Better car audio, Tip #3: Add an amplifier
I edit the home A/V and pro audio articles on Crutchfield.com. It's a cool gig for a guy who's been seriously into audio since way before 1974. I started buying records, guitars, and gear with the money I made mowing lawns and delivering newspapers. Now the way I earn my money has changed for the better, but where it goes hasn't changed too much. Just give me the proverbial three chords and the truth. I'll do my best to help you feel it, too.
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You may be saying, "My factory stereo puts out 200 watts, and that's plenty of power." But there's a huge difference between 50 watts peak power per channel produced by your car stereo and 50 watts RMS from an outboard amplifier. A separate amplifier will provide more clean power than any car stereo, and that'll make a night-and-day difference in sound quality. Your system will sound better, whether you listen to Mahler at a conversational level or Megadeth turned up to 11. An amplifier is essential to getting great sound in your car.
If you're adding high-quality aftermarket speakers or component systems to your vehicle, they may require more power for peak performance than your existing in-dash receiver can provide. Subwoofers require significantly more power than a brand-name or factory in-dash receiver can provide. With subs, a separate amp is a necessity.
Amplifiers do not come with wiring you need to connect them to your stereo. Wiring Kits provide everything you need to send signal and power to your amp.
This post is excerpted from a recent article in our Learning Center, Jeff's Tips for Getting Maximum Sound Quality in Your Car.