If you’re wanting to power an entire system from one amplifier, then you’re on the right track! Today’s car audio amps have come a long way and new technology will allow you to do it with a smaller size and easier installation than ever before possible. But which is the best 5 channel amplifier? I’ll explain more and show several of the best below.
Want to get right to the best amps? You can click here to skip the guide and jump to the list.
Ultimately the best 5 channel amplifier for you comes down to several factors:
- Your budget
- The power you require for your installation
- Features you may or may not want
- Getting the best value and quality you can for your money
- Installation space limitations
I’ve installed so many amplifiers over the years that I’ve lost count, but I’ve always regarded 5-channel amps as a cool and unique way to build a multi-channel car audio system. The selection list of 5-channel amps used to be very limited, but not anymore – there are some very amazing and compact models to choose from today.
Pick up one of the best 5-channel amps today and power your entire car audio system using a small, sweet-sounding amp that fits under your cat seat!
5 channel amplifier basics
Technology has changed for the better in the car audio world over the last several years and the last 5 or so have been especially great. You’re able to get even more amplifier in an even smaller package than ever before possible. Not only that, but some of the best amps aren’t restricted to mediocre brands like they used to be. You’re now able to get 50% better quality for the same price as amps I’ve seen on the market in the past.
Car amp technologies
For the most part, modern car amps are made up of 1 or 2 basic design styles. These styles dictate how they operate and produce boosted output signals that drive your speakers. Nowadays, amps are categorized into several classes – meaning they have slightly different design operation internally. For each class, or design, they have both pros and cons to consider when buying.
Class A/B is a type of amplifier technology that has been around for many decades and is a combination of class A and class B. Classes A and B basically differ in how efficient they are and the sound quality they produce.
Class A is currently the best possible sound quality reproduction while being the least efficient (somewhere around 20% efficient, meaning 80% of electrical current is wasted as heat) and with B being the opposite. A/B is a combination of the two and offers a good compromise between sound quality and efficiency (say 65% and below, depending on the design).
For many years, car amps were based on these two classes. However, many car audio companies have switched to class D (although there are still some products that purely use A or B technology for a lower cost) nowadays – car amp technology has finally advanced!
Class D amplifiers are far more efficient and generate far less heat. In this type of design an extremely high-speed switching frequency is used to switch the power-delivering transistors on and off rapidly when an audio signal is input and used to produce an amplifier output signal to drive speakers. This means that since the amp is turned off a significant amount of time the actual power consumed (and the power wasted) is reduced significantly.
The production of lighter, smaller, and highly efficient (90% efficiency is possible) amps is made possible thanks to the emergence of this new technology. Prices also go down since manufacturers no longer need to use costly aluminum heatsinks for production (except for high-powered models) as Class D amps run much cooler than older amplifiers.
However, as with everything else, there’s a drawback: the sound quality may not be on par with A/B amps with the exception of intelligently engineered amps made by the best name brands. The signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) is also lower than other types of amps – if the gain is turned up high, you might hear some “hissing” noise as you listen.
If you’re highly critical of your amp’s noise level and sound quality, be sure to thoroughly examine the specs and buy an amp with the best design. Low-end amps won’t have the same sound quality as better brands.
Until recent years, class D amps were “okay” and decent. However, with the continued innovation and experimentation of many car audio brands, class D technology has excelled and the best models now have great sound quality with lower noise levels.
Below you can find a list of several amps that provide excellent sound quality! All these recommendations exceed the average design of typical class D amps – and all of them have advanced engineering designs that enhance sound quality.
As an amp installer, I’m very particular about sound quality. For those who are just as picky as me, be sure to take note of these specs before buying.
5 channel amp types
These are slightly different in that unlike 4-channel amps, a 5 channel may have different configuration options and the additional 5th channel may not always be used for full-range sound. It’s often a dedicated subwoofer channel with only a low-pass output.
I’m mentioning this in case that you’re planning to run a 5 speaker system with full range or high-pass output.
Note: Some amps are fully class A/B, some are fully class D, and some are a combination of both. Normally, class D is used so the subwoofer channel can provide the most efficient way to drive a subwoofer and provide high-power levels.
The best 5 channel amplifiers
Product comparison and pricing table
To make things faster and easier for you, I’ve put together some short reviews and created a simple comparison chart. I’m an audiophile and installer too, so I included the most important specs (power and sound quality) along with the amp’s most useful features
The best for your money
1. Alpine PDR-V75 – A superb performer with great power and that costs lest than rivals in its price class. And the most compact!
If you’re in search of one of the best 5 channel amps available today this is it. This is one of the best you’ll find anywhere and it actually sells for less than the similar JL Audio RD-900/5. The PDR-V75 gets my nomination for editor’s choice and my top recommendation for you if it’s in your budget.
Alpine has improved upon class D basic design to produce one of the best sounding and most compact multichannel amplifiers anywhere. The sound quality rivals that of more traditional and wasteful class A/B amps. Sound is crisp, dynamic, and unquestionably fantastic. Speaker level inputs are provided when you use a low-cost speaker level adapter cable sold separately.
