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How many Watts is good for a car stereo? [EXPLAINED]

How many Watts is good for a car stereo?

If you are looking to replace your stock stereo and want to notice an audible improvement, go for aftermarket options that offer at least 30 watt RMS per channel. It’ll give you the audio result you’re looking for to overwhelm the traffic noise. Standard factory car stereos mostly have around 10 watts RMS rating per channel. This power rating is not good enough to have an immersive on-road stereo experience.

At the onset, finding out the wattage of a car stereo seems like a trivial task that you can skip. However, sound enthusiasts strongly recommend factoring in the wattages for the stereo and its components while buying it. The power at which your car stereo operates can shape your whole listening experience.

Therefore, we’ve dedicated this post to the question: How many watts are good for a car stereo?

If you want to pick the best stereo option for your vehicle that checks all the required boxes, continue reading this post.

What’s the Wattage of a stock car stereo system?

Before we answer this question, it is important to know what we refer to when we say “watts of a car stereo.” When someone says that a stereo has the actual power of 15 watts, they imply that a single channel of the stereo’s amplifier unit produces a 15 watt RMS output. Root Mean Square (RMS) here represents values lower than peak watt ratings and shows the true output and power handling of audio devices.

Now coming back to the question, the wattage rating of the most factory-fitted stereo systems is approximately 10-15 watts RM per channel. There can always be exceptions with some car manufacturers and car models. However, the standard factory wattage in car stereos lingers around 10-15 watt RMS.

The truth behind “200-W standard stereo”

You will find several factory standard car stereos rated at 200 watts. Manufacturers don’t give full disclosure on this wattage rating, and thus, many users assume that the stereo is 200 watts powerful.

This wattage rating represents peak watts, not the RMS. Peak wattage rating never paints the true picture of stereo power. Secondly, even this peak wattage is distributed among 4-channel amp of the stereo.

When this peak wattage is distributed and transformed into RMS, it shrinks to 13-18 watt RMS per channel, which is not enough to cancel out the busy road’s ambient noise. Keep this wattage gimmick in mind when going for a stereo replacement.

Is Watt RMS also defines the power of the car stereo?

Stereo manufacturers use several vague and unimportant features to show off the power of their products. They primarily target those users who are buying a car stereo for the first time.

If you are looking for a replacement for your factory-fitted stereo, always look for its watt RMS rating to determine how powerful it is. The higher the watt RMS rating, the more powerful is the speaker.

Do higher watts mean better sound?

Yes, a stereo system operating at higher power produces a louder and cleaner sound.

However, one needs to understand that small power increments don’t make any significant audible change. You need to double the power to hear a perceptible difference, usually a three-decibel rise in the sound loudness.

How many Watts are good for an aftermarket car stereo?

There is a reason why people go for aftermarket car stereos. They are mostly an improvement on the factory-fitted systems and offer better and hi-fidelity sounds than before. This immersive sound experience is not possible if aftermarket car stereos don’t boast good power.

Therefore, if you have decided to replace your stock car stereo system with an aftermarket option, make sure its amplifier output power is exceedingly better than the previous one.

For instance, if your factory-fitted stereo system operates at 10 watt RMS per channel, your aftermarket choice must have 30-40 watt RMS per channel.

Vincent Talbot