Buyers guide

The Best Value 5 Channel Car Amplifiers For The Money – Our Top List

5 channel amplifiers are an excellent choice for running an entire system from one amp. However, they’re not all equal in terms of quality, power, features, and especially value.

Below you’ll find several of the best value 5 channel amplifiers for your money. All are great choices I’d recommend to anyone wanting the best for their dollar.

Included are also more details & pros/cons for each as well.

Are you new to 5 channel car amps? I’ve also put together some excellent information you need to know before buying. Read on to learn more!

Contents

Infographic – 5 channel car amp facts

5 channel car amplifier facts infographic


5 channel amps vs 4 channel amps – What’s the difference?

5 channel vs 5 channel car amp image

5 channel car amplifiers are different from 4 channel amps in that they contain an extra high-power channel dedicated to driving a subwoofer.

Additionally, they often have some minor feature differences. For example, as they’re capable of driving an entire sound system in your vehicle, many have an input selection switch.

A 2/5 channel switch (or similar feature) allows sending a signal to all 5 amp channels from only a 2-channel stereo input. That’s a great option if you’re limited because of your particular car stereo.

Many models, unlike 4 channel amplifiers, also are able to derive the subwoofer bass signal from the rear or all 4 input signals as opposed to requiring a dedicated subwoofer input.

Most cannot produce full-range sound on the 5th (mono) channel as it’s intended for a bass subwoofer only. In most designs an internal low-pass crossover, although adjustable, cannot be bypassed.

Also, unlike 2 or 4 channel car amplifiers, 5 channel amps may contain a mixture of amp technologies.

For example, while some may use class A/B for the 4 main channels, class D is often used for the 5th channel for efficiency and reduced heat.

Read on to learn more about the different amplifier technologies.

Car amp technologies explained

Illustrated car amp switching power supply section

Image of the power supply section of a common A/B class car amplifier. A switch mode power supply (SMPS) is used to create higher voltages from the +12V supply connected.

Today’s car amplifiers, in nearly all cases, use 1 of 2 basic designs (or a combination of both). These 2 amp designs both have pros and cons as I’ll show you later.

Beginning many years ago, these different audio amplifier technologies are categorized in classes.

No one class is “better” than another, although what you might consider better really depends a lot on your needs and preferences as you’ll see.

Class A/B

Class A/B amplifiers use a design that’s been around for many decades all the way back to the 1960s, in fact! A/B amps use a combination of class “A” and class “B” amplification principles.

Here’s a short comparison of the differences:

  • Class A: Lowest distortion, highest sound fidelity, but lowest efficiency
  • Class B: Moderate distortion & sound quality, good efficiency

Class A is 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.

Class A/B amps were developed to provide good sound while keep efficiency fairly good. Most car amps based on it have around 65%, with the remaining wasted as heat.

Another benefit is that it’s an old technology and costs less to produce. That’s one reason the most inexpensive car amps often use class A/B unless specified otherwise.

Most can give you pretty good sound but it greatly depends on the design and parts quality. Brand names are normally a safe bet.

In recent years an exciting new amp design has become very popular thanks to its biggest advantages: class D.

Class D

Diagram showing a class D amplifier’s operation. Class D car amps use switching technology – much like used in modern power supplies – to change a music signal into on/off waveforms. These waveforms, since they’re off much of the time, keep energy use low and greatly reduce the power wasted. On the output side, the music signal is recreated from the square waves to drive speakers just like any normal amp.

Class D car amplifiers work by using switching technology to greatly reduce energy waste and the power a car amp draws from the electrical system.

It’s a fascinating concept! In this type of amp, the analog (wave-shaped) music signal is directed into electronic chips that represent it using square waves of different widths.

As this happens, the waves are directed to drive power transistors to amplify that signal into a more powerful version, boosted by the amp’s power supply I mentioned earlier.

Once that’s done, the music waveforms are recreated by “smoothing.” Smoothing uses electronic components to convert these square waves, not much higher in voltage, and out to the speaker to produce sound.

