It goes without saying that factory sound systems don’t provide satisfactory sound. This forces many car owners to purchase amplifiers for their vehicles. However, not all people can afford to sink hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars toward purchasing new car amplifiers.
In this scenario, you might need to look for budget amps in the range of $50 – $150.
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Buying a budget car amp will involve some compromise. So, you might need to settle for amps offering basic feature sets and specifications. Shopping for budget car amplifiers will not always be easy. Manufacturers of car amps typically offer a diverse selection of products designed to suit the needs of owners of all kinds of car audio systems. This necessitates doing your homework before you shop for car amplifiers.
Single Channel Budget Car Amplifiers
Our Pick: Hifonics ZRX1816.1D Zeus
This relativly cheap car amp from Hifonics can seem like a high-end option. But, it costs less than $150 and offers a stellar performance.
With a total power output of 1,800 watts, this superclass D amp covers all frequencies from 10 to 300 Hz. It comes with a max power rating of one ohm. With dimensions of 10×15.7×2.4 inches (WxLxH), this budget amp will fit into your vehicle easily.
Its military-grade PCB construction and old-school Hifonics heatsink providers superior levels of heat dissipation. Installing this will require four-gauge power and ground wiring.
This amp offers DC, short circuit, thermal and overload protection as well. Among other things, this it comes with a bass remote control and a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.
It goes without saying that any amplifier from Hifonics will never let you down. The overall design, as well as its versatility and performance, prove this to the hilt.
The crystal-clear sound, the Simpatico Coil design, the illuminated Hifonics badge, and the Hifonics Surface Mount Design constitute other features in this superb amp.
When it comes to amps offering big power and elegant designs, Hifonics has been a trendsetter. Not surprisingly, its car and truck amp installations have given it a stellar reputation in the market.
In our view, this product remains one of the best budget car amps in its category. Its elegant and aesthetic looks, versatility, reliability, compactness, power and quality make it a superb budget amplifier to purchase. When you consider that its lightweight as well, you can understand why this amp is our choice when it comes to good cheap car amplifiers.
Runner-Up: American Bass Ph1600md
This American Bass budget car amplifier comes with a maximum power output of 1,600 watts for one channel.
It has an RMS power of 800W at 1 ohm (see more 1 Ohm stable amps). It comes with a mono channel operation and can cover frequencies from 10 to 220 Hz. With dimensions of 5.51×7.24×2.12 inches (WxLxH), this amplifier might seem small. However, the performance it offers remains anything but.
Thus, for people who relish buying monster-sized amplifiers, this one will certainly do the job. At the same time, it will not burn a hole in your wallet either.
This cheap American Bass amplifier also includes a switchable bass boost. In addition, it has a variable low pass filter of 24 dB per octave at 40 to 220 Hz. Similarly, this amp features a variable subsonic filter of 24 dB at 10 to 50 Hz.
Installing this amp will require four-gauge power and ground wiring. Among other things, it comes with a bass remote control and a one-year manufacturer’s warranty. Like other cheap amps in this category, the American Bass Ph1600md also offers four-way protection i.e. thermal, voltage, speaker short-circuiting and DC. It also features screw terminals to enable you to use a four American Wire Gauge (AWG) spade terminal for plugging into the amplifier.
This amplifier comes a close second to the Hifonics ZRX1816.1D because it does not offer as many features as the latter does. Unsurprisingly, its cost remains relatively low. But, if you want an amp that offers a good value for your money, you should consider this one.
Also Great: JBL GTX500
When you require big, commanding sound inside your car without having to bust your budget, you will not go wrong with the JBL GTX500.
This amp features a total max power output of 770 watts. It also features an RMS power rating of four and two ohms for 350 and 500 watts respectively. At 770 watts, you’ll be able to enjoy peak power levels.
If you’re a car audio enthusiast who requires exceptional bass sounds without having to spend more than $100, the JBL GTX500 750-watt subwoofer amplifier can be a must-buy. Despite its compact size, it can offer a max power output that will drive your subwoofers as you require.
Its superb JBL sound quality makes its distinctive from other subwoofer amps. And, its ease-of-use and installation, configuration and calibration make it a quality product. For these reasons, it remains one of the budget amps you should definitely check out.
Its size of 8-3/8×9-11/16×2-9/16 inches (WxLxH) might make it look small. But, this only means that you’ll be able to fit this amp inside even the smallest of spaces in your vehicle. However, the output of this amp will leave you feeling ecstatic.
The JBL GTX500 also comes with a variable electronic crossover that enables you to optimize the tuning of the system based on the location of your speaker and other specific components.
Interestingly, optimizing this system will not present any challenges or difficulties either. The amp also features a frequency response of 10 to 280 Hz. Thus, you can enjoy your drive even as it reproduces all deep bass tones with superb levels of clarity. The full-range pre-amp outputs permit multiple hookups without signal splitters or high-loss Y adapters.
Also Great: AudioPipe APMI-2000
If you’re on a budget and looking for cost-effective single-channel amplifiers, the AudioPipe APMI amp should be taken into account.
