For both newcomers to the car audio scene, as well as seasoned car audio enthusiasts, choosing the right amplifier can be complicated.
Many of the factors that go into making the right decision involve understanding highly complex technical facts. In general, car audio involves a lot of technical jargon and knoweledge of basic electrical engineering. But, purchasing the right amplifier and setting up your new amplifier can be especially tricky.
We’ll help you understand some of these complexities and break down some of the more technical aspects of purchasing an amp. Once you understand what you are looking for, we’ll take a look at the best 5-channel amplifiers for car audio.
Without further ado, let’s get going.
Benefits Of A 5-Channel Car Amplifier
The number one benefit of using a 5-channel amplifier over a different type is that you can power your entire sound system.
Five-channel systems are generally broken up into 4-channels for you front and rear speakers, and then a mono-block for your subwoofer. For a first time car stereo system owner, this is one of the best setups.
Using a 5-channel amplifier allows you to get set up easily without needing multiple different amps for each set of speakers and your subs. This will not only save you money but also time on instiallation. It will also improve sound quality if you have it properly set up. Instead of having to perfectly tune multiple amplifiers, you can instead focus your efforts on one device.
Different Types of 5-Channel Amplifiers
When dealing with amplifiers, there are a few different terms and types you need to understand. Pimarily, you need to understand the different classes of amplifier and what they all mean.
Class A amplifiers generally have clean output and extremely clear sound. These amps also have high fidelty, also written as HI-FI, and low distortion. The downside of Class A amplifiers is that they are generally large and bulky and produce an incredible amount of heat.
Class B amplifiers are more effecient than Class A amplifiers. They are also smaller and produce significantly less heat. The downside is that they are low fidelty and have a tendency to distort more so they don’t reproduce sound quite as well as their Class A counterpart.
A Class A/B amplifier gives you the best of both a Class A and a Class B amplifier. They are more efficient than a Class A amplifier but distort significantly less than a Class B amplifier. They are also mid way in terms of fidelity so they will do a better job at reproducing the original, studio quality sound than a Class B amp would.
Class D amplifiers are the most efficient due to their utilization of switching technology. This chanes the signal into an on/off waveform. These waveforms are usually off which helps presever energy and uses less power. Class D amplifiers are also smaller and usually easier to install.
The main drawback of a Class D amplifier is that they can distort at higher frequencies more easily. So, you need to take into consideration the tradeoff before going this route.
What To Look For In A 5-Channel Car Amplifier
Now that you understand the different types of 5-channel amplifiers you will come across, let’s take a look at exactly what you need to be looking for in the best 5-channel amplifiers for car audio.
Some of these concepts are technically complex so, to help you more easily understand them, we recommend watching any videos we’ve added to the description. This may help you get a better idea of what we are talking about and make deciding which amplifier is right for you easier.
Your System Requirements
For the most part, not everyone is going to be running the same system. For this reason, there is no one size fits all amplifier which is going to solve every car audio enthusiasts needs. You need to make sure that the specific amplifier you are looking into is going to be right for your setup.
In making sure that an amplifier is right for your setup, the first thing to take into consideration are your power needs. You need to look at everything you will be connecting to the amp to make sure the output is sufficient to power your setup. Each of your speakers and subwoofers has an RMS and Max wattage rating. Use this to help you when finding the right subwoofer for you.
It is okay to buy an amplifier that has too much power for your system. But, you do not want to purchase a 5-channel amplifier that does not have enough power or you may end up blowing it. Also, an underpowered amplfier is going to cause your system to sound poor and increases the risk of causing damage to your speakers and subs.
Another feature to consider is whether or not the amplifier your looking at is bridgeable. This basically means you can turn your 5-channel amplifier into a 3-channel amplifier if your system needs it. Many modern day amplifiers have this ability so it won’t be a difficult feature to come across.
The main appeal in having a bridgeable amplfier is that it provides more flexibility for your system. If you ever decide to adjust your sound system in the future by adding more speakers, you’ll be able to hanle the new speakers without the need for a second amplifier.
It is important to check the impedance rating of any amplifier you are looking to purchase. The impedance rating is how easy it is for the amp to send power to your speakers. The lower the number the easier it is to send power and the higher the number the more your amplifier has to work.
For a 5-channel amplifier, you will generally see a rating of either 2 ohms or 4 ohms. Most of the amplifiers on our list have a 2 ohm rating which is the most stable. Some amplifiers also work on both ratings so you can switch between the two.
Amplifiers can get very hot very fast. For this reason, it is important for any amplifier you get to have an efficient method of dissipating heat. If your amplifier overheats, it can damage important components making it useless.
