Whether you’re looking for the absolute best car amplifier on the market, a budget-friendly and high-performance model, or something in that lovely Goldilocks Zone in between, you don’t want to spend your hard-earned buck and end up with a piece of junk that overheats and and shuts off every now and then, right? As such, we’ve put together a guide to all the top-rated car amplifier brands — past and present — so, when the time comes to upgrade, you’ll know where to start your search.
To make things easier, our best of list for 2018 matches functionally designed car amplifiers with their leading manufacturer based on owner feedback, performance, design, and build quality.
So what is the best car amplifier brand? That depends. The best car amplifier brands for multi-channel amps isn’t necessarily the best car amplifier brands for a compact car amplifier and vice versa, so dive in below to learn more.
Best Car Amplifier Brands 2018 Reviews
#1 Pick – Rockford Fosgate
Rockford Fosgate is one of the most recognized brands in the car audio industry. They’ve been in business for decades and have the art of providing quality products. They offer everything from speakers and subwoofers to signal processors and external amplifiers of different types.
Rockford Fosgate does make the highest quality car amplifiers out there. They have amps for almost every application. So, whether you’re looking for a multi-channel amp or a mono channel amp, Rockford Fosgate has got you covered.
Rockford Fosgate car amplifiers fall into three series (Prime, Punch, Power), differing in performance, price, and to some extent in build quality. Amps in the “Prime” category are the entry-level amps while those in the “Power” series are company’s high-end amps. More of a middle-of-the-road line of amplifiers, the “Punch” series which offer a great value and power for the buck.
- Prime series Amps: Rockford Fosgate Prime series amps use technologies borrowed from their siblings high-end amps like the 12 dB crossovers and the punch EQ technology. Rockford Fosgate Prime amps are available in mono-channel, 2-channel, 4-channel, and 5 channel configurations. The mono-channel amps use class D circuitry design. The majority of 2 and 4 channel amps use class A/B, while the 5 channel amps take up a unique hybrid design and use both class A/B and class D. Rockford Fosgate Prime amplifiers are recommended for those looking for a decent amplifier at a realistic entry-level price point.
- Punch series Amps: Rockford Fosgate Punch amplifiers are quite popular because of their reliable power output and affordable price. They come in a variety of configurations and sizes. Rockford Fosgate Punch amps are featured with C.L.E.A.N (Calibrated Level Eliminates Audible Noise) circuit technology which helps match the vehicle’s source unit to the amp, therefore optimizing the amp’s gain settings to produce optimum power output. This technology takes the guesswork out of setting your sound system and more importantly it speeds up the process of matching your amp to your headunit.
- Power series Amps: Rockford Fosgate “Power” amplifiers are designed to bring exceptional depth and clarity to your car’s audio system. They’re packed with cutting-edge technology for the ultimate in clean power and tune-tweaking features. These amps are of superior quality than the “Punch” and the “Prime”, hence the price difference.
Our Favorite Models:
- Rockford Fosgate R500X1D – 1 channel amp
- Rockford Fosgate R400-4D – 4 channel amp
- Rockford Fosgate Punch P1000X5 – 5 channel amp
#2 Pick – Kenwood
Kenwood is another pretty big name in the car audio industry. They offer amazing prices and a variety of different configurations for their car amplifiers.
Kenwood has a long tradition of making great products for reasonable prices. Their car amplifiers are reasonably priced compared to other competing models. They’re designed to bring you superior sound quality along with reliable performance.
Kenwood KAC performance series amplifiers are some of the most popular amps in the market. They’re inexpensive, well-engineered and they look great. These amps feature a sleek design with blue LED illumination and a brushed metal cover.
Kenwood performance series amps also feature detachable terminal cover to protect the power and the ground terminals, RCAs, and adjustments which are located all at one side. These amps also feature cooling fans for optimal heat disspation and efficiency.
Some Kenwood performance amps have a more classic black body with an aluminum alloy heatsink, and an illuminated LED indicator on the front of these amps. They also separate the power and ground terminals from the adjustments for easy installation.
Kenwood car amplifiers are incorporated with 3-way protection circuitry which protects them from thermal overheating, power overload, and speaker shorts.
These amps were designed with space in mind. However, despite being compact, these amps are quite powerful and can crank out some serious juice.
