How important is an amplifier in the often-confusing world of car audio systems?
Although you may believe that only high-end, thumpin’ car stereo systems need amplification, the truth is that every audio system requires an amplifier. The real question is whether or not you need a separate piece of equipment or if you can obtain the fidelity and volume you seek using an amp that’s integrated into the head unit.
What Car Audio Amplifiers Actually Do
Whether you’re listening to satellite radio, streaming audio content or playing tunes on your iPod in the car, the signal that comes through your car’s head unit is not strong enough to push sound out of the speakers. To accomplish that goal, the signal must be powered up, aka amplified.
An amplifier takes this low-level audio signal and gives it a boost – whether a lot or a little – that allows sound to come through the speakers.
The strength and quality of the amp determine the quality of that sound. A stronger amp is necessary to maintain sound quality at higher volumes. Likewise, you need more amplification if you have larger speakers or if you hope to utilize a larger number of speakers, a subwoofer, etc.
Types of Car Audio Amplifiers
Every car audio system has an amp – even the most basic systems that come from the factory. In most cases, factory systems include an onboard amp, meaning it’s already incorporated into the head unit. However, because amps require power, they generate heat. To prevent the unit from overheating inside your dash, onboard amps are limited in their capacity to boost an audio signal.
In other words, onboard amps are limited in terms of fidelity and volume.
Outboard amps – those that are stand-alone components – are typically installed somewhere else in the vehicle (other than in the dash). Although the location can vary based on your car’s configuration, car audio installers must find a location with plenty of ventilation, to make sure the unit doesn’t overheat and burn out.
Is a Separate Amplifier Necessary for Your Car Audio System?
Now we’re down to the real questions – whether to add a separate amp to your car audio system or not. And, if so, how powerful does your amplifier need to be?
If you want to crank up the volume, your sound will become distorted at some point if your amp isn’t powerful enough. This is true no matter how good your speakers are. If you plan to add a subwoofer or if you want multiple component speakers, you’ll also need a more powerful signal boost. And that means an outboard amp.
To determine the best configuration for your vehicle – and to get the sound you want from your vehicle’s stereo system – you need help from the experts at Pro Audio Pro 4×4 in Provo. Our team is known throughout northern Utah for our award-winning, mind-bending custom installations. No matter what your budget may be, call on us today to get the customized car audio system you’ve been dreaming of.