How to Tune a Car Amp

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The tuning process for a car's amplifier is the most important process after installation, and this is done by turning the amplifier down, turning the radio to three-quarters volume, and then turning the amplifier up until it sounds good. Find out how to tune a car amplifier so there isn't any distortion with help from a car sound system designer in this free video on car audio tips.

Part of the Video Series: Car Audio
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Video Transcript

Once you've installed your amplifier, the tuning process is the most important thing that you can do. Because what you're wanting to do, is get maximum output out of the amplifier, with minimal distortion. You want it to play as loud, and as clean as it can with the full range of the volume on the radio. The way that's done is you turn the amplifier all the way down, you turn the radio to three quarters of volume, which is usually three o'clock on the volume knob, you turn it to three o'clock, and then turn the amplifier up to where it sounds good. And you keep turning it up until it gets louder, and louder, and once you hear an audible distortion, you back it down slightly, and that's your maximum limit. That's as loud as you want to turn the volume on the deck. That gives you full volume out of the amplifier, but it gives you the full range of the volume on the deck. You can turn the amplifier up too much, which is very, very common. Most people think that if it's turned all the way up, it's putting out full power. All it's doing, is it's reaching maximum power as quickly as possible. And that can result in actually losing range on the volume control, because you can't turn the volume up half way, and the amplifier starts to distort. So, your usable range on the volume knob is lower. Which is not very good. It doesn't give you the small increments of change. The last thing that you'd want to change, and this can be done before you actually install it, is you want to set the cross over points in the amplifier, if you're using a complicated system. Which would be subwoofers, and then component speakers, like these, because you want the subwoofers to play the low end, and you want the component speakers to play the mid range, and the high end. You would basically want to set the amplifier where if it's playing the component speakers, it's cutting the bass out of those, so they're not trying to reproduce the lower frequencies that will cause them to distort, and cause them to blow actually. And the same thing goes with the subwoofer. You want it to play low bass frequencies. Not voice, not singing. You want that to be out of the mid range, because that's where it's designed to go. And that's where the cross over point on the amplifier comes into play. It physically limits the frequency response of the speaker, before the music gets to the speaker. And that's pretty much it.

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