Comprehensive Guide on Buying the Best 4 Channel Amplifiers

4 channel amps are popular among many car owners. These amplifiers are a good place to start when building a powerful audio system.

There are several advantages of coupling speakers with an appropriate amplifier. First, adding an amplifier to an audio system is the best way to make sure that all your sound drivers are sufficiently powered. Secondly, the installation of an amp helps to avoid speaker under-powering. Thus, potential damage to the speaker and other components of the sound system is avoided. Ultimately, your speakers will give out better quality sound, and their durability is enhanced.

Maybe you bought a new car recently and are currently using factory speakers. The fact that you haven’t upgraded the audio system with aftermarket speakers doesn’t mean that you cannot enjoy better-quality music. Adding a 4 channel amp that matches the operational requirements of your speakers will help the factory speakers’ deliver their best.

Similarly, a fitting 4 channel amplifier in a system with aftermarket speakers will enable the speakers to give you the ultimate listening experience.

We’ve researched widely about various 4 channel amplifier models that have been proven reliable in improving the sound performance of an audio system. The comparison table below gives a quick overview of what we found. Following the table are detailed reviews of each of the ranked 4 channel amps. Toward the end, you’ll find a brief guide on choosing the best 4 channel amplifier.

Comparison Table

4 channel amplifier

Power handling

Our Rating

Price

300W RMS

 600W Peak

180W RMS

 400W Peak

200W RMS

 400W Peak

300W RMS

 600W Peak

500W RMS

 1000W Peak

500W RMS

 1000W Peak

400W RMS

 800W Peak

1600W RMS

 1800W Peak

1. Alpine MRV-F300: Overall best 4 channel amplifier

Top on our list is the MRV-F300, a class D, high-efficiency, CEA-2006 compliant 4 channel amplifier.  This little powerhouse packs enough power (up to 150 watts per channel) to drive your subs crazy. It uses ultra-fast switching technology that takes sound amplification efficiency to as high as 90%.

Features behind Alpine MRV-300’s top-notch performance 

  • Good power for loud bass: If you have a pair of subs that have the potential to give out sweeter bass when well powered, consider Alpine MRV-F300. The amp delivers up to 150 watts to each subwoofer when switched to 2-Ohm mode.
  • Preamp- and speaker-level inputs: The versatility of the MRV-F300 does not stop at its flexibility to be used in 4-ohm and 2-ohm modes. Preamp and speaker-level inputs enable the amplifier to work well in almost all vehicles. Thus, it’s a good choice whether the vehicle is using a factory or an aftermarket radio.
  • Surface-mount component technology (SMT): Finding a great-sounding amplifier that can fit in small spaces is such a joy. The MRV-F300’s smaller size (compared to earlier models) will impress you. Using SMT technology, Alpine has designed this model to a 40% smaller size. You can be sure to easily find a place in your car for the installation of this amp.
  • Thermal protection: Playing any amplifier at its maximum limits may lead to overheating. For some lesser quality amplifiers, overheating means complete shutdown. But for Alpine MRV-F300, the threat of shutdown due to overheating is neutralized by the Enhanced Shutdown Performance technology employed in the amp’s design. This technology cuts power output a bit to allow for some cooling after which it returns the amp to full power operation.
  • Protective end caps: Wiring shorts can occur frequently if there are unwanted tools and coins lying around the amplifier, especially if the amp sits under a car seat. The MRV-F300 comes with end caps that protect it from such circuit shorts.

Pros

  • Compact size that fits in spaces that most class AB amps cannot fit.
  • Well-designed, dark brushed metal chassis housing.
  • +12dB EQ boost for increasing the bass.
  • You won’t experience annoying shutdowns due to overheating.
  • Premium-quality connectors with hex-keyed screws.
  • Beautiful power-on light.

Cons

  • The amp sometimes produces a slight hiss when the gain is turned up.
  • The inward-facing mounting tabs can make installation a bit challenging.

