It helps to understand what an amplifier does in order to purchase the one that will best suit your needs. An amplifier takes a small sound, adds a little boost of its own, and then turns it into a big sound. The more power your amplifier has, the better quality of sound it will provide. An underpowered amplifier will have a thin, tinny sound that is rather unattractive in an auto sound system, or any other sound system for that matter.
You should also take care to remember that the power rating of an amplifier is the maximum power it is capable of expending not the amount that it will regularly use. The RMS rating of an amplifier is a good indication of its power output. One thing that is important to remember is that you should never buy an amplifier based on the maximum output or RMS rating. This number is more often than not incredibly misleading. If a driving, thumping bass beat is important to you then you should make sure that your amplifier has a bass boost button. This button will or switch will give a little bit of a boost to your bass. It’s something I can pass on by many bass lovers cannot live without. Not all amplifiers have this so choose wisely and according to your preferences.
When it comes to amplifiers there are essentially four major classes (there are other classes but they are not all that common so I will not dwell on defining them) that represent the quality of sound you should expect from the system.
1) A. This class has a great output of quality sound but wastes huge amounts of energy in the process of creating that wonderful sound.
2) B. This class is slightly better than A as far as it wastes less energy and slightly worse as it produces a somewhat inferior quality of sound.
3) A/B. This resembles either A or B as far as sound and energy waste goes depending on the volume. Lower volumes will utilize the class A qualities of the amplifier while louder volumes are more in keeping with class B.
4) D. This class is primarily decent for producing a good bass sound and little else. The quality of sound and amount of energy wasted are both only moderate and neither are very impressive.
Of course this is the bare bones run through of the very basic amplifier basics. Another thing to note is that many people simply refer to amplifiers as amps rather than saying the entire word. It’s slang but it’s so common that no one will blink if you do it. In fact you are far more likely to get funny looks for calling it an amplifier. Regardless of the small talk an amplifier isn’t the end all be all of an auto sound system. It is only important if you feel it is important and many sound systems work splendidly without an extra amplifier to confuse the process and raise the price.
Whenever you decide to buy a new auto sound system for your car, truck, or SUV there is a moment of exhilaration and excitement as this is often a decision you’ve mulled over for quite a while rather than a spur of the moment decision. This exhilaration is promptly followed by a moment of complete and utter fear, as most of us have no clue what we really need. Hopefully, this has helped you decide whether or not you will need an amplifier and if you will, perhaps you can make a more educated and informed decision as to the type of amp you need.