What Types of Wiring Do I Need to Install an Amplifier?
Power wire…ground wire…everything seems to involve wires. There is no escaping it, your amplifier needs wires or it won’t provide you with high quality sound. To make sure you have everything your amplifier needs, I am going to give you a brief overview of all the necessary wires that the average amplifier uses. To make the process simple, many manufactures offer complete amplifier installation kits which come with everything you need.
Power and Ground Wires: The job of an amplifier is to amplify a signal from the radio or source unit. However, without sufficient power to do so, the amplifier is non-effective. A proper power and ground wire are required to provide current to any amplifier. A 4 gauge cable is the standard size for most amplifiers, however other sizes exist. The ground wire gauge must be the same as the power wire, and no more than 3ft from the amplifier. For more information on this, see our article on Power and Ground Cable.
Speaker Wire: Whether you are wiring up subwoofers or speakers, speaker wire is used to make the connection. A monoblock amplifier will have 2 to 4 speaker terminals to make the connection to your subwoofers. A 2-channel will have 4 input terminals and a 4-channel will have 8 terminals.
RCA Cables: Amplifiers need an input signal to provide the musical data for the amp to output to the speakers. RCA cables are commonly used to carry audio or video signals from one device to another. A single cable is used for each channel on the amplifier, and they come in pairs of 2. A 2-channel amplifier will use a one pair RCA cable, and a 4-channel amplifier will use 2 pair RCA cable, etc..
Remote Turn-on Wire: Just connecting power and ground to an amplifier is not enough. The remote turn on lead wire is responsible for telling the amplifier to turn on when the vehicle or accessory power is activated. This wire connects to the blue-white turn on wire or blue power antenna on the wiring harness of most aftermarket receivers.
Speaker Level Inputs: Some amplifiers come with speaker level inputs, most commonly found on 4-channel speaker amplifiers. Speaker level inputs are used in place of RCA cables to provide a signal input to the amplifier using speaker wire connected to your actual speakers. This method is most commonly found on systems where the owner does not wish to replace the OEM radio.