No announcement yet.

What amplifier(s) can you recommend for my speakers and subwoofer?

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • What amplifier(s) can you recommend for my speakers and subwoofer?

    What I'll be installing:

    165A1 - Focal Access 6.5" 2 Way Component Speakers
    - Max. power handling: 120W
    - Nom. power handling: 60W

    165CA1 - Focal 6.5" 2 Way Coaxial Speakers
    - Peak Power Handling: 120 watts
    - RMS Power Handling: 60 watts
    - Impedance (per voice coil): 4 ohms

    25A1 - Focal 10" 400 Watt Subwoofer
    - Power Handling: 200 watts RMS/400 peak
    - Impedance/voice coils: single 4 ohm

    I am looking for a clean-sounding amplifier that can deliver power at the optimal range for the above speaks/sub setup...ideally due to space limitations, a compact 5-channel amplifier is best for my car but I'm not looking to spend over $1000. As you can see its a complete Focal set-up and focal is known for delivering an acoustic/musical sound. I want an amp that's clean/efficient and lets the focals do wat they were made to do!

    So far I've found all of these with their respective prices:

    ZRS-C8 - Cadence 2000W 5-Channel ZRS Type C Series - $450
    - 4-ohm RMS Power: 150W x 4 + 400W x 1
    - 2-ohm RMS Power: 200W x 4 + 600W x 1
    - Max RMS Power: 400W x 2 @ 4-ohm + 600W x 1 @ 2-ohm

    PDX-5 - Alpine 5 Ch 600 Watt Digital Power Amplifier - $439
    - 75 watts RMS x 4 + 300 watts RMS x 1 at 4 or 2 ohms
    - 150 watts RMS x 2 + 300 watts RMS x 1 in bridged mode (4-ohm stable in bridged mode)

    HD900/5 - JL Audio 5 Channel 900 Watt HD Series Amplifier - $899
    - 100 watts RMS x 4 at 4 ohms + 500 watts RMS x 1 (at 1.5-4 ohms)
    - 75 watts RMS x 4 (at 1.5-3 ohms) + 500 watts RMS x 1 (at 1.5-4 ohms)
    - 150 watts RMS x 2 bridged (at 3-6 ohms) + 500 watts RMS x 1 at (1.5-4 ohms)

    LRx 2.4 - Audison 2 Channel 460W Amplifier - $600 X 3 (little over budget)
    - RMS Power @13.8V @4 ohm 2 x 130 watts/ 1 x 460 watts
    - RMS Power @13.8V @2 ohm 2 x 230 watts

    Which of the above amplifier set-ups is highest quality and all-in-all what's the best bang for your buck?

    Can anyone recommend to me another amp/set-up that will work best with my speaks?

    If I'm going to spend between $500-1,000 on an amp, I want to make sure I get something worth the money! I know Alpine, Audison and JL Audio have been around for a while and have a good rep...the only one i'm not 100% sure on is Cadence as they're newer

    2003 Mitsubishi Lancer CarPC Build Thread

  • #2
    cadence has been in the business for a couple of years(their catalog says 17 years). they tend to stay above the mainstream car audio area's, and the stuff i have heard sounds very good-- i would put them in around the same cost/quality of focal, or audison..

    i have heard very mixed reviews of the pdx series-- some say they sound great, some say they lack oomph on the low end.. i can't say i can notice it, just passing along what has been said over at

    i have not heard anything bad about the hd series yet except the high price-- i was actually considering getting some of them for my own install-- but the fact that i want 2-4ch's and 2-1ch's adds up really quick..

    audison-- same as the hd series, there really isn't much other then the price that can be bad about those amps..
    My OLD 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT:
    "The Project That Never Ended, until it did"

    next project? subaru brz
    carpc undecided


    • #3
      Thanks for the reply -- you've answered some of my questions on past threads so thanks again

      The PDX-5 I have also read mixed reviews so I'll rule that one out.

      In terms of price, its a no brainer that the Cadence is the way to go -- but the thing that gets me is the fact that the JL audio is only 900 watts priced at $900, yet the cadence is half that price and delivers 2000W. Whats the catch here?

      How much crisper/cleaner will my speakers sound with the more expensive unit? How much deeper and more powerful will the sub sound with the Cadence? Or will there really not be too much of a noticeable difference between the two?

      If Cadence is newer to the car audio scene than the others, perhaps they have every reason to sell good equipment at a lower price...?

      going to rule out the audisons too...I think $1,800 is pushing it for my first amp setup
      2003 Mitsubishi Lancer CarPC Build Thread


      • #4
        Should I be delivering the nominal amount of power to my speakers (60W), the max (120W), or somewhere in between?

