Do Head Units Have Built In Amps?

Sony Stereo

The majority of head units and stereos receivers do not have built-in amps. Because they’re not a massive selection of head units with built-in amps, many opt to add an external amplifier instead. 

Some head units include built-in amplifiers, and others don’t. There are upsides and downsides to head units with built-in amps, and we’re about to cover the main points to consider below. 

This article will explain if most head units have built-in amps and examples of head units that already have amplifiers already built into them.

So do I need a head unit with a built-in amp?

Head Units: Built-In Amps

It’s common for head units to include built-in amps. However, some people find that the built-in amplifiers in head units are relatively weak. 

If you were interested in using a head unit that includes a powerful amp, you’d be looking to spend more money. 

In this case, it may be cheaper to purchase a separate amplifier to connect with your head unit to boost the signal. Overall this will be a better option.  

When you’re listening to music, you might not be too bothered about the distortion that occurs when you have the volume turned up. If so, an amp that’s built into your head unit would be enough. 

This is especially since some models come with plenty of power that can help to minimize distortion. 

Head units without preamp outputs can cause the built-in amp to become more distorted. Therefore, you may want to consider using speaker-to-line level converters or speaker level inputs if you’ve decided to connect it to an external amplifier. 

These will help create a more precise signal to reduce distortion.

 When you’re using a high-quality head unit, the signal being sent to an external amplifier is improved. Not to mention, the quality of the sound with the head unit and built-in amp on its own is better too. 

In some cases, purchasing a new head unit may improve sound quality but is not always the best option to enhance sound quality

Sony DSX-GS80: Built-in amp

The Sony DSX-GS80 is an example of a receiver that has a powerful amp with two-ohm speaker load options. The stereo has four channels rated at 100 Watts, which would only normally be possible from a dedicated amp.  

Benefits Of Using A Separate Amplifier

Car audio systems that include a subwoofer require an amplifier to help power them to their full capabilities. This is because most head units do not produce enough power to power a subwoofer in addition. 

The only exception to this is if your car audio system already includes connections made for subwoofers. 

Implementing an amplifier, in addition to your head unit, can improve the quality of your music. You’re also able to have more freedom when installing different types of speakers in your car.

 If you’re becoming frustrated with distortion when listening to loud music, an external amplifier is your best option. Some head units with built-in amps can handle loud volumes without distortion, but some can’t. We recommend doing your research before purchasing because of this.  

Therefore, a separate amp system could help to improve the sound quality of music in your car when you’re listening to it at high volumes.

A graphic of a dedicated car Amp

Final Thoughts

Some head units have built-in amps, and others don’t. Amps that are built-into your head unit can be convenient for listening to music loudly and minimizing distortion. 

However, that all depends on the type of amp built into your head unit and what car audio system you want or need. 

Not all head units have amps, and it’s common for ones that do not be powerful enough for people who want to listen to music loudly without distortion.

So, it’s worth considering how loudly you listen to your music and whether including a dedicated amp in your car audio system would be worth it to handle the extra speakers. 

Picture of Alex
I loved my car but was frustrated with my media system. So I upgraded my stereo, making silly wires and precarious phone mounts a thing of the past. The Apple Car Play stereo was so good I wanted to show more people how this could be done and truly upgrade their cars multimedia system! Founder
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