Verdict:

The MRV-F300 is an excellent all-rounded performer that will give your audio system the push it needs for high-quality sound delivery. We highly recommend it if you desire to see your system performing at its best potential.

2. Kenwood 1177524 (KAC-M1824BT): Best 4 channel amplifier for durability

Closely following our today’s top scorer is Kenwood 1177524 (KAC-M1824BT), a compact class D automotive/marine amplifier. This amp will add new impact to your sound system with its unique capabilities, including Bluetooth connectivity. Like many other Kenwood audio pieces, KAC-M1824BT offers excellent value for your money. The features below are enough evidence for this claim.

Unique features of Kenwood 1177524 (KAC-M1824BT)

  • Moisture protection: The KAC-M1824BT uses a conformal coated PCB (printed circuit board). This PCB is made with cutting-edge moisture protection in mind. It keeps moisture and salt out, thus preventing possible damage of the amplifier. In addition, plastic plugs on power and speaker connections ensure that the connections remain highly efficient.
  • Wireless Bluetooth connectivity: This amplifier lets you play audio stored in your smartphone even without a receiver. And, your phone pairs with the amp quickly, allowing you to spruce up the environment while you drive.
  • Remote control of your phone’s music app: You will not need to keep looking at your phone to playing your desired music while driving. The wired remote eases control over the music app in addition to facilitating fast pairing between your phone and the audio system.
  • RCA connections: These connections make the amplifier suitable for use with an aftermarket receiver. All RCA connectors and jacks have removable plastic covers for protection from moisture, salt, and dirt. In case your radio lacks RCA outputs, don’t worry as the amp can handle speaker-level signals.
  • Automatic turn-on: When using speaker-level inputs, you can take advantage of the autosensing option. This option enables the amplifier to turn on automatically when the sensor identifies a music signal. You won’t need to use the remote-on wire in this case.
  • RCA connections: These connections make the amplifier suitable for use with an aftermarket receiver. All RCA connectors and jacks have removable plastic covers for protection from moisture, salt, and dirt. In case your radio lacks RCA outputs, don’t worry as the amp can handle speaker-level signals.
  • Automatic turn-on: When using speaker-level inputs, you can take advantage of the autosensing option. This option enables the amplifier to turn on automatically when the sensor identifies a music signal. You won’t need to use the remote-on wire in this case.

Pros

  • Connects easily to aftermarket receivers, factory/aftermarket stereo, and phone (via Bluetooth).
  • Amp has a USB charging jack, so you can charge your smartphone while the phone is playing music.
  • New technology in a small package.
  • Convenient smartphone remote control.
  • Highly efficient; amp does not pull much DC current to run.

Cons

  • Amp lacks high-and low-filters.

Verdict:

The KAC-M1824BT provides decent power in its miniature box. Although the initial cost of this amp might seem higher than competing models, its superior features and unique flexibility are unmatched.

3. BOSS Audio Systems R1004 – Best budget pick

Are you eager to find a super-affordable, entry-level 4 channel amp for your system?
This amp from Boss Audio Systems is one of the best-selling amps available today. It delivers up to 400 watts to your sound drivers, which is incredible power to fortify the system’s sound reproduction capabilities.

BOSS Audio R1004 highlights

  • Class A/B design and MOSFET power supply: Enjoy awesome sound clarity from this 2-ohm amplifier. Class A/B amplifiers are associated with little noise and the R1004 is no exception. It literally cleans out any noises in the audio delivered by your audio system.
  • Switchable input sensitivity: This full range amp gives you the option of regulating many aspects of the system’s audio delivery. Switchable input sensitivity enables you to adjust the input signal from the head unit. Therefore, you can balance power and sound quality, and avoid sound distortion and clipping.
  • 2-Ohm stable: As a 2-ohm stable amplifier, the R1004 can power speakers or subs more comfortably. Thus, it enables the delivery of louder and more powerful audio when all the four channels of the amp are connected at a 2-Ohm load.
  • Overheating and short circuit protection: In the unusual case that the amp gets too hot, it has an in-built thermo protection circuit. This circuit turns the amp off to allow for cooling down. Further, damage by electrical shorts is avoided by a protection circuit that cuts the amp’s output until the short is resolved. This self-monitoring mechanism gives you peace of mind. You crank up the music knowing that your amp won’t get damaged by avoidable causes.

