By Mugs.

Shopping for Amps and Reading the Specs

“There are lies, dammed lies, and then there is statistics”.

How true. I want to toss out a few pointers about shopping for amps using the internet, magazines or literature by comparing specifications and features. There are so many specs that befuddle and confuse that it’s crazy. I speak only for myself and not anyone or any amp company, just me. Let me know if you agree, disagree.

Tip 1. A good rule of thumb is a legit amp should run you about a dollar a watt at retail prices.

Peak vs. Continuous or RMS

Tip 2. If the amp highlights its peak power instead of continuous or RMS output (root mean square), you’re holding in your hand a P.O.S. Run away, don’t get scammed. Why is that? To answer that let me ask you a question? If I were asked to describe you to a stranger what would I say? I would say you are a specific ethnicity, about 6’2″, maybe 210lbs, muscular build, in shape, brown hair neatly combed etc…That’s RMS or continuous.

Ok what if I described you as 210lbs, has vertical leap of 10’5″ have brown hair etc…You would look at me and say WTF? Has a vertical leap of 10’5″ what is that all about??? That is what the peak rating is doing; telling you that this amp can produce 800 watts for just a very, very short time to maybe 800 watts but normally will only deliver about 160 watts, anything over that for more than a minute will cause the amp to thermal and shut down.

But the amp says it’s got 800 watts? WTF is up with that?? Well your leap is 10’5″ but you stand only 6’2″. Peak power is just one of about 5 other factors to consider but 98% look only at the output spec and the swap meet amp makers freakin’ know that and that’s why they silk screen unbelievable wattage on their junk. Sure it will make your woofers move but will they bump? Not a chance in hell. Will it start cutting off after a few minutes of bumping? Yeah.

Tip3. Look closely at what impedances the amp operates best at. If you want an amp to play woofers DO NOT buy a 2 channel amp. Get a mono or 1 channel amp. If you need any more advice on amplifiers and specs call me, let’s talk. I love talking car audio or come on down to Tempe, Arizona, near Phoenix and visit me at Sounds Good To Me audio electronics any time, any day.

Sounds Good To Me car audio & video electronics and security alarm system installation specialists are located in Tempe, AZ, servicing the entire metro Phoenix area including Mesa, Chandler, Scottsdale, Glendale and Gilbert, Arizona. Call us at (480) 968-8543 or visit us at Contact us by email at


4 thoughts on “Amps and Reading the Specs

  1. Have you seen the new bernie boland amp specs? I found you on the internet and I’m considering the initial purchase, but I have no idea what most of the specs mean. Can you help me decode them?

  2. Old post but I got two SQ2150 amps from Boland Audio. All I can say is they are beautiful and sound amazing.

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