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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Head unit was already upgraded within a week of purchase and now I'm looking to upgrade my front and rear speakers along with one of those self contained subwoofers for under the front seats (I don't want to give up the rear under seat storage).

Anyways, I stumbled across a number of mini amplifiers: Kenwood KAC-M1804, Apline KTP-445A, and Clarion XC1410. The Clarion is the most powerful of the bunch, putting out 50W RMS while the other 2 are rated at 45W. My head unit is rated at only 22W RMS, so any of these will be an improvement.

Question is - has anyone here installed these in our trucks or had any experience with them? The small form factor really has me wanting one as I'm hoping to install it somewhere in the dash with a powered subwoofer under the passenger seat.
 

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I have seen an few dash installs with the JL Audio MX amps and can say that they get extremely hot. I would be nervous to install those in the dash.

Don't have any experience with the Kenwood/Alpine/Clarion but I would venture to guess they get fairly warm as well. Have you thought about under the seat there is some air flow?

Sent from my Pixel 2 using Tapatalk
 

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I put an Alpine KTP-445A under the steering wheel behind the dash and a Kenwood KSC-SW11 sub under the passenger seat in my KC (stock bluetooth module removed first). No heat issues with the amp and plenty of open space for the airflow and install where I put it.

I'm no audiophile or SQ contestant but it sounds great to me and gets plenty loud while staying clear with good imaging, and both were easy installs. Components in the front would probably improve the overall experience but it's good for now and certainly way better than stock. I could have probably gone without the sub - it fills in a little low-end beyond my door speakers (JBL GX963) but they do pretty well on their own. I don't listen to bass-heavy music so it's fine for me but if you're looking for serious bass I think you'd need to go whole hog on a boxed woofer somewhere more intrusive.

tl:dr - The amp is definitely worth it. For me the sub is a 'take it or leave it' proposition just because I'm not a bass-head and it doesn't dig much deeper than my door speakers - YMMV.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I have seen an few dash installs with the JL Audio MX amps and can say that they get extremely hot. I would be nervous to install those in the dash.

Don't have any experience with the Kenwood/Alpine/Clarion but I would venture to guess they get fairly warm as well. Have you thought about under the seat there is some air flow?

Sent from my Pixel 2 using Tapatalk
Yep, I've considered mounting it under the seat. It all depends on which sub I settle on. The top contender is the Kenwood mentioned below lol

I put an Alpine KTP-445A under the steering wheel behind the dash and a Kenwood KSC-SW11 sub under the passenger seat in my KC (stock bluetooth module removed first). No heat issues with the amp and plenty of open space for the airflow and install where I put it.

I'm no audiophile or SQ contestant but it sounds great to me and gets plenty loud while staying clear with good imaging, and both were easy installs. Components in the front would probably improve the overall experience but it's good for now and certainly way better than stock. I could have probably gone without the sub - it fills in a little low-end beyond my door speakers (JBL GX963) but they do pretty well on their own. I don't listen to bass-heavy music so it's fine for me but if you're looking for serious bass I think you'd need to go whole hog on a boxed woofer somewhere more intrusive.

tl:dr - The amp is definitely worth it. For me the sub is a 'take it or leave it' proposition just because I'm not a bass-head and it doesn't dig much deeper than my door speakers - YMMV.
Wow, this is exactly what I was looking for! Thanks! How well does the sub fit under the seat - plenty of room to spare?

Not looking for serious bass or a crazy sound system. Got that all out of my system during my younger years.
 

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Wow, this is exactly what I was looking for! Thanks! How well does the sub fit under the seat - plenty of room to spare?

Not looking for serious bass or a crazy sound system. Got that all out of my system during my younger years.
In my KC it fits fine, I just made sure to keep the wiring tucked down low so it wouldn't get caught if someone moved the seat up or back. It's a slightly tight squeeze between the top of the sub box and the bottom of the seat but there's a 'sweet spot' where it pretty much rests against the rear floor vents and there's no interference with any moving parts or wires sticking out anywhere, front or back. Any further forward and it would contact the seat bottom for sure but the included velcro holds it in place very well. It's been there over 2 years so far with no problems.