Pros

  • Full-range capability.
  • Unmatched sound clarity.
  • Convenient sound tweaking features.
  • Elegant finish with illuminated logo.
  • Fantastic price compared to other amplifier brands.

Cons

  • Lacks RCA pass-through jacks.
  • Lower efficiency compared to class D models.

Verdict:

The R1004 by Boss Audio Systems is no doubt quite a steal considering its competitive features and affordable price. We are confident that it is the best 4 channel amplifier under $100.

4. Rockford Fosgate PBR300X4

As part of Rockford Fosgate’s Punch series of amps, the PBR300X4 will indeed add a significant punch to your car audio. Its 300W power handling capacity assures you of sufficient power for your front and rear car speakers. This amp is a sure bet to a wonderful music experience.

Rockford Fosgate PBR300X4 highlights

  • Boosted Rail (BR) amp technology: Rockford Fosgate has used premium-grade capacitors and a high-speed circuitry to design this amp’s power supply. The aim of using BR technology is to boost the amplifier’s power supply voltage. So, the amp can handle musical peaks and facilitate the uninterrupted delivery of powerful sound.
  • MEHSA3 and NOMAD systems for heat management: These two systems are Rockford Fosgate’s proprietary technologies, aimed at keeping overheating at bay. MEHSA3 is a unique heat sync design and NOMAD is a breakthrough system for digital overheating protection. The two systems facilitate efficient and dynamic thermal management.
  • Speaker-level inputs w/ signal-sensing turn-on: Connecting this amp to almost any system is a breeze thanks to the speaker-level inputs. The signal-sensing turn-on allows the amplifier to turn on upon sensing an audio signal. This feature not only saves energy but also allows for quick and hassle-free turning on of the amp.
  • Simple, attractive, and effective design: The overall design of this amp is eye-catching. Black color takes the majority of space but it’s mixed up with red details. In addition, mounting brackets feature polished aluminum material that further spices up the already captivating look of the amp.

Pros

  • Electrical system noise is minimized by differential-balanced inputs.
  • Energy-efficient, ultra-compact design.
  • Suitable for installation in motorcycles.
  • CEA-2006 compliant.
  • Wide frequency response of 20Hz – 20000Hz.

Cons

  • Limited to 4-Ohm application.
  • It’s not the best for systems with big subs.

Verdict:

This compact powerhouse from big player Rockford Fosgate drives clean power to your speakers and subs. The amp’s sound quality can only compare to what larger and more expensive amps give. Also, it is easy to install.

5. Crunch PX1000.4

Regardless of the type of audio system you are currently using, adding this Crunch PX1000.4 amplifier will result in better sound quality. When testing it, we were particularly impressed by its efficiency in using a low-voltage signal to produce non-distorted audio. The amp’s compatibility with RCA and non-RCA systems is also a major reason for its extensive popularity among car audio lovers.