        The Cadence, for instance, delivers 150W to each speaker (4x150w at 4ohms). I'm a car audio noob and have never had an amp before. Will I be able to adjust it so it only delivers X watts (where X <= 120) to each speaker so I don't ruin them?
        2003 Mitsubishi Lancer CarPC Build Thread


        • #5
          i tried locating where cadence is based out, but it could be the difference between american, and imported parts--i know for sure that jl is designed, and made in America..

          jl also has uses switching power rails to regulate the power--- called the R.I.P.S. system-- so the 100 watt output rating is the same at 2ohms as it is at 8ohms. this is better for consistent power output across a wide range of loads, but it does cost some efficiency..

          some other things to take into account-- the first link i found for the cadence amp stated it was a class d amp( according to cadence's site, that is wrong, it is a class a/b.

          this can be good and bad
          class A/B amps are tried and true designs-- they have been around for many, many years, so the designs are pretty good, and at the price range of the cadence, it is very good..

          many attribute a/b amps to have a 'warmer, fuller' sound

          because a/b designs are so old, they are super cheap, and easy to build-- another possible reason for the price difference.

          a/b amps keep the signal in the analog realm during the entire process-- no conversions to degrade the signal..

          the heat. a/b amps generate a lot of heat at high volumes-- if you like it loud, in a tight install, this might pose a problem..

          less efficiency-- a/b amps are less efficient-- around 50% of power taken in is actually put to use as music power-- the rest gets put off as heat.

          size: a/b's are generally bigger then d amps..

          the jl class d:

          extremely efficient-- most of them are around 80-90% efficiency.

          as a side benefit, class d's run cooler..

          switching power rails-- consistent power, even when starting to get hot, or at different loads.

          size: their usually pretty tiny.


          COST--class d tech is still pretty expensive..

          if you look into what is required for class d amps, they are a little more technical to build them a/b amps-- most even have microprocessors that resample the audio to make sure what goes in, is what comes out..

          actually the microprocessors could also be considered a technical disadvantage-- because the amp is digital, it resamples the incoming signal as a digital signal, amplifies it, then changes it back to a analog signal-- while this depends on how good the processors are at their job, this can lead to some signal degradation..

          class d used to be very jagged-- some people had a hard time using them even for sub duty. the designs have improved, and the last review of the hd series i read gave them high praise, so this might not even be a issue..

          thats what i know-- maybe you have seen my other car audio posts, but when it comes to something as subjective as car audio, i prefer to give the people the info to make a educated decision instead of just telling them what i would desire, or would do...

          also: a link i found on that might interest you on smaller amps:

          My OLD 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT:
          "The Project That Never Ended, until it did"

          next project? subaru brz
          carpc undecided


          • #6
            I took a look into the XD series by JL Audio -- for the most part i've read nothing but fantastic reviews and the pricing is definitely reasonable.

            one thing i am concerned about, tho, is whether these amps are powerful enough for my setup...

            the subwoofer, for example has a 200W RMS power rating, and max 400W.

            If my amplifier has a sub channel that throws out only 180W, does this mean my subwoofer will be severely underpowered?

            How much does a difference in 20W really make in car audio? Ideally...what amount of power is required for my amplifier? Should i be buying an amp that throws out enough power just to meet the RMS power handling of the speakers/sub, or is it recommended to find one that meets the requirements for max power handling?

            On average, the output power for 5 channel amps I've looked at are 75W x 4 RMS + 180-250W x 1 RMS. Given the above specs on my focal speakers/sub setup, is this sufficient?? Ideally I'm looking to play these things pretty loud, but nothing that's going to ruin them...i'm hoping to have all my equipment last for many years

            do you recommend bridging multiple amps together, say going with a 2x2 (or 4 channel) setup for the speaks and a monoblock for the sub?
            2003 Mitsubishi Lancer CarPC Build Thread


            • #7
              difference in 20 watts:

              taken from this thread:
              Originally posted by npdang
              every doubling of power gives you a theoretical 3db gain in spl
              and 3db gain is not always noticable-- esp in a car environment..
              so 20 watts is not much when dealing with 100-200 watts..

              realistically, the more power you give to a speaker, the more control the amp will have over the speaker-- that is why there is a tone difference between a 5watt amp, and a 50 watt amp.. i used to run some kicker comps with a 600 watt sony amp(150x2 rms) the subs had a something like a 100watt max.. (they still work, but got ditched for some other subs) this leads me to the next point:

              under-powering: under-powering is like entering a marathon and only walking the entire race-- you can still get it done, but not as fast as those that ran. under powering any speaker will only damage it when you push the amp past it's distortion point-- that distortion will result in heat, and if the speaker can't get rid of the heat fast enough, it will fail.. keep in mind that the speaker, and amp setup did not cause the failure, but the distortion, and the speaker being ran for too long with a distorted signal...