And I can say for sure that the Kicker underseat sub would definitely be too big to fit without mods to the carpet or other stuff under the seat, at least in my KC. Based on the fit of the Kenwood I'd say pretty much anything over .5" bigger in almost any dimension would be questionable without further mods, but again YMMV.

I'll try to grab a couple pics today so you can actually see the fit.

Aaaaaand just remembered...I used a fuse tap to wire the sub instead of running a wire to the battery. There's a fuse for the stock RF sub in the fuse block near the glove box even if you don't have the RF system. Made the install a breeze (well, minus all the wiring behind the dash... :D ).
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
In my KC it fits fine, I just made sure to keep the wiring tucked down low so it wouldn't get caught if someone moved the seat up or back. It's a slightly tight squeeze between the top of the sub box and the bottom of the seat but there's a 'sweet spot' where it pretty much rests against the rear floor vents and there's no interference with any moving parts or wires sticking out anywhere, front or back. Any further forward and it would contact the seat bottom for sure but the included velcro holds it in place very well. It's been there over 2 years so far with no problems.

And I can say for sure that the Kicker underseat sub would definitely be too big to fit without mods to the carpet or other stuff under the seat, at least in my KC. Based on the fit of the Kenwood I'd say pretty much anything over .5" bigger in almost any dimension would be questionable without further mods, but again YMMV.

I'll try to grab a couple pics today so you can actually see the fit.

Aaaaaand just remembered...I used a fuse tap to wire the sub instead of running a wire to the battery. There's a fuse for the stock RF sub in the fuse block near the glove box even if you don't have the RF system. Made the install a breeze (well, minus all the wiring behind the dash... :D ).
Good info! The unused spot in the fuse box will certainly make installation slightly easier. I hate running wires! Looking forward to seeing those pics

BTW, your avatar... I have the shirt :rofl:
::grin::
 

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Ok, not the cleanest install but it works. Don't judge ;)

Pics are:
- View of the seat in normal position showing that you can't see the sub or wiring "subseat"
- View of the front showing the seat crossbar and heater wire that could interfere if the sub was bigger or further forward "subfront" - bar and heater loom accented with red line. Tough to get a good pic there...the sub is a bit hard to see with the lighting and the flash just killed the whole shot.
- View of the rear showing where it sits in relation to the vent, and also accenting the crossbar and heater loom up front with red "subrear"
- View of the seat all the way forward, just for kicks "sub1"
 

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I have experience with 2 of the 3 amps you mentioned:

I'm using a Kenwood KAC-M3004 (here) which is rated at 50w x4 (slightly more powerful than the KAC-M1804) in bridged mode for my rear speakers, and it's been trouble free, doesn't get hot at all (maybe barely warm) and it's mounted under my passenger seat. My brother has the KTP-445A installed behind his glove compartment in his Tacoma and it's also been trouble-free, barely gets warm back there. I have a few suggestions for you:

1. @Mfed 's suggestion under the steering column works for space, there is also enough space in the center console directly below where the head unit is (directly behind where the 4WD switch area is).

2. The KTP-445A is the plug-and-play version of the Alpine PowerPack specifically for Alpine head units... you didn't mention what head unit you had, but if it's not an Alpine then the correct PowerPack to look at would be the KTP-445U (same thing, universal RCA inputs instead of Alpine-specific plug)

3. (Most important suggestion) I noticed you said that you upgraded the head unit already, but not speakers. before you go with an add-on amp, I'd suggest to do the speakers first and see how it sounds; I guarantee you that it'll sound so much better (unless you go cheap on the speakers LOL) and you might be more than happy with the head unit's output. 22w RMS is plenty loud, especially when putting it through quality aftermarket speakers that can handle at least 25w RMS. Compare that to putting 22w into OEM speakers... which are cheap and only rated at 3w. Also, jumping from 22w RMS to 50w RMS isn't that big of a leap and might not be needed... I would maybe say to skip the add-on amp, take the money from that and add it to the main speaker budget to get a higher model front speakers. ::smile::
 

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I have experience with 2 of the 3 amps you mentioned:

I'm using a Kenwood KAC-M3004 (here) which is rated at 50w x4 (slightly more powerful than the KAC-M1804) in bridged mode for my rear speakers, and it's been trouble free, doesn't get hot at all (maybe barely warm) and it's mounted under my passenger seat. My brother has the KTP-445A installed behind his glove compartment in his Tacoma and it's also been trouble-free, barely gets warm back there. I have a few suggestions for you:

1. @Mfed 's suggestion under the steering column works for space, there is also enough space in the center console directly below where the head unit is (directly behind where the 4WD switch area is).