Features of Crunch PX1000.4 4 channel amplifier

  • High power handling: This full-range amplifier is powerful enough to run big front speakers and a sub. For each channel, it gives out 125 watts in 4-Ohm mode and 250 watts in 2-Ohm mode. If you are after bigger bass, you’ll obviously want to use this amp in 2-Ohm mode. Lovers of even bigger bass go a step further and bridge the amp. It delivers 500 watts per pair of bridged channels at 4-Ohm mode.
    High-quality RCA parts: You can hook up the amp to speaker wires from deck (high-level inputs) or to RCA inputs. The RCA inputs are of impressive quality, which explains the little to no sound interference experienced when using the amp with RCA systems. Noteworthy, this amplifier works with both RCA and non-RCA systems.
  • Electronic equalizer: If you are a fan of customized audio delivery, you will love this amp. The EQ gives a formidable level of control over the sound you receive. It allows you to fine tune speaker-bound and sub-bound frequencies, making it easier to achieve the balance you desire in your audio.
    Aluminum heat sink: A little too many amplifiers get hot when pushed to the limits. The PX1000.1 is designed differently. It runs cool thanks to the aluminum heat sink that efficiently pulls out any heat produced by the system. You install this amp with confidence that you will not have to deal with frequent overheating issues.
    Nickel-plated brass terminals for secure connections: Rusted terminals can compromise the efficiency of terminals as well as the quality of connections. For this Crunch PX1000.4 amplifier, this is not a concern as the terminals are made of corrosion-resistant nickel-plated brass.

Pros

  • Impressive sound quality.
  • The amp is 2-Ohm stable.
  • Bridgeable variable input voltage.
  • Easy to install.
  • Affordable price.

Cons

  • Not a good choice for extremely high wattage subwoofers.
  • Complaints about system getting hot after extensive periods of high-power performance.

Verdict:

Crunch PX1000.4 falls in the category of fairly-priced and efficient bridgeable 4 channel amplifiers. Despite its few shortcomings, this amp offers competitive value for the money.

6. Pioneer GM-A6704

Pioneer has introduced a new line of power amps that brilliantly integrate a compact build design with high-power performance. The GM-A6704 is one of these new models, and it comes in a very space-efficient size to allow for installation flexibility. It is a distinguished bridgeable design that promises you unparalleled audio performance.

Features of Pioneer GM-A6704

  • More power, smaller size: The GM-A6704 delivers up to 1000 watts, which is exemplary performance given the reduced size of this new model. This level of power handling places the amplifier among the most powerful 4 channel amps on the market.
  • Automatic signal sensing turn-on: Automatic turn on and automatic selection of input signal are among the advantages of using newer amplifier models. Once the receiver is on, this amplifier automatically senses the input mode, which initiates the turn on process for the amplifier.
  • Variable HPF: The function of the variable high pass filter is to adjust frequency from 40Hz to 500Hz. It provides a lot of flexibility, as you can adjust the amplifier to the capabilities of the entire sound system or your personal preferences.
  • 0 to 12dB bass boost: The GM-A6704 allows you to set bass levels in 3 steps - 0 dB, 6 dB or 12 dB - for optimal bass at any given time. Pioneer knows that different users have different preferences with regard to music styles. The company thus fits a precise control feature for setting the balance and impact of sound frequencies as per your preferences.

Pros

  • 1000 watts max power.
  • Great features for a sonic upgrade.
  • Space-efficient design.
  • Excellent flexibility and functionality of Pioneer's new GM-Series amplifiers.
  • You can kick up the bass through the adjustable bass boost.
  • Automatic signal sensing and turn-on.

Cons

  • Complains about overheating issues.
  • Doesn’t fit well under passenger sit.

Verdict:

Quality features and a very reasonable price tag constitute the best description of Pioneer GM-A6704. It is really an attractive option for anyone looking for the best 4 channel amplifier for a significant sonic upgrade.

7. Planet Audio AC800.4

Standing shoulder high at number 7 is this Planet Audio masterpiece. We noticed that a big number of users like the amplifier’s power and flexibility. We weren’t disappointed when we put it to test. This bridgeable 4 channel amp is part of the Anarchy series that’s known widely for top-class audio amplification.

