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Thread: Need help on choosing a cheap 4 channel amp

  1. #1
    Newbie avluis's Avatar
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    Question Need help on choosing a cheap 4 channel amp

    Ok, first things first.
    This is my first post here and I hope that I can make some new friends.
    Also, this is my first car pc so I'll post all details too.

    I actually have a '08 Suzuki SX4 Sport Sedan (5 Speed, of course you silly) so I posted my details of my build here.
    But to make it all fair, I'll quote:

    Quote Originally Posted by avluis
    So, for my next build it:

    I'm putting together a CarPC for my SX4.
    This will be an ongoing project as I learn more programming and get more hardware.

    As of right now as it stands, these are the parts I chose:
    Motherboard: Intel DG45FC
    Processor: Intel Pentium Dual-Core E2180
    Case: Mini-Box M350 Universal Mini-ITX Enclosure
    Power Supply: M4-ATX DC-DC 250W (300W Peak) Intelligent Power Supply
    Memory: Kingston 2GBx2 DDR2 800MHz low profile ram
    Hard Drive is an old Seagate 60GB from a laptop that is about to be replaced by this:
    SUPER TALENT UltraDrive ME FTM64GX25H 2.5" 64GB SATA II MLC Internal SSD
    I took of the stock passive heat sink from the North bridge and replaced it with this:
    COOLER MASTER SLC-S41-U1 Copper Fan & Heatsinks

    Barely gets warm, if at all.
    All components have already been assembled in the case.
    I had to cut the ATX wires to pass them from inside to outside the case since the power supply does not fit inside of it.

    It has Bluetooth (via usb), Wi-Fi (usb again) and a Verizon UM175 (doesn't usb rock?) for internet on the go.
    Currently modding the case to fit a Linksys high gain antenna and a serial port cable. That's what I'll use to connect the piggyback when I get it from RRM.
    DVD drive will be external if I ever really need it.
    I installed the OS which is windows 7 build 7201 btw, can't hardly wait for rtm, via a bootable flash drive that I self 'constructed' with a tutorial online.
    As for the screen:
    Xenarc 705TSV 7" TFT LCD Touchscreen Monitor w/ VGA & AV inputs.
    I went for a screen with vga due to the non notice-able differences between dvi and vga in low resolutions. Not to mention that I will be taking this thing apart anyways and it will replace the head unit completely.
    I will also have a secondary display inside the glove box on a slide-out tray with wireless keyboard. I'm haven't decided if I want that one to be a touch screen also.
    I just ordered this baby so I'm still waiting for the website to process it.
    Well, enough of my talk, I'll post pictures of my progress later on so, if there are any members here with some sort of experience in custom building, don't be afraid to speak up and give your opinions and tips.

    I also plan to use one of this:
    USB Eight Channel Relay Board - 12V for some awesome automation with the remote start, power windows/doors and just about anything that can be controlled via a relay.
    So, if I can find a programmer or two that knows how to interact with this interface, I'm hiring (via donations to yours truly) if you can help me out.
    Also, I'm looking for a good preamp that I can use to wire from the pc headphone jack. I will be using a 3.5mm to rca cable. If possible, I need this to be a 4 channel amp. This will be run separate from the bass amp, I've decided to make that one a rockford-fosgate, but I have yet to order so I'm using the one I have in the car right now to test it.
    If you made it this far, thanks for reading.

    Now, what I hope to have is a 4.1 surround sound system. In other word FL, FR, RL, RR and Sub. All independently controlled by the computer's sound application.
    I already have an amp that will eventually get upgraded for a rockford system. But I still need a 4 channel amp to take care of the speakers in the car itself since the computer just doesn't have that kind of amplification.

    Anyways, with your help, I am now low on budget and I still need a 4 channel amp that I can hook up to my stock speaker system.
    Any help?

  2. #2
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    You didn't state if you want to go with a new or used amp, or how much power you need for your speakers, or if you have any size/mounting limitations?

    www.millionbuy.com usually has tons of deals on amps.

    www.crutchfield.com has some decent deals on amps right now if you want great customer service and an Authorized warranty.

