Are you looking for an excellent car amplifier for the car sound system but don’t have much money to spend? Do not worry. There are plenty of car amplifiers in different classes to choose from but before buying, it is worth spending some time for proper research.
As an engineer, I am picky with all purchases, especially when it comes to car audio, so which is the best budget car amplifier? Let’s find out.
The best budget amplifiers are not always the most expensive. In fact, there are a number of great budget amplifiers on the market that offer excellent value for money.
Here is a list of my top picks for budget car amplifiers:
- Skar RP350.1D – best budget car monoblock amplifier
- BOSS R1002 – best budget stereo car amplifier below $50
- Planet Audio PL1200.2 – best budget stereo car amplifier below $100
- Blaupunkt AMP1604 – best budget 4-channel amplifier
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Tip: Although budget amplifiers are great for simple car audio systems, if you want to build a more sophisticated system, it is worth investing in a higher quality amplifier, especially for powerful subwoofers.
A budget amplifier cannot provide enough power for large 12″ or 15″ subwoofers, so if you need something powerful for a little more money, try one of the powerful Skar car amps (link to Amazon).
In this article, I will take a look at some of the best amplifiers on the market today that won’t break the bank.
What Are Good Budget Car Amplifiers?
When it comes to car amplifiers, there are many different factors to consider, such as:
#1. RMS power
#2. Signal to noise ratio (SNR)
#3. Frequency response
#5. Total harmonic distortion (THD)
These are just some of the things you should look for when choosing an amplifier but keep in mind that not all of them are created equal.
For me, more important than the numbers is the listening experience and features that the amplifier offers. Of course, the specifications are the first filter for me, but to make a final decision, I have to listen to the system, and sometimes the difference between two look-alike amplifiers can be pretty big.
Now that we know what to look for in a good amplifier let’s take a look at my top picks for budget car amplifiers for the low price, below $50 and below$100.
What Is the Best Budget Mono Car Amplifier?
Mono car amplifiers are used mainly for subwoofers because for the sub bass, only one channel is required. There are audiophile sound systems where mono amplifiers are installed individually for each speaker, but those are rare and expensive installations.
Monoblocks are known for plenty of power they can deliver, so it can be tricky to find a good amp for below $100, but there is actually one that you should use with any small subwoofer.
My favorite budget mono amplifier is Skar RP350.1D (link to Amazon). It is a small compact-looking mono class D amplifier designed to power the subwoofer, so many may say that it is nothing special, but…
It is incredible how much power this single channel amp can deliver for the price, and it does so with low distortion levels and excellent sound quality.
I tried it on a small DVC Skar Audio VD-8″ and would not hesitate to install it in any budget system, especially in a small sports car.
The best thing I like about this small Skar is that it runs stable at 1hom, which means if you have two small 8-10″ subwoofers, you can run them in parallel, which is quite unique for below$100.
Or, if you have a small DVC sub like I did, wire it in parallel, and the RP350.1D will make you feel every single punch.
Below are a few numbers from a specification:
- 350 W RMS at 1 ohm
- 250 W RMS at 2 ohm
- 150 W RMS at 4 ohm
- Sensitivity 85 dB
- Remote control
See below the DYNO test. As you can see, unlike other types, without surprise SKAR delivers slightly more power than it was designed for.
One thing I do not like is that it can quickly go into protect mode and cut off when powering a too demanding subwoofer, but that is not a big issue since it is designed for lower power subwoofers.
But from another hand, this is a good thing because no one wants to install a new amp and have it fried.
- Power matches the advertisement
- Good sound quality
- Small size
- Affordable price
- I did not find any.
What Is the Best Budget Stereo Car Amplifier?
Stereo car amplifiers are popular for any small car audio system and are very common in starter kits.
Below I listed my top picks for the best budget stereo car amplifier:
It is a 2 channel car amplifier that produces 75 watts RMS at 4 ohms and 38 watts RMS at 2 ohms. I did not measure its real power output, but it made my low impedance JBL GTO920s really loud at 2 ohms and without distortion, even at high volume.
It may not seems like a huge power, but when compared to the serial stereo with 18W RMS per channel at most, it makes a day/night difference. One important point is its frequency response starting at 12Hz!!!!.
I did not connect it to the subwoofer as it would not even move it, but it has a really good mid-bass to the JBLs I tested it with.
With its small footprint, it will fit easily into any car, and the absolute best part is the price, you can find it for less than $50, and I would not say that is worse than many more expensive amps.
So if you are looking for something small and simple, it is perfect.
The only downside I noted is missing bridge mode and no red/amber light protection diode.
- Small and compact
- Full A/B Class
- Excellent price
- It produces a lot of power for its size
- Wide frequency range
- Not bridgeable
- No safety diode LEDs
With $100 in the pocket, your selection goes wider, but this does not mean there are many more suitable options. In this price category, many amplifiers have the same features and only differ in design or brand.
But there is one I like most, the Planet Audio PL1200.2. It is a fill A/B class which means it is perfect for speakers and a subwoofer or two.
It has an excellent frequency response and a stable MOSFET power supply.
Planet Audio did a great job with the frequency separation. The variable LPF (low pass filter) and fixed at 80Hz HPF (high-pass filter) can adjust frequencies to the precise values, which means the speakers will receive a nice midbass, and my JBLs had a fantastic boost.
