How to Avoid Overrated RMS and Max Power Ratings

When shopping for your next amplifier keep in mind these four red flags:

  1. The price is to good to be true

  2. If you multiply the number of amp fuses by 14.4 and the manufacturer lists the max power exceeding this number

  3. The gauge wire is to small

  4. The amp is not CEA certified

Overrated Price

The first telltale sign your amplifier has an overrated RMS and max power rating comes from the price. If the price is to good to be true, this should be an immediate red flag. You truly get what you pay for so don’t let that 2,000w RMS amplifier that you purchased for $99.99 fool you. A manufacturer lists a higher RMS rating to make a product more marketable.

Luckily the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) caught on and took action to create a standard so that all amplifiers are assessed under the same criteria. Unfortunately not all manufacturers comply adding to the confusion. Rest assured Sonic Electronix is working to overcome this behavior and resolve this misinformation once and for all.

To start, whenever you select an amplifier always make your decision based off RMS power which stands for root mean square. Essentially this figure gives you the continuous average power the amplifier can accept. Peak simply accounts for the max power output sustained over a few seconds.

Calculation to Debunk Unicorn Watts

unicorn watt amplifier

The easiest way to debunk the fakers is with a simple calculation. Add up the fuse value and multiply that by 14.4 volts. This is the standard voltage an automotive alternator is suppose to have when connected to an amplifier. We are going to use the Hifonics Brutus BRX2400.1D as an example to help you throughout this blog. This amp has a single 250-amp fuse and the calculation is as followed:

Hifonics Brutus BRX2400.1D fuse rating

If Hifonics listed the Brutus BRX2400.1D to have a a max power rating significantly higher than 3,600, this would be another red flag. Luckily this brand is extremely credible, only releasing products of the highest quality. Sonic Electronix and the CEA have both tested this amplifier. You can trust this brand.

Size of Fuse Terminal

The size of the power and ground terminals is another characteristic to be conscientious of. Since high power amplifiers (2,000w+) require significant current, a 4 or 8 gauge wire is simply not going to get the job done. If a 2,000w amp recommends using a 4 or 8 gauge wire for installation this should raise another red flag. Rather a 1/0 gauge terminal is typically what a 2,000 watt amplifier needs to receive the proper current. If it sounds to good to be true, chances are it is.

Sonic Electronix Power Rating

Sonic Electronix has been fighting against false advertising for years. Our website gives three power ratings; claimed output, certified results, and dynamic results. Claimed output comes from the manufacturer, whereas certified and dynamic are both determined by an Amp Dyno test. Again we are going to use the Hifonics Brutus BRX2400.1D as the example.


In house we use the Steve Meade Amp Dyno to determine the dynamic results, utilizing industry standard burst signals to capture the power generated by the amp. We trust industry standards but we prefer to do things in house to give our customers the most accurate information. For this test we simulated music based off a test tone of one frequency. For most of us listening to music in our car’s system this is a more accurate rating because it simulates the frequencies you will hear from your music.

Whereas certified results are more similar to how the manufacturer reached the rating. If you are looking for a ton of power this is the more accurate test for you.

Brands Matter

Hifonics Power from the gods

As we all know brands matter. If you notice a brand releases a product that is not CEA-2006 certified, this should be another red flag. This amplifier does not comply with industry standards and makes up the power rating based on what they think will sell.

I do want to establish that just because an amplifier has an overrated RMS rating does not mean it is a bad product, rather it just has an overrated power capability. It might list 1,000w RMS but really just outputs 800w. The issue arises when constructing a system, because as we all know under-powering speakers or subs leads to clipping and damaging. The reason for this is because an overrated amp leads the user to increase the gain to accommodate for the lack of power. When the gain is overused a problem arises.  Use this blog as a tool to avoid any future confusion.