              speaker power handling:

              if you correctly setup your crossovers and amps, you should never have a speaker fail- even if it is getting 75watts rms instead of the recommended 60..

              this was one of the reasons i got into carpc-ing. my old pioneer rev series 5 1/4"'s passive x-overs had too low of a x-over point, so i got distortion at the volume that my convertible 'needed' . i estimate that the original x-over point was about 1k, to 1.5k-- i needed to step it up to 2k to get rid of the distortion.

              i have never had a speaker fail--barring the ones i blew on purpose(1 watt speaker, 50 watt amp, 3/4 volume-- it lasted about 5 seconds)

              something else-- most tweeters are rated for around 18-20watts rms-- very rarely are they rate for amp power-- like 50, or75w rms. i run my tweeters off channels 1+2 on my alpine mrp-f300 amp-- so they are getting a full 50w rms-- but my active crossover limits them to 2khz-20kz. speakers only take what they need...

              different amps: i have also thrown this around for my own setup. if a 5 ch amp has approximately enough power for what you want to do, then it will def. save space.

              it is kind of up to you-- i use to prefer multiple amps because they were a smaller then a single 5ch version, and could be placed better, though the class d amps are starting to take care of that.

              some of the individual amps have features that the 5ch amps don't have, so it might be more beneficial to your setup to use multiple amps..
              My OLD 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT:
              "The Project That Never Ended, until it did"

              next project? subaru brz
              carpc undecided


              • #8
                Thanks for your detailed response -- has helped me a lot.

                Having taken your advice and looked around for a few other options, i'm still tied to both the JL HD900/5 and Cadence ZRS-C8. I have to choose one.



                although the 900/5 approaches the high-end of my budget range, I'm willing to take the hit if its by fair the best option. I can see that its important to buy a good amp, and that even good speakers can sound bad with an unpowered/overpowered/low quality amplifier. The JL HD900/5 definitely meets all requirements and has great reviews. That being said, something still tells me the Cadence is not a crappy amp (but I'm open to be corrected on that if anyone has heard anything negative)

                Given that Focal is a musical/acoustic sounding speaker, I want an amplifier that delivers clean, efficient power to my speaks, but at the same time doesn't add too much strain on my single yellowtop.

                Having asked a few so called experts, I've heard that it's not even a competition between these two. The JL beats the Cadence hands down, they say. That aside, I'm still a cheap bastard and I really have to wonder...HOW MUCH BETTER is the HD900/5 for the extra $450? For me, $450 is a fairly significant amount of dough to save on this project...$450 gets me a yellow-top plus some wiring, maybe a few sheets of dynamat etc...

                JL HD900/5:
                - $899.99
                - Class D
                - 100W RMS X 4
                - 500W RMS X 1

                Cadence ZRS-C8
                - $449.99
                - Type C Series (assuming this is A/B)
                - 4-ohm RMS Power: 150W x 4 + 400W x 1

                One thing on i did notice on the Cadence, however, is it lists "Power Supply: 16V". Does this mean it will work up to a 16V power supply, meaning it will still work with the standard 11-14.5V, or is it an amplifier designed specifically for a 16V??

                Just so I know where Cadence stands, would you guys say the Cadence ZRS-C8 is a superior amplifier to the Kicker 5 Channel 750 Watt ZX? ( or the Kicker ZX700.5 (

                Specs are one thing, having seen or heard an amplifier in action is if anyone has an idea of where all these amps stand relative to one another, i'd appreciate it.
                2003 Mitsubishi Lancer CarPC Build Thread


                • #9

                  on cadence's site, it later says that it is a 16v capable power supply.

                  i have never been near a audio competition, so it is only a guess, but this could be part of the 'competition' part. boosting the input voltage will boost the output wattage-- very useful when you need a slight edge over the competition..(the jl uses switching power rails, so output is consistent, regardless of input voltage)

                  also: as i said before, jl is designed, and built in america-- so american labor also costs more...
                  My OLD 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT:
                  "The Project That Never Ended, until it did"

                  next project? subaru brz
                  carpc undecided


                  • #10
                    One other thing...

                    The JL's 500W x 1 sub channel...can this be used for two subwoofers, each being given 250W...or is it only going to work with one?