If you want to use this amplifier for the subwoofer, you can bridge it if you have SVC or use both channels for DVC.
One thing to remember though is that although it can run separate channels at either 2 or 4 ohms, if you bridge this amplifier, it will work only at 4 ohms, so forget about using it for a 2 ohm subs. It will cut it off immediately.
Also, do not connect 4 ohm subs in parallel for bridged mode, it will cut off.
Missing 2ohm at the bridged mode is not the biggest fault since this is an excellent A/B class amp for speakers, but if you have a pair of subwoofers, this Planet Audio ac will not be a good choice for them unless you connect them in series.
Other than that, the PL1200.2 is an excellent choice for less than $100.
- Stable at 2 and 4 ohms
- Full A/B class
- It can be bridged for better subwoofers performance
- Fixed HPF at 80Hz is great for speakers
- Frequency response 9 – 50,000 Hz
- MOSFET transistors for high quality sound
- No 2ohm stable at bridged mode
What Is the Best Budget 4 Channel Amplifier?
As the 4 channel amplifiers are the most popular because they power most car sound systems, choosing the best product can be time consuming.
But do not worry, I did some homework for you, so if you are about to buy a cheap 4 channel amp, I have below one that I bought, tested, and one actually still using it.
Finding a good 4 channel amp at $50 or below is impossible. It does not matter how hard you try, the only things you can see are some “you name it” amps not even worth trying, so I will skip this part.
This is where it gets more interesting, and the selection is much broader.
Of all budget 4 channel amps, my favorite is Blaupunkt AMP1604. Why? The answer is simple, value for money, but that is not all.
The small full class A/B amp is great for speakers, and it performs surprisingly well for the price. The producer says that the small amp can create 55W RMS per channel at 4 ohms, which is an actual measured value.
The great thing about this Blaupunkt is that it can work with 4 channel, 3 channel, and 2 channel modes, depending on your configuration, and although it is not powerful enough for large subwoofers, it can be great for two small 8″ or one DVC sub wired in parallel.
Still, this amp is designed for speakers and works great for the price. I have to say it is much better and more powerful than similar Boss R1004 or Planet Audio AC1200.4 and for less money.
One thing that could be done better by Blaupunkt
- Full A/B class
- Excellent price for Wattage
- Can work in 4, 3, or 2 channel mode
- 4 ohm and 2 ohm stable per channel
- RMS Power (4 Ohms): 55W x 4
- RMS Power (2 Ohms): 79W x 4
- Signal to Noise Ratio: 96dB
- Frequency Response: 10Hz – 30kHz
- Crossover Frequency: 50Hz – 400Hz
- High and low-pass filters
- variable bass boost 8 – 10dB/oct
- Not very powerful (55W RMS x 4 channels)
Does amp brand matter?
There are a lot of car amplifier brands out there, and it can be confusing trying to figure out which one is best. In general, the bigger name brands spend more money on R&D, testing, quality, and materials, so they tend to be more expensive, but that doesn’t always mean they’re better.
I am not saying you should look at the “you name me” brands, but within similar classes, it is worth testing because sometimes some excellent car amplifiers come from those smaller brands.
Is It Worth Buying a Budget Car Amplifier?
Price is not everything, and there are a lot of factors that go into choosing a car amplifier:
The most important thing to consider is how much power you need.
If you’re looking for a little extra volume, then a budget amplifier might be a good option. However, if you’re looking for serious power, you’ll need to spend a bit more money.
Another critical factor to consider is the quality of the amplifier.
Budget amplifiers tend to be made with cheaper materials and components, impacting sound quality.
If you’re looking for excellent sound quality at the audiophile level, then you should not look at the budget models but instead, spend more money on a hi-end amplifier.
Finally, you’ll need to consider installation.
If you’re not experienced in installing car audio equipment, then you might want to choose an amplifier that’s easy to install.
Unfortunately, some budget amplifiers can be tricky to install, so make sure you read the reviews before purchasing.
So, is it worth buying a budget car amplifier? It depends on what you’re looking for. If you need a lot of power or excellent sound quality, you’ll need to spend more money.
However, if you’re looking for a little extra volume and a slightly more dynamic, then a budget amplifier might be a better option.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Using a Budget Car Amplifier?
Many choose an amplifier without looking into the specification but following marketing advice. Is it good? Well, if I am going to buy something, I have to understand first what it is, how it works, and what I can get out of it.
Otherwise, I would not be an informed buyer and likely overpay or buy a device I will not use in full.
The best car amplifier is the one that best fits your specific application and needs. It is not about the price or the brand, it is about the quality of the product.
If you want to save money, buying the budget amplifier is the right way to go, and in many cases, it will not be any worse than other more expensive brands for what you need.
Below are several pros and cons of budget amplifiers:
- More affordable.
- Can add a little extra volume.
- It might be easier to install.
- Suitable for simple sound systems.
- Not as much power.
- Lower quality sound.
- Do not have as many features as more expensive models.
A low cost car amplifier is a good option if you’re looking for a little extra volume without spending much money.
However, if you need a lot of power or excellent sound quality, you’ll need to spend more money on a higher-end model.
Make sure to do your research before purchasing an amplifier to get the best model for your needs but if you are searching for a budget amp, check out any of the above models for a great addition to your car stereo system.