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How do you choose the best amp under 500 for your car? Can you install the best guitar amp under 500 in your vehicle too? What about getting the best bass amp under 500? With all that inside your car, will you still have enough space in your rolling rig?
Cars and rock and roll are two inseparable things. Where one goes, the other is sure to follow. And we’re talking about rock and roll in the loosest manner possible. You see, everything you hear today stems from good old rock and roll, no matter what name it goes under.
We’ve already covered this topic before. But, we focused on Class D mono block amplifiers. If you read our section on how to choose the best mono block amplifier, we specifically put the price as the last factor to consider. This time, we will focus on the price point because we’re looking for the best amp under 500.
And not only that, we’ll throw in the best guitar amp under 500 as a bonus!
Oh wait, we’ve also included the best bass amp under 500 to complete the entire musical experience.
What you’re going to end up with is a car that can deal out the decibels and a rolling practice space for your favorite instrument, so you’ll never miss that moment when a musical inspiration hits you.
Alright, let’s get started!
First, Let’s Go Through The Basics: Before You Buy A Car Amplifier
Let’s remove the price from this list because we already have a clear goal: we’re looking for the best amp under 500 for your car. So, we already know that none of these amps will go beyond that price point.
So, we’ll focus on other aspects of the car amplifier that will help you choose the best car amplifier for your ride.
How Many Channels Are You Planning To Get?
What you intend to do with your car’s sound system is highly dependent on the number of channels on the car amplifier you plan to buy. Amplifiers have anywhere between 1 to 5 channels, with the odd 6- and 8-channel variant seen now and then.
If you’re planning on just using your stock speakers in your car, a single or dual-channel amplifier will do the job. If you’re planning on adding more speakers, get the 3- or 4-channel variety. The best one to get is a 5-channel amplifier because you have a dedicated slot for powering a subwoofer.
Here’s a short breakdown of what amplifiers with a certain number of channels can do:
Mono Or Single Channel Car Amplifiers
We’ve covered this bunch in another article, but as a recap, these are also known as Class D amplifiers. You can use these car amplifiers to power your speaker or a single subwoofer. You basically only have an on and off switch with this device, and it will provide you with the music to keep you entertained. Simple.
Dual Or 2-Channel Car Amplifiers
This amplifier can provide power to two speakers at the same time. It can also be used to power a subwoofer easily. The small size allows you to mount it just about anywhere without needing too much to hide it or keep it out of sight.
3-Channel Car Amplifiers
This opens up more customization potential because you can use two types of circuitry to customize your sound system. With a 3-channel amplifier, you’ll be able to do more than with a single or dual channel car amplifier.
4-Channel Car Amplifiers
If you want to make an impression but don’t have that much budget, a 4-channel car amplifier will do the trick. You can power full speakers with this and produce a decent sound without breaking the bank. This is what customizers without deep pockets use before upgrading to a 5-channel amplifier.
5-Channel Car Amplifiers
As mentioned above, this is an improvement over the 4-channel amplifier. What you basically have with a 5-channel amplifier is a 4-channel car amp with an extra channel devoted to powering a subwoofer. In this manner, you’ll get all the highs and lows needed to enjoy the musical experience.
6- And 8-Channel Car Amplifiers
These have a bigger chassis and are therefore better installed in larger vehicles. The best thing about having more channels is that you’ll increase the practical usability of your car amplifier. At this rate, having more isn’t necessary. Frankly, a 5-channel car amplifier is more than enough. But, if you have the space and the budget, then go for it!
How Easy Is It To Install?
You want this part to be as easy as possible. Most car amplifiers are plug and play these days, so that’s one less thing to worry about. You should also check if it has mounting brackets included in the package and if you’ll need to drill to install them. The bottom line: the easier it is to install, the more value it holds for your budget.
Your car amplifier is going to come with a basic wiring kit. You can choose to use it or buy aftermarket wiring kits for better power delivery. You’ll also get additional fuses and a longer length as desired if you do this.
Don’t bolt it directly to your car’s chassis. The excess vibration is going to damage your car amplifier in the long run. Last but not least, don’t mount it upside down. This is going to prevent proper cooling to your fins and cause your car amplifier to overheat. Make sure there is proper ventilation to protect your audio investment.
How Much Power Can It Deliver?
A basic understanding of how an amplifier and a speaker work with each other is important. You’ll find power schematics or diagram inside the box when you first get your car amplifier. Following the instructions stated, there should be more than enough to give you a crash course into basic sound system work.
Two things you have to consider at this point are max peak and RMS power.
- Max peak is the total wattage your speaker can handle in short bursts.
- RMS is how much power and frequent wattage your amplifier can handle.
