When it comes to upgrading the car audio system, a frequently asked question involving factory-issued car amplifiers always comes up: Do I bypass or retain my car amplifier?

To cut to the chase, here are our main answers: You can always choose to keep your factory amp. But for some vehicles, you really have no other choice. Retaining your factory amplifier will make it easier for you to install a new stereo that has limits depending on what the factory amp can do.

On the contrary, bypassing the factory amp results in a better performance on your new stereo and even improve the quality of your factory speakers – all results in amping up your listening experience despite the extra time and effort that it takes to run the bypass harness to the factory amp that’s often located in hidden parts of your car.

In this blog, we will show you how to bypass your car’s factory amplifier from our in-house experts’ perspective.

Replacing The Factory Speakers

We recommend changing the factory speakers before installing the new stereo. To do this, you must be equipped with the right pry tools and knowledge on how to properly take out each door speaker including the tweeters.

For this guide, we replaced the front speakers with the NVX NSP65KIT featuring two 6.5-inch mid-woofers, a pair of 20mm tweeters, and two crossovers.

We paired the rear speakers with the corresponding 6.5-inch NVX NSP65 coaxial speakers straight into the OEM mounting brackets in the back doors.

Installing A New Aftermarket Radio

Now it’s time to change the factory stereo to a new and improved one. We picked an aftermarket stereo that’s the best fit for our new setup. We first started by taking out the dash trim pieces first using a set of prying tools to avoid damaging the dash panel. Then we removed the retaining bolts and disconnect the electrical connectors and antenna that are hooked up to the radio in order to fully detach it. 

Changing Between The Integration Adapter & Bypass Harness

Configuring the radio’s wiring harness that’s connected to the factory amp, our team decided to compare the sound by switching between the amp integration harness and bypass setups harness. 

With the amp integration harness, we noticed a small improvement in sound. The new speakers bounced to life via the factory amplifier. Although the installation was just simple plug-and-play, we expected the NVX speakers to perform well, but they sound a bit underwhelming. 

Then comes our next test: using the bypass harness. 

When our team played the music, the mid and high frequencies that we didn’t know were missing on our first test, appeared. Not only that, but the bass made the sound well-rounded and natural. We were hearing the NVX speakers loud and clear. From the woofers to the tweeters. 

Our team could’ve opted to utilize the factory amplifier in running both the new speakers and the aftermarket radio. Not only does this standard amp still works, but it also has a crossover network that filters out some frequencies that might not sound good with a fresh setup. Instead, we chose to bypass the factory amp by directly connecting the NVX speakers to the aftermarket radio so we could get the best sound quality possible via an unfiltered, full-range signal. 

Setting Up The Bypass Harness

Now that we’ve proven that using the bypass harness greatly improves the speakers’ performance and overall sound quality, it was time to address the wiring routes of the adapter to the factory amp. 

As we’ve mentioned earlier, this involves finding where the factory amp is located. The location of a factory amp varies on every car, but it is a general rule that amplifiers should be located in hidden yet open spaces where there is proper ventilation to prevent overheating. These locations can be under the seats of your car, the trunk, the sidekick panels, inside the dashboard, or the rear package tray.

If you have trouble locating where your factory amplifier is, refer to your car’s manual or look up your car’s model online. 

Once the routing is complete, our team made sure that the wires are neatly tucked and hidden to not endanger the connection to the factory amp. 

The Result

After the setup, we made a final sound check. And we’re more than happy to hear the superb sound quality and performance of this new car audio build.

In some cases, our experts do not always recommend bypassing the factory amplifier. This process depends on your vehicle and car audio system.

Before trying to perform this procedure on your vehicle, consult our in-house experts first via email at support@sonicelectronix.com or call us at 1-502-200-8010! Here at Sonic Electronix, we want to make sure that we always recommend the best possible solution for all your car audio and electronic needs.