The Best Mono Amps to Power Car Subwoofers
If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, Rolling Stone may receive an affiliate commission.
If deep knocking bass is the goal, then a mono amp is part of the process. Mono amps are straightforward in their purpose: they are a single channel (hence mono) amplifier, specifically designed for low frequency sound generation. A typical aftermarket car audio system would consist of multiple speakers — either components or coaxials — a subwoofer, and the amplifiers to power each piece: a mono amp for the subwoofer, and a multi-channel amp to provide power to the speakers. Since a mono amp can only carry power to one device, it is not suited for adding power to a standard car stereo. However, by adding a subwoofer and mono amp to an otherwise factory system of door and dash speakers, your listening experience can be elevated.
If you’re looking for the best mono amps, there are a couple of variables to consider before purchasing, namely power, sound quality and price.
Amplifiers are about power; without enough power to your speakers – in this case to the subwoofer – the sound will be weak, thus defeating the purpose of purchasing an amp. Having said that, it is important to know what your speakers can handle, too much power will blow the components. This information can be found on your car manufacturer’s website and sometimes in the car’s manual.
Price and sound quality are tethered a bit; if the speakers being amplified are low quality, then expect low quality sound. If pure volume is the goal, then go ahead and play away; just don’t be surprised if the bass beats sound more like a lopsided washing machine. As for amplifier pricing, the quality to expense ratio is pretty tight – meaning you can get a great quality amplifier for a great price.
1. Reliable, Consistent Power
Two words to describe the Rockford Fosgate R500X1D: understated power. This 500W mono is a wonderful addition to any “starter” subwoofer system. With key features such as heatsink, short circuit protection, and over current protection, this amplifier is built to help you keep the power managed and sustained.
PROS: Users report higher than advertised power potential. When unboxing an amplifier there is often a sheet known as the Birth Sheet. This is a sort of quality assessment notification. It should state that the amplifier has been tested and a value for peak power will be listed. Multiple users have experienced upwards of 135 additional watts of available power. Great for beginner systems.
CONS: Though this system produces deep and clean bass with consistency, the low wattage has left some bass enthusiasts wanting more.
2. Keeps Your Sound — and Car — Running Smoothly
This amplifier focuses on efficiency. The small and light design means it is easy to install almost anywhere in the vehicle, and the humble 500W power rating limits its drain on the car’s battery. Maxing out at 500W, the Apline MRV-M500 is ideal for those looking to add quality bass to their car’s stock system. Alpine’s innovative “Enhanced Shutdown Performance” helps mitigate potential overheating by limiting the output of the amp when its sensors detect prolonged play at the top end of its limits.
Unlike other amps that would shutdown, Alpine has engineered this power unit to continue to play, while it cools down and restores full power.
PROS: Technology in abundance. In addition to the Enhanced Shutdown Performance system, Alpine has added an audio sensor so that the amp powers on when the head-unit is activated. This means there is no need to run a turn-on wire.
CONS: Modest production when it comes to volume potential.
3. 1500 Watts of Raw Power
The outlier of the bunch, the Planet Audio AC1500.1m, offers 1500 watts of raw power. Features such as variable low pass crossover, bass boost and remote subwoofer control allow for fine tuning to coax the most from this bass boosting powerhouse. As the only A/B amp on the list, it delivers hybrid benefits, more energy efficiency than a Class A amp, while also minimizing distortion.
PROS: Power and price. The model name for this amp is ‘Anarchy’ and the level of sound this beast can create is sure to be unruly.
CONS: Some users have mentioned that in order to access the full 1500 Watt power an upgraded fuse may be necessary.
IndyCar Livestream: How to Watch the NTT IndyCar Racing Season Online
- racing livestream