The amplifier(s) within a vehicle’s sound systems are critical to its sonic performance. Specific performance criteria must be met to satisfy the requirements of all other parts of the system. With so many differences from system to system, it makes perfect sense that the market is flooded with manufacturers producing their own car amplifiers.
Whether you’re starting from scratch or upgrading; or looking to power component speakers or large subwoofers, choosing the right amplifier is the key to your success. Of course, the specifications are the most important. However, knowing the reputable car amplifier brands will certainly help you choose the right amp for your vehicle.
Though obviously subjective and prone to biases, I’ve done my best to list out these brands based on the following metrics (in no particular order):
- Company reputation
- Variety of amplifiers
- Performance of the amplifier
- Price-performance ratio
- The company/brand must currently be in operation
With all that being said, let’s list out the brands.
The top 11 best car amplifier brands in the world are:
Let’s get into each of these brands in greater detail and explain why they belong in the top 11 best car amplifier brands. For each brand, I’ll share their country of origin, a bit of history, an example of a notable multi-channel/component speaker amp and a monoblock/subwoofer amp, and a link to their official website.
Audison is an Italian brand that was founded in 1979 in Potenza Picena, Italy by Pietro Pantaleone and Emidio Vagnoni. It is part of the Elettromedia S.R.L. family of brands and has always been dedicated, with near-exclusivity, to car audio.
Audison’s goal upon starting was to create hi-fi audio for audiophiles on the move, and this goal has been and continues to be achieved. In this regard, Audison’s engineers have been able to repeatedly perfect best-selling products. In addition, they fine-tune their components, achieving HiFi car audio quality you would expect only from the state-of-the-art equipment installed in your living room.
Audison amplifiers are indeed the top of the crop for car audio. They recently won the “Amplifier of the year” award at the CES and EISA Awards. Installing Audison amp(s) in your car will get you that much closer to audio perfection. They are that good.
Notable amplifier: Audison TH Quattro (link to check the price at Safe And Sound)
What happens when the superior analog circuitry that made Audison an acclaimed brand worldwide is mixed with cutting-edge digital technology and research? Well, from that clash of titans, the TH Quattro is born, ready to take the audio in your car to the next level.
The Quattro is a four-channel amplifier capable of providing 160w x4 into 4-ohms loads. It pushes speakers hard while retaining the Hi-Res Audio quality as well as being Full DA HD, which means that the digital part will process audio information up to 24 bits. Moreover, the amplifier is equipped with digital outputs and inputs, a bias control, and a removable crossover.
To learn more about amplifier impedance, check out my article What Is Amplifier Impedance? (Actual Vs. Rated Impedance).
If this power scheme fits your needs, and you’re looking for the best power source you can buy, the Audison TH Quattro ought to be a serious consideration.
Audison was founded in 1979 by Pietro Pantaleone and Emidio Vagnoni. The company is headquartered in Potenza Picena, Italy.
Official website: audison.eu
Parent company: Elettromedia s.r.l
The dream of two music lovers in the early 70s became a 200-employee emporium on the rise due to hard work and wise leadership. What once was a one-man garage adventure in Stillwater is now a 240,000 square foot facility, and Kicker products are exported to over 50 countries.
There is no secret to Kicker’s success other than passion and dedication. Indeed, their product range embodies everything a music lover would like in their vehicle. Moreover, the company is a fearless innovator and thus, what you get buying Kicker is the leverage of years of knowledge plus cutting-edge technology.
If you want to modernize, optimize, enhance, and power your car audio system, Kicker amplifiers are an ideal choice. After all, the resulting sound depends on how good your amp is, and Kicker is among the best in the market. So don’t settle for anything less; give Kicker a try.
Notable amplifier: Kicker 46CXA660.5T (link to check the price at Crutchfield)
At one point in recent history, it was outrageous to think you could power an entire car system utilizing just one amplifier. However, Kicker’s innovative spirit put this zeitgeist to rest in style with its i6CXA660.5T.
This five-channel Class A/B hybrid amplifier can power all the speakers in your car and also the mighty subwoofer in the trunk. Speaking of which, the KickEQ offers a 6dB bass boost to ignite the extra bump and get people moving. As a hybrid amp, the 46CXA660.5T’s dedicated low-frequency amplifier is a state-of-the-art lightweight, ultra-efficient class D unit.