Class D car amp benefits

Thanks to how it works, the power transistors aren’t switched on nearly 100% of the time like other methods. This means it uses less power and therefore draws less electrical current (fewer amps) from the vehicle.

These amps produce a lot less heat! Class D amps are much smaller, lighter, and easier to install thanks to this.

However, they do have drawbacks, although it’s less of a concern as modern designs have improved a lot. Class D car amps have worse signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) specs and noise levels than other types of amps.

If you’re a sound quality fanatic like I am, it’s important to shop carefully as cheaper designs have poor performance due to this. Better designs are very good and some like the ones I’ve listed below will give very nice sound quality and low noise levels.

Shopping for a 5 channel amplifier

Alpine amp installed under truck seat

There’s a lot to consider when shopping for a 5 channel amp including size. The best models are also the most compact and many can even fit under a car or truck seat!

Choosing the best 4 channel car amplifier that needs the best basically comes down to several factors:

  • Your budget
  • Power requirements
  • Features you need
  • Value and quality
  • Installation space limitations

I’ve installed many amps over the years but I’ve always considered these one of the coolest and most practical you can buy. They’re excellent for many car installations, especially when using front and rear speakers.

While they’re not incredibly popular and there isn’t a huge number of options on the market, there are some very amazing values you should definitely have a look at.

5 channel amps today vs years ago

Internal image of a 4 ch. ampAmps like this one used to quite often be very large and heavy. Things have changed! Many very powerful amps – including those with 5 channels total – are more compact and efficient than ever.

Car amp technology has evolved a bit over the years, slowly but surely. The last few years have been especially good for buyers!

You’re able to get more watts per dollar than ever before and you’ll be able to pay much less for quality that once sold for over $300.

Additionally, thanks to class D innovation the 5th channel provided in my recommended models offer a lot more power than once was possible. That’s fantastic for people who love bass that hits hard.

Low-end amps won’t have the same sound quality

I don’t recommend you shop for the cheapest amps. Instead, a good compromise between quality, price, and performance is often the best choice.

Until recent times, class D car amps were decent and best but sound quality was always a few steps below other types. However, things have changed a bit for the brand name models and sound quality has definitely greatly improved.


★ The best 5 channel amplifiers for the money ★

Our top picks and details

★ OUR #1 CHOICE ★
Powerful, price-competitive, and great features - Pioneer GM-D9605
Simply an excellent choice and great value. A whopping 75W x 4 + 350W x 1 of clear, efficient, and compact sound with modern class D design. An excellent way to power your entire system affordably. Includes remote bass control, too!
#2
On sale now!
A great budget winner- Hifonics BRX5016.5
Get more watts per dollar: 60W x 4 + 475W x 1. The Brutus series BRX5016.5 combines class A/B 4-channel sound with the efficiency of class D for powerful bass that really hits. Features beautiful accent lighting. Includes bass remote.
#3
Classic sound quality - Rockford Fosgate R600X5 Prime
Rockford sound quality and performance that won't break the bank. 5 x 50W + 1 x 200W high-quality performance and features. Not the cheapest, but definitely one of the best. Great for sound quality enthusiasts. Includes bass remote.

Product reviews & pros/cons

1. Pioneer GM-D9605 class D – Great sound, plenty of power, and nice features in a small package. Great buy!

Here it is – hands down, one of the single best affordable 5 channel amps on the market today. Not just any amp, but well-made Pioneer GM-D9605 with enough power for nearly any system you throw at it.

What impressed me the most about the D9605 isn’t just that it cost less (at under $250), but how well it’s made and the overall value you get for your dollar.

It uses Pioneer’s modern take on class D switching technology to produce powerful, clear, and crisp music in less space and with far less heat. You’ll get 4 main (bridgeable) full-range channels and a dedicated mono subwoofer channel for bass that really thumps.

Check out the great power ratings (did I mention they’re industry certified?):

  • 75W RMS x 4 @ 4 Ohms + 350W RMS x 1 @ 4 Ohms
  • 100W RMS x 4 @ 2 Ohms + 600W RMS x 1 @ 2 Ohms
  • 200W RMS x 2 @ 4 Ohms bridged + 600W RMS x 1 @ 2 Ohms

…enough to run a kick-ass sound system all from one cool-running and affordable compact amp!

