Do you want to customize the sound of your car? Adding a subwoofer is one of the best things you can do to get that great, deep bass sound.
But what type of amp should you use for your subwoofer? Should it be a monoblock or a stereo amplifier? Let’s find out below.
A monoblock amplifier is a better choice to power a subwoofer because monoblock amplifiers are specifically designed to power a single speaker or subwoofer and are usually more powerful and have a higher damping factor than 2-channel amplifiers. 2-channel amplifiers are more affordable and can power two speakers or subwoofers, but they are generally not as well-suited for a subwoofer as monoblock amplifiers.
As an Amazon Associate, ImproveCarAudio will receive a small commission from qualifying purchases made through the links in this article.
Tip: When trying to find a strong amplifier for the subwoofer, I recommend checking Skar Skv2 series (link to Amazon).
This top-line offers both monoblocks and multi-channels, which provide excellent performance and power handling.
For more details, check the video below showing an impressive DYNO test for Skar SKv2-3500.1D.
In this article, I detail all differences between a monoblock amp and a 2-channel amp, so you can decide what will be better to power your sub.
Monoblock vs. 2-Channel Amplifiers for Subwoofers.
Let’s compare monoblock and 2-channel amplifiers to see which might be better for a subwoofer.
A monoblock amplifier is a type of amplifier that is specifically designed to power a single speaker or subwoofer.
They are usually more powerful than 2-channel amplifiers and have a higher damping factor, which makes them a good choice for subwoofers.
On the other hand, a 2-channel amplifier is a type of amplifier that has two channels, each of which can power a separate speaker or subwoofer.
While you can use nearly any 2-channel amp to power a subwoofer, they are generally not as powerful as monoblock amplifiers. In addition, they have a lower damping factor because of combined two channels in bridge mode.
For example, a 2-channel amplifier with a similar power when bridged and run at reduced impedance would not be as well-suited for a subwoofer as the monoblock.
While monoblocks are more efficient when operating at low impedances, a 2-channel amplifier in bridged mode may be more versatile and cost-effective when used for standard speakers with mids and highs.
It is also a matter of produced heat. For example, monoblocks are in the vast majority digital in D class, which makes them more efficient.
In contrast, stereo amps are often made in analog AB class, which are less efficient at the same power level and produce much more heat.
I would not buy an AB class amp for the subwoofer. It is too much energy loss, and the better sound quality, although important for the staging effect and clarity, is not notable at the lowest frequencies in the car.
Ultimately, the decision of which amplifier to use will depend on the specific needs and goals of the individual user, as well as the specific characteristics and capabilities of the amplifiers.
Pros and Cons of Monoblock Amplifiers:
#1. More powerful than 2-channel amplifiers, which is important for driving a subwoofer.
#2. Higher damping factor, which means better control over the subwoofer and a more precise and more accurate sound
#1. More expensive than 2-channel amplifiers for the same power output
#2. It can only power a single speaker or subwoofer
Pros and Cons of 2-Channel Amplifiers:
#1. More affordable than monoblock amplifiers
#2. Can power one or two speakers or subwoofers
#1. Lower power output and damping factor compared to monoblock amplifiers, which may not be ideal for a subwoofer
#2. Less stable at lower impedances
The Importance of Power and Damping Factor in Amplifiers for Subwoofers
When choosing the amplifier, two key factors are important to consider:
#1. Power Output
Power output refers to the amount of electrical power an amplifier can provide.
As I mentioned earlier, this is important because it determines how powerful the subwoofer will be and how much air it will be able to move.
When shopping for an amplifier, you’ll want to look for one with the same or slightly higher RMS power than the subwoofer because if the amplifier has lower power handling, there is a higher risk of clipping or overheating.
#2. Damping Factor
Damping factor is another essential part of characteristic to consider when choosing an amplifier for a subwoofer, although it is not included in the manufacturer’s specification.
The damping factor refers to the control of the amplifier over the subwoofer and how well it can dampen or reduce the cones’ movement, which is critical at the lowest frequencies (bass), where the coil spring movements are the largest.
A higher damping factor means that the amplifier has better control over the subwoofer, resulting in a more precise and accurate sound.
To learn more, check this article from Sonicelectronix explaining in detail what is damping factor is and how to calculate it.
In summary, when choosing an amplifier for a subwoofer, a monoblock amplifier is the better choice due to its higher power output, more stable work at lower impedances, and higher damping factor.
While 2-channel amplifiers have their pros and cons, they are generally not as well-suited for a subwoofer as monoblock amplifiers, whose design allows the full power to focus on one channel.
That said, it’s important to look at every aspect affecting an amplifier’s performance, including component quality and design.
Considering these factors, you can choose an amplifier to help you get the most out of your subwoofer and achieve the rich, deep bass you’re looking for.
Why My 2-Channel Amplifier Doesn’t Power My Subwoofer?
There could be a few possible reasons why your 2-channel amplifier is not powering your subwoofer as well as you expected.
#1. One possibility is that the amplifier is not powerful enough for your subwoofer.
Remember that a subwoofer needs a lot of power to move the large cone with sufficient mass, and if the amplifier doesn’t produce enough wattage, the subwoofer may not perform well.
#2. Another possibility is that the amplifier is not stable at the impedance of your subwoofer, which can cause it to perform poorly.
#3. There’s also possible to have a problem with the wiring or connection between the amplifier and the subwoofer, which can cause the subwoofer to not perform at its best.
Is It Worth It to Spend More on a Monoblock Amplifier?
While monoblock amplifiers can be more expensive than 2-channel amplifiers, they generally offer better performance for a subwoofer due to their higher power output and damping factor.
If you’re looking to achieve deep, rich bass and want the best performance possible from your subwoofer, a monoblock amplifier is generally worth the extra cost, especially when you want it to work with low impedance.
On the other hand, if cost is a major concern and you’re not as concerned with achieving the highest level of performance, a 2-channel amplifier may be a more budget-friendly option.
Should I Bridge a 2-Channel Amplifier to Power a Subwoofer?
Bridging a 2-channel amplifier means combining the power of both channels to drive a single speaker or subwoofer.
While it is possible to bridge a 2-channel amplifier to power a subwoofer, it’s generally not the best option from the performance side.
This is because when you bridge a 2-channel amplifier, you halve its damping factor, reducing the control the amplifier has over the subwoofer and resulting in a less accurate sound.
Check out my other article about bridging stereo car amplifiers to learn more.