On the surface, here’s how it works: without enough power through your amp, you won’t get the sound you’re looking for in your speakers. Make sure everything is compatible before buying all the components, and always take the time to read the manual before doing anything else.
Here Are The Best Car Amplifiers Under $500 In The Market Today
We’ve scoured through a long list of amps. We narrowed it down to two dozen before cutting that list in half. After eliminating the duds, we’ve come up with this very short list of the best amp under 500 with five of the top examples.
Our main factor for choosing these candidates began with price consideration. None of these amps go over the $500 price point. After that, versatility and sound quality before moving on to ease of installation and other practical features.
As always, we advise you to use this list as a basic guide. After that, you should still do a little research to find out which one is truly best for you and your car. Only when you’ve considered all of the pros and cons should you make a final decision
The auto world owes Jim Fosgate a lot. Without his invention, we’d all be sitting in traffic, twiddling our thumbs with nothing enjoyable to listen to. These amplifiers can be found in conventional cars, RVs, and off-road vehicles, so there’s never any place too remote to enjoy a little bit of good music.
Ok, maybe that’s a bit unfair to all the car radios that already exist out there, but still, a car amplifier makes the auditory experience a better one, right?
Take, for example, the RockFord Fosgate Prime R2-750X1. This is a full-range class D mono block amplifier that can easily handle 750 watts of RMS power. That makes it a more efficient amp to get for your car since you won’t need too much power to get it going.
Another reason why you should get this amplifier is because of its C.L.E.A.N. (Calibrated Level Eliminates Audible Noise) circuitry, which helps you adjust the gain settings to get that “sweet spot”. If that’s not enough, there’s an on-board variable punch EQ to remove excess acoustic deficiencies.
For uninterrupted power supply, there’s the aptly named P.O.W.E.R. system that adjusts demands based on voltage increases during operation of the device.
All in all, this is an amplifier jam-packed with features making it one, if not the best, amp under 500 to get with a limited budget.
- The R2-750X1 full-range class-D mono amplifier (1.9" x 6.8" x 10.1") is packed with features and...
- Class D technology makes this amp extremely efficient by reducing demand on the vehicles electrical...
- Featuring C.L.E.A.N. circuitry to help you adjust your gain settings, a P.O.W.E.R. Supply that...
- Designed for subwoofers, a variable infrasonic filter and remote level control allows you to tune...
- Famous Rockford Fosgate build quality with a full 1-year warranty when purchased from an authorized...
Kenwood is another trusted name in the amplifier business, churning out high-quality products after another to address the needs of audiophiles the whole world over.
The Kenwood KAC-9106D is one of the best products this company has ever produced to the delight of car audio enthusiasts looking to get the best amp under 500.
This is a 2000 W mono block amplifier rated to handle 500 W RMS at 4 ohms. It can also operate at 1000 W RMS at 2 ohms, although this is not sustainable for lengthy periods of time. There’s a variable low-pass filter with a 50 to 200 hertz at 24 decibels per octave. For bass boost, there’s a 0-15 decibel at 40 hertz range.
Although this amplifier can push past 2000 watts, this isn’t sustainable as well.
Sound wise, this 4 channel amplifier can reproduce the tonal qualities of recordings as faithfully as the rest of the best amplifiers in this list. Sadly, there are amplifiers with better sonic qualities and capabilities over the Kenwood KAC-9106D.
Overall, this is a powerful amplifier with a small footprint and an impressive array of circuitry inside. Is this the best amp under 500? If you consider what it is rated to do and what it can actually do, then yes. But given that it is still considered as an entry-level car amplifier, you might be better off setting your sights on another car amplifier in this list.
- Mono subwoofer amplifier
- 500 watts RMS x 1 at 4 ohms (1, 000 watts x 1 at 2 ohms)
- Class D amp design
- Speaker-level inputs with signal Sensing turn-on
- Variable low-pass filter (50-200 Hz at 24 dB per octave)
Yet another notable company in this list of high-quality car audio equipment, Alpine, makes it to the third of our list as one of the best amps to get under $500. Sadly, this is also one of the more expensive examples that have made it to this list. That price tag is totally justified, though with what this high-quality car amplifier can do.
The Alpine PDX V-9 is rated for 1600 watts and has 5 channels. Each of those four channels has a 100 watt RMS, while the fifth one has 500 watts RMS for powering a subwoofer. That gives it plenty of power to deliver amazing sound quality out of your speakers and subwoofer.
Mounting and connecting the Alpine PDX-V9 with your current system is easy. All the connections are on one side, and there are quick-release plugs to make installation and removal a snap.