Pioneer GM series amplifier remote image closeup

While the GM-D9605 is great already, the included optional bass level remote really sealed the deal for me. With it you can adjust your subwoofer level while driving easily. A generous 19 foot installation cable is included and works for nearly any size vehicle. It’s also very easy to install, as you just mount the remote, run the cable, and click it into the jacks on both ends.

Unlike some amps which make installation and setup harder, the Pioneer’s layout is smart. RCA inputs, crossover controls, and more on one end while power and speaker wiring terminals are on the opposite side.

As an installer, I like that as when they’re placed together it can cause headaches when it’s time to set the amp of or make adjustments later.

One thing I really like is that not only is a bass remote level control optional, it’s included! Unlike other amps, it won’t cost extra.

It’s a handy way to bump the bass while drive, and installing it is pretty simple, too.

Pioneer GM-D9605 features image

Top: All channels have adjustable high or low-pass crossovers (except for the mono channel, which is low-pass only) with adjustable cutoff of up to 500Hz. 12dB or 24dB adjustable crossover slopes can be selected, too. Need flexibility? Youu can use a dedicated subwoofer input signal or simply flick a switch to get it from channels A and B (front and rear). Bottom: 4 gauge capable power terminals round out a great-looking and well-designed power hookup.

The GM-D9605 is great for factory stereo hook up as well. Speaker level inputs are provided including a small and easy to connect wiring harness. It works well with most factory stereos or factory amplified systems when you don’t have RCA cable jacks.

Even though the Pioneer is energy-efficient, if you’d like to use larger gauge power wire you can. The power terminals support wire up to 4 gauge in size.

All wiring terminals are high-quality and feature Allen screws (tool included) for very tight and secure connections that won’t let you down.

Crossover & sound adjustments

Adjustable crossovers are useable for all channels and allow up to a 500Hz cutoff frequency (note that the subwoofer output is low-pass only). Selectable crossover slopes of 12dB or 24dB per octave are provided. That’s a nice addition in my opinion.

Don’t have a head unit with a dedicated subwoofer channel signal output? You’re covered there, too! Use the sub channel’s input selector switch to get a bass signal from the main channels.

Sound quality

Is it audiophile quality with the highest sound quality on Earth? No, of course not – but then again, you’re not paying an outrageous amount of cash. The sound quality however, is very good!

I’m pleased to say that for something so powerful, compact, and affordable, it’s one of the best 5 channel amps I’ve had the pleasure to deal with. And I’m picky!

Noise low and music is clear and crisp. Highs are sharp and fun to listen to just like you’d expect. Bass is punchy, powerful, and really gets addictive fast.

Not only this, but all this power and system driving ability fits into a package only 12-7/16″ W x 2-3/8″ H x 7-7/8″ D in size. Yes, it’s smaller enough to fit into a shoebox! Wow.

PROS:
  • Great power output
  • Good sound quality
  • Excellent value
  • Compact size for a 5 channel
  • Bridgeable to 2 ch. + subwoofer
  • 4 gauge capable
  • Capable of driving a whole system
  • Class D efficiency & low heat
  • Bass boost feature (0-18dB @ 50Hz) (requires remote use)
  • Variable high or low pass crossovers
  • Selectable crossover slope
  • Bass channel dedicated or channel A+B switch
  • Speaker-level inputs
  • CEA-2006 compliant power/specs
  • Good looking carbon fiber chassis
  • Remote bass level included
  • High-quality wiring terminals
  • Includes Allen wrench tools
CONS:
  • Subwoofer channel is low-pass only
  • May require bass remote use for best performance
  • No accent lighting
  • Power/protect lights are combined, not separate
  • 1 year warranty only

Let me be honest – while Pioneer is known for pretty good stereos, amps, and speakers, I didn’t think I’d end up being this impressed. I’m glad I was wrong.

