You are on a mission to make the music system in your car sound perfect. You’ve heard that adding a car amplifier can achieve that, but where do you start?
The first place for you to start is to understand how the science behind a music system works. After that, you can learn the process behind tuning amps.
We have provided you with all the information you need to know to tune and adjust a car amplifier.
Key Terms and Concepts
There are a few key terms and concepts you should understand before you attempt to learn how amplifier tuning works. This knowledge will allow you to understand how your music system works, making our provided instructions for tuning amps easier to follow.
An amplifier boosts the signal from your car so you can use larger speakers, resulting in better quality and louder music.
Bass is the range of low frequencies of sound found in music.
Distortion is a type of sound produced by your music system if you do not set it up properly.
Gain is how loud sound is before being processed by other equipment or software. It can change the tone or sound of your music based on the processing you put it through, which is the main difference between it and Volume.
Filters (Low-Pass and High-Pass)
Low-Pass and High-Pass filters work together to filter signals based on a range of frequency levels.
Frequency, measured in Hertz (Hz), is a measure of vibration speeds that tells us what pitch a sound is. Common frequencies in music systems are bass, mid-range, and treble.
Mid-Range speakers handle the mid-range frequency of sound, 300hz to 5000hz, which is where you will hear most parts of sound for music.
Mid-ranged speakers cannot handle low-end frequencies, so you often pair them with a Subwoofer. You will want to find out the lowest rating to prepare for tuning.
A subwoofer is a type of speaker that handles lower frequencies or those you would find with Bass. A Subwoofer cannot handle mid-range and high-end frequencies, so you often pair them with Mid-Range speakers. If you are using a subwoofer, you will want to find out its maximum rating to prepare for tuning.
Volume is the output of sound, measured in decibels, provided by your music system. Make sure you understand the differences between Volume and Gain as they are important.
There are a ton of different amplifiers available on the market with various features and abilities. If you are still looking to buy an amplifier, here is a guide that may help you decide.
Since the amplifier increases the signal’s power, you must have high-quality and powerful speakers to match your amplifier.
Importance of Gain
We can’t stress enough that you understand the differences between gain and volume. You can cause damage to your speakers or poor-sounding music if you incorrectly adjust one of these settings.
Amplifiers will go into a protection mode to prevent damage to the other components of your music system. Common causes include an internal issue with the amplifier, overheating, incorrect battery amperage (too high or low), or short circuits coming from your speakers.
Read your amplifier’s manual to better understand its protection mode.
Quality and Power of Speakers
The quality and power of your speakers are just as important as the quality of your amplifier. Speakers work by converting audio signals into sound waves. The quality and power of your speakers will determine the quality of music you achieve.
Resetting An Amp
Amplifiers often have an internal memory that stores the current settings. Removing or resetting the amplifier may not reset these settings.
Read your amplifier’s manual to find out how to reset the settings of an amplifier.
You will need a small flat-bladed screwdriver to adjust the knobs on your amp.
Amplifier Tuning (Step by Step)
Now that you understand the science behind how your music system works, we can get to the fun part: tuning amps!
We have provided you with an easy-to-follow guide on how to tune and adjust your car amplifier.
Step 1: Volume and Gain Control
Turn your stereo off and disconnect the RCA connections from your amplifier and speakers to prevent any damage. Once you have disconnected everything, turn your stereo on. Turn your stereo’s volume up to the maximum setting with no music playing.
Once you have found the maximum volume setting, turn it to about eighty percent of the max volume. Set your stereo’s equalizer setting to the flat setting, turn your amplifier’s gain and bass to zero, and then turn your amplifier’s crossover setting to full or off.
Once you have completed the last steps, you can plug the RCA connections into their proper channels. Aftermarket amps will usually have specific connections for low, mid, and high frequencies.
With your favorite music playing, or a test tuning track, turn up the gain setting until you hear distortion out of your speakers. When this happens, you will want to turn down the gain until the distortion goes away, which will be your gain setting used in the next step of tuning frequencies.
Step 2: Frequency Tuning
It is now time for you to start tuning the different frequencies based on your specific setup. Here are the instructions for tuning speakers with low, mid, or high frequencies and full-range frequencies.
To tune your low-frequency speaker (subwoofer), you will need to flip the low-pass filter switch, ensuring your amplifier sends frequencies in the low range to only your subwoofer.
Once you have selected the low-pass filter, you want to set the frequency dial to your subwoofer’s highest-rated frequency (the number we suggested finding in the key terms and concept section).
To tune your mid to high-frequency speakers, you will want to flip the high-pass filter switch, ensuring your amplifier sends frequencies in the mid to high frequencies to only your normal speakers.
Once you have selected the high-pass filter, you want to set the frequency dial to your speaker’s lowest-rated frequency (the number we suggested finding in the key terms and concept section).
You can leave the crossover setting in the full or off position if you do not have a subwoofer and have speakers that can cover all ranges of frequencies. Nothing more needs to be done with the frequencies in this scenario.
Step 3: Boosting Bass
To adjust the bass setting of your amplifier, you need to turn the bass up while simultaneously turning the gain down. Keep repeating this process until you achieve the highest possible bass setting without distortion.
Keep in mind that higher bass settings will shorten the lifespan of your subwoofer.
Step 4: Gain Control Additional Steps
You will need to adjust the gain level again now that you have adjusted all speaker frequencies and bass settings to your liking. Turn on your stereo and put it back to eighty percent volume. Slowly turn up the gain until you hear distortion. Adjust both the volume and gain levels until all the distortion clears again.
Step 5: Finishing Touches
Reconnect everything, turn the volume back down to zero, and gradually turn it up to eighty percent. You should now have a perfect-sounding music system!
It is essential to understand how a music system works. You will now be able to follow our easy steps on how to tune and adjust your car amplifier once you know the key terms and concepts provided.