The Alpine PDX-V9 is extremely well-built, looks nice, is compact, and has high-quality components inside. Is it the best amp under 500? With what you get for your money, I’d say every cent is well-spent on this car amplifier.
The Planet Audio AC1500.1M shows up again as one of our top amplifier choices. Since we’re looking for the best amp under 500, this definitely fits the bill. Although it is a budget-friendly amp, it doesn’t disappoint in the features department.
If all you’re looking for is an amp that does the job and fits your budget, this is definitely the best amp to get under 500.
- power: max power output of 1500 watts at 2 ohms into one channel. maximum power output of 750 watts...
- high level inputs: speaker level inputs are commonly referred to as high-level inputs. this input...
- low level inputs: line level inputs, also known as rca inputs or low-level inputs, use rca...
- low-pass crossover: a low-pass filter is an electronic circuit that removes all the notes below the...
- variable bass boost: variable bass boost allows you to adjust the low bass within the boost range to...
Can an off-road vehicle have a decent sound system for blasting out beats while traversing through rough terrain? Will you risk running your sound system through a gauntlet of mud, water, salt, and other harsh elements that normal audio equipment are sheltered from?
Well, you’ll need one that’s durable, weatherproof, waterproof, and can withstand a lot of abuse and still churn out tunes on demand. This amp is built with stainless steel hardware and can fit in any space you allocate inside your vehicle with ease.
That’s what the JBL MA6002 2-Channel Full-Range Marine Amplifier can do. Although designed for boats, you can install this amplifier into your Jeep, SUV, or truck without any problems. All you need to do is make sure all connections are secure and properly weatherproofed.
The only downside to this amplifier is that it may not be as loud as you would expect from a car amplifier. It still does the job, though. It is loud enough to drown out your engine noise. You get a 145-watt amplifier with a peak power handling of 160 watts.
If you’re just looking for some music while mudding, bogging, or driving through snow, this is the one to get. If you’re looking for the best amp under 500 that can withstand a lot of brutal abuse, you’ve definitely found the right amp.
And Now For The Best Portable Guitar Amplifiers Under $500
As promised, we’ve included a few guitar amps into the mix. These guitar amps are small and durable enough to gig with. Although primarily designed as practice amps, you can hook these tiny terrors to a full-size cab and rock a larger venue.
VOX is a trusted name in the amplifier industry. Most rock legends owe their success to these amps. So when the VOX Mini3 G2 Battery Powered modeling amp came out, guess who the first ones were in line? Yep! You guessed it, guitarists from all walks of life.
Despite its tiny size, this amp is loud! If you’re planning on busking or playing in a small room, then you have a reliable amp that will produce the sound needed to entertain a small crowd.
With this amp, you don’t have to rely on battery power alone. You can use the included AC adaptor instead of the 6 AA batteries to extend the 10 hours rated length of operation to get more enjoyment out of this amp.
For more fun, there are onboard effects you can use with this amp. There are modulation effects, including a flanger, tremolo, delay, chorus, and reverb. There’s also a compressor to tighten up your sound. You can also raise the distortion level by changing the gain position for a rockin’ good time.
And if you’re feeling lonely, you can jam along to tracks on your phone or MP3 player by hooking the device up to the amp’s AUX input jack and jam along with your favorite artists.
- Dual power options; use the included AC adaptor, or six AA batteries for up to 10 hours enjoyment...
- Eleven amp models range from high-gain to pristine clean types, supporting a variety of instruments
- The proprietary VOX "Bassilator" circuit delivers a heavy sound with ultra-low frequencies
- Enhanced quality effects such as: compressor, chorus, flanger, tremolo, delay and reverb
- AUX input jack - connect your MP3 player or other audio source and jam along
It’s hard to miss the Pignose 7-100 Legendary portable amp. It has an iconic look that has made it a favorite for gigging musicians worldwide. The small size lets you plug in and practice anywhere you want, and any time the mood hits you.
You can use 6 AA batteries to power this amp or use a 9 volt AC adaptor to extend your playing time. The 5” speaker is loud enough to give you satisfaction at close range for those practice moments backstage. There’s also a line out for hooking up with an external power amp or recording console.
You can also use the Pignose for live performances. All you have to do is plug your guitar into the Pignose and then plug the line out jack into the console or another amplifier to get the tonal qualities of this little monster out.
If you’re planning to bring this along, you’ll be glad that it is light enough for comfort. At only 5 pounds, you’ll barely notice the added weight when you sling it on your back. It is also built for rugged use with its tough covering and metal corner protectors.
The Pignose is also just loud enough without being obnoxious.
So looks, history, performance, and portability – this just might be the best guitar amp under 500 to get. And come on, who can resist that cute little pig snout look on this tiny thing?