All-in-all, with its small size, great power, pleasant sound quality, and features, it’s easily my #1 choice to recommend in 5 channel amps today. It’s easily my top pick and deserves the Editor’s Choice recommendation.

Head over and check out the lowest price and excellent reviews at Amazon now.

2.  Hifonics BRX5016.5 – Great basic power for an affordable price. Lots of nice features, too!

Hifonics BRX5016-5 amplifier angle view

Want a top performer but limited on cash? The Hifonics Brutus BRX5016.5 may be just what you’re looking for.

Not only is it a great choice to power all but the most demanding systems but it’s a bass monster as it has one of the most powerful mono channels in a 5 channel amp.

Note: The specs aren’t CEA-2006 compliant so you’ll be relying on the manufacturer’s provided RMS power ratings. However, it’s reasonably rated and has pretty good power for an affordable 5 channel amp.

Rated power:

  • Channels 1-4 RMS Power:
    • 4 ohms: 60 watts x 4
    • 2 ohms: 100 watts x 4
  • Channel 5 RMS Power:
    • 4 ohms: 475 watts x 1
    • 2 ohms: 750 watts x 1

Price isn’t the only advantage you’ll get from it. The sound quality is quite nice while keeping noise low thanks to Hifonic’s well-designed class A/B circuit board and audio path topology.

What’s unique about the BRX5016.5 is that is uses class A/B for the main channels and class D for the subwoofer channel.

Hifonic’s design makes it possible for an amp this value-priced to deliver some serious bass power without requiring a giant – and difficult to install – chassis.

Let me say that again: You’ve got up to 475W RMS at 4 ohms! That’s an amazing amount of power for its price class.

Hifonics BRX5016-5 amplifier end viewThe Brutus 5 channel amp features a nicely designed control panel with fully adjustable high, low, and full-range controls. Low pass filters allow 35-150Hz selectable and high pass adjust is a flexible 50Hz-4KHz, allowing driving separate component speakers.

The signal to noise ratio (SNR) isn’t as high as more expensive models at 90dB, but the good news is that it’s not an inflated value. Additionally, with a good, strong input signal the noise is actually quite low.

Overall, I’ve found it to be a good performer in terms of sound quality. The adjustable high/low pass crossovers are better than those I’ve seen on most amps as the front channels have a far wider range at 50z-4Khz while low pass provides a range of 35-150Hz.

  • 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

It’s a great amp to use if you’re planning on driving tweeters from channels 1 & 2 and midbass or woofers from 3 & 4 for more sound control & clarity.

An adjustable bass boost is available as well with from 0-18dB boost at 45Hz

Installation factors

Unlike fully class D amps, the BRX5016.5 is a bit large at 9.80″W x 19.60″L x 2.40″H. You’ll need to allow more installation space than the others here.

Wiring connections are excellent and great looking! The speaker and wire terminals feature a clear divider that’s illuminated when the amp is powered on for a fantastic look which I love.

Terminals use machined screws for an excellent and reliable connection as well.

One drawback I found is that speaker level inputs aren’t provided. However, for bass fanatics, a subsonic filter is.

You can also switch between 2, 4, and 5-channel input mode if you don’t have enough RCA connections.

Hifonics Brutus BRX5016 accent lighting image

Want something different? The BRX5016.5 has beautiful accent lighting on both the logo and the wiring terminals. It sets it apart and helps you get a much more exciting installation appearance!

Hifonics amplifier bass remote control accessory image

The Hifonics amp includes an optional bass remote with connection cable and allen wrenches for connecting wiring securely.

And guess what – it doesn’t end there! A convenient bass remote is included as well allowing remote gain control for your subwoofer from the dashboard.

PROS:
  • A/B design on channels 1-4 for good sound are reduced cost
  • Good sound quality
  • One of the best crossovers (very flexible)
  • Great power
  • 0-18dB bass boost
  • Subsonic filter
  • Accent lightling 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
CONS:
  • No speaker level inputs
  • Large size
  • Wiring connections must use allen wrenches (included)
  • Rated specs aren’t CEA-2006 assured – based on manufacturer’s advertised specs instead

For the money it’s a great choice and I’m happy to recommend it to you out there who are looking for a good deal on an affordable amp.

