The longer you deal with car audio, the more chances you have of installing the components yourself. In this basic guide, I’ll show you specific tools and components you need to install a car audio amplifier.
Amplifiers can be a bit tricky to install. They require removing interior trim and also running cables from the front of the car to the back or wherever the car audio amplifier will be mounted.
After purchasing your car audio amplifier, you need to purchase an amplifier wiring kit. These kits usually contain:
* A power cord (big red wire)
* Inline fuse holder
* Set of RCAs
* a long thin wire (usually blue in color) called the remote control
* Some speaker wires and various wire connectors and harness
These kits also come in a variety of sizes or gauges, with the most common being 8 gauge and 4 gauge sets. The smaller the number, the thicker the wire. 4 gauge kits are sufficient to handle amps up to about 600-1200 watts.
Once you have received the car audio amplifier and amplifier wiring kit, it is now time to look under your hood and locate your battery. Once you locate the battery, it’s best to unhook the battery during installation so you don’t short anything while you work. Look around the firewall area on the side where your battery is located and look for any type of hole that would lead into the interior of your vehicle where you could run your power cable. If you can’t find an easily accessible hole, you may have to drill one yourself. If you have to drill one yourself, it’s best to make a small hole first so you don’t damage any wires in the area. Gradually enlarge the hole with some kind of step drill. Once the hole is made, use rubber grommets to ensure the hole is sealed and that the metal edges don’t cut your power cord.
Now that the power cable is routed through the firewall, it’s time to remove the interior panels for the wiring installation throughout the vehicle. During this process you will run 3 wires to the car amp location. Generally, the amp is located in the trunk/hatch area. The first wire is a red wire (this is the power wire you ran from the vehicle’s battery). Next will be a set of RCAs, and the last wire will be the thin blue wire we call a remote control. Some kits allow the remote cable to be built into the RCAs. The RCAs send the sound or signal to the amplifier and it is then amplified by the speakers. A rule I generally use when running wires is to separate the power and RCAs by running the power wire on one side and the RCAs on the other. If not done properly, chances are you’ll be making engine noise out of your speakers. The RCAs connect to the output on the back of the radio, some CD players have a “Subwoofer Out” set of RCA jacks that give you more control over the sound quality. Next is the remote control wire (usually the blue thin wire). This is the wire that sends the amplifier the signal to turn on when the radio is turned on. This cable hooks into the remote control cable on the back of the CD player. Don’t worry about the wires being too long at this stage of the process, they can easily be shortened once you’ve found where you want the amp to sit.
Once you have the cables routed, you can set up your box and amp to eventually be permanently installed to give yourself a reference as to how much cable needs to be trimmed. You will also be able to set where your soil will go at this point; In general, a body ground within 30 cm of your amplifier is sufficient. Once you’ve found a suitable spot, use a bit of sandpaper to strip the area of any paint so you have a solid connection to the vehicle body. Now you can connect all the cables to the amp and subs and hide excess cables to give your installation a more professional look.
The last phase is to connect the power cable to your battery and install the in-line fuse protection. When everything is ready, you can turn on your system and make any adjustments to the levels you feel are right for the sound quality you want.