Mind-blowing performance features of Planet Audio AC800.4

  • High-efficiency class A/B topology: Like all the other Anarchy series amplifiers, the AC800.4 boasts of high efficiency in sound amplification. The use of class A/B topology accounts for this reputation. This topology lets you enjoy class A topology benefits (enormous power output) and class B topology benefits (efficiency and fidelity).
  • Anarchy’s versatility: Planet Audio AC800.4 is a full range amplifier, which means you can use it to run speakers alongside a subwoofer. It’s important to note that this amplifier is bridgeable. The bridged mode is perfect for powering a pair of subs, whereby the AC800.4 provides 400 watts for each subwoofer.
  • Extensive audio control: First, a variable low pass filter is included for adjusting subwoofer-bound frequencies. Secondly, the fixed high pass filter allows the filtering of frequencies headed to full-range speakers. Finally, the variable bass boost allows for the adjustment of bass frequencies to match your system’s capabilities and your preferences.
  • Short protection: It’s not unusual for shorts to occur in high-power sound appliances. Planet Audio has included an automatic shut-off functionality in the design of this amp. Should a short happen, your amplifier will shut off to avoid expensive damage from happening.

Pros

  • Impressive maximum power output of 800 watts.
  • Efficient class A/B design.
  • Superb sound control features including bass boost.
  • 2-Ohm stable, implying powerful and loud sound.
  • Straightforward installation.

Cons

  • There is slight sound distortion at high volumes.
  • Even in bridged mode, the amp cannot handle big subs.

Verdict:

Planet Audio AC800.4 has outstanding features. It has been reviewed extensively as an efficient and reliable amplifier. The amp’s price is also a very attractive attribute.

8. Rockville dB45

Rockville db45 closes our list of 8 best 4 channel speakers on the market today. Rockville claims that this amp can put out up to 3200 watts. We think it’s an excellent option for higher-powered systems since it’s of class AB, and obviously because of its awe-inspiring power handling. The least you can expect from this amp is high efficiency and more powerful sound.

Rockville db45 Highlights

  • Fantastic power handling capacity: Rockville db45 is arguably among the most powerful 4 channel amplifiers we’ve reviewed. The amp’s 1600 watts RMS/3200 watts peak power, and the fact that it can handle frequencies between 10Hz - 50 kHz are indications that it’s here for serious business.
  • High-speed MOSFET power supply: Rockville’s engineers decided to use a MOSFET circuitry to match the amp’s incredible power handling capacity. This circuitry operates effectively in high power applications while reducing the chances of excessive heat production.
    Full IC-controlled protection circuitry: A full IC-controlled circuit provides undeterred protection for the db45. Specifically, this circuit prevents under voltage and overvoltage issues. You are guaranteed powerful music free of distortion and interruptions at all playback levels.
  • 2-Ohm stable: As one of the top amps in the Rockville’s db series, this mighty amp is 2-Ohm stable. For you, this means louder and more powerful sound. The amplifier can handle your speakers and subwoofer more comfortably than an amp that is not 2-Ohm stable. This feature accounts for the high competitiveness of Rockville db45 among other high-ranking amps from famous brands.
  • Other important features: We cannot fail to mention that this amp uses mute and delay soft start technology and a fully-adjustable 12db/Octave crossover w/ differential circuitry. It also comes with a subsonic filter and adjustable EQ. These are praiseworthy features for sound customization. You enjoy high-power operation as well as the freedom to choose the way you listen to your music.

Pros

  • Excellent power handling for an awesome music experience.
  • High-efficiency class AB topology.
  • Protection features are integrated into the design of the amp.
  • Supports music reproduction across a wide frequency spectrum (10 Hz – 50,000 Hz)
  • Suitable for powerful subwoofers

Cons

  • Cannot be installed in small spaces.
  • A slight installation mistake causes it to go into protection mode.

Verdict:

It’s agreeable that Rockville db45 packs excellent features that facilitate the delivery of unparalleled sound quality. If you run a powerful car audio system and have sufficient installation space, this powerhouse will not disappoint you.

Guide to choosing the best 4 channel amplifier

Are you out shopping for a 4 channel amplifier?

It’s critical to come up with a selection methodology that will help you to choose the amplifier that meets all your requirements. Considering the following factors will help to assess different models available:

i. Power handling

Several audio aspects revolve around the power handling of the components of the sound system. Sound volume, power, and clarity are the most affected by the amplifier’s power capacity.