2. The KTP-445A is the plug-and-play version of the Alpine PowerPack specifically for Alpine head units... you didn't mention what head unit you had, but if it's not an Alpine then the correct PowerPack to look at would be the KTP-445U (same thing, universal RCA inputs instead of Alpine-specific plug)

3. (Most important suggestion) I noticed you said that you upgraded the head unit already, but not speakers. before you go with an add-on amp, I'd suggest to do the speakers first and see how it sounds; I guarantee you that it'll sound so much better (unless you go cheap on the speakers LOL) and you might be more than happy with the head unit's output. 22w RMS is plenty loud, especially when putting it through quality aftermarket speakers that can handle at least 25w RMS. Compare that to putting 22w into OEM speakers... which are cheap and only rated at 3w. Also, jumping from 22w RMS to 50w RMS isn't that big of a leap and might not be needed... I would maybe say to skip the add-on amp, take the money from that and add it to the main speaker budget to get a higher model front speakers. ::smile::
All true, especially the amp model number, thanks for catching that. I put the amp under the steering wheel for future access purposes - if you need to pull, adjust, fix, wire, unplug, etc. the amp there's no need to pull the center console, just lay on the floor and reach up. Plus it keeps the big space behind the console a bit more free for other wiring that wouldn't be easy to route elsewhere (speakers, HU, backup cam, steering wheel adapter, lights/switches, relays, etc.). Running the amp wiring directly out of the area just saved a bit of wiring headache in the long run for me. As always YMMV :nerd:
 

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All true, especially the amp model number, thanks for catching that. I put the amp under the steering wheel for future access purposes - if you need to pull, adjust, fix, wire, unplug, etc. the amp there's no need to pull the center console, just lay on the floor and reach up. Plus it keeps the big space behind the console a bit more free for other wiring that wouldn't be easy to route elsewhere (speakers, HU, backup cam, steering wheel adapter, lights/switches, relays, etc.). Running the amp wiring directly out of the area just saved a bit of wiring headache in the long run for me. As always YMMV :nerd:
Considering the only adjustments on the amps are X-over points and gain, they're pretty much "set and forget"... ::grin::
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Mfed - thank you for taking the time to snag those pics and post them up. Super helpful!

I have experience with 2 of the 3 amps you mentioned:

I'm using a Kenwood KAC-M3004 (here) which is rated at 50w x4 (slightly more powerful than the KAC-M1804) in bridged mode for my rear speakers, and it's been trouble free, doesn't get hot at all (maybe barely warm) and it's mounted under my passenger seat. My brother has the KTP-445A installed behind his glove compartment in his Tacoma and it's also been trouble-free, barely gets warm back there. I have a few suggestions for you:

1. @Mfed 's suggestion under the steering column works for space, there is also enough space in the center console directly below where the head unit is (directly behind where the 4WD switch area is).

2. The KTP-445A is the plug-and-play version of the Alpine PowerPack specifically for Alpine head units... you didn't mention what head unit you had, but if it's not an Alpine then the correct PowerPack to look at would be the KTP-445U (same thing, universal RCA inputs instead of Alpine-specific plug)

3. (Most important suggestion) I noticed you said that you upgraded the head unit already, but not speakers. before you go with an add-on amp, I'd suggest to do the speakers first and see how it sounds; I guarantee you that it'll sound so much better (unless you go cheap on the speakers LOL) and you might be more than happy with the head unit's output. 22w RMS is plenty loud, especially when putting it through quality aftermarket speakers that can handle at least 25w RMS. Compare that to putting 22w into OEM speakers... which are cheap and only rated at 3w. Also, jumping from 22w RMS to 50w RMS isn't that big of a leap and might not be needed... I would maybe say to skip the add-on amp, take the money from that and add it to the main speaker budget to get a higher model front speakers. ::smile::
Ah, yea, listed the wrong model # for the Alpine. The U sub-model is what I meant.

