Expert Answers: Do You Need an Amp for a Subwoofer?


The short answer is: most likely Yes.

You first need to determine what your goal is. If you are looking for really loud bass or high volumes, then getting an amp is an absolute must.

However if you want some entertainment for your daily commute you can enjoy the music without an amp.


For the rest I will reveal exactly why an amp is an absolute must for a great sounding system.

Just tell me already!



Do I Really Need an Amplifier?

There are a number of compelling reasons to install an amplifier in your vehicle stereo system after you’ve determined that the factory head unit with a built-in amp isn’t enough. Here are a few excellent reasons to add an amplifier to your car sound system.


If You Want More Bass


Any aftermarket amplifier will give you more bass, which is better for your factory speakers. You will enjoy deeper and louder bass thanks to a car amplifier.

It’s a common mistake: people think that the speakers are responsible for the bass. Sure, it’s true that they play a large part in how much bass you receive.

But so does the amplifier. No matter how good the speakers are, you can only achieve your best performance by adding.


If You Want Loud and Clear Sound Without Distortion

loud-clear -sound-with- amp

The factory head unit contains the amp and speaker, but not a very powerful one, so it cannot produce sound that is loud enough for most drivers. When you turn your stereo up, a factory head unit with an internal amp can’t play cleanly at high volume levels without distortion, which is why they often have variable loudness controls to compensate – and this feature lowers bass levels when the volume isn’t needed. With one or more strategically placed amps, you can set your loudness controls to maximum (or any level in between) and play music at full volume without distortion.


If You’re Looking to Power a Subwoofer

If you want to install a subwoofer in your car audio system, you’ll need a way to power it. Most factory head units don’t have the ability to add a subwoofer and an external amp, which means that you’ll need an aftermarket one to make your system really come alive.


If You Want the Best Out of Your Speakers


Most factory speakers come with low wattage ratings, which is why they cannot handle loud music without distorting it. A factory head unit with a built-in amp has limited power, which limits what you can do with your car speakers. A factory amplified head unit has limited power, so if you want the best sound possible, you will need an amplifier and a new head unit.

Aftermarket head units provide more power, giving you better range and bass. This allows full control over the bass, treble and midrange frequencies that come out of your speakers. In addition to allowing better control over sound output, installation of a new head unit is easy.


If You’re Looking for More Flexibility and Features

Aftermarket amplifiers naturally offer more features, such as separate subwoofer controls and crossover settings. In addition, many amps include equalizers or signal processing. Signal processing allows you to enhance your music and tailor it to your specifications. For example, if a song has intense bass that drowns out the treble, a signal processor can remove some of the low frequency sounds and boost those in the higher frequencies.

Related: Best equalizer settings for bass 


What are car amplifiers used for?

Most factory sound systems include a head unit (which means the receiver/radio itself and the physical buttons) and speakers. The way these systems work is that the head unit contains a small built-in amplifier. The amplifier is what powers the speakers. This amplifier takes the audio signal and amplifies it.


Why you need an amp to power a subwoofer?


For standard systems, this built-in amp isn’t very powerful, but for premium or high-powered audio systems, it might be able to deliver more power. Since this amplifier is built into the head unit, it isn’t very powerful. This means that factory sound systems cannot produce a lot of bass without distorting the music.

To get the best sound possible from your automobile stereo, you’ll need to replace the speakers as well as add an amplifier.


Conclusions on: Do you need an amplifier for a subwoofer

When it comes to sound quality, installing an amplifier is the best way to make your system complete. You’ll get improved bass and cleaner power with any aftermarket amplifier. With an amp, you can play music at high volumes without distortion no matter how good your factory speakers are. An amp also allows for more bass whereas a factory head unit contains the amp and speaker but not a very powerful one. Installing an aftermarket head unit is easy and installing one or more strategically placed amps will allow you to set your loudness controls to maximum (or any level in between) without distortion. You’ll need an amplifier if you want excellent sound quality.

Related: The best subwoofers for cars reviewed (with buying guide)


Frequently Asked Questions:

What’s the difference between active subwoofers and passive subwoofers?

The difference between an active subwoofer and a passive subwoofer is the power source. The active sub is also called powered subwoofer which means that the power source is included in the box. This will make your car stereo install much simpler.

Should I choose an active or powered subwoofer?

There are many benefits for an active subwoofer over a passive subwoofer when you configure your car stereo. Having a powered subwoofer means that there’s no guesswork if you got the right subwoofer or amp. The powered subwoofers are typically plug and play so the installation is a lot simpler.

What are the benefits of an external amplifier for the car stereo?

The external amplifier for a car stereo can do wonders. The car subwoofer will produce distortion free sound for the car audio system. Typically without an amp the standard speakers and the subwoofer output won’t produce a louder sound and the bass frequencies will be flat.

How do you connect a subwoofer to an amp?

It’s quite easy to connect a subwoofer to an amp. Typically amps have a dedicated channel just for subs so you connect the speaker wires to that channel. It’s a bit different with coaxial speakers and a mounting dock.

Can I just add a subwoofer to my car?

Well you can try it. The thing about the subwoofer is that it needs power or there will be no bass. So if you’re adding an aftermarket subwoofer you will need an amp as well.

Can you just use a subwoofer?

No subwoofers only deliver the low (bass) frequencies you will need speakers to reach the mids and highs.

What type of amplifier do I need for a subwoofer?

For a subwoofer you will need a monoblock class D amplifier this will bring out the best from your subwoofer.

Last Updated on November 13, 2022 by Danny Reid