Stricter Amplifier Ratings Proposed

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car stereo amplifier

Ratings on amplifiers vary so greatly that consumers are left wondering why a 1,000 watt amplifier can cost as little as $69 or as much as $1,000.  The Vehicle Technology Division of the Consumer Technology Association may do something about it.

Within the next two months, the Vehicle Technology Division, consisting of about 20 industry leaders, is due to vote on a new standard for amplifier power ratings called CEA 2006-C.  It includes stricter guidelines for rating amplifiers and more oversight of those who use the CEA 2006-C logo.

John Ivey, Chairman of the Division said the great majority of car audio suppliers inflate their amplifier ratings in what amounts to consumer fraud.

His hope is that more amplifier makers adopt the new standard and educate consumers as to its purpose.  Then the standard might gain recognition among consumers, resulting in a wider adoption of the standard by suppliers.

The new CTA 2006-C standard ensures that all manufacturers are testing in a similar manner. It requires they maintain a power level of a minute or more in achieving their power output.  With the earlier CEA 2006-B standard, they could hit the power level for only a few seconds, as long as they reached it.  The newer standard reflects more true-to-life usage, said Ivey.

Suppliers have submitted comments on the “C” standard and some changes may be made to it to reflect the comments.

Ivey said,  “We’re not giving consumers the experience they were expecting.  You can go on Amazon or Google and find a 2,000 watt amplifier for a couple of hundred dollars. We know, as professionals, that’s not really a 2,000 watt amplifier, but consumers don’t know till they’ve installed it. My goal in the next couple of years as the Vehicle Technology Division Chairman is that the product delivers on its performance.”

He added, “I’m hoping I can get my friends in the industry to really support 2006-C…There are fraudulent sales out there. I think it’s consumer fraud that people are buying 4,000 watt amplifiers that really put out 400 watts.”

The original amplifier standard, CEA 2006, was published in 2004, and amended later as CEA 2006-B.

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  1. Once this happens, amplifiers and equipment should be randomly selected from retailers and tested by an independent lab. If they fail, they get fined and their accreditation suspended for x amount of time. Much like a drug test. I realize there is a fiscal component to this that would probably prevent that from happening so this is probably going to come down to getting manufacturer participate rates high and public awareness at a ludicrous amount.

  2. I was a chairperson on the 2006-A workgroup and we proposed that BS max power ratings wouldn’t be allowed. This was summarily rejected by by the marketers who made up the mobile board of directors because they believed that without those ratings, they wouldn’t be able to sell amps.

    Maybe 15 years later, a new BOD will get on board. The real issue with the CEA rating is the abject failure of the CTA to market these specs independent of the complying manufacturers. The CTA isn’t the FTC or the FCC and the spec has no legal weight whatsoever. It’s a self certification program apparently intended to provide some measure of shielding for complying manufacturers from class action lawsuits.

    It seems to me that the CTA has abandoned the aftermarket car audio category. I can’t imagine that this is going to do much of anything to affect consumer perception or the prevalence of fictitious amplifier specs.

  3. Many of the high power rated cheap amps never get a certified CEA 2006 stamp. It doesn’t take long to figure out you can’t by a 1000 watt amp for $60 . Like when JL came out they was around a buck per watt, and to this day they still make good amps. I have 2 slash amps I have ran since JL came out with the slash series. Bottom line, you get what you pay for. I think they should also make these company’s post the true THD @ rated power as well.

  4. In the late sixties to the late eighties they used the ftc power ratings.For both home and car equipment . Research this .

  5. But it will never have it, because the manufacturers will never back it in any way, just like their failure to back and validate MECP Certification.

  6. Until the Federal Trade Commission gets involved & makes overating 12Volt Amps a false advertising issue (like it is in home audio) this will be a huge waste of effort.

  7. I’ve been testing a lot of amplifiers over the past few years and I agree with this 100%. Way too much confusion out there and false ratings by some make it very difficult to compare amplifiers.