                    2003 Mitsubishi Lancer CarPC Build Thread


                    • #11
                      you could theoretically power as many subs as you wanted from a single amp channel--as long as the end resistance is within the operating conditions of the amp
                      My OLD 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT:
                      "The Project That Never Ended, until it did"

                      next project? subaru brz
                      carpc undecided


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by soundman98 View Post
                        you could theoretically power as many subs as you wanted from a single amp channel--as long as the end resistance is within the operating conditions of the amp
                        ok thanks for letting me know -- I'll look into possibly picking up another 10" then

                        as for the cadence i've listed -- is it better or worst in terms of quality & design than the kicker zx series 5 channel amplifier (similar power at same price as cadence amp)? i'm really set on this cadence just because of the low price and the fact it meets (actually can exceed) my power requirements. While i've heard that a lot of companies dish out these high watt amplifiers at a super low price just to make the sale (despite their crappy efficiency and quality), my spider senses tell me that cadence isn't just another one of these companies...

                        i found a website that lists all car audio brands into categories based on their products' average/estimated performance relative to other car audio brands. the categories for each brand are: entry level, high quality, competition. cadence is categorized in the entry level category, but at the very high end/border line with the 'high quality' category (where JL audio is, along with other brands you'd expect to be in 'high quality' such as Focal, McIntosh, and Audison). i know cadence's rep isn't as strong as JL audio, but again its that question much better is the JL audio amp for $450 more expensive?

                        perhaps someone else can provide some feedback on both Cadence and JL audio who has been to competitions, or may have personally used/heard the above amps?
                        2003 Mitsubishi Lancer CarPC Build Thread


                        • #13
                          Does Boston Acoustics make good amplifiers?
                          2003 Mitsubishi Lancer CarPC Build Thread


                          • #14
                            How much of an audiophile are you? I only ask because class D amps will add some noise to your sound (most closer to 1% THD when pushed...1% is said to the number where one will start hearing unwanted noise). I know as the technology gets better, this issue may disappear. The Alpine is claiming lower THD than others on their latest models.

                            I've read of some doubling or tripling the amp capability over the speakers to keep the THD down to a respectable level). That is even more costly though..

                            Looks like you are going for gold on the speakers. You may want to rethink the class D amps for now and go with amps that can provide the clarity you may be expecting.

                            Don't get me wrong. I am thinking about going with a 5 channel class D myself. Less heat issues (don't think they don't create any heat, cause they still do..just lower temps). I'm trying to keep a stock look and don't want any amps visible (will fit in the current JBL OEM amp behind the rear interior molding of my 4Runner). I also do not plan on cranking it to the level where I will start hearing noise (getting older I guess).

                            And while JL may be getting some nice reviews on their class D, there are plenty of guys out there screaming over their class A/B since many have had power issues resulting in dead amps. (amps just not as good as their speakers).

                            Also make sure you understand the specs of the amp. If Cadense is stating a wattage with a specific voltage(16 volts)higher than the car (12-14), don't expect their published wattage.
                            Check the fuse rating. Many rate their equipment with wattage that the units can not produce with their small fuses.

                            While you seem pretty intent on the Focus line (who have excellent amps, just pricey), you may want to consider going with cheaper (cost, not quality) and put some of those funds into better amps.

                            I would say, just do more research and see what all your options are. Understand what your true expectations are, and then see what is in your price range. And don't buy specifically over a name (unless you are a name snob..)


                            • #15
                              JL vs Cadence

                              So glad to find this forum! Doncarbone, I am stuck in the same quandry. I have pretty much narrowed it down to the same two amps, the JL 900 and the ZRS-C8. I listened to the JL at a local shop. The class D sound of this amp was actually a little too "bright" for me in the mids and highs. We listed to other amps all on a pair of focal separates. The AB amps (JL and others) sounded more balanced, smooth, easier on the ears. That being said, I'm sure no difference was noticed for the sub sound quality.

                              The ZRS-C8 as I understand it is a class AB amp that Cadence lists as "Twin Amp Bridgeable to Double Power Output" and "Master-Slave" configured. So, my question to the experts out there is what does this mean? IF Doncarbone, and I both buy the ZRS-C8 at $450 or so and it is not powerful enough, can we just buy a second one and run them together to double the power in some configuration?

                              Doncarbone, Have you considered the highfonics ZXI60.4 ? One sales rep. I spoke with said it was a powerful amp, but I don't think the reviews hold up to the JL or Cadence.
                              I'm dying to hear from anyone who has purchased the candence amp! Anyone?
                              Also, you said, "i found a website that lists all car audio brands into categories based on their products' average/estimated performance relative to other car audio brands. the categories for each brand are: entry level, high quality, competition" What is the web site please???