I thought about upgrading just the speakers, but figured since I'm going to be tearing apart the door panels and wiring in crossovers, I might as well go all out the first time! In my old car, I ran components off the headunit for a while, but noticed a drastic change in sound quality / volume after installing a dedicated 2 channel amp.

BTW - while my head unit is rated at 22W, Pioneer also lists a separate CEA2006 rating at 14W. I'm guessing the CEA2006 rating might be more accurate or more stringent?
 

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Ah, yea, listed the wrong model # for the Alpine. The U sub-model is what I meant.

I thought about upgrading just the speakers, but figured since I'm going to be tearing apart the door panels and wiring in crossovers, I might as well go all out the first time! In my old car, I ran components off the headunit for a while, but noticed a drastic change in sound quality / volume after installing a dedicated 2 channel amp.

BTW - while my head unit is rated at 22W, Pioneer also lists a separate CEA2006 rating at 14W. I'm guessing the CEA2006 rating might be more accurate or more stringent?
RE: CEA2006 - this is just a numerical method to compare one specification: the power outputs of two amp. However, that doesn't necessarily translate into a real world comparison; It's like trying to compare vehicles simply by their engine horsepower rating. For example, engine A puts out 100hp, engine B puts out 400hp... but what if the 100hp engine is in a go-kart and the 400hp engine is in a 5-ton dump truck? Who would be faster?

That said, in your first post you said your HU was upgraded, and you were upgrading your speakers too... these two steps alone will give you louder, better quality sound. If you add an amplifier to these, the amplifier itself does not add to the sound quality at all, it will just make the sound you're already getting (whether it's good quality or bad quality) louder.

So if you go with the full upgrade (speakers and one of those amps) that's fine, it's definitely an upgrade over the OEM stuff. I just recommended holding off on those amps you listed because going from your head unit's 22w output to a small amp's 50w output (just using the numbers from before to keep it simple) might on paper be double the power, but in reality it does not mean that you will get double the sound output. But if you put that $120ish you were going to spend on those smaller amps towards higher-spec component front speakers, I guarantee the sound quality will be better, and if you decide later you want more volume you can probably go with a higner-wattage amp that will really make a difference (i.e. 100w/ch) ::smile::
 

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I have a Kenwood KAC-1824BT in my 2006 KC. It's 45 RMS x 4. It's small enough I used velcro to mount it in the dash right beneath the AC controls. People looking at the truck wouldn't have any idea. It's get my Sony components and rear speakers loud enough for me. Also I just finished up installing my dual 10 shallow Rockford Fosgate subs and amplifier. Sounds great now. BTW I left out the Kenwood Bluetooth controller since my head unit has Bluetooth built in already.

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IIRC, doubling the watts yields a 3 db increase in potential volume. Similar to what raine said, it is more about the quality of the amp than the total watts since the signal from a quality headunit is what is being amplified.
 

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IIRC, doubling the watts yields a 3 db increase in potential volume. Similar to what raine said, it is more about the quality of the amp than the total watts since the signal from a quality headunit is what is being amplified.
Correct - by the numbers, doubling the power (watts) generally yields a 3dB increase in sound level... but that doesn't mean double the actual sound output. This is kind of what I've been trying to explain to the OP:

The truth is, you won't hear a 3 dB difference with your ears. In other words, installing that 50-watt/ch. amp won't sound any different than if the OP ran the speakers off the head unit's 22-watts/ch. In reality (and this has been scientifically tested multiple times already), it takes an increase of at least 5-6dB for you to even notice that the volume changed, and it takes an increase of at least 10-12dB before it sounds like "double" the actual output.

That said, dB increase is exponential. It basically comes down to this:

+3 dB requires TWO times the power = why bother, you won't hear a difference in sound level at all
+6 dB requires FOUR times the power = it's not double the sound, but you'll notice the volume changed
10-dB requires TEN times the power = your ears will hear "double" the sound level

So yeah... going back to what I said before, if I were you I'd save the 50x4 amp money, because you won't even hear a difference in volume. Put that money towards better front speakers and you will get better quality - something you can definitely hear, regardless of power output.
 

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The Clarion is the most powerful of the bunch, putting out 50W RMS while the other 2 are rated at 45W. My head unit is rated at only 22W RMS, so any of these will be an improvement.
As raine pointed out, 50 watts is only around 3 dB louder than 22 watts - Barely noticeable.