Some amplifiers have a cast aluminum body that helps with heat dissipation. This is a really good feature to look for. Other amplifiers have heat sinks or thermal protection mechanisms. Regardless of which one you opt for, the most important thing is that it has some mechanism for dealing with heat.
One final tip is to check user reviews and see if the claims a manufacurer makes on heat disspipation is true. If you see a lot of comments saying the amplifier gets too hot, you should think twice. A hot running amp isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. But, you will want to make sure to install it in an area away from direct sunlight.
Other Features To Look For
There are a few final features that you should look for when choosing the right 5-channel amplifier for you. These include:
- Thermal, voltage, and short protection – if your dealing with amplifiers that have high power output this is vital
- Adjustable equalizer – this will give you more control over your system and make adjusting levels between songs easier
- Subwoofer remote control – you will more easily be able to make adjustments to your subwoofer even while driving
- You also want to make sure that any amplifier you are looking at will be easy to install
- Last but not least, take into consideration the size of your vehical and any extra space where you can install an amplifier so that you purchase one that will fit your vehical
The 10 Best 5-Channel Amplifiers
1) Rockford Fosgate Punch P1000X5 5-Channel Amp
Rockford Fosgate has been around for over 40 years. In that time, they’ve become a power player in the car audio world known for quality amps and powerful speakers. The P1000X5 is one of their premium 5-channel amplifiers perfect for seasoned car audio enthusiasts looking to set up a banging system.
- The most expensive amp on the list
2) Rockford Fosgate R600X5 Prime 5-Channel Amplifier
This is just below the Punch P1000x5 but still comes in as a solid buy in terms of performance. If you’re looking for a powerful amp that gives you complete control, this one is for you. We don’t recommend this as a good option for first timers as setting it up might be a bit complex. If you’ve got a solid system and know what you are doing though the R600X5 will deliver.
- Top mount controls makes it easier to adjust the amplifier settings
- Cast aluminum heat sink helps keep the amplifier from overheating
- The included mounting screws may need to be swapped out for stronger ones depending on where you mount it
3) Polk Audio PA D5000.5 5-Channel Amp
Polk Audio is an American manufacturer of home and car audio equipment. They’ve been around since 1972 and the level of quality you can expect is high. The PA D5000.5 is one of their flagship amplifiers and a great choice if you want a medium priced amp that will excell at the job.
- Universal fit makes it easier to install under the seat or in another convienant and out of the way location
- Built from stainless steel for resistance to corrosion and other elemental factors
- MOSFET for high speed power switching
- The control knob isn’t super precise which can make setting it properly a bit more difficult
4) Kenwood KAC-D8105 1600 Watts 5-Channel Amp
Kenwood is a titan in the car audio industry. They’ve been around since 1946 and, like many of the top brands in car audio, are headquartered in Japan. The KAC-D8105 is a 1600 Watt powerhouse suitable for a wide range of car audio enthusiasts. This is a solid mid-budget option great for high-end systems or first time set ups.
- Complete kit with all of the needed wiring plus a few extras
- 1600 watts plus a low pass and high pass filter for optimal performance
- Capable of handling your front and rear speakers with subs
- The dials for adjusting the amp can be difficult to reach
5) Hifonics BRX5016.5 Brutus 5-Channel
Hifonics has been around since the early 1980s. They are a mid-size car audio equipment manufactuer without the same level of recognition as brands like Pioneer. But, that doesn’t mean that you should sleep on them. They’ve been used in car audio competitions since 1990. The BRX5016.5 is a good mid-priced option for creating an awesome sound system.
- The amp is quite large which can make it difficult to place
6) Skar Audio RP-600.5 700 Watt
Skar audio is one of the newest manufacturers on the scene. Though they haven’t been around too long, they are making a name for themselves among car audio enthusiasts. They are based out of Tampa, Florida and have become knonw for quick delivery and awesome customer service. The RP-600.5 is a solid option for a first time system as well as more advanced car audio enthusiasts.
- 60 watts per channel on the 4-channel plus 400 watts on the mono-block which can power an entire audio system
- Thin body makes it easier to place in a variety of location
- This amp has a tendency to run a little bit hot
7) Rockville dB55 4000 Watt/2000w RMS 5-Channel
Rockville is another American based company in business since 2012. They have made quite the name for themselves on the competition circuit for quality products that deliver on performance. The DB55 is a great example of what their upper line of amplifiers can do. This is a good option for first time system creators but can also deliver on the expectations of seasoned car audio enthusiasts.
