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How to Tune Car Audio System for Your Stock Setup 

James Benchman
Last Updated on
by James Benchman

If you’ve figured out how to set up car audio system and you have everything hooked up and installed correctly, now is the time to focus on how to tune car audio system.

Correctly tuning your audio system can make all the difference when it comes to sound quality. If you don’t have any experience with tuning a car audio system, this guide can give you some great pointers on how to get the job done right, the first time.

How to Tune Car Audio System

Why Tuning is so Important

Any combination of speakers, amps, receivers, subwoofers, and head units can make noise, the key here is organizing the sound. However, organizing the sound of a major setup can take some effort and time. Unfortunately, there are too many systems that don’t sound as good as they can simply because the buyer didn’t spend time tuning it.

The process itself can take an hour or two and involves fiddling with a screwdriver and knobs, frequently stopping and listening to musical detail and sound quality and focusing on eliminating static and distortion in order to get the most out of your audio system. We can assure you that this time is well spent, and definitely worth it for the endless hours of entertainment you’ll get out of your new setup.

If you’re not sure what type of audio system would work the best here for your vehicle, click here to check out our epic buyer’s guide.

Basic Systems: How to Boost Sound Quality in a Stock System

Subwoofer Tuning 

We’ll begin with how to tune a basic car system. These basic systems often consist of four speakers and an in-dash receiver. Start off by switching on your stereo. Make sure that the fade, balance, tone controls, and EQ have all be set to flat or the middle.

Stock systems don’t include top of the line components, they’re mainly there as a holdover until you upgrade. While they don’t offer the best sound quality, if tuned correctly, you’ll be pretty surprised and impressed with the clarity, and overall crispness of sound.

Begin playing music. It should be a song you’re really familiar with, one that you’ve heard dozens of times. This way, you’ll know what the song is supposed to sound like. The song you choose should offer plenty of sonic variety. This means lots of high notes like cymbals, brass, flutes, plenty of mid-range sounds such as guitar and piano, and vocals, and a lot of low notes like drums and bass. You’ll be listening to this song over and over to check for any adjustments you need to make.

The receiver’s fade control should be tuned until the music is only coming out of the front speakers. Next, adjust the right to left balance until you’re satisfied with the results. Remember where that setting is. Next, you’ll focus on the fade control until the music is only coming from the rear speakers. You’ll want to adjust the right to left balance again to your satisfaction and keep in mind where that setting is. If the balance settings for the rear and front speakers are the same, then leave them. If the settings are different, then you’ll want to set the balance to a compromise between both of these settings.

Some models of receivers will allow users to control the different tones between the rear and front speakers. If you tune the rear speakers ensuring there’s a little less treble than the front ones, the music will sound like it’s coming from the front, even when cranked up.

Tonal qualities will also need to be considered. Are the low, mid-range, and high notes all there? Are these sounds balanced? Before you try to adjust it, determine if anything is wrong with the tonal quality.

If the receiver has EQ presets, make sure you try each one to determine if they have a positive impact on sound quality and clarity. You can fine-tune the mid-range controls, treble, and bass using the EQ controls, easily, but it will take some time and patience.

During this time you might also want to listen to different genres of music in order to achieve a setting that will work well for all your musical tastes. For this part, you should be prepared to spend around twenty or thirty minutes changing up the settings to get the perfect sound.

You can go through the EQ settings using different combinations of treble, presets, and bass boosts, until your music sounds just right. The bass shouldn’t sound boomy, it should sound full, without causing distortion. The highs shouldn’t sound shrill, they should sound crisp.

The mid-range should be clear and smooth. Remember, this time you spend adjusting and listening closely to the audio quality will be well worth it later.

Don’t worry if your tone settings look a little extreme. Just trust your ears. The only right way to do it is based on whether or not the music sounds good to you.

Subwoofer Tuning

If you have a powerful subwoofer, like the CT Sounds Meso 10 Inch Car Subwoofer 1500w RMS Dual 2 Ohm, you’ll need to spend more time focusing on how to tune it correctly. You can learn more about subwoofer testing by clicking here.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, how to tune car audio system isn’t exactly as difficult as it is time-consuming. You may need to experiment with different genres and sounds in order to avoid having to retune your system in the future. But the couple of hours you spend in your car ensuring your audio setup is perfect will pay off in the long run.

Of course, if you have a fairly basic setup, some distortion and boominess can be expected, but even a stock audio system can be made to sound decent. Later down the line, you can always upgrade the components one at a time and add a subwoofer if you have the budget and the space.

About James Benchman
James Benchman
James is an Automotive Mechanic with over 20 years experience and 300+ car repairs. He is an expert with cars and has worked with different models from the biggest brands. James is a Mechanic , Husband , Father of 3 , and head of content at Caraudiologic. Learn more about us
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