Mini amps are fine for an OEM head unit that might be only capable of cranking out an honest 5 watts or so on its own - But using them with a decent aftermarket unit is kind of pointless.
 

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Not trying to be smart, but I have to ask. If a 3dB increase makes no difference in volume that you can hear, then what am I getting when I increase my deck volume just one single click of the knob on my head unit? Going from, say, level 16 to 17? I can hear that difference, and I know that did not double the power. Even if it had, it's still just 3dB. But no matter what, I can hear the volume change on every click of the knob, up or down.

Also, there are bench test videos online showing the Kenwood KAC-M3004 testing well beyond what it is rated at, as much as 3-4 times as much. Yes, nearly 200 watts per channel.

Also, I can personally vouch for 50 rms watts making a serious difference compared to deck power. In 2007, I had a single cab Chevy 1500 truck that I installed the following in: a 1999 model Pioneer deck, a new pair of Polk DB650 6.5 speakers in the doors, a single 8" sub in a custom box I built, and a Phoenix Gold 4 channel, 50 rms per channel amp, to run it all. Had rear 4x6 speakers also, but on deck power only, just for rear fill.

Anyway, this was my first experience with an amp running mids and highs. The volume could get way loud, but that wasn't even the point for me. I listen at low to mid volume, and here I was able to hear details in the music that the deck alone just could not do before. I know because I'd had the deck for 8 years already at the time, and had several sets of speakers with it throughout that time, up until the amp and new speakers went in. The sound was very different afterwards. I ran that setup for about 5 years, listening to all my music I'd heard already for years before on just deck power. You might think the improvement has to do with the new speakers. Well, I got to find that out, because later I used that truck as just a work truck, from 2012 to 2014. I sold the amp and sub and just hooked all 4 speakers to the deck, and this was how I listened to it for about 2 years. Besides a loss of bass from the lack of a sub, the music sounded far less detailed than it had before. Just a watered down version of what it had been. I can't explain it, but 50 rms watts will make a serious difference in clarity, and even just being able to hear subtle things in the music at all. It's not all about volume, even though the science behind it says it is (increased power = increased dB). Besides so much greater clarity, you may hear other things as well. One example I love telling about was at the end of one song on an album I had by Dust For Life, the band finished playing and I was able to hear a voice just speaking after the music stopped. I paused it and really cranked the volume and I could hear someone off mic say "that was f---king awesome". After I sold the amp I could not hear things like that anymore, even knowing which song it was on and turning deck volume way up. It just wasn't there.

Now, all that said, that was a different truck with different acoustics from my Frontier now. I dont have an amp currently, just a new Kenwood deck with an amazing EQ that is worlds better than the old Pioneer, which was 14 years old when I finally sold the truck. I also have all new Pioneer TS-A series 4-way speakers in my Frontier (install posted here in another thread). With new speakers on deck power only, but tons of sound shaping options, I have very good sound, with detailed music approaching what I described above. So an amp is not necessary.......but I can only imagine how good it would be to have that too. I probably can't hear the off mic comments made in the recording studio without an amp, but that's ok. It just showed me what an amp can do vs. a deck alone. The clarity and depth of music is what I'm after, and the EQ, bass boost, Loudness, and a host of other settings has really changed the game, making an amp much less needed. As for bass, the front door 6x9's are fairly bassy, much more than just 6.5's are (as were in the Chevy), so even a sub is not needed. Just depends on your desires.
 

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Not trying to prove a point here:

The theoretical doubling of the watts to achieve an additional 3 db of volume takes on more/less significance when realizing that 50W -> 100W, then 100W -> 200W, then 200W -> 400W, then 400 -> 800, then 800 ->1600. So, going from 50W to 1600W only achieves a theoretical 15 db of volume. This takes a fair amount of money and amps. Inject w/ ego and bleeding eardrums...and there you go.

The journey from 1.5w to ~50W ALSO yields an additional 15 db, too.