    If your okay with buying from eBay, this is a great deal on a very good and powerfull amp that's been fully bench tested by an Amp Repair Tech. IIRC, Mike (the seller/tech) will extend the warranty to a year or two for $15 or so...

    US Acoustics USB 4085 amplifier:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...m=180360326172

    Good Luck...and welcome to MP3CAR!

  3. #3
    Newbie avluis's Avatar
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    In reply to bbfoto:

    First, thanks for the reply. And to answer your questions, it's fine if I get one that is used.
    Second, they are stock speakers and even though I plan to upgrade later I'm not entirely sure of how much power they need since they were driven by the stock head unit; a Clarion PS-3023K-A (Suzuki Part No. 39101-80J11), manufactured Feb. 2008.
    Third, I want to mount this under the driver seat, since I already have an amp on the trunk and I plan to upgrade that one at a later date.

    I do have an eBay account and the same goes for crutchfield.com. I'll be looking into millionbuy.com.
    I do like the one that you showed me on ebay, but I think that it may be a little too big to put under the driver seat.

    Thanks again for the reply and I hope I'm not asking too much.

  4. #4
    Newbie avluis's Avatar
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    Would this one be good enough for what I need?

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...K%3AMEWAX%3AIT

  5. #5
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    avluis,

    Make sure to MEASURE the L"xW"xH" you have available under your seat BEFORE you Purchase ANY AMP! You'd be really bummed if you found the "Perfect" Amp but it didn't fit under your seat!

    You also want to make sure that it has some "breathing room" around and especially above the amp when mounted under a seat! AT LEAST .5" above the amp and 1" or more would be better to help dissapate the heat from the amp.

    That Sound Storm amp you linked to on eBay will work, especially if you're just powering the stock speakers, and for that price it's almost "disposable", but just be aware of it's limitations. IMO, you could find a better quality amp for not much more, but again, at that price you're not losing much if it goes south or doesn't sound very good.

    My main concern with this amp is that it is 4-Channels, but it only has One 15-Amp Fuse! First, I doubt it will make it's "Rated" power that is listed in the specs ("maybe" at 14.4 Volts or higher)! Second, the Single Fuse indicates that there is probably Only One Power Supply for all 4 Channels! A typical, well-designed 4-Channel amplifier will have Two Power Supplies with a separate Fuse for Each Power Supply.

    Generally, you want an Individual Power Supply for each PAIR of Channels in the amplifier. Among other things, this allows individual or independent Gain (Amplitude) control for the Front and Rear Channel Pairs (For example: Channels 1&2, and Channels 3&4 can be set at different levels to accomodate the balance of volume between small tweeters that don't need as much power, and larger Mid-woofers that might need more power to achieve the same volume level as the tweeters.) Separate Power supplies also let the amplifier run more efficiently with less stress on a single power supply.

    Another thing...Below in the specs it says "Variable Low Pass Filter" but then says that it's "FIXED at 120Hz"! That is not "Variable"! By looking at the description on the box and the photos of the amp, both the High- and Low-Pass Crossovers are Fixed at 120Hz! That doesn't allow for any Flexibility at all, especially if you want to upgrade in the future!

    I would at least try to find an Amplifier with truly Variable High- & Low-Pass Crossovers, and one that offers "Band-Pass" Crossovers would be a bonus.

    NOTE: If you are going to use the Computer's Sound Card and Software to do all of your Channel Division, Gain or Levels, and Crossovers, then you don't need this capability in the amp at all and the SoundStorm will be fine.

    If and when you upgrade your main speakers, IMO you would want to upgrade to a better amp as well, but that's just my opinion and without trying the amp personally, I have no way to judge the quality or performance of the amp.