  8. THIS NEEDS TO HAPPEN and it needs to be real with real consequences for breaking! However; I would much rather see manufactures wake up to what they have done and continue to do too our industry as a whole by allowing the wild west internet sales to continue. Our profits and average tickets have been cut dramatically over the years (especially the last 5 to 8 years) simply because to many vendors only care about moving boxes rather than the long term health of their dealer partners and the industry as a whole. 75% of maps are too low, starting from basic Pioneer, Kenwood etc. head units and going all the way up and through their lines. Consumers are not demanding these fuller featured and lower mapped products, it’s Pioneer and others that set the low maps and force everybody to follow. The end result is everybody loses, Pioneer doesn’t sell more boxes because they set the LOW price when everybody else matches them anyway. All that happens is consumers pay less, we all make less and it’s killing the brick and mortar shops year after year. It’s like our vendor partners are eating their own and it has to stop people!

    1. I think it is time for dealers to wake up! It is almost 2020! You can’t run your store like it is 2010 and expect to do well. People prefer to buy online and want the best price, no matter what industry it is. If Pioneer and Kenwood raise their prices, then a new brand will just step in and start selling at the lower price. Brick and Mortar is changing, if you don’t change then you will go out of business just like all the Brick and Mortar stores that are living in the past. You need to find new ways to bring customers into your store and offer them real value. Sure, you might not make a lot on selling the basic products but there is plenty of room for upsells, add-ons, and services to their initial order that will lead to more profit. Offer your customers top knotch installation, custom box building, other custom fabrication, sell car audio T-Shirts and decals, offer subwoofer and amplifier repair service, there are so many different ways to set yourself apart from the internet. Get creative! Complaining about how things used to be will get you no where. You could be spending that time doing something productive. Trust me there is plenty of new ways for Brick and Mortar stores to make lots money especially when you are selling an experience. Customers are willing to fork over lots of money if they see the value.

  9. I’ve been educating my customers about false amplifier ratings for the past 40 years.

  10. Much needed, consumers are not getting what they think their getting. Customers are always walking into our store with a 4,000 or 2,000 watt amp that they paid $125 online and really think their getting true power. Then you explain it to them and of course they still feel it’s a good amp until you show them the owners manual and it’s more like 200 watts. It really hurts the industry as a whole for those who sell only quality products in their stores. Happens all the time.

  11. My two cents… The sanctioning body should authorize using the CES 2006 mark (small partial cost covering fee in addition to dues), make sure the certification is NOT SELF certification and work towards a UL type (lite – miniature – less complicated) model where model numbers are certified and listed in a publicly available data base. Game changer.

    Ray Windsor

  12. All of those manufacturers making the cheap junk will just choose to not participate. It’ll mean nothing at all.

  13. I sincerely hope you make a greater effort than what was applied to the CEA2006 which did absolutely nothing to affect the advertised power rating of amplifiers and in fact, I can assure you it got worse.
    You simply pay $500 for the use of the CEA logo, apply it to your products regardless of actual power and you’re good with zero concern of consequences.
    CEA to my knowledge has never..ever followed up on false claims or was pro-active and enforced the rules.
    Perhaps the new rules will require advertised power under actual RMS power for at least 60 minutes.
    Advertised power should be be for all advertised impedance capabilities the amp is rated for.
    Multi-channel amplifiers: 4, 2 & 1-Ohm RMS power rating (all that apply)
    Mono amplifiers: 4,2,& 1–Ohm RMS power rating (all the apply)

    Remember: RMS=Root Mean Square and not Real Marketing Specs..

  14. I’m confident that “Better late than never” will be the ‘consensus’ view on this, given its way past due, but there will be some brands, that collaterally ‘inflate’ power-ratings on their subwoofer’s too (which is much harder to accurately rate, as it’s heat/time deal), and imagine they won’t ‘see any problem’ re this. But as we all know, “Fraud,” is never not a problem — ‘kinda a double-negative’…

    1. 25 years ago it was not a problem. We couldn’t keep $1200.00 1000 watt Xtant amps in stock in the early 2000s. This started becoming a problem around 2007 but recently it has gotten way out of hand. I became the Chariman of the VTD on January 1st 2019 and all I can say is “Not on my watch.”

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