You may be wondering how to connect an equalizer to an amplifier. Perhaps you want to understand how to install the system yourself, or maybe you want to aid someone else in connecting their sound system. Alternatively, you might want to know what an equalizer connected to an amplifier does before you consider learning about the connection process.
Amplifiers enhance the quality and clarity of the music. Individually, amplifiers and equalizers have unique attributes that work well with stereos. Together, they quiet outside noises and strengthen audio quality.
Most car stereos come with a default equalizer whose volume distorts as it increases. This can take away the fun of listening to music while driving because the stereo volume isn’t loud enough to mask outside noise.
Let’s talk a little bit more about what equalizers and amplifiers are. Then, we will guide you through the process of connecting both of them to your speaker system. Finally, we’ll cover some details to keep in mind when selecting the right amplifier for you.
What Is an Equalizer?
Equalizers are devices you install in your car or home sound system. They are used to filter unwanted audio signals and frequencies. This changes the sound of music in your vehicle, making it more pleasing.
Some car and home speaker systems come with a built-in equalizer. In these cases, there’s no need to install an external one. But if the equalizer doesn’t observe frequency changes as it should, then an external stereo equalizer is an excellent option.
In addition, there are a variety of external equalizers out there. Some are designed to hang on your car’s dash, specifically above or below the head unit. On the other hand, some are mounted in the trunk of your vehicle. Remote equalizers are one type of these. These are typically mounted in the trunk along with the amplifier. Apart from these two designs, there are plenty more; it all depends on your preference.
It can be good to have an equalizer within reach for easy accessibility. If you’re going for the dashboard equalizer, do some fittings before installing the equipment. This way, you can choose an alternative if it doesn’t end up suiting your space.
What is a Car Amplifier?
Most people will agree music is the perfect driving companion. It enhances the mood and contributes to the overall experience. Like equalizers, car amplifiers are an excellent addition to your car audio system. A car amplifier zeroes out external noises while driving and gives you clear quality sounds.
Although most stereo equalizers can work as an amplifier, having a separate amplifier will give you better sound output. This is because having each device do only one task, as opposed to multi-tasking, usually leads to a better result. It is also ideal in case of any malfunctions. Having one task per device makes it easier to troubleshoot and solve problems.
What Does a Car Amplifier Do?
The purpose of an amplifier is to enhance the sound power and quality. As mentioned before, most stereo units generate low-level audio. Due to their factory-built settings and make, the sound distorts when you increase the volume to the max.
But by adding an external amplifier to the car stereo, you can boost the low-level audio signals. It gives the stereo the power needed to create a more satisfying sound.
Step-by-Step: How to Connect Equalizer to Amplifier
First, to connect directly to an amplifier, your amplifier has to have both a preamp-in and preamp-out channel. If either of those is missing, you will need an intermediary such as a receiver. This is used to connect the two pieces of equipment in a loop.
The car head unit is the interface you interact with while you’re behind the wheel. It is the brain and command box of the sound system. These days, the head unit comes with many user-friendly tools, like Bluetooth, GPS navigation, USB outlets, etc.
You can connect an equalizer to an amplifier via the following steps. First, make sure you have all of the necessary items on hand.
- Wire crimper
- Wire ties
- Soldering iron
- Wire stripper
- Amplifier kit (RCA cables, ground wires, terminals, remote lead)
Planning the Location
Planning the location of the equalizer is a crucial first step. You wouldn’t want to drill holes in your car dash only to then discover it is the wrong place.
In addition, keep in mind the wire length for the connections. Regardless of the mount location, the wire length determines how far apart the pieces of equipment can be from each other.
For example, remote equalizers are mounted in the trunk. These would need a longer length of wire. Additionally, they come with remote control for easy control. However, in most cases, it’s best to not have the amp in the truck. Mounting it on the dash instead simplifies the wiring process. It’s also helpful if you wish to add more amplifiers later on.
External stereo equalizers need custom installation to be mounted on the dash. The mount fixtures could be placed below or above the receiver. Whichever you choose, ensure it doesn’t take up too much space. You’ll also want to ensure that you can easily access it.
Equalizer and Amplifier Wiring
Before you wire the equalizer and amplifier to the head unit, make sure the car ignition is off. Then, disconnect the negative terminal from your battery to avoid getting shocked.
Run the power wire, a red 16 gauge wire to the car’s fuse panel, then use a crimp-on connector to attach it to the device power input.
Furthermore, to get the equalizer and amplifier to turn on automatically, you can link their power source to the stereo’s power. The lead wire is usually blue and can be accessed by removing the receiver or head unit from the dashboard. Check your vehicle’s instructions to remove the receiver or head unit from the dashboard.
