So you have a bike without a fairing and you’re trying to figure out whether to use self amplified speakers or a separate amplifier. Why would you use one vs. the other? There are a number of factors to consider.
First, do you have room for an external amplifier? This is a big one. If you can’t fit one somewhere protected and that looks good, then the answer is easy – internal amplifier. But there are more and more options for mounting micro class D amplifiers. We’ve got one solution that fits in a chrome toolbox that mounts to the frame. It’s got a true 60w x 4 RMS amplifier and a bluetooth controller all in one. If you can mount that on your bike, it’s a great solution.
If you have bags, then that’s a possibility. If you plan to run handlebar or crashbar speakers up front and 6×9 in the bag lids, the the decision is obvious as well. You get better performance with a 4 channel amp in one of the bags, as you’ll need an external amp for the 6x9s anyway.
One advantage that many people think the internal amplifier speakers have is simplicity. That may be the case, but only slightly. With the cheap amplified speakers you see elsewhere, that do not have a true power supply, they’re really not using (or putting out) much power so you can wire them to an existing circuit. However, a good internal amplifier, like in our speakers, requires a separate switch and 15 amp line to the battery. That’s just the facts and it’s one of the ways you can tell all the other amplified speakers are just cheap toys.
Another advantage to using an external amplifier is tune-ability. By varying the gains and crossover points, you can maximize sound quality. With built in amplifiers, you’re stuck with what’s there. That’s not a big deal with ours, as we have built in crossovers made for the speakers, but if you have multiple speakers on the bike, you can’t adjust the gains front to back, etc.
Sound quality and power output are definitely a big factor with other built in amplified speakers, as their amplifiers are weaker by far than any external amplifier. That’s not as much a factor with ours, but I’d still rather have an external amplifier if I can.
So, in reality, what it comes down to is space. Can you fit an external amp or can’t you?