Do You Need An Amp For Your Subwoofer?
Pretty much anyone who wants positive sound quality on the stereo in their starter vehicle is going to want to make some alterations to their sound system, since default sound systems are generally quite poor.
If you decide you want to make an upgrade to your car’s system, you’re going to want to tailor that update to fit your own specifications.
The subwoofer, for example, is the ultimate step up in bass sound quality.
If you’re a fan of hard rock, electronic music, or hip hop, and you’re dissatisfied with the strength of the bass in the sound system in your car, you’re going to want to upgrade to a subwoofer.
So, you want more bass. That’s great!
You should know, however, that a subwoofer is a complex electronic device, and as such you’re going to need to do your research before you make a purchase.
Should I buy An Amp For My Subwoofer?
It makes sense to start your search by answering a basic question: Do you need an amp for your subwoofer. The answer in almost all cases is an unequivocal yes.
A subwoofer is, again, kind of a massive machine, and most subwoofers are going to require more power than your car can provide on its own. As such, prospective buyers are best off just accepting (from the start) the fact that they’re going to have to purchase some kind of amplifier in order to have a functioning subwoofer in their car. It’s just one of the costs of doing business, as it were.
So, how much energy is your subwoofer going to need, and what kind of amplifier will it require?
A metric you’ll want to familiarize yourself with at this point is the following: watts root-mean-squared (watts RMS).
What RMS tells you in the context both of subwoofers and amplifiers is specifically how much energy the subwoofer can transmit, and how much the amplifier can spew out.
The relationship between amplifier and subwoofer is worth elaborating on here, too.
The amp is going to serve as a middleman or intermediary force between your car’s engine and your subwoofer. The amp is literally going to amplify the energy that your car produces, and will then feed that energy to your subwoofer, resulting (hopefully) in a whole lot of bass.
Thus, there are two main things to consider as you’re pairing your subwoofer with a bass: how many RMS your amp can spew out, and, on the other end, how many RMS your subwoofer can receive. The problem you’ll need to watch for is a scenario in which the amp’s output is lower (in terms of RMS) than the subwoofer’s minimum input. This is a scenario in which the amp will prove basically useless, since it will not be feeding the subwoofer the amount of energy it needs to produce that huge whomp-whomping sound. The subwoofer, then, will be useless as well.
A subwoofer with an inadequate amp isn’t really a subwoofer at all; it’s going to sound a lot like your car stereo.
So, not only are you going to need an amp for your subwoofer, you’re also going to want to make sure that the amp of your choice can actually give your subwoofer the power it needs to function as a subwoofer. Without it, it will be like not having a subwoofer at all.
As you’re shopping for subwoofers, you’re also going to want to be aware of the difference between particular varieties of amps.
Type of Amps To Consider
In general, there are two kinds of amps: mono amps, and multi-stream amps.
The crux of the difference between the two is that mono amps are, essentially, easier to work with.
Multi-channel amps feed several different subwoofers at once, while mono amps (as the name suggest, mono equalling one) feed a single amp.
If you’re working on your own, and especially if you’re new to the world of audio production, you’re just going to want to stick with a mono amp, since it’ll be a lot simpler to work with.
With a mono amp, purchasing an amp to match your subwoofer is an easy process; simply check the RMS on your subwoofer, and find an amp that produces at least three quarters that amount. If you have two subwoofers, repeat the process. If you have three subwoofers, repeat this process twice.
There will always be a 1:1 ratio between subwoofers and mono amps, and, as such it’s just easier to stick with mono amps. Configuring multi-stream amps can be expensive, and usually must be done by a pro, since the process is complex.