Having reserve power means that one's system is not having to work very hard while delivering a cleaner, more detailed sound...especially at lower listening levels. SQ begins w/ a clean signal from a decent headunit, amplified by a quality LOW DISTORTION amp and played through detail-oriented/hi-fidelity speakers. Some like sharper/brighter highs and will prefer a metallic tweeter. Some like soft-dome/silk tweeters that generally result in less listening fatigue...especially at higher volumes.
YMMV
 

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Not trying to be smart, but I have to ask. If a 3dB increase makes no difference in volume that you can hear, then what am I getting when I increase my deck volume just one single click of the knob on my head unit? Going from, say, level 16 to 17? I can hear that difference, and I know that did not double the power. Even if it had, it's still just 3dB. But no matter what, I can hear the volume change on every click of the knob, up or down.
That's because you're sitting there, and you're already hearing the sound in real time at a certain volume level, and you know you're moving the volume knob 1 click up, and you're listening for a volume level change - which you'll hear. But if you had your volume set to say "20" on your drive to work, then while you were gone someone moved the knob to "21", when you get back into your car and listen on your way home you won't even notice the volume level was different from that morning.

BTW head units have improved drastically from 1999 Pioneers ::laugh:: I had a few Pioneers back in the late 90's myself

Also, there are bench test videos online showing the Kenwood KAC-M3004 testing well beyond what it is rated at, as much as 3-4 times as much. Yes, nearly 200 watts per channel.
That's part of the reason why I went with the M3004 for my rear speakers ::smile::


Not trying to prove a point here:

The theoretical doubling of the watts to achieve an additional 3 db of volume takes on more/less significance when realizing that 50W -> 100W, then 100W -> 200W, then 200W -> 400W, then 400 -> 800, then 800 ->1600. So, going from 50W to 1600W only achieves a theoretical 15 db of volume. This takes a fair amount of money and amps. Inject w/ ego and bleeding eardrums...and there you go.

The journey from 1.5w to ~50W ALSO yields an additional 15 db, too.

Having reserve power means that one's system is not having to work very hard while delivering a cleaner, more detailed sound...especially at lower listening levels. SQ begins w/ a clean signal from a decent headunit, amplified by a quality LOW DISTORTION amp and played through detail-oriented/hi-fidelity speakers. Some like sharper/brighter highs and will prefer a metallic tweeter. Some like soft-dome/silk tweeters that generally result in less listening fatigue...especially at higher volumes.
YMMV
Wait, that's not how it works... dB increase is logarithmic (I mistakingly said exponential" earlier). The first +3 dB increase requires 2x power, but the next + 3dB increase requires 4x, etc etc:

Start at 50-watts
+3 dB requires 2x power = 100-watts
+6 dB requires 4x power = 200-watts
+10 dB requires 10x power = 500-watts
+20 dB requires 100x power = 5000-watts

What you said about having "reserve power" I agree with 100%. It's better to run a 50-watt amp at 50% output than a 25-watt amp at 100%.

After re-reading this thread, I think some people might be taking the actual numbers too literal, and interchanging "sound output" (watts of power) with "sound quality" (what it sounds like in real-world) which is two totally different subjects. Numbers are nice to have, but in the end the quality of sound is what makes it an improvement or not. Unfortunately, most people who upgrade their audio will believe that there was an improvement because of two common reasons:

A. They increased component quality and power output by upgrading components. Their ears hear louder sound so it must be "better"
B. They spent money and time to get said components installed, so it has to be an improvement (the "butt dyno" effect)

But I've listened to 3000-watt quad-12" subwoofer front/rear component car audio systems, and I've listened to an incredibly simple 2-way component up front running off a Class-AB 25wx4 amp, with the rear bridged to 50w running a single 8" sub. The first setup was really loud - I mean REALLY LOUD - but sounded like crap on the sidewalk in summer. The second setup I couldn't believe I was listening to a system that had only 100-watts and 3 channels.

So yeah - I was simply making a recommendation to the OP that maybe they should consider an alternate system setup with HU + better speakers first, as opposed to HU + small amp + good speakers, because today's HU's are very capable of producing really good sound IF you give them the right speakers to do it. I always recommend budgeting the upgrade cash more towards better speakers than squeezing in a small amp because in the end that's what you're listening to - that's the component that what will produce the sound that your ears hear. A really good speaker with just 5-watts will sound a lot better than a really bad speaker with 50-watts. Also, if you start with better speakers and you get great sound but it's just not loud enough (again, power vs quality) you can always add amplification later, knowing that you're amplifying quality. ::wink::

Good discussion gentlemen ::grin::
 
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