This relatively cheap amp comes with a maximum power output of 2,000 watts. Its RMS power rating varies from one to four ohms for 1944 and 770 watts respectively.
When you take all these traits and features into account, you will find that this budget amp packs a lot of benefits in its compact size. Given these details, it’s hardly surprising that this amp remains one of our considerations cheap amps.
But, equipped with LED power indicators, wired remote bass level controls, and other features, this amp offers plenty of bang for your buck.
The manufacturers of this series of amps remain famous for coming up with audio products that pack a lot of high-quality power for the highest end sound systems. Despite this, these amps remain compact and lightweight. Even the internals of these products attests to the high quality and standards of manufacturing that go into producing each of these amps.
For instance, Audiopipe incorporates the finest circuitry in these amps to provide protection from harmful thermal overloads, overheating and short circuits. In addition, these amps contain oversized toroids (or wire coils) that regulate the voltage.
Besides these, Audiopipe amps also feature high-quality aluminum sinks fitted with cooling fins along each side and grills embedded in the top plate. These provide superlative levels of heat dissipation and prevent unwanted heat-related shutdowns.
The Audiopipe AMPI-2000 also remains immensely easy to install. The high-level inputs provided negate the need for RCA cables and line output converters. In fact, these amps can pick up the audio signal directly from the speakers of the car.
Multi-Channel Budget Car Amplifiers
Our Pick: Soundstream PN5.640D Picasso Nano
In the past, you might have installed amplifiers and subwoofer systems in your vehicle. With the Soundstream PN5.640D Picasso, you’ll be able to power an entire speaker and subwoofer system with minimal fuss.
This five-channel amplifier (see more 5-channel amps) might not look all that great in terms of dimensions. After all, it remains quite small at 4.75×10.3×2 inches (WxLxH). However, it offers a maximum power output of 640 watts that can power the entire audio system of your car.
More importantly, it will be able to fit in some really tight locations by virtue of its compact size. The amp also has an RMS power rating of two to four ohms for 440 and 670 watts respectively.
This amplifier has a soft turn-on circuit. And, it comes with thermal and speaker short protection circuitry as well. The package will contain a dash mount remote bass level control also.
When you come across an amp that packs all these features and costs under $150, you will consider it to be a superb bargain. No surprises then that this particular amplifier is our top pick for cheap multi-channel amps.
Car audio enthusiasts will feel delighted on purchasing the Soundstream PN5.640D. This device has an output of four channels of 60 watts RMS to full-range speakers. In addition, it can put up to 350 watts to the subwoofer system as well. Because of this, car audio system experts rank this amp pretty highly as it offers an impressive balance of power between speaker and subwoofer levels.
Besides this, the Soundstream budget amp comes with various other attractive features. For instance, high-pass filters on the front and rear channels will keep the low bass out of the full-range speakers to enable them to play more cleanly and loudly. The subwoofer channel comes with a variable low pass filter and bass boost too. These enhance the performance levels of the amp significantly.
Also Great: Lanzar VCT2610
It would hardly be a surprise to know that many car audio enthusiasts know little, if at all, about Lanzar and its range of amps. Despite this, the Lanzar VCT2610 will not fail to catch your attention and win you over with its features.
Backed by power speakers and subwoofers, this amp offers a total power output of 6,000 watts. Its RMS power rating ranges from two to four ohms for 600 and 300 watts respectively.
With a frequency response range from 15 to 30,000 Hz and a signal-to-noise ratio of more than 95 dB, it becomes easy to see why this amp has caught the imagination of many people looking for quality amplifiers at affordable prices.
Given all the features the Lanzar VCT2610 offers optimal value for money. But, its large size and ordinary design place it below the Soundstream PN5.640D.
The size of the Lanzar VCT2610 remains relatively bigger at 10.63×21.97×1.78 inches (WxLxH). It features two 60 Amp Maxi-type fuses. The bridged power at an impedance of four ohms translates into a massive 8,000 watts.
The device features LED power and protect indicators. It utilizes a pulse width modulated MOSFET power supply. It has a soft start turn-on and its pre-amp RCA outputs to daisy chain multiple amps as well. The Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) of this amplifier remains extremely low at 0.1 percent. And, installing this amp doesn’t present any difficulties either. However, you will require zero-gauge power and ground wiring for installing this amplifier.
Also Great: JBL Stage A6002
The sound quality offered by a JBL product remains quite distinctive. Their diverse selection of amplifiers comes in a wide range of prices. In addition, these amps can be easy to install in almost all types of vehicles. Because of their reputation, many car audio enthusiasts do not think of looking for JBL amplifiers when they shop for new amps.
However, the JBL Stage A6002 can be right up to the alley for these individuals. This can be the case because this particular amplifier offers JBL’s superb sound quality with an entry-level price tag of under $100.
This relatively cheap two-channel amplifier offers a total power output of 280 watts. It can send 60 watts RMS to each of the two speakers, thereby enhancing the impact and the clarity of the music. Some people use this amp in the bridged one-channel mode as well. This enables them to power their subwoofers with up to 140 watts RMS.