Unlike typical amplifiers, the thermal management system built inside is capable of reducing – rather than completely shutting off – output power when overheating conditions are detected. The microprocessor-based feature allows your music to keep pumping but at a reduced volume to keep the heat under control to keep the amp from shutting down like lower-quality amps do.
A bass boost and adjustable high/low-pass crossovers are standard as well as the option to connect Alpine’s remote bass level control (sold separately) for extra bass fun. Wire terminals are removable for ease of installation – they can be plugged and unplugged once attached to your speaker wiring. Measuring only 10-3/4″W x 2″H x 6-1/2″D, it’s one of the smallest 5 channel amps sold today.
The amp features an attractive protective cover you can optionally install too.
Power ratings are:
- 75 watts RMS x 4 + 250 watts RMS x 1 at 4 ohms
- 100 watts RMS x 4 + 350 watts RMS x 1 at 2 ohms
- 200 watts RMS x 2 bridged at 4 ohms + 350 watts RMS x 1 at 2 ohms
A subsonic filter (8-40 Hz, 24 dB/octave) on sub channel keeps out unwanted inaudible bass frequencies.
- Very high power density
- Excellent audio quality
- Smallest 5 channel amp of its power rating
- Speaker level inputs accepted
- Flexible controls
- Remote bass control option
- Thermal management system
- With cover installed, controls aren’t accessible
- Remote bass control is separate purchase
- Top-facing controls may not work well for some installations
- Speaker level inputs require separate but inexpensive adapter cable
2. JL Audio RD-900/5 – Simply put, one of the best available today. High-end sound with power that exceeds its ratings.
JL Audio has taken class D amplifier efficiency to a new level and has produced one of the best sounding and lowest noise amplifiers on the market. This is high-end, truly excellent performance with the legendary JL Audio reputation for reliability and sonic quality. In fact, the RD900/5 is capable of producing power exceeding its conservatively rated specs. Their NextD switching technology uses a much faster switching frequency to allow the amp to produce power far more quickly and dynamically for better performance and acoustical response.
The signal to noise ratio (CEA-2006 compliant measured spec) of > 84dB is conservatively rated as you’ll hear almost nothing but dead silence between music tracks. This is a wonderful sounding amp!
Rated power is:
- 75 watts RMS x 4 + 225 watts RMS x 1 at 4 ohms
- 100 watts RMS x 4 + 500 watts RMS at 2 ohms
- 200 watts RMS x 2 bridged at 4 ohms (4-ohm stable in bridged mode) + 500 watts RMS at 2 ohms
A really cool feature is the built-in LED clipping lights which help you set up gain levels during installation. It’s a simple but great feature as you don’t have to guess when the amp will start clipping when your input signal reaches its maximum level. Blue LED accent lighting on the top glows when the amp is powered on.
Note: The optional bass level control is a cool way to boost the bass while driving and jamming, so you’ll get the benefit of cranking the bass without having to fiddle with the amp settings.
High/low pass crossovers are adjustable to 500Hz and all channels can be from 2 to 6 RCA signal inputs. Bear in mind that the amp isn’t compatible with speaker level inputs. If those are important to you, you’ll need to purchase a separate adapter.
The wire connection terminals are great and the amp can accept 4 gauge wire. The amp measures only 14-11/16″W x 2-3/16″H x 7″D and features a 2 year warranty.
- Superb sound quality – one of the best produced
- Crossovers are adjustable to 500Hz (great for bi-amped speaker systems)
- Solid-cast aluminum chassis
- Exceeds rated power specs
- One of the highest power amps for its size with 5 channels
- Optional bass remote
- 2/4/6 input channel switch to run all channels from fewer inputs
- LED clip lights help set up
- Compact size
- Subsonic filter
- No speaker level inputs
- Bass control remote sold separately
- Not as compact as the Alpine PDR-V75
If you’re looking for the absolute best, the JL Audio RD-900/5 should fit the bill exactly! You can find out more and check it out at Amazon today.
3. Rockford Fosgate R600X5 – A great compromise between cost and performance..and a popular choice among buyers
The R600X5 is a one of the best-selling 5 channel amps today. Like the other amplifiers in the Punch product family, the model features great sound with good power for a range of installation types. The controls are easy to use as well and add flexibility to your installation.
Audio is very clear and highs are crisp with great performance. The amp even includes a verification sheet with it in the box!
Power ratings are:
- 50 Watts x 4 @ 4-Ohms + 200 Watts x 1 @ 4-Ohms
- 75 Watts x 4 @ 2-Ohms + 300 Watts x 1 @ 2-Ohms
Note: The specs above my seem limited, however they’re conservatively by Rockford and in practice can actually exceed that by several watts. All ratings are CEA-2006 compliant so be confident in Rockford Fosgate’s advertised specs. A signal to noise ratio of >80dB is a result of Rockford’s dedication to sound quality by using their proprietary design for reduced noise output.
