With our experience in the car audio industry, the system you get is pretty much dependent on how much cash you have. However, we definitely would not let that concept steer us away from knowing that it’s quite possible to set up a smooth sounding rig if you’re under a budget. As we’ve learned how important car amps are as they basically power up our whole system, it’s important you find a solid build and quality model There are actually some very affordable models out there and in our case here, specifically under a few bills. We researched and asked around for the best of the best car amplifiers under $200 for those on a budget, or merely those of us who don’t feel the need to drop thousands on a system.
Why add a an amp to your car?
There are quite a few benefits to using a car amp which many of us already know. But to sum it up and review, car amplifiers take the signal from your stereo to give it a more powerful message to boost it to your speakers. Even if you’ve purchased a new deck to replace your stock stereo, it still won’t have enough power, especially if you’ve got subwoofer and tweeters up in the mix. We’ll explain later, but you’re going to want an amp with multiple channels if you’re using more than one speaker (which most of us are, obviously).
You always have the option to go to a physical retail store or merely purchase your gear from the installer, but we like to shop online first, buy the gear, and then take it to get it installed because it can save you a lot of money. Plain and simple. We like Crutchfield’s car amplifier buying guide for a little more information on the subject.
How to choose your car amplifier
- Your exact budget. Under $200 is the subject at hand, but if you’re looking at something even cheaper there is a decent difference in terms of quality of the amps you can afford. The average is around $100, however.
- How much output power (wattage) do you want? One important note is to make sure the amplifier you buy will match the power needed for your speakers or sub. Unmatched power can harm your system as a whole (under-powering can cause distortion as well). If you buy an amp that has more than enough power, you can always turn it down to be even.
- How many channels? There are numerous options here: mono, 2, 4 or even 5-channel (starts to hike up in price). The recommended is a 4-channel amp but mono can work perfectly fine if you’re only powering a sub. The amount of channels your amplifier needs depends on how many speakers or subwoofers you are using. Check out our best 5-channel car amplifier article if you’re looking for that option.
- Amplifier power supply type. There are a few amplifier power classes out there in terms of classes, but one of the most popular is Class A/B which we’d recommend going with due to it’s efficiency and wide use, but there are a few others out there with Class D as well that work just as fine.
- Will it fit? This typically isn’t a problem, but it’s something to think about if you’re driving something a bit more obscure. Keep it in mind.
Our picks for the best car amplifiers under $200
The following are our picks for the best car amps under $200. They’re sorted by rating, but we also provide the important features needed such as watts, amp type, channel count and more. Let us know your favorite in the comments, or if you have a question about whether an amp will work your specific ride we’re more than happy to help.
Lanzar amplifiers are reviewed highly everywhere. What’s nice is the options you have in terms of channels and watt count — pretty much all combos possible. You can choose from either 1k to 3k watts and between mono, 2 or 4 channels (price will go up, obviously). As it obviously depends on your system, we still recommend going with 4-channels just in case. I’m an overachiever so I go with either 2k or 3k watts to be on the safe side, but double check the power you’ll need because it could end up just being a waste of money. The Lanzar HTG amps have a nice electornic crossover network with line outs for the left and right channels. The frequency response is feasable at 10Hz to 45kHz so you’re covering all areas of sound but most notable about these is the bass boost circuit built-in. You get a very crisp and clean sound and I love the fact that it has low and high-pass filters to give us some custom options. It’s one of our favorites under $200. We like the Lanzar HTG447 2,000 amp but there are other options there as well.
Planet Audio AC800.4 ANARCHY
Here’s a very proven 4-channel amplifier for under $200. This amp by Planet Audio has Class A/B topology so one of the most popular circuits out there paired up with a MOSFET PWM power supply — it’s basically an electrical switch that controls the flow of the current, and the MOSFET supplies are the most popular, often found in our everday electronics. This is one of the most ideal amplifiers in our opinion, since it offers a wide range of wattage choices, 4-channels (even if you aren’t planning on use all four, it’s great to have in case you want to upgrade later), is a relatively small size and just does it’s job — powers your slick system. You have the choice to go from 600 all the way up to 1600-watts (that may be a bit overkill, but you never know. The prices also increase as well). The Planet Audio AC800.4 is one of our favorite car amps under $100 bucks. Check with your speakers and sub to see how many watts you actually need.
Here’s yet another very solid 4-channel amp for under $200, with this one being bridgable at 4 Ohms. It has awesome protection helping with thermal, overload and short circuitry so that gives us confidence in terms of stability and longevity. A standard MOSFET amp here but what’s noticeable is the power this thing can provide — although it depends on which model you ultimately go for, their PLA’s go up to a whopping 5,000 watts if that’s what you fancy. A few other notable features of this are the gain control on the unit (don’t recommend going all the way and using your deck to control it further), phase adjustment, high and low-pass filter, bass EQ and lastly a crossover switch. A super solid amplifier here, the Pyle PLA4478 is a big thumbs up and you have more choices if you want a higher wattage count.
Rockford Fosgate R500X1D
Rockford Fosgate has been around for quite a few decades and their reputation is very solid. This model is a mono amplifier and uses the slightly less popular (but still effective) Class-D circuit topology. The build here is most notibaly worth the money, as it is pretty small so it will blend in (depending where you put it) but it also has a nice cast aluminum heatsink mounted control panel. You get a wired remote for Punch Level Control which I use at times if I need to adapt to a song i’m listening to. The on-board Punch EQ gives about a +18dB boost at 45 Hz so power really isn’t a problem here, I haven’t read anybody not being satisfied with the volume and punch. We love the Rockford Fosgate R500X1D if you’re looking for one of the best low-cost mono channel car amps in the market. If you’re looking for a 4-channel of this make we recommend the Rockford Fosgate R400-4D model.
A big confidence booster with buying one of these is the Pioneer Electronics name attached to it. We don’t liek to let brands steer us towardsa direction but you can’t really ignore the reputiation they have when it comes to car audio. Here we have a Class FD amp (Class D but Pioneer’s term for it) with 4-channels, and it’s bridgeable in case you want to consolidate your sources. It’s compact for a nice fit in pretty much any ride and most importantly the sound is very high-quality. You get 1,200 watts max power so I really don’t think you’ll have a problem unless your system is gigantic. It’s a little higher in price as compared to the others but if you can save a few more dollars and grab this, you’re getting a very stable amp that gives you what you need and will last you for years if you take proper care of it. The Pioneer GM-D8604 is another one of our favorite car amps for under 2 bills. I’ve heard it be used in boats, trucks, and the like.