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best deal on an amp?

It all depends on what speakers you are getting and how much power you need to drive them. But I have some budget recommendations I can make below:

For oodles of power for the price:
Kicker KX700.5 - 5 channel, 2x150 bridged to fronts, 400x1 class D sub @ 2 ohm ~$300 street
Alphasonik PMZ12005A - 5 Channel, 2x150 bridged fronts, 310x1 sub @ 2 ohm ~$230 street price (Near new one on ebay for $185)

Nice small amp with good features:
MTX 3404 - 4 Channel, 2x50 with 200x1 bridged rear ~$200 street (less power but good enough for most systems)
One additional point that Malibu has indicated here - with a 3 or 5 channel amp you can typically run into a 2 ohm sub, so gain more power that way. With a bridged solution (i.e. 4-channel) you are limited to 4 ohms.
It just depends on what you need to drive - pick speakers first then get a suitable amp to drive them - or at least be thinking in both aspects as you make selections.
menuserve said:
i'd really prefer a JL Audio amp... any suggestions? it will be pushing JL components and zetoolman's box with the JL sub.

Well, you can go for all the same name brand or go for what's best for you. Nothing wrong with the JL amp, almost all amps are made in China now anyways. You'll pay some extra bucks for something that isn't made in China. But dollar per watt, you would be better off with that Kicker 5 channel. Bridging 4 of the channels and running the sub channel @ 2 ohm will give you an almost unbeatable value. A JL 300/4 would work fine too and someone is selling one in the Prime marketplace. There is no advantage to be gained by using all the same brand equipment unless you're talking about head units that have special connectivity to their amps like some of the Kenwood Excelon amps have, etc. I like to pick what fits my needs best, I almost got the Kenwood Excelon amp because of the special interface it has with my deck. In the end, I wanted something that wasn't made in China, had good cooling, and met my size requirements.