Full adjustable high/low pass crossovers are available as well as a Punch EQ adjustable bass boost. Using the optional (separate) Punch Level Control you can easily turn up the boom while driving. A 1 year warranty is provided.
At only 1.98″ x 6.77″ x 13.19″, it’s a very small amp and can fit into many small installation spaces in your vehicle’s interior.
- Great sound!
- Small size
- High-quality terminals
- Punch EQ feature
- Adjustable high/low pass crossovers
- Remote level control option
- Speaker level inputs
- 2/4 input switch if 4 channels aren’t available
- Screw holes inside chassis may be a bit more difficult during installation
- Remote bass controller is separate
- Top-facing controls may not work for some buyers
- No additional top cover for a cleaner look
It’s a great looking and well made amp that won’t disappoint. A great model for many installations. Take a look at the many happy owners over at Amazon.
4. Hifonics BRX5016.5 – A good performing budget model you’ll enjoy if you’ve got the installation space.
If you’re working with a tight budget but still want to build your custom audio system, you’re in luck! The Brutus 5-channel amp has power to spare and sells for around a meager $200. It’s a great value, but bear in mind that it’s not CEA-2006 compliant so you’ll have to trust the manufacturer’s specs.
Advertised power is:
- Channel 1-4 RMS Power Rating:
- 4 ohms: 60 watts x 4 chan.
- 2 ohms: 100 watts x 4 chan.
- Channel 5 RMS Power Rating:
- 4 ohms: 475 watts x 1 chan.
- 2 ohms: 750 watts x 1 chan.
The BRX5016.5 definitely has some advantages besides just its great price. Sound quality is good while keeping noise low via the class A/B sections used for the 4 main channels. For awesome subwoofer power a class D amp section provides an amazing 475 RMS watts of power!
The signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) for the main channels is a nice 90dB and provides good, clear sound. You definitely should use a head unit with a good strong signal level if possible in order to keep the gain settings low and get the best low-noise output.
Don’t expect sound quality that can match that of the more expensive amps…however, you won’t be disappointed with the money you spent, either!
Full high/low pass crossovers are available as well as a 0-18dB bass o at 45Hz. The amp is somewhat large and measures 9.80″W x 19.60″L x 2.40″H so you’ll need more installation space than the other models listed above. The wiring terminals are some of the best I’ve seen and they glow blue with the cool backlighting design. The Hifonics logo also has a beautiful blue glow you’ll love to show off as well!
Speaker level inputs are not included but a subsonic filter is. You can also switch between 2, 4, and 5-channel input mode if you don’t have enough RCA connections.
The BRX5016.5 has a cool glow thanks to the illuminated accents on the logo and wiring terminals. Great for custom installations where you want great looks!
And regarding the high and low-pass crossovers, the amp is more flexible than many others:
- Variable high-pass filter:
- Channel 1 – 2: 50 – 4,000 Hz
- Channel 3 – 4: 50 – 250 Hz
- Variable low-pass filter:
- Channel 3 – 4: 150 – 4,000 Hz
- Channel 5: 35 – 150 Hz
A bass remote is included as well. While the Rockford Fosgate R600X5 is a better (albeit more expensive) choice, the BRX5016.5 is a reliable and powerful amp if you you’re working withing a budget.
- A/B design on channels 1-4 for good sound are reduced cost
- Great power
- 0-18dB bass boost
- Subsonic filter
- Nice illumination looks great
- Very good wiring terminals
- Includes remote bass level control
- Thermal, overload, and speaker short protection
- Lower cost than others
- Extended mounting tabs make installing easier
- No speaker level inputs
- Large size – nearly twice that of other modern designs
- Rated specs aren’t CEA-2006 assured – based on manufacturer’s advertised specs instead
The price is pretty low and it’s a good amp with many happy buyers. You can find the lowest price and check it out here at Amazon.
My advice is to plan ahead for the features and crossover settings you’ll need. Usually this means being sure that the adjustable high-pass for the 4 main channels on an amp you’re considering purchasing will fit your system’s needs.
I recommend setting the high-pass cutoff to somewhere around 60Hz to block speaker-distorting bass so you can run the main channels with fantastic clarity and very high volume. That’s a really helpful feature that all of these amps provide and that you should definitely use.
The subwoofer installation options for the amps listed above are great, but always verify the mono channel’s impedance (ohm rating) before installing it.
The products here are listed as 4-ohm or 2-ohm, but you should ALWAYS make sure of the specs before buying or connecting to a subwoofer. If you attempt to drive a subwoofer with a lower rating than the amp can handle, the amp will overheat and will likely shut down right away.
If you’ve never installed an amp before check out this illustrated step-by-step guide on how to install a car amplifier and subwoofer. Be sure to also read this extensive guide about how to wire speakers as it may cover some extra details you don’t know.
Let me know if there are any questions you have or if I can lend any advice regarding your car audio system needs. And most importantly – have fun!