Adding a subwoofer to your car is a great way of improving your car stereo system. A sub adds fullness to music. It produces deep, rich notes that any car music enthusiast will appreciate. For a sub to sound great in your car, you need to pair it with the right amp. You need to ensure you get an amp that does not overpower or underpower your sub. So what size amp do I need for a 1200w sub? In this article, we will show you how to choose the right size amp.
Basic Power Concepts
Knowing the right size amp for a 1200w sub requires you to understand the concepts used in determining the power rating of your sub and amp. The most important concepts are impedance and power. Let’s discuss them in detail:
Impedance refers to the resistance of a subwoofer to the electric current passing through it. Impedance is typically measured in ohms. The impedance rating of a subwoofer affects the load on the amp. It determines the load that the amp will sense on the output.
Most subwoofers have an impedance rating of either 2 ohms or 4 ohms. It is important to match the impedance of a subwoofer with that of the amp, especially if you are connecting only one or two subwoofers to the amp. However, matching the impedance is more complicated when connecting more than 2 subs.
An amp is used to feed a subwoofer with sufficient power to reproduce low frequencies. The amount of continuous power that a sub can handle is given in RMS watts. On the other hand, the peak power of a subwoofer is given in watts.
Essentially, you will need to pay attention to the RMS watts rating of the subwoofer when picking an amp for the sub. This is because RMS watts indicate the power handling capacity of the subwoofer over a long and continuous period of time. Peak power is the maximum power a sub can handle in short power bursts.
How do I know what amp I need for my sub?
For your car audio system to output great bass, you must add an amp matching the subwoofer power. This means that the capabilities of the amp should check the specifications of the subwoofer for the two to work properly.
If you want to enjoy the best bass quality, ensure the RMS watt rating of the amp and the sub match. Check the amp’s RMS watts power rating at an impedance of 1 ohm, 2 ohms, and 3 ohms. The total impedance of the subwoofer should match the load impedance of the amplifier.
Which Is The Best Amp For 1200 Watt Subwoofer?
The best amp for a 1200w sub is a Class D amp rated at a minimum of 1200w output power. Also, ensure the impedance matches. For instance, if the subwoofer has an impedance rating of 4 ohms, the amp should also have an impedance rating of 4 ohms. Your aim is to ensure the amp feeds the sub with sufficient power without clipping.
How Do I Choose the Right Size Amp?
Most subwoofers use about 4 to 5 amps of current. Stronger subs require an amp that can handle a current of 10 amps. It also depends on the size of the sub and impedance. Generally, a 1200w subwoofer requires a 10-watt amplifier.
Can an Amp Be Too Powerful For a Subwoofer?
Although a subwoofer needs a lot of power to reproduce bass, you should not feed it with excessive power. An amplifier that is too powerful for a subwoofer will put out more wattage than what the subwoofer can take.
Essentially, subwoofers have a limit on the electric current they can handle when converting it into audio. If the amp outputs more power than the sub can handle, it can cause distortion or clipping. In case an amp is too powerful for a subwoofer, avoid cranking the volume up as you may damage the subwoofer.
What if You Use an Underpowered Amp?
Underpowering your subwoofer can also cause clipping and distortion. The reason is that the amp will struggle to drive the subwoofer. Clipping can result in damage to the subwoofer.
So what size amp do I need for a 1200w sub? Just ensure the amp is of the same power rating or slightly above. You should avoid overpowering or underpowering your subwoofer to avoid distortion, clipping, and eventual damage to the subwoofer.
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.