For mids and highs, the A/B full-range channels of this amplifier offer a 12dB crossover plus a 24dB subsonic filter, which allows you to dial in the right amount of presence and clarity.
If you are in the market for a powerful amplifier (90 watts x4 + 300 watts for the bass channel) that can solve all the power needs in your vehicle and still sound amazing, I strongly suggest giving this Kicker a try.
Stillwater Designs, Inc. brand KICKER was founded in 1980 by Steve Irby in Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA, where the company is still headquartered today.
Official website: kicker.com
Parent company: Stillwater Designs
Kicker is also featured in the following My New Microphone article:
• Top Best Subwoofer Brands (Car, PA, Home & Studio)
The Second World War had just ended and the entire planet was setting sail forward with big dreams and hope for better times. In that scenario, in 1946, Kenwood was born. By that time, JVC had already been in business for 19 years.
By 2011, Kenwood and JVC decided to join forces, and from that merger came a new era of manufacturing for both companies. Although both brands were heavily dedicated to home audio initially, their disembark in the car audio world meant a huge leap forward for the industry.
Nowadays, trusting your car’s audio system to either of these brands is buying over a centuries’ worth of combined hard work, dedication, love, and passion for all things audio. Plus, companies like JVCKenwood, with a strong presence in the market offering stereos and speakers, have the know-how to make the best car audio amplifiers, too.
The reputation of each brand pre-merger has allowed for both names to continue as distinct brands. However, when it comes to car audio amplifiers, both are excellent choices in today’s market. Therefore, we’ll discuss a Kenwood amp and a JVC amp in this section.
Notable Kenwood amplifier: Kenwood Excelon XR901-5 (link to check the price at Crutchfield)
Kenwood’s eXcelon line is among the best-of-the-best when it comes to car audio. This mighty Class D 5-channel power amplifier is no exception delivering a state-of-the-art solution to power your music on the road.
To begin with, it is a Hi-Res Audio apparatus, meaning that you can get much higher than CD quality with the right format and speakers. Secondly, the down-firing subwoofer with its dedicated circuit is capable of some serious rumble with no distortion. Thirdly, the company optimized the feedback value of the amplifier, reducing noise levels by 40%.
Finally, it comes with a wired remote control to dial in the right amount of power for every occasion. If you want the best of the digital amplification world in your car, this very capable Class D amp will get you the results you’re after.
Notable JVC amplifier: JVC KS-DR3005D (link to check the price at Crutchfield)
This power amplifier by JVC belongs to the DR series, utilizing traditional analog circuitry to generate volume. Speaking of which, by seeing toroidal transformers inside the chassis, you could likely infer that the KS-DR3005D is a superb amp.
Besides the toroidal transformer, the GND copper plate and its low resistance value help fight distortion while delivering clear, lossless sounds. Finally, this piece of equipment is so handy that the multiple speaker inputs feature an auto-turn-on feature, making it possible to install the amplifier without detaching the receiver.
If you like the warmth of analog amplifiers and the ease of use of a plug-and-play unit, this amplifier might very well be the optimal choice for your car.
JVCKenwood Corporation was founded in 2008 as a merger between two Japanese companies: Kenwood Corporation and Victor Company Os Japan, Ltd (JVC). The company headquarters is located in Yokohama, Japan.
Official website: jvckenwood.com
Alpine was born from the joined efforts of Alps Electric and Motorola in 1967 in Tokyo, Japan. Since buying Motorola’s part in 1978, the Alpine line has proven to be a new standard in the car audio world. Such is the case that the company manufactures OEM products for brands like Jaguar and Dodge, among many others.
When talking about Alpine amplifiers, it is necessary to say that the knowledge in this category is also found in speakers and stereos, which the company also manufactures and commercializes. Thus, having a complete vision of the components that make your car sounds amazing enhances every step of the process.
Installing an Alpine power amplifier for your car’s sound system is stepping into the big leagues of the car audio world. Those ready to take the leap will find amazing quality, durability, and performance with Alpine amplifiers pushing their music forward.
Notable amplifier: Alpine PDX-V9 (link to check the price at Crutchfield)
The PDX-V9 is a fantastic amplifier, especially for all those who have not yet been converted into digital amplifier lovers. In other words, if you are skeptical about how good and revolutionizing digital amplifiers are, this is a great example of what this technology can do in the right systems.
