differences in pro amp vs car amp?


May 7, 2014
Just wondering if there are any differences in pro audio amps and amps used in cars. can both be used for either application?


Jun 6, 2014
Yes and No. Amplifiers are all basically the same -- they make a signal from an audio source (radio tuner, cd player, mp3 player,...) strong enough to drive speakers.
that being said, there are typically several differences.
1. Pro amplifiers have a power supply built-in to run from line voltage - 100-250V. Car amps usually run off 12 volts.
2. Pro amplifiers may have more controls, such as switching of multiple sources, tone controls (bass, midrange, treble), and switching for more than one set of speakers.
3. Car amplifiers frequently have crossovers or filters built-in to handle subwoofers.
4. Since the background noise tends to be higher in an automobile, car amps are not designed for 'high fidelity', meaning less distortion, less noise, and wider frequency range. This is not always the case, since modern amplifiers are easily designed to high specifications at low cost.
5. Car amplifiers are typically smaller and can withstand more vibration and temperature range, as well as power-line filtering to reduce noise from other devices on the car, such as electonic ignition or on-board computers.

All that being said, there is no real reason not to use a pro amp in a car, or vice versa. Just be sure that you have firm mounting, and meet all interface specifications -- speaker impedance, power supply, shielded signal cables, etc.

In fact, I have used 'car' amplifiers in building PA systems, such as portable systems which may need battery power.
On a similar note, I have also used bookshelf 'home speakers' in a car.


i pretty much agree with the above, you can use either or. Main difference is that car amplifiers run off 12 - 14.4 volts, and have certain connections specific to cars. They have no pre-amp or controls apart from basic gain and sometimes bass boost or high frequency filters for subs. And obviously the look of them is different. The main amplification function is basically the same, and as said above, in general, car amps are of lower quality but that is not always true. I have used a car amp with a 12v psu to power a home theater sub, since home theater systems have the preamp and line out for the sub, all you need in that case is an amp, psu, the woofer and enclosure.
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