One interesting fact about this budget JBL amp remains that it can work with most systems and in almost all cars. Its compact size of 9.05×7.25×2 inches (WxLxH) and speaker-level inputs render this possible.
This amp relies on its separate high-pass and low-pass filters to maximize the audio system’s performance. Thus, you’ll be able to use the bass boost to make your subwoofer sound incredible. Among other things, this amp features dual speaker terminals that simplify the process of hooking up multiple speakers. And, its heavy-duty aluminum alloy heat sink facilitates the dissipation of heat. These features make it a good investment for people on a budget.
Also Great: The Power Acoustik EG4-1000
Priced at just over $100, the Power Acoustik EG4-1000 remains an amplifier worth purchasing. Its elegant design complements its superb feature set. This Class A/B full range two-ohm stable four-channel amp offers a total power output of 1,000 watts.
It also provides a four-channel stereo output with possible impedances of two and four ohms. You can also dual bridge this budget amp for two-channel operation with an impedance of four ohms. The middling size of this amplifier, at 9×10.25×2.25 inches (WxLxH), makes it suitable for use in an assortment of vehicles too.
The manufacturers of this amplifier, Power Acoustik, have earned a reputation for unsurpassed levels of craftsmanship. In addition, they have been leading the industry when it comes to technological innovations for more than 30 years.
Not surprisingly, the reputation of this company remains superlative when it comes to manufacturing mobile electronics that offer optimal value for money while suiting contemporary lifestyles to the ‘T’. This amp’s MOSFET power supply houses a robust PCB with PWM. Similarly, the internal circuitry remains safe from thermal hazards, direct shortages, and power surges. Four-gauge power wiring and eight-gauge speaker wire outputs provide a higher and stable flow of current.
In case your car features a factory stereo system, you could enhance its audio levels with the high-level speakers that accept the speaker signal and the low-level RCA inputs that accept the signal from the pre-amp outputs of the source unit. With variable 12 dB high and low pass crossovers, this amp provides superlative audio quality. In conjunction with its affordable price, it can be a must-buy for people looking for budget multi-channel amps.
Also Great: The Kenwood KAC 5207
As a brand, Kenwood has an enviable reputation when it comes to audio systems. Many people purchase Kenwood’s range of audio systems and amplifiers for their quality. Kenwood specializes in making rugged amps that provide superior quality sound.
At the same time, these amps deliver a reliable performance at each time of asking. Thus, it comes as no surprise that the Kenwood KAC 5207 offers superb value for your money. This full range two-ohm stable two-channel amp has a max power output of 500 watts. And, it can deliver 70 watts RMS per channel to each of your full-range speakers. Unsurprisingly, you will get to hear every little musical detail that other amps fail to deliver with this particular device.
The size of this amp remains middling at 9-1/16×6-9/16×2-3/16 inches (WxLxH). It comes with a soft start turn-on and a pulse width modulated MOSFET power supply. This CTA-2006 compliant amp features three-way protection circuitry, dual speaker terminals (that simplify the hooking up of multiple speakers) and heavy-duty aluminum alloy heat-sinks (for dissipating heat faster).
Given that this amplifier costs just over $50, it can be a boon for cash-strapped car audio enthusiasts.
These individuals can also use this versatile amplifier for powering their subwoofers with up to 170 watts RMS in mono modes. The in-built low-pass filters will enable the amp to send only bass sounds below 80 Hz to the subwoofers.
The speaker-level inputs with signal sensing turn-ons will make this amplifier work in almost any kind of system. For these reasons, and for its immensely affordable price, the Kenwood KAC 5207 remains a solid purchase for car audio beginners.
Budget Amps – Are They Any Good? What Can I Expect?
Many manufacturers offer car amplifiers that meet your needs as well as your budget. Budget car amplifiers will often be compact. Featuring not more than two channels, these amps will offer 1,200 Watts of power.
They will also feature subwoofers that measure two to four ohms. Some cheap amplifiers might come with remote control features that enable you to tweak the sound from the driver’s seat. But only high-end models will come with features such as a backlit display.
What Features Should You Consider When You Shop for Cheap Amplifiers?
At the outset, ascertain the specs of the amplifier you need for powering your car’s audio system. Otherwise, you could risk blowing up your speakers. Similarly, search the internet for product specs, warranties, features etc. Compare the amps that best suit your needs.
Check out review sites and online forums to see which company offers the best service. Only after this, should you consider making your purchases?
Some features that you will need to use for comparing different amplifiers include:
Watts: This denotes the maximum power that the amplifier will produce for music at its loudest. So, the higher the wattage, the better the amp.
Channels: Two channels denote that you’ll be able to run two speakers or subwoofers with the amplifier
Ohms: Ohms denote the resistance the amplifier has to handle. So, the lower the ohms, the easier it will be to power the amplifier.
Miscellaneous: Backlit displays can give your car a sleek look. Similarly, remote control features enable you to adjust the sound from the driver’s seat.