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Better car audio, Tip #7: Set your amp gains properly

I edit the home A/V and pro audio articles on Crutchfield.com. It's a cool gig for a guy who's been seriously into audio since way before 1974. I started buying records, guitars, and gear with the money I made mowing lawns and delivering newspapers. Now the way I earn my money has changed for the better, but where it goes hasn't changed too much. Just give me the proverbial three chords and the truth. I'll do my best to help you feel it, too.

More from Jim Richardson

Crutchfield Hi-Fi 2.0Most people think the gain control on their new amplifier is a volume control. But it actually adjusts the amount of input signal coming into the amplifier. Crank it up too high, and you'll hear some nasty distortion. Here's the general idea when setting gain:

  1. Start playing some music 
  2. Turn your car stereo volume control up to roughly 3/4
  3. Turn up your amp gain until you hear distortion, then back it off a little

Every amp manufacturer will have specific suggestions, so you'll want to check out your manual for the best way to set the gain on your new amplifier.

Learn more about setting up your new amp.

This post is excerpted from a recent article in our Learning Center, Jeff's Tips for Getting Maximum Sound Quality in Your Car.

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