Don’t hesitate to check out the great owner reviews. Be sure to find out why it's so popular among buyers at Amazon.

3. Rockford Fosgate R600X5 – Classic sound quality and next-level performance for under $300.

Rockford Fosgate R600X5 5 channel amp front angleWhen it comes to brand-name quality, Rockford Fosgate is still one of the most respected names in the car stereo world. After having a look at the R600X5 I understand why.

Like other models in the Punch family of amps, it’s one of the best-sounding amps you’ll find under $300. Not only that, but you’ll get a nice underrated amp with enough power to run your system.

Unlike the competition controls are top-mounted for easier access during installation setup and later tweaking – and as we both know that’s going to happen!

What sets the R600X5 is its compact size – few amps sold today with class A/B sound quality are this small. A class D amp with 84% efficiency drives the mono subwoofer output.

Based on classic Rockford class A/B design on the main 4 channels with the company’s own proprietary technologies. This results in a cleaner signal path and reduced noise.

Audio is very clear and highs are crisp with great performance. Music is more responsive, true-sounding, and doesn’t break up during demanding times when you crank it up.

The amp even includes its own unique factory test sheet in the box!

Power ratings:

  • 50 Watts x 4 @ 4-Ohms + 200 Watts x 1 @ 4-Ohms
  • 75 Watts x 4 @ 2-Ohms + 300 Watts x 1 @ 2-Ohms

While the specs above my seem limited, bear in mind that they’re conservatively by Rockford and can easily exceed the rated numbers. All ratings are CEA-2006 compliant so you can trust Rockford Fosgate’s advertised ratings.

Rockford Fosgate R600X5 5 channel amp top image

Fully adjustable high and low-pass crossovers are provided. You’ll also get a great Punch EQ bass boost you can dial in for just the right bass bump to get your system sounding sweet.

Crossover & audio controls

You’ll get some nice audio controls as well – a bit more than average. The subwoofer phase control is especially cool.

Bass enhancement:

  • Front/Rear: 0dB/+6dB/+12dB @ 45Hz
  • Sub: Variable 0dB to +12dB @ 45Hz
  • Sub: 0°/180° Phase Control

Crossover Controls:

  • Front/Rear: High-Pass/Low-Pass 50-250Hz
  • Sub: Low-Pass variable 50Hz – 250Hz

Bass and other features

Want to easily crank the bass while driving? Add the optional Punch level control remote (included). It’s a great feature, but I would have liked to see this included as with the competitor models.

The good news is that the bass boost is still available for adjustment if the remote isn’t plugged in.

Real time output and power supply thermal sensing provides on-the-fly monitoring of heat buildup during heavy loads and allows the amp to reduce power – but not shutoff – under hard conditions.

It’s a unique design feature I think is great. Most amps would shut off instead of continuing to run at a reduced but safe level as the R600X5 can.

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.

PROS:
  • Great sound!
  • One of the smallest A/B amps today
  • Includes Punch bass remote
  • Class D subwoofer section (84% efficient)
  • Thermal management control avoids shutdown
  • Short-circuit and overload sensing
  • High-quality terminals
  • Punch EQ feature works with or without remote use
  • Adjustable high/low pass crossovers
  • Remote level control option
  • Speaker level inputs
  • 2/4 input switch if 4 channels aren’t available
CONS:
  • Screw holes inside chassis may be a bit more difficult
  • Low efficiency compared to class D amps
  • May run hot at maximum power
  • Lower power output compared to some others
  • Top-facing controls may not work for some buyers
  • No top cover provided

The R600X5 Prime is a great-sounding, well-designed, and compact amp with excellent buyer reviews and many happy owners. Personally I’m impressed with the quality, too.

Have a look! Check out the many great buyer reviews and current price over at Amazon now.


Additional info

Don’t forget the wiring! Here you can find some of the best amp wiring kits for your money.

I’ve also got a great DIY car amp rack guide so you can add make your own low-cost custom amp mounting rack.

Your comments are welcome!

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