Alpine V-Power MRV-V500 Review
You enjoy a clean, crisp sound from your car stereo. You don’t need to cause yourself heart palpitations from the hard-hitting bass, and you aren’t trying to win any volume competitions. All you know is your current sound system isn’t cutting it, and it’s time to upgrade.
The foundation of your car’s audio system is the amplifier. Without a good, high-quality amp, you won’t get symphonic sound no matter what you do. It’s an area where the adage “you get what you pay for” has been true for decades, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend thousands to enjoy your favorite songs.
You should look at the Alpine MRV-V500. It’s the latest in Alpine’s V-Power lineup, its fourth generation of award-winning amplifiers.
The MRV-V500 is a five-channel digital amplifier. We’ll get into the specs in a bit, but here’s what you need to know right off the top: the Alpine MRV-V500 will be your favorite all-in-one amplifier. Ever. Hands down.
What It’s All About
When you’re first starting to get your sound system together, you usually start with the bass. You buy a mono amp and a sub, then quickly realize you can’t hear anything but the loud thumping from your trunk. Then you get a good 4 channel amp and midrange speakers to balance out the equation. Now you have two amps vying for the same power. Getting a good balance is touchy.
While you can find yourself good parts that work well together, Alpine takes the trouble out of it. Their all-in-one 5-channel V-Power amp, the MRV-V500 accomplishes the task you want without missing a beat.
You’ll need just one amp, meaning less wiring, installation, and trunk space used, all without sacrificing performance one iota. That’s what the Alpine MRV-V500 is all about.
All amplifiers require the same things to operate. They need reliable power supply, solid grounding, audio input, space to install the amplifier, and airflow to keep cool. Oh yeah, and high-quality speakers to send the signal out to.
If you’ve installed an amplifier in the past, you’ve attached your power and ground wires side by side with just a thin plastic piece to separate the two. As you tighten the screw to secure the wire, it squashes out and there’s always a strand sticking out waywardly.
As a major player in the audio game, Alpine has figured out how to make installation as easy as can be. On the MRV-V500 as with their other V-Power Alpine mono amps, there’s a better system for connecting your cables. It’s more secure and safer – you stick the wire into an enclosed hole and tighten a set screw. No more strands poking out. It’s cleaner too.
Speaker connections are just as simple. You can install the amplifier in just a couple minutes once your wiring is all in place, and you can take it out just as quickly. But let’s face it – there’s no need to take it out.
All the connections are on one side of the amplifier, and there’s a sleek cover that snaps overtop to make it incredibly clean. All your adjustments are on the opposite side of the wiring. If you install the amp with the adjustments facing out, your connections are virtually guaranteed to be hidden.
Here’s where the Alpine digital amp series really stands out, so long as you have speakers that can handle the output from your amplifier. And you need to know a little something about how to achieve the sound you want, like how highs, mids, and lows affect your overall sound.
When you first unbox your MRV-V500, you’ll see a little tag in the box. It’s the test results on your amp – not just one like it, it’s the very amp in your hands. You’ll see the rated specs and the actual, and you’ll see that your V-Power amp meets or, more likely, exceeds the rated specifications. That’s a sign of things to come.
When you power up your car and the amplifier powers on, and you’ll see the square blue center light up. You’re live. Unlike other amplifiers, though, you’re not going to hear much of a pop. The MRV-V500 is an incredibly low-noise amp, until you want to bring the house.
Crank the tunes up on your favorite song. As you slowly increase the volume, you’ll hear underlying tones and accents that you’ve never noticed before. The sound is so crisp and well-balanced. The volume won’t seem like it’s loud enough at all until you try to speak over it. It’s at that point you’ll realize that it’s really loud and hasn’t distorted.
To maximize the Alpine MRV-V500’s performance, you’ll want to use 2-ohm speakers and a 2-ohm sub. That gets you four channels at 60W RMS for your mids and highs and 250W for your subwoofer. If you decide to go with 4-ohm speakers, that drops to 40W per channel and 150W for your sub. However, to power just one pair of speakers along with your sub, you’ll be able to jump to 120W at 4 ohms.
If you think amplifiers are all created equally, think again. The MRV-V500 is exceptional in build, and looks great too. As mentioned, the wiring connections are easy to use and have a snap-on cover to make installation neat and tidy. The ability to tune the amplifier is simplified by putting those adjustments on the opposite side of the wiring.
But what makes the construction so good is the compact size. If you had an Alpine 4 channel amp plus an Alpine mono amp to install, you’d have a mess of wires, and a hard time choosing good mounting locations for both. This MRV-V500 five-channel amp combines the benefits of two amps down to one. Then, compared with the previous V-Power generation, it squashes it down 40 percent of its size. It easily fits under your seat, mounts under your rear shelf, or to the back of your rear seat. No web of wires, and just a small, good-looking box with a glowing blue square.
Internals are high-quality. Signals are passed through two filters for the sharpest of sounds and the least noise possible. And as long as you allow airflow around the amplifier, it’s going to perform reliably.
When the MRV-V500 stops working, there’s a good reason for it. You’ll be able to tell because the blue square on the top changes to red. It’s most likely due to excessive heat, and once it cools down it will go back to normal. If it’s anything else, that means your vehicle has the problem, not your amp.
If you’re asking the question, “what’s the best Alpine amp”, the MRV-V500 might be your answer, but that depends on what you need. If you’re simply looking to enjoy the highest quality sound at a reasonable volume, you’re definitely in the right ballpark. If you’re searching for the most boom for your Benjamins with a sub, then you might want to look at a high-powered mono amp. We have also completed a comprehensive buyer guide on the top amps in the market. You can also check out our best car speakers review for the perfect set up!
Alpine Amps vs JL Audio
The competition is stiff in car audio. Alpine and JL Audio tend to be among the best in the business, going head to head with their product offerings. With a five-channel amplifier, JL Audio is right there to challenge Alpine.
The JL Audio XD700/5v2 is the closest comparison to the MRV-V500. It’s a 700-watt 5-channel amp, topping Alpine’s 500 watts by a cushioned margin. It’s slightly smaller in size and connects just as easily. If there’s one downside, it’s that the adjustments are all on the top of the unit, making tuning more difficult than the Alpine V-Power amplifier.
Between the two, performance goes to the JL Audio XD700. It simply outdoes the Alpine MRV-V500 when properly matched with speakers. But for that performance, you pay a price – double, in fact. Choosing between the two depends on how serious your sound budget is.
The Alpine V-Power series seriously rocks, and the all-in-one attitude of the Alpine MRV-V500 5-channel amplifier is no exception. Whether you’re looking for great sound on a midrange budget – heck, budget or not – it’s going to do the trick for you. If you’re in the market for an amp that’s going to blow your eardrums, there are better options to choose, whether from the Alpine lineup, JL Audio options, or another brand.
It’s easy to install, is extremely compact, and does double-duty as a four-channel amp mixed with a mono amp.