- Power output: 5 watts
- Speaker: 5"
- Batteries: Runs on 6 AA batteries
- AC Operation: Yes, with optional AC adapter (not included)
- Dimensions: 6-1/4" x 5" x 9-1/2"
All musicians know that constant practice makes perfect. That can be difficult to do if you have to lug a large amp around along with your guitar and pedalboard. You’ll just end up tired, sore, and unmotivated.
So solve that problem with a portable amp that you can take with you wherever you go and play whenever the mood strikes you. How does an amp that weighs the same as a laptop sound to you?
Well then, my friend, you might want to consider getting the Orange Crush Mini as part of your traveling gig case.
In terms of classic looks and performance, the Orange Crush Mini doesn’t disappoint. Sound doesn’t disappoint as well. There’s enough power in this amp to entertain a small crowd in a small room or a busy street without sounding too obnoxious. There’s also a line out for connecting to an external cabinet if you want to go even louder. For privacy, you can use a headphone jack.
This highly portable guitar amp runs on a single 9 volt battery. And if that runs out of juice, you can always plug in to a socket and keep on playing.
There’s a simple control panel for shaping your tone, adjusting the gain, and raising or lowering the volume. This gives you a lot of versatility in terms of sound as you can play this clean or with a little dirt thrown in.
The Orange Crush definitely crushes the competition in terms of sound, portability, and versatility!
- 3-watt battery powered amp for Orange tone on the go!
- Versatile, simple controls
- Speaker output
- Aux-in, headphone jack
- Power supply not included
Finally, Here Is The Best Portable Bass Amplifier Under $500
And lest you’ve been led to believe that we’ve forgotten about all the bass players with cool cars, here’s a bass amp that will provide the bottom end for a rockin’ good time. After scouring guitar shops, magazines and the internet, we’ve come to the conclusion that the BlackStar Fly 3 Bass is the one amp bassists need.
As a bonus, this is definitely the best bass amp under 500 that you can bring along and jam with.
Can you really produce a satisfying bass sound with a 3 inch speaker? It seems like you can with the BlackStar Fly 3 Bass! But is it really the best bass amp under 500?
Let’s take a look at what it has to offer. This bass amp has a 3-inch speaker with 3 watts. You can select a clean or overdriven channel depending on your mood. Be careful though, cranking it up past the 12 o’clock position will give you a bit of an overdrive even if you selected the clean setting.
There’s an on-board compressor that helps tighten the sound up when you play through it and a line-in for MP3 players or phones so you can jam along to your favorite tunes. As an added bonus, there’s a line-out for headphones or for connecting to a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).
This best bass amp under 500 weighs a measly 1.76 pounds and can be powered by 6 AA batteries. Don’t expect to be heard above the din with this amp. The only way to hear yourself is if you shut the doors and jam inside your car. The sound coming from this amp in an enclosed space is more than enough to fill it.
Well, if you consider its tiny size and what it’s capable of doing, this is definitely the best bass amp under 500. Just make sure you work within its limitations, and everything should be fine.
- 3 Watts; Clean and Overdrive channels; 3" speaker
- On-board Compressor; Patented ISF (Infinite Shape Feature)
- MP3/Line In for jamming along or listening to music
- Emulated Line Out for 'silent' practice or recording
Getting the best amp under 500 is easy if you know what to look for and how to spot excellent deals. Before buying one, check for compatibility and determine if they address your basic needs. Last but not least, make sure it fits your budget and save up until it’s time to upgrade your system again.
Oh, and just to be on the safe side, get the best battery for your car so you won’t be left wanting for more power once the bass drops.
I Have An Old Car. Can I Install A Modern Sound System In It?
Yes. One good thing about car amplifiers is that it doesn’t matter what car you install them in. As long as you mount it properly, it will work. You will have to install speakers and subwoofers if your old car doesn’t have it, though. And another thing, you will have to wire the entire thing up. So, if you have an old car, go ahead and make it rock with the best amp under 500 that you can find.
Where Else Can I Install My Car Amplifier?
If it’s a vehicle with a battery, you can install a car amplifier in it. The beauty of sound systems is that it doesn’t discriminate. You can have a regular car, a luxury car, a sports car, an RV, an SUV, or a minivan, and a rockin sound system will feel right at home in it. You can even install the best amp under 500 onto your truck’s bed if you want to. When it comes to installing sound systems, your imagination is the only limit.
Can I Hook My Dash Cam System To My Car Amplifier?
Yes. There are integrated dash cam systems that hook up to a car’s audio system, but this will require complicated wiring to make it seamless. You can buy an entire kit or hire a professional to do this for you because extensive work will need to be done to get everything working properly.