- MOSFET power supply for high speed power delivery
- Slip profile for easier and more discreet placement
- Rockville amps come with a complete 90-day money back guarantee for added assurance
- This amp heats up quickly which can be intinsified in warm weather environments
8) Rockville RXH-F5 3200 Watt 5-Channel
This is one notch below the Rockville DB line mentioned above. If you are looking for a great first time amp that will tow the line with a complete system, this is an awesome option. It maxes out at 3,200 watts with a 1,600 watt RMS, which is plenty for running a basic system.
- Great balance between cost and quality making this the best intorductory option on the list
- Slim profile for easier installation in smaller cars or tight spaces
- 90 day full money back guarantee from Rockville audio
- Can be a bit difficult to tune perfectly for first time system owners
9) BOSS Audio Systems PV3700 5-Channel
BOSS Audio is a California based car audio manufacturer in business sicne 1987. They have a solid reputation for building quality products at budget level prices. The PV3700 is the top of their mid-level line of amps and is perfect for new system owners looking to dabble in the world of car audio. Though it says it maxes out at 3,700 watts, we do not recommend this for more powerful systems.
- MOSFET swtich for high speed delivery of power supply
- Easily can power 4 speakers plus a sub for a basic first time audio set up or for replacing the factory setup
- Subwoofer level control swtich and bass boost for better control of your system
- Bulky which can make it difficult to install in smaller cars or in tight spaces
10) MATRIX DX1800.5 1800 Watts 5-Channel
Matrix Audio is a Chinese manufactuerer founded in 2009. They are known for producing budget car audio options good for low end systems and those looking to dabble in creating a car audio system. These are not high end amps so we do not recommend this for a powerful system or for competition. But, if you are new and looking to set up your first sytem on a budget, this can be a good starting point.
- Built in bass boost with a control switch for added control over your system
- Slim profile making it easy to install in smaller cars or in tight spaces
- Because this is a Chinese manufactured amp the documentation is sparse so instillation can be more difficult
Frequently Asked Questions
Most frequent questions and answers
Why should I get a 5-channel amplifier?
A 5-channel amplifier gives you the most options when it comes to setting up a system using only one amp. You can use all 5-channels or set it up as a 3-channel. This saves you from having to use multiple different amplifiers to power each of your speakers
What are the advantages of a bridgeable amplifier?
The main benefit of having a bridgeable amplifier is that you will have room to grow. Since a bridgeable amplifier allows you to use your 5-channel amp for a 3-channel setup, you can buy a 5-channel now and add more speakers later. This can save you money in the future instead of having to buy another amplifier later on.
How should I tune my amplifier?
Tuning your amp so that it reaches its full potential. Failure to correctly tune your amp not only results to under performance but also puts the rest of your audio equipment at risk of damage. There are quite a few settings that you need to unerstand how to correctly manipulate. We’ve found this video to be an excelent resource:
What's more important: impedance or power rating?
One mistake that many first time system owners make is only looking at the power rating of an amplifier. If you have an amp that puts out 2000W RMS it doesn’t mean it’s the right amp for your two subs with a power handling of 1500W RMS. You need to first figure out the impedance (ohms) the subs are wired to provide. Remember that wiring subs to the wrong impedance is the most common causes of blown subs.
Do I need 4 speakers and a sub for a 5-channel amplifier?
No. As we mentioned when we discussed brdiging your amplifier, it is possible to run less than a full set up with a 5-channel amplifier. You can run a 3-channel set up, two speakers and a subwoofer, without any problems. The main thing to remember is that as long as everything is compatible powerwise, it will be fine. It is better to have an amp that is too powerful for your system than one not powerful enough.
Where should I install my 5-channel amplifier?
There is no one place that is perfect for installation. Instead, you will need to take into consideration your car and the individual places that are optimal. For many people, this may be in the trunk or under the seat if there is room. If you have a regular cab truck you can install it behind the seats. The main thing to remember is you want to install your amplifier in an area that doesn’t get direct sunlight to help your amplifier keep cool.
Our Final Verdict
Our vote is on the Rockville RXH-F5 3200 Watt 5-Channel. This is a great option for low end systems as well as more powerful systems that need a bit extra push. It comes in at a solid price that won’t break the bank so budget minded car audio enthusiasts will be more than pleased. Overall, this is a solid 5-channel amplifier and will be a great addition to your system.
Sidney U. Harman has over 10 years of experience working in the AVL industry. He originally cut his teeth as a stagehand in the OKC area before moving to Denton for university. After learning to run the boards, he developed a solid passion for sound. His obsession with car audio developed 5 years ago as a natural progression from commercial AVL.