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Upgrading Car Speakers Without Amp

Upgrading your car speakers could mean the difference between a miserable commute that feels endless versus one that feels like you’re traveling with a live band on your dashboard.

After all, American drivers spend over than 17,600 minutes behind the wheel each year. That’s almost 300 hours. For all that time you spend in the car, it could be made even better with a great sounding stereo system that sounds as good as it does at home.

Thankfully, you can bring new life to your car’s audio system by upgrading only the speakers without the need for an amplifier.

Will Upgrading My Car Speakers Make a Difference?

The answer is a resounding YES!! Upgrading your car speakers without an amplifier is totally worth it.

In fact, there are many different ways to breath life into your music in the car, but new aftermarket speakers is one of the fastest and most cost-effective ways to upgrade your sound.

Do You Really Need a Car Audio Amp?

Most head units are fitted with built-in amplifiers, but those really don’t pack in enough power to handle power-hungry speakers, let alone a subwoofer.

Head units that do come with built-in powerful amps cost a pretty penny, at which point it’s often a better choice to just hook up a head unit that has preamp outputs to a dedicated amp anyway.

There’s no denying that a car audio amplifier can breathe life into your music, bringing out all of its emotional excitement, impact, and fine detail. But, if you’re on a tight-budget, you can do without an amp.

This is not to say that dedicated amplifiers are nothing to write home about. Quite honestly, a good car amplifier will do wonders in terms of sound quality.

In fact, building a great sounding car audio system doesn’t have to burn a hole in your pocket. I mean, think about it, with a good plan and a decent budget, you can build the system of your dreams in stages. Doing it this way is a lot easier on the wallet, and most importantly, you’ll get to enjoy hearing your system improve with each new component upgrade. Best of all is there’s no “right” way to approach it.

So, to answer the question if you really need a car amplifier, the answer depends on your speakers and your overall sound system.

Some speakers will sound great running off a head unit. However, It goes without saying that no matter what kind of in-dash receiver you have, it wouldn’t do justice to power hungry speakers. This brings us to the next question: What are the best car speakers without amplifier?

What Are The Best Car Speakers Without Amp?

There’s a wide array of things you need to take into account when you’re shopping for the best sounding speakers for your car. However, sensitivity and power handling are two of the most important key specifications you need to pay close attention to. This is especially true when you’re upgrading car speakers without an amp.


Sensitivity rating, measured in decibels, tells you how effectively a speaker converts power (watts) into volume (decibels). The higher the sensitivity rating, the louder your speakers will play with a given amount of power.

If you’re upgrading your car speakers and don’t want to drop an amp into the mix down the line, it’s of paramount importance that you choose a set of speakers with a high sensitivity rating.

The reason why high sensitivity rating is a must in such case is because the higher the rating the louder the speakers play.

Bear in mind that a speaker with a sensitivity rating that’s 3 dB higher than another speaker’s only needs half as much power to deliver the same amount of sound.

The chart below illustrates how a few dB in sensitivity can make a night and day difference:

SpeakerSensitivityPower needed to produce a given volume
Speaker X85 dB100 watts
Speaker Y88 dB50 watts
Speaker Z91 dB25 watts

Power Handling:

The second thing you need to take into account when choosing aftermarket speakers is power handling.

The power of an amplifier refers to the wattage it can send to the speakers. Since the whole point of an amplifier is to boost the strength of the audio signal, the power output of an amp is one of its most vital assets.

It must be noted that the most important thing here is the RMS. However, there is no specific number to look for.

RMS (“Root Mean Square”) refers to the amount of power, measured in watts, that an amplifier can deliver on continuous basis. The RMS rating of an amp should be matched to the power handling specifications of the speakers, which differs widely depending on the car audio system.

What Does an Amplifier Do?

Although there are many different ways to make your car speakers sound relatively better and louder without an amp, there’s no denying that an amplifier is key to better sound in the car.

There are a number of reasons to include a separate amplifier in your car audio system, and definitely need one if you want:

  • Louder sound without distortion — An amplifier will easily boost the sound to overcome road noise. Thus, your music’s clarity and intelligibility will be improved.
  • To get the most out of your new speakers — An amplifier will significantly increase your system’s headroom as well thanks to its ability to play sudden blasts of music with power and ease, without distortion. This is especially true if you’ve got some aftermarket power hungry set of speakers.
  • To power a subwoofer Bass — is much more harder to amplify than the rest of the spectrum of sound. So, if you’re a serious basshead, you’ll need to consider a subwoofer or a couple of subs, which in turn need to be hooked up to an external subwoofer amplifier.

Alex Brown

Hey There, my name is Alex Brown, I'm an LA-based sound engineer with over 10 years experience installing, troubleshooting, and repairing commercial, automotive, and household sound equipment. I've installed highly competitive car audio systems, and everything from navigation systems to full car stereo systems, remote starters, alarms and beyond. I enjoy creating solutions and simplifying everyday needs. I also love helping people get great sounding gear, thereby, saving the world from bad sound one customer at a time.

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