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What does RMS mean in reference to car audio system?

What does RMS mean in reference to car audio system?

The art of building the ideal audio system is a pastime that audiophiles have enjoyed for decades, and with technological progress, it’s becoming more and more addicting with time. However, there’s a technical term that most people are unfamiliar with: RMS. What exactly is it? 

Although there are several variables to consider when selecting the ideal system for your needs, audio technology is not one of them. Instead, choosing the best method for you requires a thorough knowledge of technical terms. 

And some additional key ones so that you don’t end up with broken or wrong sound quality from what was intended to be good.

When it comes time to buy speakers and amplifiers, the most important term would have RMS, meaning Root Mean Square. Which tells us how much power each speaker puts out at 1kHz (or whatever frequency range). Of course, a higher reading means better performance but note: higher numbers can also mean distortion if there isn’t enough bass response.

What does RMS stand for? What exactly does RMS imply?

RMS is a measure of average power, meaning that it represents the continuous output to which speakers and amplifiers can handle without any issues. Ranging from 50w up to 150 watts in short bursts or loud bass kicks, for example- this term will come handy when you try understanding how much your speaker can take.

RMS ratings are undoubtedly the most important metric that you should be looking at when comparing new car audio equipment. The Root Mean Square (RMS) is used in several forms of audio technology, including vehicle speakers and amplifiers to represent average power output over prolonged periods. 

It’s not entirely accurate because voltage or current measurements aren’t always available but still provides an estimation for desired range on any given day-to-day listening task which may help determine how successful your tunes will sound out there.

Why Isn't RMS a Critical Measurement for Manufacturers?

The objective of a product designer is to sell as many goods with the required characteristics and specifications, regardless of whether they are well-made or not. We are not suggesting that automobile speaker manufacturers produce poor quality to earn more money. This isn’t true at all. But, isn’t it true that big numbers excite you more than little ones?

Lots of consumers still don’t fully know what metrics mean when looking into buying some new speakers, so an increase in power output can be misleading without knowing anything else about them other than their price range. It may just seem like louder sound from higher volumes which would result from having worse drivers or amplifiers.

When looking for a set of speakers, the peak power output is an important parameter to consider because it allows you to correlate the figures with your amplifier‘s power output. On the other hand, the peak power output is not the figure that captures the speaker’s real power, so it should not be the one you prefer.

What Does All Of This Mean About RMS:

It is essential to understand that RMS and peak power measurements don’t tell the whole story of a car audio system. When you decide whether or not to upgrade your current setup, be sure to consider what type of driving conditions are present for everything. 

To perform at its best potentials (i.e., weather conditions). In general- but without specific details such as time spent accelerating while on turns – manufacturers will often exaggerate these values so they can appear more potent than they are, giving buyers unrealistic expectations, which leads them down an unhappy path later down the road.

To make things more complicated, speakers aren’t created equal. The speakers you choose will be only as good as the amplifier feeding them. You are already familiar with how crucial it is to match your amplifiers’ power output to your speakers’ and subwoofers’ power ratings. 

Still, most manufacturers would rather you not know that most speakers can handle a somewhat higher RMS than they advertise. As long as your amplifier delivers anywhere from 75% to 150% of the stated RMS of your speakers. You won’t have any difficulties with them.

One of the most vital recommendations in this article is to make sure your amplifier is set to the same wattage as the speakers and car subwoofers it’s feeding. This will reduce the likelihood of your equipment failing significantly, allowing you to relax knowing that your system is operating effectively and can go for long periods without problems.

Don't be fooled by the peak power numbers. You'll be good if you stick to RMS.

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ's

A. The RMS stands for Root Mean Square. It is a standard measurement for audio equipment.


A. Peak power is the maximum power that a speaker can handle quickly. Therefore, it should not compare different speakers as it does not reflect the real power that a speaker can handle.

A. No, it would help if you did not trust the RMS value listed on a speaker as it may be exaggerated. Instead, it would be ideal if you referred to the amplifier’s wattage rating to make sure they are matched.

A. The formula for RMS is Watts = Voltage * Current.

Where Voltage is in Volts and current is in amps. For example, if the voltage across a load resistor is 5 volts and the current through it is 2 amps, then the load resistor will dissipate 10 watts of power. If you have 2 speakers rated at 4 ohms and 90 watts RMS amplifier output, how should they be wired to avoid damage? Wire each speaker to a separate channel on your amplifier, with both channels set to 4 ohms.


Power ratings are crucial when it comes to car audio systems. RMS stands for Root Mean Square and is a standard measurement used for this equipment. On the other hand, Peak power isn’t the figure that captures the speaker’s real power, so it should not be your preference when purchasing speakers or amplifiers. 

So, just stick to RMS numbers, so don’t get caught up in the peak power measurements during your next purchase. We hope you liked this article by automotive addons writers. Do make sure to check out the top audio capacitors which you may need when dealing with high power.

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