All CEA-2006 compliant amplifiers are tested using the same specifications so you can easily compare any CEA compliant amplifier. The old Consumer Electronics Association power amplifier rating system standard, the EIA 517B, was lax in its ways and allowed car audio manufactures to rate their amplifiers power output almost any way they choose, so long as it was listed. Thus trying to compare amplifiers was an apples-to-oranges ordeal.
To make the amplifier comparison process easier for everyone to understand, any amplifier stamped with the CEA-2006 product mark can be compared evenly to other amplifiers with the same mark. This allows for an apples-to-apples comparison of all amplifiers which contain the CEA logo. Amplifiers are rated primarily by their Output Power and Signal-to-Noise Ratio which must appear in conjunction with the CEA-2006 logo on the product packaging.
CEA-2006 Compliant Standard- Listed Amplifiers
Manufacturers are required to:
- Express output power as watts RMS
- Measure with 14.4V DC supply
- Utilize testing under a 4-ohm load
- Have 1% or less total harmonic distortion in the amplifier’s output.
The Signal-to-Noise ratio of an amplifier is how much extra noise is present in the amplifiers output signal compared to the signal being fed to it by a source. Basically, it’s the amount of “hiss”, “crackling” or “popping” you hear when your music is quiet or there is no music playing. CEA requires that this noise is compared to an output signal at 1 watt. Other amplifier specifications have been standardized for an equitable comparison. Many manufacturers are already using the CEA-2006 rating method and the list keeps growing, so be on the lookout for the CEA logo the next time you purchase an amplifier.