    SoundStorm F4400 Product Description:

    Force Series 4-Channel Amplifier
    RMS Power Rating:
    4 ohms: 50 watts x 4 chan.
    2 ohms: 100 watts x 4 chan.
    Max power output: 400 watts
    MOSFET power supply
    LED power indicators
    4/2 channel operation
    Speaker-level inputs
    Preamp RCA outputs
    Heavy duty aluminum alloy heatsink
    Chrome-plated RCA level inputs
    Chrome-plated screw terminals
    Variable low-pass filter (120 Hz fixed)
    Frequency response: 12-22,000 Hz
    Dimensions: 9"L x 7"W x 2"H

    8-gauge power and ground wiring is required for installation. Contact us for information regarding a discount on select amplifier kits when purchased together with this amplifier.
    (SoundStorm F4400)
    1-year Manufacturer's warranty
    ========================

    Will this amp fit under your seat?:

    US Acoustics USB 4065 amplifier:

    65 watts x 4 @ 4-Ohm (@ 12.9 Volts)
    Size: 11.0 x 9.6 x 2.5

    http://cgi.ebay.com/US-Acoustics-USB...3A1%7C294%3A30

    Good luck and Happy 4th!

  6. #6
    Constant Bitrate thewizard's Avatar
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    I'll add a little tidbit of my personal input here. Get yourself an amp with at least 75 watts RMSx4 at 4ohms. Any decent speakers that you may upgrade to later on will need at least that much power to give you decent performance. I'd also make sure that whatever you decide to buy is bridgeable as well, that way if you decide to get serious later on you could use the amp bridged to drive a good set of power hungry component speakers and get another little amp to drive your rear speakers if you feel that you still need them. There are many good quality 4 channel amplifiers out there that will meet all of these requirements without breaking the bank. Always consider the possibilities of becoming a car audio fanatic and wanting to upgrade in the future whenever you make any purchase, this will save you a pile of dough down the road. We have all learned the hard way of this possibility, and believe me when you get a taste of what is possible you WILL want more.
    Data911 M5 system
    RR and iGo8PC
    Pioneer head unit
    Pioneer DEQ-9200 digital processor
    Phoenix gold line drivers
    Ultimate and Visonik amplifiers
    SMT 3 way active front stage
    Digital Design sub woofers
    3 runs of 0 gauge wire

  7. #7
    Neither darque nor pervert DarquePervert's Avatar
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    Another suggestion:
    Go to a car stereo shop and do some comparisons. Ask some questions. Check out dimensions, features, etc.
    Once you make a decision on make/model then scour the internet for the best price. Or support your local business and buy it at the stereo shop.
    Have you looked in the FAQ yet?
    How about the Wiki?



    Under normal circumstances, a signature would go here.

  8. #8
    Newbie avluis's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the great tips, I will take them all into consideration.
    Now at least I know what I'm messing with!
    Oh, and Happy 4th!!

  9. #9
    MySQL Error soundman98's Avatar
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    I didnt see any mention of so, if you haven't picked out a amp yet, when you demo different amps, try to make sure that all of the amp settings are the same(gains should be set similar, and bypass/turn down any internal crossovers, or eq settings), and demo them on the same pair of speakers, and head unit(also should be using a flat eq, with no boost, or loudness controls on), with a cd of your favorite music-- also watch out for any of the shops trying to push one brand or model line on you. some shops do have a small stock of used equipment, so you might even be able to get something locally for a good price.

  10. #10
    Newbie avluis's Avatar
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    After so much online research and checking out a website here (crutchfield) and there, I have come to a conclusion on my components when I save enough for it.
    While still allowing me to have 4 channel and an independent sub, this setup will let me upgrade the factory speakers, add an, upgrade my current subwoofer and amp and last but not least, still compatible with the wiring that I already have installed in my vehicle.
    Though, I will be looking for an isolator offered here and here to add a yellow top battery.
    This in turn, will allow me to run all my components like the CarPC, screen and even the amps on the new battery and off the starter stock battery, but I may end up upgrading that as well for a red top.
    What do you guys think, I am going out of hand with that setup and did I choose the right components for what I am trying to get done here.

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