How Many Watts Is Good for a Car Stereo?

Imagine you are on a solo road trip and you want to listen to the great old rock classics from the 1980s. The soft tunes of the guitar are set on fire by the melodious voices of the legends but the noise of the road seems too much for the music to even register. Often, the factory car speakers with low wattage do not cut the noise of the road.

In that case, you would want to upgrade to a stereo set that offers more power for you on the road. Essentially, you need to get a car stereo with high wattage. But for you to get this, you will have to first know how many watts is a factory car stereo and then know how many watts is good for a car stereo to pick the right choice while upgrading.

Car Stereo Wattage: All You Need to Know

We know that this is not a physics classroom and you are not here to learn the principles of electric circuitry. You just want to know what are the numbers and terms you need to know to buy a better car stereo and we are here to give you just that.

RMS Wattage and Peak Wattage

The unit that is used to determine what will be the power and thereafter the loudness of your stereo is the wattage. However, one needs to be careful here that when we are considering an upgrade for our car, we need to look at carefully the RMS wattage and not the peak wattage.

The peak wattage of a speaker is the peak power that it can handle or provide, which indicates its loudest point. However, the RMS wattage indicates the consistent power that it can handle and therefore, the consistent volume that a speaker will be able to produce for extended periods of time.

Often, when stereo sets are sold, they are labeled with their peak wattage. The formula to convert peak wattage to RMS is RMS wattage = 0.7071 X peak wattage.

For example, most of the factory car stereo models will be generally labeled as “200 watts” or “50 watts x 4”. This effectively means that they have an RMS wattage of 10-15 watts per channel, which is not efficient for high-quality audio at high volumes.

Car Stereo Watts Needed for Canceling Noise on the Road

The car stereo wattage that you want for a stereo that can stand up to the sound of the road should be at least 20 RMS watts per channel. To get this kind of power, the peak wattage of the stereo should be in the range of 60-80 watts and should be labeled as such.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is a 200-Watt Radio Good?

As we have already explained how to calculate the RMS rating for your speaker. A 200-watt stereo will probably get its power from an amplifier chip that is rated at a 50-watt peak for 4 channels, implying that its RMS rating is around 13-18 watts.

This means that while the 200-watt radio is powerful enough, it could sometimes not be enough to cancel heavy noise from driving on roads and vehicles that produce a lot of sounds.

Do More Watts Mean Better Sound?

To answer this question briefly, no, more wattage does not automatically imply a better sound. Although the wattage serves as a very convenient way to rate an amplifier, it is not necessarily the most accurate indicator of how fine the sound quality of a speaker is. It is merely a measurement that indicates its power capacity.

How Many Watts Is a Good Subwoofer?

For a good subwoofer to be used at home, wattage in the range of 15 to 30 watts RMS  will be sufficient for most needs. Whereas for a car owner, the wattage of the subwoofer between 15-20 watts RMS should meet most requirements. Of course, for larger gatherings and events, 50 watts or 100 watts is required.

Do More Watts Mean More Bass?

No, more watts does not necessarily mean more bass. The wattage of the subwoofer merely determines the power of the subwoofer, indicating how powerful it can be at its peak and not how powerful it is at all times.

Further, the quality of the bass is more dependent on the kind of the amplifier along with the resistance rating of the subwoofer with subwoofers that have a higher resistance rating being able to deliver fine-tuned bass as they are able to efficiently deal with low frequencies.

Does Wattage Affect Sound Quality?

Short answer: no. Long answer: while the wattage does technically affect the sound quality by determining the power of the subwoofer or the speaker, it is not necessarily a measure of the loudness of the speaker or the quality of sound that is produced by the speaker as these things are dependent on a host of other factors as well.

What Is a Good Wattage for Surround Sound?

For a surround system, we are looking at trying to equip the right room with the right sound system. For a small room, the audio output can be around 50 watts RMS per channel and for a larger room, the audio output should be around 150 watts RMS per channel or more. Remember to always tailor the speaker power to your room size.

How Many Watts per Speaker Do I Need for outside Music?

For outside areas where the disturbance of other noises is minimal, a pair of 60-watt speakers should be enough to cover areas under 300 square feet.

For areas larger than 300 square feet but less than 500 square feet, speakers of 60 to 100 watts should do fine while 150 to 175-watt speakers will be perfect for 600 to 800 square feet.

Of course, you can go for a speaker with a larger wattage than recommended, but then clear and sharp music at soft volumes will not be possible with such a setup. Always remember to optimize your setup.

How Can You Tell Speaker Quality?

The speaker quality is measured by the sensitivity rating of the speaker. The higher the sensitivity rating is of your speaker, the louder it is. A speaker which has a sensitivity rating above 85 dB is generally considered to be good, while speakers which have a sensitivity rating over 90 dB are considered excellent in their quality.

The Last Word

In summary, to get a car stereo that can cancel the noise of the road, get a stereo that can provide at least 20 RMS wattage per channel. While doing this, be careful of the labeling because the general labeling of the stereos is in peak wattage and you need to calculate the RMS wattage on your own sometimes.

Last Updated on December 5, 2021