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How to Tune a Car Radio

Updated November 21, 2016

The radios in many cars today are capable of producing remarkable sound and clarity for a wide range of music. The acoustics from one car to another or music preferences from one listener to another can be very different. It is often necessary to tune or adjust the various basic levels associated with a car radio so that the music is optimised for each listener. Tuning a car radio takes only a few moments and can potentially make a big difference.

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  1. Select the type of music to which you most commonly listen. Choose a radio station with a strong and clear signal for best tuning results.

  2. Sit in the drivers seat and close all windows and doors. Set the fade, balance, bass, mid and treble controls to zero or a neutral setting. Turn the volume of the music up to a level that is just above what would typically be played.

  3. Adjust the fade control so that the music is balanced equally between the front and rear speakers. Continue making small adjustments until the music is slightly forward or coming just a bit more from the front speakers.

  4. Balance the sound between the left and right speakers. Adjust the balance control until the music sounds even and equal throughout the car.

  5. Adjust the bass, mid and treble of the radio beginning with the treble. Increase or decrease the treble that controls the higher range of music tones based on personal preference. Do not increase the treble to the point where distortion begins. Adjust the lower bass to complement the treble but do not allow distortion.

  6. Complete the tuning by setting the mid-range of the music to provide a rich and even sound from the radio. Reduce the volume setting and make any fine adjustments to the settings as needed.

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Things You'll Need

  • Car radio

About the Author

Keith Dooley has a degree in outdoor education and sports management. He has worked as an assistant athletic director, head coach and assistant coach in various sports including football, softball and golf. Dooley has worked for various websites in the past, contributing instructional articles on a wide variety of topics.

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