To begin with, its aesthetic is admirable. This makes it ideal for in-sight installation (they even come with removable trim rings to match your car’s colour).
Beyond the looks, this amplifier packs a lot of power and punch. Indeed, it has been measured to have >90% efficiency, which translates to high power, low distortion, and even improved longevity. Plus, it is compatible with the RUX KNOB.2 (link to check the price at Crutchfield), making it easy to dial in the right amount of power at all times from the front seats.
Digital power for your car doesn’t get much better than this; opting for this Alpine model is certainly an excellent decision.
Alpine Electronics was established in 1967 as Alps-Motorola, a joint venture between Japan-based Alps Electric (founded 1948) and U.S.-based Motorola (founded 1928). The company became Alpine Electronics in 1978 when Alps bought out Motorola’s share of the company. It is headquartered in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan.
Official website: alpine.com
Parent Company: Alps Electric
Alpine is also featured in the following My New Microphone article:
• Top Best Subwoofer Brands (Car, PA, Home & Studio)
Since 1975, JL Audio has made a name for itself as one of the most extreme car audio brands in the USA. Partially, this comes from working in one of the highest-demanding car audio scenes on the planet: South Florida. They became a prominent name in the region and, eventually, in the world.
Nowadays, after excelling with the world’s most demanding clients, JL Audio possesses the insight and knowledge to create the best car audio systems in the market. When it comes to amplifiers, the story is no different; they are responsible for some of the best pieces you can find today.
If you want true power and state-of-the-art, no-compromise sound for your ride, buy from the experts at JL Audio, you’ll be one step closer to turning your current car into your dream ride.
Notable amplifier: JL Audio VX800/8i (link to check the price at Crutchfield)
The VX800/8i is an 8-channel Class-D full-range car audio amplifier with integrated DSP capable of delivering 800 watts to your choice of speakers. In other words, this is a loud, muscular piece capable of 4x 200 watts when bridged and equipped with a full-featured digital signal processor.
Also, the DirectFET technology allows fidelity to remain pristine at all volume levels boasting outstanding efficiency. Plus, with the DSP functionality and JL Audio TüN Software app, you can say goodbye to knobs and manage your power amp straight from your phone.
If you are looking for the most modern and powerful solution for your car audio power needs, this is a serious contender.
JL Audio was founded in 1975 by James Birch and Lucio Proni. The company headquarters is located in Miramar, Florida, USA.
Official website: jlaudio.com
Soundstream was founded in 1975 in Salt Lake City, Utah, by Dr. Thomas G. Stockham, Jr. and became the first audiophile digital audio recording company in the USA.
Buying from Soundstream, you can expect an incredible line of thought that paves the road to new discoveries that help solve audio’s oldest problems. In this sense, the unconventional thinking that got the company started still lives today in every product.
Applying that principle to car audio (and amplification more specifically) translates into state-of-the-art technology applied to audio processing. Indeed, all Soundstream car amp units feature an all-digital power scheme and can push any speaker forward at ease, occupying less space.
If you are looking for a brand capable of surprising you with innovation and passion for your car’s audio system, the brand you’re looking for is Soundstream.
Notable amplifier: Soundstream Reserve DPA5.2000D (link to check the price at Crutchfield)
Soundstream’s Reserve line is the company’s flagship in terms of technology, craftsmanship, and component quality. In other words, it doesn’t get much better than this in the world of digital power amplification.
Some of the specs that set this unit apart from the rest are the top-mounted LCD and turning knobs to ensure easy and fast sound fine-tuning. This 5-channel, all-digital (pre and power amp are digital) amplifier is capable of delivering distortion-free, great-sounding 75W x4 in 4 Ohms, or a maximum (bridged) power of 250W x2, or 400W x1 in 2 Ohms.
Finally, the high and low-pass filters, and the wired remote, specifically designed for low frequencies, allow you to dial in exactly what you need to have a better musical experience on the road. This amplifier is indeed all you need to enjoy sound at its best on four wheels.
To learn more about high and low-pass filters, check out the following My New Microphone articles:
• Audio EQ: What Is A High-Pass Filter & How Do HPFs Work?
• Audio EQ: What Is A Low-Pass Filter & How Do LPFs Work?
Soundstream was founded in 1975 as part of the Epsilon Electronics umbrella of brands. The company headquarters is located in Montebello, California, USA.
