How to Choose a Stereo Amplifier

by David Stewart

Stereo amplifiers are used in combination with speakers on music systems to enhance the volume as well as the quality of sound. Choosing the right stereo amplifier will require you to consider a wide range of factors that include the power of the equipment as well as the way you enjoy music. Listening to the sound produced by the amplifier will help you identify the one that meets your requirements.


Match the amps to the speakers when choosing a stereo amplifier. Although the amplifier’s power output is specified in watts, study the RMS watts-per-channel rather than the total watts. Find an amplifier that has a watts-per-channel rating equal to or slightly higher than your speakers. A rating that is too low can cause speaker damage whereas a very high rating will lead to poor power output.


Consider your listening habits while selecting stereo amplifiers. Amplifier models are based on transistor or valve technology. Choose transistor-based amplifiers if you like playing music loud. If you appreciate the nuances of acoustic music that is unamplified, select valve-based amplifiers.


Consider whether the amplifier has subwoofer-connection options. Using a subwoofer can enhance the sound quality of your stereo system. If you are planning to upgrade to a subwoofer, you will need an amplifier that supports this attachment.


Choose newer amplifier models such as wireless amplifiers if you wish to avoid having wires trailing around your music system. These models can improve the output from your speakers within specified area ranges.


Listen to the sound effects produced by the amplifier before you decide upon a model. Ask for a demonstration at the amplifier store to pick up nuances of the influence the amplifier has on the sound quality. Listen to your favorite type of music using a particular amplifier to check if it will work for you. Make a final decision based on your live experience rather than just technical specifications.

About the Author

Hailing out of Pittsburgh, Pa., David Stewart has been writing articles since 2004, specializing in consumer-oriented pieces. He holds an associate degree in specialized technology from the Pittsburgh Technical Institute.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera audio matrix image by Kirill Roslyakov from