More Car Amps,
By Joseph Palenchar On Jan 30 2012 - 5:01am
LAS VEGAS —
Autosound suppliers went to International
CES with a variety of new amplifiers and
speakers to keep the momentum going in both
For the 11 months ending November, retail-level
sales of car speakers rose 5 percent to $165.4
million, and amplifier sales rose 5 percent to $72.3
million, NPD Group statistics show.
Hoping to capture bigger shares of a growing
business, suppliers such as Alpine, JBL and Kicker
launched new amplifiers designed to connect
to factory head units, and suppliers such as Infinity
launched speakers designed to play loud when
connected to thin-gauge factory speaker wires.
For their part, companies such as Rockford Fosgate,
Lightning Audio, and Sony downsized amps
so they could fit in more places in more vehicles,
and more Class D amplifiers turned up to deliver
higher power from a smaller chassis.
Here’s what dealers found:
most powerful amp ever is the MRXM240,
a mono amp rated at 2,400 watts using
CEA-2006 specs. The MRX-M240 can be added
to factory systems because of its auto-sensing,
four-channel speaker-level inputs. It works with
Alpine’s RUX-KNOB subwoofer-level controller. It
ships in March at a price that wasn’t available.
debuted its first two Class D amps are
more compact than the company’s Class A/B and
G/H amps. Both are designed for marine and car
use, and they incorporate RCA audio-signal sensing
technology to turn on when they detect audio
signal from a head unit. The feature makes it unnecessary
to connect the amps to a switched power wire for automatic turn-on, though wires must still
be run to the vehicle’s battery for power and ground.
One of the amps is the four-channel XC6410 rated at
4x85 watts RMS into 4 ohms and 4x125 watts into 2
ohms. It’s bridgeable to two channels. The two-channel
XC6210 is rated at 2x85 watts into 4 ohms and 2x125
watts into 2 ohms. It’s bridgeable to one channel. Both
feature high- and low-pass filters and will retail from
$300 to $400 on an everyday basis.
Reference X series of 10 car speakers uses
a variety of technologies to play loud when adding the
speakers to factory head units or to low-power aftermarket
head units. (See TWICE, Jan 10.)
has seven new GTO-series car amplifiers are designed
to connect to any existing factory or aftermarket
sound system and ensure that input sensitivity is set correctly
for optimum performance, the company said.
The selection consists of two four-channel
amps, a three-channel amp, a five-channel
amp, and three mono amps. Pricing was
To connect to most factory systems, the
multichannel amps accept any analog audio
signal from 50mV to 15V, making it unnecessary
to install high-to-low-level adapters.
For factory systems that lack a remotetrigger
wire, the amps turn on automatically
when they sense audio signal.
To ensure that input sensitivity
is properly set, the amps come
with a setup CD for insertion in
the car’s head unit. While the
CD plays, the installer turns an
input-sensitivity knob on the amp
until an LED turns green.
launched new ZXS
series monoblock car audio amplifiers
that feature significantly
smaller heatsinks than the company’s
ZX series amps with similar
The company also announced
January shipment of a $249-suggested
turns an iPod or iPhone into a
source unit for vehicles not usually
equipped with a sound system.
The ZXS amps are the
and $549 ZXS1000.1 mono Class D subwoofer amps,
both less than 14 inches long and rated, respectively, at
1,500 and 1,000 watts into 2 ohms at 14.4 volts.
Like the ZX amps, the ZXS amps feature isolated differential
inputs to make them compatible with any factory
or aftermarket radio. Three automatic turn-on modes are
included: remote, DC offset, and audio-signal sensing.
Kenwood unveiled three amps in the Excelon series
that are said to combine high performance with high value.
They are the $350-suggested X700-5, $280 X450-4
and $200 X500-1.
The X500-1 is a mono amp rated at a maximum 1,000
watts RMS into 2 ohms. The four-channel X450-4 simultaneously
delivers 2x75 watts and 2x150 watts into 2
ohms and can be bridged into three channels.
The five-channel X700-5 delivers 4x50 watts plus
1x500 watts into 2 ohms. All ship in February.
Also in the Excelon series, the company expanded its
subwoofer selection with two value-oriented models, the
$150-suggested KFC-XW12 and $140 KFC-XW10. The
KFC-XW12 is a 12-inch model with 1,200-watt
maximum power handling, and the KFCXW10
features 10-inch driver. Both
ship in February.
In Excelon component-speaker
systems, the company launched the
$200-suggested KFC-XP184C with
1-inch soft-dome tweeter and 7.1-inch woofer.
The speaker fits into factory speaker
locations ranging from 6.5 inches up
to 6x9 inches via a placement adapter.
The speaker can therefore replace
OEM speakers in Chevrolet,
GM, Toyota, Dodge, Chrysler
and other vehicles with higher
sound quality and higher power
handling, the company said.
It ships in February.
new amps and speakers under
the Rockford Fosgate brand
as well as under the Lightning,
Brax and Helix brands.
Under the Brax brand, the
company expanded the amp
selection with two new Matrix
series amps and two Nox series
amps. All are Class A/B
The Brax $4,499 MX-4B
is rated at 4x275 watts into 4
ohms and 4x285 watts into 1
ohm. The two-channel MX-2B
is rated at 2x550 watts into 4
ohms and 2x570 watts.
Pricing wasn’t available. They ship in the second quarter
with separate power supplies.
The two Nox amps, shipping in January, include
the $2,999 Nox 4B, rated at 4x100 watts
into 4 ohms and 4x170 watts into 2 ohms. The
$3,499 4BDSP delivers the same output and
adds integrated six-channel DSP to tailor the
sound to the vehicle’s interior. It’s the first time
that DSP is turning up in the Brax line.
In the Helix line, the company expanded the
speaker selection with three new Competition
series speakers and launched its first two
standalone digital signal processors, which
tailor system response for individual car interiors.
The two processors join an eight-channel
The new Helix speakers are the C62C twoway
component speaker system at $999/pair
with 6-inch woofer, the C63C three-way component
system at $1,749/pair with 6-inch woofer,
and the 6-inch midbass C6B at $499/pair.
Helix’s two standalone DSP components
are the $1,099 Competition series eight-channel
C-DSP, shipping in January, and the $699
six-channel Precision series P-DSP, already
Under the Lightning brand, the company unveiled
the first two mini amplifiers designed for
installation in cramped locations. They ship in
the second quarter.
Sony created the high-end GS series amps
and speakers targeted exclusively to 12-volt
specialty stores while focusing its Xplod brand
of amps and speakers on national accounts.
The GS amps are about 40 to 50 percent
smaller than their predecessors yet deliver
more wattage, mobile electronics business
manager Taka Noguchi said. The selection
consists of the $349-suggested Class A/B
4/3/2-channel XMGS 400 and the Class D
mono XMGS100 at $349. They ship in March.