Official website: soundstream.com
Parent company: Epsilon Electronics Inc
With a long trajectory in audio and an impeccable reputation for having the loudest, cleanest, most powerful headroom in the market, Rockford Fosgate is a big player in the world of car audio amplifiers.
Furthermore, since the company manufactures all the needed components related to car audio, their products are designed with stereos and speakers in mind. In other words, the insights of knowing how speakers respond to every frequency allowed the brand to dial in the perfect frequency curve to avoid distortion at all times.
If you like your music loud and proud, you have to check in with the experts; visit Rockford Fosgate before making any decisions.
Notable amplifier: Rockford Fosgate Power T1000-4AD (link to check the price at Crutchfield)
This hybrid amplifier is a terrific example of what you just read. The T1000-4AD is a powerful piece (1,000 watts!) that feeds on Class A design and Class D efficiency to deliver monstrous clean power to the music you love.
Some of the characteristics setting this unit apart from the competition are the 24dB/octave crossover, the audiophile-grade speaker connectors, the MOSFET power supply, the output stage, the RCA pass-thru outputs, and the 2/4 channel input switch.
To learn more about amplifier crossovers and how they affect speakers, check out my article What Is A Speaker Crossover Network? (Active & Passive).
Add to that a 2-year warranty, and you have the ultimate power source to take your music with you wherever you go.
Rockford Fosgate was founded in 1973 by Jim Fosgate as Fosgate Electronics in Arizona, USA. Today, the company headquarters is located in Tempe, Arizona, USA.
Official website: rockfordfosgate.com
Parent Company: Fosgate Audionics
Loyd Ivey founded MTX Audio in 1979 in Winslow, Illinois. By 1984, the company had produced the first mobile audio enclosure. Since then, MTX has gained a reputation for being the best car audio company for low and sub-low frequencies. This includes speakers, amplifiers, and crossovers.
Nowadays, the Jackhammer line includes a 24-inch subwoofer, one of the largest in the consumer market. This is only a bit of what this company can do for people who take their car’s audio seriously enough.
If you want to buy from a brand that has dedicated decades to exceed industry benchmarks to create one entirely of their own, then be sure to check out MTX. Without a doubt, they manufacture some of the best car audio amplifiers in the market today.
Notable amplifier: MTX Jackhammer JH7005 (link to check the price at Crutchfield)
700 watts of pure power, 5 channels, and hybrid construction of Class A/B and Class D amplification make the Jackhammer JH7005 a unique piece of equipment.
Honouring its name, the Jackhammer is a powerhouse boasting 60w x4 + 275w x1 in 4 Ohms retaining THD at less than 1%. Moreover, the frequency response is set at 20Hz to 250Hz for the subwoofer and 20Hz to 20kHz for the rest of the speakers covering all the sonic ground you might need. Plus, this allows clean headroom with lots of power and zero distortion.
Furthermore, all crossovers are variable, allowing you to fine-tune your car audio performance at any time. Finally, the variable subsonic filter and remote bass knob ensure you are in full control of all that power. The Jackhammer line by MTX is a must-try before making any decisions.
MTX Audio was founded in 1979 when Loyd Ivey (founder of American Acoustic Labs and Mitek) acquired the company Matrecs. The MTX brand is owned by Mitek Corporation. The company is headquartered in Winslow, Illinois, USA.
Official website: mtx.com
Parent company: Mitek Corporation
MTX is also featured in the following My New Microphone article:
• Top Best Subwoofer Brands (Car, PA, Home & Studio)
Boss Audio Systems
Boss Audio Systems is a company built from a need. It was Sam Rabbani’s inability to find a good-sounding, affordable sound system for his car that made him take a bold step and create a company of his own.
The secret to Boss Audio System’s success is to have in-house engineers for every step of the production. This allows the company to have a clear overview of the entire production line and complete control over every piece.
It’s truly amazing how affordable this American company can make its products while keeping such a keen eye on manufacturing, giving BAS my top “budget” pick in this article.
This translates into the world of car audio power amplifiers in the shape of the perfect quality/price balance and a set of specs that will satisfy even the most demanding ears.
Buying your amplifier from a brand that manufactures every piece in-house ensures you’ll have reliable power for decades. When in a budget (or not), checking Boss Audio Systems is a must.