Ensure that the amp you choose can handle at least the same amount of power as the speakers or subwoofers in the system. Also, consider your battery’s output power. The battery should comfortably push enough power to the amplifier to avoid issues such as sound flow interruptions or dimming lights.

Remember to pay keen attention on RMS power as it represents the true power of the amplifier - that is, the amount of power it can handle for extended periods.

ii. Amplifier topology

Manufacturers state the topology of each amplifier model that they make. Many top-of-the-line amps are either class AB or class D.

Class AB amps are highly efficient and produce good-quality sound. Most audiophiles go for class AB amps because of their high fidelity.

Class D amps are even more efficient but tend to have higher noise levels than class AB competitors. Nevertheless, class D amps have become the preferred choice for many because they are smaller, lighter, and less power-intensive. Class D amps also run cooler than other types of amplifiers.

iii. Automatic versus adjustable equalizer

An EQ is a fundamental feature of almost any top-performing 4 channel amp. In some amps, the EQ is automatic while in others it is adjustable.

The main advantage of an adjustable EQ is that it gives you more control over the system. You can regulate the transmission of different frequencies to their respective drivers. With an EQ, tweaking the acoustics of your system the way you like is a breeze.

iv. Input impedance

The Ohm rating you see on the amplifier specifications represents the impedance (electrical resistance) of the amp. So much is said about impedance. We would like to make it clear that this consideration has nothing to do with matching the amplifier with the speakers’ impedance. The issue about amplifier impedance is that you should make sure that the amplifier can take the output ohm load that it is intended to receive.

v. Heat management

Overheating is not an unusual problem for many amplifiers. Consider carefully the heat management features of the amplifier you are evaluating for purchase.

Also, reading customer reviews is immensely helpful in learning the first-hand experiences of real customers with regard to the overheating issue.

Hint:

you can search for terms such as “overheat”, “remains cool”, “overheating protection” on review webpages to see how an amplifier actually handles heat.

Other important factors to consider when shopping for a 4 channel amplifier

  • Size of the amplifier versus the available installation space.
  • Extra features such as Bluetooth connectivity, backlight, and remote control.
  • Bridging – it has its advantages and challenges. If you decide to bridge your amp, make sure you have enough bridging know-how or reliable expert help.
  • Ease of installation – can you do a DIY installation or you’ll need an expert? What’s the extra cost of installation?

With careful consideration of the above factors, there are high chances that your ultimate choice of amplifier will give your sound system the boost it really needs.

Our top pick for the best 4 channel amplifier is Alpine MRV-F300

After considering the crucial aspects of a competitive and reliable amplifier, we chose Alpine MRV-F300 as the #1 4 channel amplifier in 2020.

Alpine evidently uses unique technology to enable the inclusion of cutting-edge sound reproduction features in the design of the MRV-F300. This amp is a highly versatile model that can work in 4-Ohm or 2-Ohm mode, with factory as well as aftermarket receivers. Besides, the amplifier has a compact design that’s perfect for installation in small spaces. It also has an impressive power handling capacity. Many averagely-powered speakers and subs can work with it.

Information from reviews of Alpine MRV-F300 from customers shows that it maintains its cool through long hours of playing loud music. In the few reported cases of overheating, it’s apparent that the amp has top-of-the-class thermal protection capability. This praiseworthy capability is enabled by Alpine’s Enhanced Shutdown Performance technology. For sure, Alpine MRV-F300 is an excellent all-round performer.

Michael Evanchuk
 

Michael Evanchuk is a San Francisco-based sound engineer with 20 years’ experience installing, troubleshooting, and repairing commercial, automotive, and household sound equipment. Evanchuk owns an auto stereo center, where he offers highly competitive car audio installation and repair services. He has written dozens of articles on different sound engineering topics, all of which have been published in leading journals, blogs, and websites. He enjoys swimming and boat riding during his leisure time.

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