How Many Watts is Good for a Car Stereo? [Peak & RMS Explained]

Watts are a measure of power, and the more powerful your car stereo is, the better it will sound.

how many watts is a good car stereo

But how many watts do you need? Different manufacturers offer different opinions on this question. Some say that anything over 50 watts is too much for most vehicles, while others claim that 500 watts can be used successfully in some cars.

This article discusses what factors to take into consideration when choosing which wattage to go with for getting optimal performance out of your car stereo system.

How many watts is a factory car stereo?

The wattage of a factory car stereo ranges from around 5 to 15 watts per channel. Because of this, most standard factory car stereos do not provide an impressive on-road stereo experience.

While the Double DIN units are on the upper side, the single-DIN systems are conventionally on the lower half of the range, typically at around 5 to 10 watts of RMS watts.

What Wattage is Suitable For A Car Stereo?

For a car stereo to be powerful enough to significantly improve the quality of your driving experience, it will need an amplifier with at least 20-30 watts of RMS power output per speaker (two or four speakers).

Anything over 60 peak watts per channel is usually enough for most vehicles, and a power output of 100 watts at peak or more isn’t unheard of.

You may get a bit confused by the two preceding paragraphs? Let me explain about stereo power rating briefly for you-

There are two types of Wattage rating you’ll need to take a look at to understand whether it’s a powerful enough unit or just an ordinary one with that crappy sound.

  • Peak Wattage
  • RMS Wattage

What is Peak Wattage?

Peak wattage is the maximum amount of power that an amplifier can put out at a moment in time, but it isn’t constant over time.

The Peak Wattage indicates how loud your music could get when you are pushing it to its limit.

While this is the top limit your stereo system can go, it’s not constant. That means the stereo won’t be able to survive if you are constantly pushing its limit. It can go to that limit but occasionally, not constantly.

What is RMS Wattage?

RMS means Root Mean Square, which is basically a unit of power. It’s the amount of energy transferred per second to an electrical load with resistance equal to the speaker impedance.

Simply, the amount of power the system can handle constantly without getting damaged.

How to Figure Out RMS Wattage from Peak Wattage?

By multiplying Peak Wattage by 0.707 and rounding up you get RMS wattage, which provides a more accurate estimate of how much power your stereo system will be able to handle.

How to Know How Many Watts in a Stereo?

In many stereo packages or descriptions, you won’t see any indication as to the wattage. In such cases, you’ll have to calculate the wattage by multiplying the ampere value by the volts value.

For example, if it’s a 10 volt and 5-ampere unit, the wattage will be 10×5=50 wattage.

How Much Power Does Your Car Stereo Needs For a Clean Sound?

If your car stereo has an RMS wattage of 20 to 40 watts per channel, it’s generally enough to achieve good sound quality.

However, if you are looking for a louder and more powerful sound system, then you will need an amplifier with a higher wattage.

A car stereo that is rated at 40 watts RMS can deliver up to 120 peak watts of power.

If you are looking for a powerful enough unit with a good RMS and Peak wattage range, then this Kenwood DMX7706S 6.95″ Double DIN Digital Multimedia Receiver with Bluetooth is a great choice.

What Is The Difference Between Peak And RMS Power?

Peak and RMS (Root Mean Square) are measurements of different aspects of audio amplifiers: peak power vs. continuous power.

Peak power is the maximum amount of instantaneous power that an amplifier can produce during a musical peak, while RMS represents the continuous average output over time.

An amplifier with less than half its advertised wattage in RMS might not sound as loud or clear as it would if you connected a more powerful unit to your car’s stereo system.

Do More Watts Mean A Better Car Stereo?

When looking to buy a new car stereo, it’s important to know how many watts you need. The wattage of a car stereo determines how powerful the sound will be – the higher the wattage, the better the quality of sound.

Most factory-installed stereos have low wattage, so it’s best to upgrade the car audio to something more powerful. If your car stereo has an RMS wattage that is twice as much as the amplifier power output, then it would put out a clean and clear sound.

Anything over 60 watts per channel is usually enough for most vehicles, but if you want to hear music at its best quality, 100-watts or more might be needed.

However, watts are only a significant factor for a better quality car stereo, it needs other mandatory and optional features as well that make it a quality car stereo. For example, if it’s a high wattage unit but the system is outdated, you won’t be able to enjoy most modern-day features like hands-free calling, Bluetooth, wifi, and backup camera, touch screen, etc.

Why is a stereo with more watts better?

Simply put, more watts means a better car stereo. More powerful amplifiers provide louder and cleaner sound quality than those with lower wattages. This is because they are able to push more power to the speakers, resulting in less distortion and improved clarity overall.

That means a factory stereo that puts out 15 watts RMS is not as powerful as a 40-watt aftermarket unit.

Is a 200 Watt Car Stereo Good?

200 watts is a lot of power, and it’s more than most people need for their car stereo system. However, that doesn’t mean that it won’t provide better sound – in fact, with the right equipment, 200-watt car stereos can offer an excellent audio experience. Just be sure to check all other features when you are focusing on it getting enough power.

Plus, whether the 200 watt is for all the channels or one channel is another question. If 200 watts is equally divided into 4 channels amp, that’s 50 per channel which is pretty common these days in cars. They are good but don’t expect them to be the ultimate contender.

And if it’s a 6 channel amp, then the sound quality will be ordinary. Don’t expect that to satisfy you on the busy road by canceling outside noise.

Is 50 Watts per Channel Enough for a Car Radio?

50 watts per channel is enough for a car stereo, but it will depend on the quality of the unit. If you’re looking for something that offers powerful sound and excellent clarity, then you might want to consider something with a higher wattage.

However, 50-watt car stereos are still a great option for those who don’t need the most powerful system available.

Just be sure to check the other features, as not all 50-watt car stereos are created equal. Be informed that a 50 watt per channel radio will have around 12 to 15 RMS output which is pretty okayish.

What does 55w 4 mean?

This means that the amplifier is capable of outputting 55 watts continuously into each of the four channels. It does not mean that the stereo will put out 220 watts in total.

Is it Okay to Have Speaker Wattage Higher Than Radio?

Yes, it is perfectly okay to have speaker wattage that is higher than the radio’s wattage. However, it is important to ensure that both the amplifier and the speakers are compatible with each other. Otherwise, you might experience problems like distortion or damage to car sound systems.

Plus, you shouldn’t use a lot less wattage radio than car speakers. Otherwise, you’ll have to bear with distorted and weak sound output that no one wants to hear on the road.


If you want to enjoy the best sound quality and clarity, then it is important that your stereo has a higher wattage. This will allow for powerful amplifiers capable of pushing out louder and clearer sound than those with lower wattages.

The RMS output – or continuous power – should be given the most importance when choosing between different models.

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