Our Favorite Models:
- Kenwood KAC-9106D – monoblock amp
- Kenwood KAC-M3004 – 4 channel amp
- Kenwood KAC-7005PS – 5 channel amp
#3 Pick – Pioneer
For decades, Pioneer has been churning out quality car audio components that hit the sweet spot when it comes to performance, build quality, and value, making it a top pick on our best car amplifier brands list.
Pioneer is known for their quality products and their line of GM amplifiers are no exception. These amps are offered in two and four channel configurations. They feature a sleek design and are reasonably priced.
These aesthetically pleasing amps offer clean power output and are fully tested to ensure they meet Pioneer quality standards. They come with variable low-pass filter which allows you to adjust the frequencies between 40 and 500 Hertz for more detailed tuning and to accommodate the varying ranges of signal levels coming from today’s factory and aftermarket radios.
All of Pioneers GM series amplifiers feature adjustable gain controls to guarantee distortion free music. They’re also featured with speaker level inputs so you can hook any of these amps to OEM and stock headunits. So, if you’re looking for a quality amplifier that won’t break the bank, then look no further than the GM series of amplifiers by Pioneer.
Our Favorite Models:
- Pioneer GM-D8601 – monoblock amp
- Pioneer GM-D8604 – 4 channel amp
- Pioneer GM-D9605 – 5 channel amp
#4 Pick – Alpine
Alpine is another solid contender in our lineup of the best car amplifier brands. Alpine is a Japanese electronic component manufacturer specializing in car audio and navigation systems. They were founded in 1947, and they’ve made a name for themselves, and are widely regarded as one of the top pioneers and innovators in this industry.
Alpine offers a wide range of products, including in-car multimedia, amplifiers, speakers, subwoofers and signal processing equipment.
We’ve reviewed various Alpine products on this site before, particularly speakers and headunits. Truth be sold, Alpine makes top-notch products for reasonable prices.
Alpine offers a wide variety of car amplifiers of different configurations. They offer great value and fantastic performance in all of their car amplifiers.
- Alpine PDR amplifiers : These amps offer the best performance in their class. They provide you with the absolute widest bandwidth, best signal-to-noise, lowest distortion and highest damping factor of any amplifier in their class without sacrificing power.
- Alpine V-Power amplifiers : V-Power amps are known for their compact size. They’re designed to fit where most amplifiers won’t. That’s not to say they lack power capacity. Quite honestly, these amplifiers are quite powerful and efficient. These amps use class D circuitry design, which allows for huge efficiency gain. Class-D amps operate at 80% efficiency far greater than conventional Class A or B amplifiers, which allows these amps to provide continuous clean power to your speakers, resulting in clean bass and superb sound quality, even during extreme power demands.
- Alpine X-SERIES amplifiers : Alpine X-series amps are great-looking amps. They’re available in mono-channel, 4 channel, and 5 channel configurations. With their beefy internal components and the cleverly designed Thermal Flow chassis, these amps can produce their power efficiently, with minimal excess heat or stress to your vehicle’s electrical system.
- Alpine PDX amplifiers : The PDX amps are the company’s high-end car amplifiers. These amps cost a pretty penny and are meant for the true car audio enthusiast. If you want to go balls-to-the-wall and buy one of these power machines, you’ll be looking at $300-$600 price tag. However, you’ll be getting a very well-engineered beast that’s designed from the ground up with quality and power in mind.All PDX amplifiers use Class-D circuitry design for awesome power from a 2″ tall frame. Their amazingly compact design allows them to fit in hatchbacks, trunks, truck cabs, and any vehicles with limited space.These compact car amps are cleverly designed to run so cool. They can be stacked together into a single unit saving space in the trunk while directly coupling the amps heatsinks to help share cooling duties.
Our Favorite Models:
- Alpine MRV-M500 – Mono-channel amp
- Alpine MRV-F300 – 4 channel amp
- Alpine PDX-V9 – 5-Channel amp
Ultimately you’ll need to decide what type of car amplifier suits your specific needs first before deciding on a brand, but using our list above you can be sure that you’re in good company.
If you’re unsure of what type of car amplifier you need, consider reading our car amplifier buying guide article. Our reviews of the best 5 channel amps, 4 channel amplifiers, and mono-block amps will make it easier for you to pick the right car amplifier for your needs. We hope you enjoyed our list of the best car amps brands.