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Do you need an Amp for Door Speakers?
There is a question making the rounds on automobile forums –
Do you need an amp for door speakers?
The answer is a resounding yes! Amplifiers make a significant difference to the performance of audio systems, both at home and in an automobile.
However, many car owners, especially those not too fussy about sound quality, only see it as an additional expense. They believe that simply increasing the number of speakers and combining it with a subwoofer will do the job. This article explains what an amp could do to your door speakers.
But, before we talk about amps and door speakers, let’s brush up on a few basics.
So, What is an Amplifier?
A lot of people are unaware of the design and functions of an amplifier. An amplifier, popularly known as an amp, is an electronic device that makes your music sound better. It boosts a weak audio signal.
The head unit in an automobile (radio system or stereo system, in layman terms) usually features a preinstalled amp. This amp powers the speakers. If a car owner upgrades the audio systems, increasing the number of speakers or adding other audio components, the power requirements also increase proportionately.
As a result, the inbuilt amps might be rendered incompatible with the existing audio system. This makes it necessary to install an external amp or a dedicated amp.
Fitting an amplifier has several advantages and we’ve listed a few right here.
It all boils down to sound quality. The preinstalled amps do not have enough power. Hence, they result in substandard sound. Amplifiers make up for the lack of power, improving clarity and sharpness, tone quality and bass response.
Most car owners claim that adding speakers also enhances the quality of the sound. True though that is, it does not match that of a head unit fitted with an amp. In fact, an amplifier will make your aftermarket speakers sound even better.
The second reason is volume. As its names suggest, it amplifies weak signals making your music sound louder. It increases the volume without distorting the audio. An amplifier successfully drowns out all external noises whether it’s the sound of the tires hitting the road or that of the air conditioner cooling your vehicle.
This way you are able to hear and enjoy your music without any annoying distractions. A subwoofer is indispensable for those bass and sub-bass sounds. The only problem is that subwoofers demand more power than speakers. Adding a dedicated subwoofer amp solves the problem.
The Tech and The Specs
Not an audiophile? Don’t worry. We will help you pick the best-suited amplifiers by explaining the different features you will find on any amp specifications card.
The first feature to factor in is the number of channels. Amplifiers are available in varied configurations ranging from single-channel to six-channel amplifiers. The number determines the components that can be connected to the amp. A single channel connects to a single speaker.
Thus, a 2-channel amplifier can connect two speakers. The 2, 4 and 6 channel amplifiers are the preferred configurations. Subwoofers can be powered by a separate mono-channel amplifier or by bridging channels on a multi-channel amplifier. One can further boost an audio system by fitting two amplifiers instead of one.
The next crucial detail is the wattage as the main function of an amp is to strengthen a weak audio signal. The key to getting high-fidelity sound reproduction is choosing a powerful amp. The RMS value thus becomes an important figure. The RMS power rating dictates the amp’s power output.
On a speaker, it refers to the amount of power a speaker can handle. The RMS is measured in watts. The power output of the amp should always exceed the power handling of the speaker. Low powered amps cause distortion; they could also damage a speaker.
The recommended RMS value on an amp is anywhere between 75% to 150% of that of the speaker. A few amp models also incorporate filters for high and low frequencies. Hence, they are best paired with specific types of speakers. An important question to ask yourself when buying an amp is what you will be using the amp for.
Amplifiers also belong to different classes denoted by the letters A, B, AB, and D. The classes as determined by the amount of heat generated, energy efficiency and sound fidelity.
Class A amplifiers produce the best sound but fare poorly when it comes to energy efficiency. Class D is the most energy efficient, but it comes at the cost of sound fidelity. Nevertheless, the D-rated amplifiers are considered to be the finest, since the compromise on sound quality is not too much.
Audiophiles state that it is a better option to buy the speakers and amp in the same brand. This will avoid any issues with compatibility that may arise when the brands are different. Verify the dealer before you make a purchase. Make sure the amplifier is backed by a warranty.
Amps need not be big, bulky units. They are now available in small and compact sizes, that do not take up too much space.
Door Speakers and Amps
The doors are considered an ideal location for mounting car speakers. Talking about door speakers, a car owner has two options: they can go with the factory-installed units or replace them with aftermarket models. Door speakers are of the following types:
- Full range speakers – They are also called coaxial speakers. These designs combine all elements in one. They include a subwoofer to produce the lower frequencies and tweeters for the highs. The package also consists of additional drivers such as midrange speakers and super-tweeters. They are easy to mount, available in different sizes and power ranges and in high-end and budgeted models.
- Component speakers – Their superior designs promise the most realistic sound production. Unlike their full-range counterparts, they feature individual components to handle different frequencies. Component speakers consist of a detached subwoofer, tweeters and external crossovers that can be mounted in places that produce only the best sound quality. Although separate, they are designed to work in sync.
Speakers are fitted on the front and back doors. This creates an optimal, surround sound in your vehicle. The sound output from the front and back speakers differs in how it sounds in different positions in the vehicle.
The music emanating from the front speakers is the main sound in the vehicle while the rear speakers only fill in and add depth to the forward sound. The volume of the front and rear speakers needs to be adjusted to avoid distortions.
Now, coming to the main question – should you amplify car door speakers? Yes, you should. It will enhance the quality of your music. It gives you great quality and reduces the distortion to a minimum. However, the issue you may want to explore is whether you should amp the front and the back-door speakers.
It is a good idea to get the front and rear speakers hooked up to an amp. But, at the same time, one needs to ensure that they are set up and powered correctly. Getting the controls wrong will cause distortion in sounds.
The front sound stage is more important than the back. The rear sound should be barely noticeable to the driver or the passenger in the front seat. The rear sound should no be louder than the sounds upfront.
Wiring Door Speakers to an Amp
After you have purchased an amp that is best-suited to your speakers you will have to wire it correctly, to ensure it functions without any glitch. An amplifier is sold as an individual unit, without any of the accessories required for installation.
Hence, car owners will have to purchase them separately. It makes sense to get an amplifier wiring kit, instead of purchasing the components individually; kits consist of all the needed accessories. This includes the power wires, ground wires, RCA cables, fuse, and speaker wires.
The next thing you should decide is the location for mounting the amplifier. You should follow the installation instructions given by the manufacturer. Whether you plan to fix it in the trunk, below the seat, or on the firewall there should be ample space around the amplifier.
There are two reasons for it. There should be enough space for the wiring. To add, the amplifier generates heat during operation. If the amplifier is fitted in a congested place, it will overheat and get damaged.
The ideal location to mount an amplifier will also depend on the size of the amplifier. On the other hand, where you plan to mount the amplifier will determine the number of accessories you need, for instance, the lengths of the wires.
The amplifier should be mounted securely to keep it from coming loose and causing mishaps. Manufacturers also recommend installing the amp at a certain distance (around 3 feet away) from the head unit.
Now that you know what an amp is, its features and its functions, get one that will rev up your car’s sound system and afford the best music experience.