in using a 2-channel amplifier to drive a subwoofer system. Most 2-channel amps can't drive loads lower than 4 ohms when bridged, and don't have enough power to drive 2 subs. Mono, 1-channel amps are designed to work with a wider range of impedances, and have tone controls and filters specifically made to help reproduce bass.

  • Ray from Arlington

    Posted on 7/20/2016

    What's the difference between powering a dual subwoofer (one box with two speakers) with one channel amp or two channel amp both 600 watts. My main question is in that 2-channels 600watts subwoofer, how many watts each channel has?!

  • Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 12/21/2015

    John, Making a center channel in a car system isn't as easy as hooking a speaker up to both right and left channels. A signal processor is needed to either combine the left and right signals together, or create a true center channel consisting of only the signal that is common to both left and right channels. Some people build home-made resister networks that let them safely run a center channel speaker from the right and left speaker wires. Digital signal processors with assignable inputs and outputs can sum the signals to use for a center channel. But I don't know of any presently available device that can create a true center channel signal in a car system. I think the Audio Control ESP-3 and the JBL MS-8 processors did, but they're discontinued and not so easy to find.

  • John from Cincinnati

    Posted on 12/20/2015

    What's the best way to add a center channel

  • Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/28/2015

    Miguel, If you bought your amplifier at Crutchfield, you could call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system. Their toll-free number is 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.

  • Miguel Ibarra from warner robins

    Posted on 8/28/2015

    Ok well I hooked up my amp and remote wire and everything. But wen I turn the car on and plug in my aux cord it doesn't work or my usb The speaker will only work with the radio nothing else. Do u know how I can fix that?