Do I need a line out converter & Which one do I need?
(Plus where’s my peanuts?)
Getting an amplifier into your factory audio system can be daunting and confusing at times.
Today we are going to clean this up and make it easy for you to determine what product will suit your needs. Let’s start with what is a Line Out Converter?
(We will get to your peanuts later)
What Is A Line Out Converter?
Your aftermarket amplifier is most likely designed for unbalanced RCA (low level) input.
This is called a “common ground RCA” connection (+ for Left, + for Right with common ground -)
This style of connection is not designed to accept input from balanced input (what you commonly would call speaker wire output from your headunit aka + – for left and +- for right) as connecting speaker wires to this kinda of configuration would damage the source head unit.
Now yes, before you jump to your keyboard to say “But I’ve seen amplifiers with Speaker level input on RCA!” some aftermarket amplifiers yes do list they accept “speaker level input” on these jacks, however, you want to check the voltage or wattage input levels for these amplifiers and the fact they are actually designed for speaker level input. Normally you will have a switch to select. Anyway moving on..
As some vehicles will have an output of anywhere up to 40 Volt (400 Watts), most aftermarket amplifiers will only accept anywhere up to 6 volts of input (even on speaker level). Stick 40 Volts into this and boom! see you later amplifier and hello toaster.
The other issue is that most of these amplifiers have a very basic resistive based conversion from high to low.
A Line Out Converter takes this high voltage speaker level input and converts it to an RCA low voltage output for your aftermarket amplifier.
So now that you know you NEED a Line Out Converter…
What one do I need?
As a guide, there are two styles of converters (Passive and Active).
Passive Line Out Converters
These are fantastic with low powered factory audio systems that don’t feature a factory amplifier.
These converters simply scale the voltage down from the speaker level voltage down to RCA low-level voltage.
These simple line out converters offer 2 or 4 channels of output and are available in the PAC Audio range.
These adaptors feature transistor based technology unlike basic LOC built into amplifiers and old tech converters,
the PAC Audio LocPRO7 interfaces offer a cleaner signal plus better quality internals for a more reliable result.
The LocPRO7 adaptors also feature a remote turn on feature so your factory radio’s Keyless play feature can be retained (yep you can listen to a-Ha – take on me to your heart’s content while waiting to pick your mate up at the train station)
The only downside to this passive line out converter is as they can only drop the signal down that they receive, if they get a weak signal, they have a weak output.
- Remote Turn on (PACLP7-2 and PACLP7-4 models)
- Conservative 55-watt input rating (PACLP7-2 and PACLP7-4 models)
- Small Footprint
Active Line Out Converters
An Active Line Out Converter is a more advanced version of the standard passive line out converter. These require 12v power to output a signal.
These converters also handle up to 400 watts per channel meaning OEM Amplified systems and high powered systems are not an issue. They also lend themselves to having better sound quality output plus they have additional features like Bass restoration, line driver capabilities, remote turn on, channel summing (in select models).
AccuBass Bass Restoration
AudioControl’s Accubass processing chip to enhance your bass sound from your factory audio system. The factory audio system will ‘turn down’ the bass level output as you turn up your car stereo to protect the factory speakers. Fine for a factory audio system but you want your new speakers and amplifier to sing! AccuBass’s processing circuitry takes that factory bass roll off and corrects the output so you have a rock solid bass output at any volume (providing your speakers can take it )
Line driver capabilities
AudioControl LC products have a high powered, low noise pre-amplifier which will feed up to 8.5volts of a high output signal to amplifiers, extracting the best performance.
It’s more than 4x the output of a typical aftermarket head unit!
Channel summing capabilities
Factory audio systems can be more complicated than you think, with separate tweeter and mid-bass driver outputs from amplifiers, picking up signals from your factory audio system can be confusing for some of the best of us. AudioControl LC products feature channel summing capabilities which are where your tweeter and mid-range signals are fed into the Active Line Out Converter and turned into a full range signal.
No, not the Pontiac GTO your thinking of, however, if that was included with AudioControl products that would be fantastic. GTO is a technology in every AudioControl product, Great Turn On.
GTO is a system that automatically turns on the AudioControl product when it detects the presence of a signal on the main input. This eliminates the hunt for a turn on wire for the AudioControl line out converter and your aftermarket amplifiers. Keyless play can be retained and no more hooking up your amplifier to the ignition circuit of your car.
- Remote Turn on
- Up to 400 Watts of input per channel
- Line Driver
- Bass Restoration (in select models)
- Channel Summing (in select models)
- Cleaner Signal
So which do I need?
So the next time you’re looking at adding an amplifier to your factory audio system, take the time to think the following…
No matter how good your aftermarket amplifier is, it can only perform as well as the signal it receives.
Your Line Out Converter (LOC) is your head unit in this case. Picking the wrong converter is as bad as picking the wrong amplifier or speakers for the application.
Not one line out converter suits all applications so pick the right product for your application.
To play it safe
Does your vehicle have a factory amplifier? – Go with an AudioControl Active line out converter/processor
Does your vehicle have no amplifier but older – Go with a PAC Audio LocPRO7 line out converter (PACLP7-2 or PACLP7-4)
Is your vehicle rather modern? – Go with an AudioControl Active line out converter/processor (AC-LC2i or AC-LC7i) but in some cases, a PAC Audio Line Out Converter can be used.
If you are unsure, check out our what fits my ride section to see our recommendations. (Your peanuts are in the cupboard btw)