JL Audio and Kenwood eXcelon Car Amplifier Comparison

Upgrading your car or truck electronics can cost a small fortune. It’s possible to spend thousands of dollars particularly in terms of in-car entertainment. At the same time, an ever-growing aftermarket industry means that prices are now more competitive than ever.
An upgraded amplifier is often among the first ports of call for those looking to beef up their cars’ entertainment systems. Big-name brands such as Kenwood and JL Audio offer various options, largely designed to suit all budgets. But when it comes to these two leaders in the audio products space, which is best?

Amplifier Showdown: JL Audio vs. Kenwood eXcelon

Both JL Audio and Kenwood boast top-rated amplifiers starting from around $200. In respect of JL Audio, this is their $249.99 JD400/4 class-D full-range 400-watt amplifier.
Kenwood, meanwhile, through its eXcelon range, offers the X302-4 at $199. Another class-D unit, the eXcelon model, packs in an extra 200 watts for 600 in total.
Overall, the main difference between the two brands’ ranges is their top-end prices. Kenwood’s top-of-the-range eXcelon amplifier costs just $349.99. However, JL Audio customers will need to splash out over $1,000 to get their hands on the brand’s flagship VX400/4i.

JL Audio Amplifier Range

JL Audio’s range of amplifiers extends to six models. All are well-rated by customers, with among the most popular being the brand’s second most expensive – the JL Audio HD600/4 at ‎$999.99.
Only one model is more expensive. That’s the JL Audio VX400/4i at $1,049.99. Right now, JL Audio’s amplifier product range looks like this:
  • JL Audio JD400/4 $249.99
  • JL Audio RD400/4 $349.99
  • JL Audio MX500/4 ‎$399.99
  • JL Audio XD400/4v2 $549.99
  • JL Audio HD600/4 ‎$999.99
  • JL Audio VX400/4i $1,049.99
As it stands, the range-topping VX400/4i is the only JL Audio amplifier to boast an integrated digital signal processor.
JL Audio manufactures a range of consumer audio products, although they’re best known for their subwoofers. Founded in 1975, they’re often considered to be pioneers of the car audio industry.

Kenwood eXcelon Amplifier Range

The eXcelon range from Kenwood extends to various products, including speaker systems, subwoofers, digital multimedia receivers, and navigation equipment. In terms of amplifiers, a choice of three is currently available.
Kenwood undercuts JL Audio by $50 on its entry-level model. Its flagship option, meanwhile, is a full $700 cheaper than JL Audio’s comparable offering. Across the range, the options are as follows:
  • Kenwood eXcelon X502-1 ‎$199.99
  • Kenwood eXcelon X302-4 $199.99
  • Kenwood eXcelon X802-5 $349.99
Though priced the same, the Kenwood eXcelon X502-1 offers 1,000 watts of power to the X302-4’s maximum power of 600 watts. However, the more powerful unit offers only mono audio for powering a subwoofer instead of the equally priced alternative’s provision of four separate channels which provides more flexibility for full range speakers or bridging for a subwoofer.
Kenwood eXcelon products are marketed as specially developed to provide the perfect listening experience. This experience, the brand says, is achieved thanks to the use of top-end components for true musical indulgence.

Choosing Between JL Audio or Kenwood eXcelon

Among car audio enthusiasts, most are likely to have a preference for either JL Audio or Kenwood out of the gate. Yet, for those new to the field or open to exploring something different, there’s the question of which brand to choose.
Of course, Kenwood appears to offer better value for money via its growing eXcelon range on the face of it. Indeed, it may seem that JL Audio’s more expensive amplifier options offer relatively little over even Kenwood’s priciest eXcelon option, which still costs less than $350.
As is often the case, outward appearances can be deceiving. For example, certain JL Audio amplifiers pack in functionality missing from the Kenwood eXcelon range. A good case in point is the integrated digital signal processor on the JL Audio VX400/4i.
Still, for those looking for a straightforward amplifier purchase, there’s no doubting the value on offer from Kenwood. Where the eXcelon range’s technical specifications suit, there’s certainly genuine value for money to be had. By and large, buyers looking for a comparable product to the Kenwood eXcelon X802-5, but from JL Audio’s range, would need to spend anywhere from $50 to $200 more.
Conversely, those looking for a more feature-rich amplifier may have no option other than to opt for JL Audio. This is because, at just $349.99, Kenwood’s most expensive eXcelon-branded amplifier proposition lacks some of the features of JL Audio’s $549.99-$1,000+ options.

JL Audio and Kenwood eXcelon Amplifier Warranties

Whichever brand you choose, it’s important to ensure appropriate warranty coverage is in place. Via its eXcelon collection, Kenwood offers a two-year limited warranty. JL Audio, too, provides a warranty of two years against defects in materials and workmanship on its amplifiers and other electronics.
Beyond this period, an extended warranty or service contract is necessary if consumers wish to maintain a degree of coverage. Unfortunately, such extended warranties and service contracts can often be prohibitively expensive to purchase from manufacturers and big-box retailers.
If further safeguards against accidental damage are required, the necessary insurance needed to ensure this will push the price up further.

Choose Upsie to Save up to 70 Percent

Thankfully, Upsie is on hand to help. Cutting out the middleman to pass on savings of up to 70 percent to customers, Upsie policies include all of the above and more. Upsie’s extended car electronics warranty coverage costs up to 70 percent less than elsewhere and protects against:
  • Mechanical failures
  • Broken hardware
  • Power failure
  • Speaker/sound failure
  • And more
If the worst happens, customers can work with a certified Upsie repairer in their area or request to take their amplifier to a shop of their choice. Alternatively, free round-trip shipping for evaluation at Upsie’s central repair center is included. Best of all, if the repair price isn’t cost-effective, Upsie will replace your amplifier free of charge.
All car electronics purchased in the last 60 days are eligible for Upsie coverage. Three-year warranty plans start from under $10. That’s less than $0.30 per month for complete peace of mind! Claims are unlimited, too, up to the purchase price of a product. Find out more exclusively at Upsie.com.

Learn More About Car Electronics:

Stay in Touch