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2 Channel vs 4 Channel Amp: Read First Before You Upgrade!

Last Updated on: August 30, 2022

While there are several reasons why you should have a car amplifier for your speakers, the key reason is that it improves sound quality at a high volume. 

That’s true!

Car speakers typically have an RMS power output of 10 watts, far below the ambient noise you get in a car. 

Channel amplifiers enable you to add more speakers to your setup, thus improving the car audio quality and experience. Let’s compare the 2 channel amp vs 4 channel amp a little deeper below.

Main Difference Between 2 Channel and 4 Channel Amp

The main difference between 2 channel amp and 4 channel amp is:

  • The 2 channel amp is suitable for coaxial speakers, whereas a 4 channel amp is ideal for a component speaker setup. 
  • The 2 channel amp can power up to four speakers, whereas the 4 channel amp connects up to eight speakers. 
  • 2 channel amps are more available for stock car speakers, whereas 4 channel amps are typically available for aftermarket speaker installations.

Why Do Car Amplifiers Matter?

Confused woman
When you realize there is nothing to amplify further…

Generally, most car stereos have low power to be audible above ambient noise without amplification. Additionally, the speakers distort badly, giving you poor quality sound at high volume. 

Amplifiers help by powering the speakers to be loud and cleaning up the distortion to improve sound clarity.

The amplifier also helps customize the sound system by adding rear speakers to create a better audio experience. There are three types of car amplifiers. 

These include the mono amplifier, 2 channel, and multi-channel amplifiers with four, five, or six channels.    

Choosing the right power amplifier is necessary, depending on how you configure your audio system. The mono amplifier is a subwoofer-only car amp and is typically very expensive. 

In this article, we review the 2 vs 4 channel amps to help you choose the best one for your needs.

What Does 2 Channel Amp Mean?

2-Channel Car Amplifier
2-Channel Car Amplifier

These are amplifiers with a dedicated power output of two channels. That means they can power up one or two speakers with each channel dedicated to each speaker.

Factory-installed coaxial systems that have the tweeter and mid-bass in one driver allow you to use one channel for it.

However, if your speakers are separate, you can bridge them to use one channel instead of two with the help of an external passive crossover network.  

Plus, you can use a 2-channel amplifier to power four component speakers. On the other hand, having separate channels for each speaker gives you better audio quality. It allows you to set a particular power setting for each speaker and active crossover frequency. 

The 2 amp may not work if your car speaker set up includes subwoofers. In this case, you will need a suitable channel amplifier to bridge both channels for more output to power the subwoofer or powerful full-range speakers.

What Does 4 Channel Amp Mean?

4-Channel Car Amplifier
4-Channel Car Amplifier

This amplifier is ideal for audio configurations with several subwoofers and speakers. A 4 channel amp can connect four speakers on each channel. 

You can also bridge two channels to power a subwoofer while the other two channels power the front speakers.

Additionally, you can have a configuration where your four-channel amp powers up to eight coaxial speakers or have four speakers on the amp with an additional mono amplifier or a two-channel amp to power the subwoofer.

Fun Fact: You could make use of any configurations mentioned above to end up with a fantastic audio and music experience. If you are going to amplify your door speakers, then take a look at how to install amp for door speakers to do this properly!

Pro Auto Thought: Know exactly how much it would cost you to install a complete car audio system by reading this post — How Much Does It Cost To Install A Sound System In A Car?


How to Choose an Amplifier

While there is a difference between the 2 and 4 channel amp, it is necessary to understand what to look out for when buying one. 

Here are some of the features you should look out for whether you’re getting a 2 channel amp vs 4 channel amp:

Type

Car amplifiers can either be mono-block, 2 channels, or multi-channel. The type you choose depends on how many speakers you have and their configuration inside your car. 

Mono-block, also known as mono car amplifiers, are for powering subs and can be combined with either the two-channel or four-channel amps.

Two-channel amps are ideal for full-range speaker systems with a high pass crossover, component speakers with an active crossover, or a subwoofer in bridge mode. 

Generally, you get more flexibility with a 4 channel vs 2 channel amp to use with component systems that include multiple speakers with a subwoofer. 

While you can use one channel for two speakers, as in the case of coaxial speakers, I recommend having your speakers on each channel to get them working at their full potential.

RMS Power Rating

The RMS rating of your amplifier is a key consideration when deciding between the 2 channel vs 4 channel amp to purchase for your car speakers. 

While it may not be 100% accurate, the RMS rating is a more reliable metric to use than peak or maximum wattage for determining the performance of your channel amps and speakers.  

Root Mean Square (RMS) is a term that defines how much average power output an amplifier can produce continuously over time. 

On the other hand, peak power is the highest voltage an amplifier can output, or a speaker can input before it gets damaged. 

Maximum power is what the equipment can sustain safely without damage and is typically a more reliable metric than peak power. 

We calculate RMS voltage by measuring the amp’s output voltage at the peak of its sine wave multiplied by the square root of 2. 

For example, a 50 watt per channel amplifier will have approximately 30 volts output on both its positive terminal and negative terminal supply rails. So, to calculate the RMS wattage, we multiply the RMS voltage by the speaker’s impedance. 

However, getting a car amplifier that matches the 4 ohm impedance of your speakers is a more important consideration than RMS wattage.

Let me explain. A channel amplifier with twice the watt amount of the speaker only increases the volume by 3 decibels. Generally, a 3db volume increase is hardly noticeable. 

On the other hand, a power amplifier with good frequency response and signal-to-noise ratio provides better sound quality as it helps to reduce background noise.

Fun Fact: Two things come into mind when dealing with car audio: amps and power ratings. Research on how to set up monoblock amplifiers to get you started. For power ratings, do a 1 ohm vs 4 ohm sound quality check to see what fits with your car amplifiers’ requirements!

Pro Auto Thought: Excellent amps require excellent speakers! Choose what speaker impedance you must have to get the most out of your car amplifier. Read our post here — What Hits Harder 1 Ohm or 4 Ohm? We Punch Out The Details!


Conclusion

So, what’s the difference between 2 channel and 4 channel amps? The amps are generally the same, only that the number of channels corresponds to the number of car speakers you have. 

Whichever one you choose, ensure it is a good quality model, and it matches the impedance rating on your speakers.

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