Notable amplifier: Boss Audio BE2200.5D (link to check the price at Boss Audio)
With a total power output of 2200 watts, the BE2200.5D is a beast that can feed any speaker configuration and then some. Furthermore, this raw power comes from a Full-Range Class D amplifier with a state-of-the-art MOSFET power supply.
Among the (long) list of remarkable features that set this amplifier apart from the rest, you can find variable bass boost (with in-cockpit control), variable high and low pass crossovers, thermal protection, and variable gain control to dial in exactly the volume you need.
This amplifier by Boss Audio can solve all your needs for amplification on the road. If you want superb power with ultimate management capabilities, the BE2200.5D could be the exact amplifier you were looking for.
Boss Audio Systems was founded in 1987 by Sam Rabbani. The company headquarters is located in Oxnard, California, USA.
Official website: bossaudio.com
Hertz is another Elettromedia company (like the aforementioned Audison). It started with the revolutionary introduction of new materials in the world of car audio speakers and continued expanding the line to include amplifiers, stereos and accessories.
This experience manufacturing ground-breaking, innovative speakers gave the brand enough insight into sound to manufacture the best amplifiers in the market to power those speakers.
As a result, the amplifiers by Hertz are efficiency-driven, performance-oriented, great-sounding pieces of gear that can help take any car audio system to the next level. Installing one of these in your car might help bring new colours to the music you love and enjoy.
Notable amplifier: Hertz Mille ML Power 5 (link to check the price at Crutchfield)
This super powerful D-Class 5-channel car audio power amplifier is capable of producing 100 watts x4 + 550 watts in 2 Ohms. This is perfect for powering the company’s own Mille speakers, but it can feed any speakers of your choice as well.
The great news about the ML Power 5 design is that it can work at full power for hours without ever overheating, thanks to the aluminum die-casting and extrusion technologies. Moreover, the ADC (Advanced D-Class) technology ensures this gigantic amount of power never goes into distortion territory.
Finally, the HRC BM (Hertz Remote Control Bass Management) for the lower frequencies is optional and considerably enhances the system’s flexibility. If you are after state-of-the-art power, this is indeed a serious choice.
Hertz was founded in 1998 and is a brand of Elettromedia. The company headquarters is located in Potenza Picena, Italy.
Official website: hertzaudiovideo.com
Parent company: Elettromedia s.r.l
Focal is a French brand dedicated to producing the highest standards in audio around the world. Although their creations are highly praised and can be found in elite studios all over the planet, the brand’s disembark into car audio created a true revolution.
Just so you can have an idea of the size of the event, it is like Ferrari or Lamborghini entering the mass-produced car market. Such is Focal’s critical acclaim among audiophiles.
Translating this reputation to car audio power amplifiers, what you get is pristine power crafted with an obsession for detail and ready to perform in the most demanding scenarios. Those who love Hi-Fi music need to add a Focal power amp to their system to taste the difference between Focal and all of the competition.
Notable amplifier: Focal FDP 6.900 (link to check the price at Crutchfield)
This utterly powerful unit is capable of some serious power. It can deliver Full-Range Class-D power in the following combinations: 6x150w in 4 Ohms, 4×200 watts + 2×250 watts in 2 Ohms, or 2×400 watts, or 1×500 watts in bridged-4 Ohms.
The pristine power coming from this amplifier will push your speakers to their maximum without ever falling into distortion and, thanks to its remote sub-control, you can dial in as much or as little low rumble to the final mix as you like. Also, the high-level input is compatible with OEM stereos meaning that you can integrate the amp into your factory setup.
Finally, this compact yet utterly powerful amplifier can work in 3, 4, 5, or 6 channel mode adapting to whatever setup you wish for your automobile. If you want to experience truly elite power daily while you commute, install Focal in your car.
Focal-JMLab was founded in 1979 by Jacques Mahul in Saint-Etienne, France. Though the brand is still independent, it is owned by Vervent Audio Group following a merger with UK-based high-end audio electronics brand Naim Audio Limited. Focal-JMLab is, to this day, still headquartered in Saint-Etienne, France.
Official website: focal.com
Focal is also featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
• Top Best Headphone Brands In The World
• Top Best Loudspeaker Brands (Overall) On The Market Today
• Top Best Home Speaker Brands You Should Know And Use
There are plenty of other superb car audio brands that produce great amplifiers. Here are a few honourable mentions worth considering (with links to their websites):