Subwoofer Amp Requirements

Subwoofer Amp Requirements

Choosing the proper amplifier for a subwoofer requires knowledge in electrical wiring and power as well as sound design layout. Most subwoofers include ranges of amplification power needed for desirable performance and set power impedance levels while available amplifiers offer mono and bridgeable stereo outputs. Bridging a stereo amp essentially creates a mono amp. Subwoofer amp requirements depend on sound designs for available spaces, whether extra bass is required in a car or at home.

Subwoofer Amplification Power Range

When designing sound replication, the power ranges of individual speakers, including subwoofers, often suggest the proper amplifier requirements. Most subwoofers list continuous wattage power necessary to operate the speaker. The lowest number represents the smallest amplifier wattage necessary to power the speaker, while the highest number represents the peak power output the speaker safely withstands. Car and home audio experts, Crutchfield online magazine, recommend an amplifier power output somewhere in the upper 1/3 of the power range of the speaker. For example, a subwoofer rated from 100 to 400 watts of power operates best with an amp pushing 300 to 400 watts. Speaker power ranges help ensure that power hungry bass notes receive enough amplifier output without damaging speakers.

Power Impedance Levels

Crutchfield online magazine defines impedance as the amount of resistance speakers provide to the current flowing from an amplifier. Power impedances common in subwoofer speakers include 2, 4 and 8 ohms. An amplifier running 4 ohm speakers may lack the power necessary to operate twice as powerful 2 ohm speakers. Necessary amplifier power levels double when speaker impedance levels halve. Speakers at 8 ohms may not accept the full power of an amplifier intended to power speakers with 4 ohm power impedance levels. Audio designers must know both the desired power output as well as speaker impedance rates to ensure full rich bass note replication in either home or car audio applications.

Mono vs. Multichannel Amps

Amplifiers exist that allow audio designers to power every speaker in the system from a single master amp or individual amps specifically designed to power a single speaker at optimal levels, states the audio experts at Car Audio and Electronics online magazine. Selecting a single amp for a subwoofer while the remaining speakers power off the main receiver often drapes audio in heavy muddled bass tones that high- and mid-level ranges cannot match. Multichannel amps ably power several stereo speakers at once while offering a mono subwoofer-specific channel. While subwoofers will run from stereo inputs, the human ear typically cannot place deep bass, and more powerful mono outputs typically increase bass response. Multichannel amps even allow two-channel bridging, resulting in a single channel with double the power.

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