For the wiring, strip the turn-on wire end piece, and stretch an additional wire from the receiver to the equalizer. Then strip the end of the wire, and join the two. Make sure to wrap the connection with electrical tape to prevent shorting. By doing this, you’ll have connected the equalizer so it will turn on whenever the main stereo does.
Also, don’t mount your equalizer directly on steel. Mounting it on steel will cause noise problems. It’s best to attach a non conducive board to the car body and mount the equalizer on that. Another idea is to isolate the chassis by using rubber grommets on the screws.
Next, you’ll want to connect the ground wiring. Remove the bolt next to where you mounted your equalizer. Then, attach a crimp ring terminal small gauge wire to it, to bolt it into place.
On the off chance you can’t locate a suitable bolt position, drill a new hole. However, be careful; you wouldn’t want to puncture something important like your gas tank.
RCA Connection Cables
Sound signal travels through RCA cables to the equalizer and then to the amplifier. Therefore, connecting an equalizer to an amplifier requires two sets of RCA cables.
You will need to plug an RCA cable into the head unit channel, and connect it to the equalizer. Then, join the second RCA cable to the amplifier.
You will find the channels on the back of the device. Right channel jacks often take the red-colored RCA plug, while the left channel takes the white or black one. Also, you have to remove the receiver or head unit of the dashboard to access the rear end. For this part, consult the owner’s manual for removal instruction.
Once connected, you can tune the equalizer frequencies as you like.
Equalizers let you tune music to your taste. If you’re not sure how to adjust the frequency, you might end up with poor results. This is why equalizers come with a default preset for music as well as additional preset options. These presets are classified by genre. They can aid in amplifying your musical taste.
This is the last step of the process, to tune your equalizer to your desired settings. After this, you are ready to enjoy your newly improved sound system!
Factors To Consider When Choosing an Amplifier
There are some important factors to keep in mind when choosing an amplifier. For example, it’s best to buy an amplifier that matches your speaker’s power. If you pair a speaker with a more highly powered amplifier, it could damage the speaker.
Below are some of the main factors you’ll need to keep in mind.
It’s essential you think about location and the size of your amplifier. If the amplifier is large, it might not fit in the space. This is especially true if it’s going to be under the seat of your car or on the dashboard. Instead of getting a large amplifier when you are working with limited space, you can consider multiple smaller amps. These can fit your car space and deliver exceptional sound quality.
Power and Impedance
When choosing an amplifier, consider the power unit of the amp. Root mean square (RMS) measures the power output of an amplifier. If the amp’s RMS is too high, this will damage the speaker. Therefore, you should make sure the speakers equal the power of the amplifier.
You also need to know the impedance specifications of your speaker and amplifier. If they mismatch, this can lead to the same result and cause the speaker to blow over time.
Therefore, make sure your speaker power and impedance specifications are the same before purchasing.
Number of Channels
“Channel” refers to the connector for sound distribution between devices. The amplifier sends a powered signal to the speakers via RCA cable.
To amplify a car stereo system, you typically need an equal number of amplifiers and speakers – that is, for every speaker, one amplifier. This distributes the sound evenly between the speakers and in turn, heightens your experience.
That said, some amplifiers can connect all the speakers simultaneously — for example, a four-channel amplifier:
4 Channel Amplifier
A 4 channel amplifier is a single amplifier that can connect to four speakers or more at once.
Primarily, the design is used to power door speakers. As such, it’s a go-to choice for individuals who have minimal space but still want a bigger sound. This is a good option if you’re seeking an easy method of amplification and don’t care how it comes about.
The sound quality of a 4 channel amplifier is excellent, but installing one amplifier per speaker has higher strength and intensity. So, consider your personal needs and preferences when deciding which style is best for you.
Therefore, knowing the number of channels needed to amplify your speaker will help you choose a suitable amplifier.
If you’re looking for an easier way to connect your equalizer to an amplifier, you can always hire someone. But if you’re determined to do it yourself, these steps will guide you.
There are many benefits to having a separate equalizer and amplifier. For one, it will make driving around town with your friends more fun because of the music quality.
However, be aware equalizers change the tone of songs. It gives you the power to make music to your taste. So if you’re not so sure about frequencies, you can use equalizer presets.
John Fleming is the senior editor for Audiophilez.com, covering everything from headphones to smart speakers. He is a graduate of Music Production and Technology. Before Audiophilez, John began his career as a staff writer for two different magazines, where he became a skilled storyteller across different mediums. When he isn’t writing, he can be found biking, reading books, and playing the piano.