How to Tune a Car Audio System: Expert Tips

Did you install a new amplifier or a brand-new subwoofer in your car but still cannot feel the real heat of the music?

It is quite disappointing when you get all the things done per instruction, but your stereo doesn’t sound the way you thought it would. If this is happening with you, then our guess is you didn’t tune your audio system yet.

So, get ready to invest a little bit of time in your car stereo. Especially in the equalizer, bass, fader, treble, and speaker balance, and your car audio system will reach new heights.

What Is Tuning and Why It’s Important?

Tuning is something you do right after connecting all the audio equipment such as an amp, players, speakers, and subwoofer in your vehicle. These components are used to get the noise out of an audio system. But reproducing that noise into a pleasant melody is called tuning.

The sound coming from your audio system might be out of sync or too loud, or too low if you have not tuned it properly. No matter how expensive your instruments are, you must adjust it properly to get the beats rolling.

How to Tune a Car Audio System

How to Tune a Car Audio System

Follow the steps mentioned below to tune your car stereo so you can turn your one or two hours of hard work into a thousand hours of enjoyment.

Turn On your Stereo

  • Begin with turning on your stereo
  • The equalizer, fade, balance, and tone controls should be flat or set in the middle

Note: Never do this while driving, so make sure you park your car aside. Tuning is fun, but don’t rush through it.

Play a Favorite Song of Yours!

Play a song that you don’t mind listening to over and over again. Also, make sure you know in and out of the music because it requires an excellent understanding to ensure the perfect tune.

The best option would be choosing a song that has several melodies, such:

  • A mixture of high-note (brass, cymbals, and flutes), medium-range sound (vocals, guitar, and piano), and low-notes (drums and bass)

Tuning the Fade Control

Front-most speaker:

  • First of all, you have to adjust the fade control of your stereo. Take a look into the front speaker and listen carefully whether the sound is coming from that particular speaker or not.
  • Do left-right balance to adjust it according to your music taste.

Rear Speaker:

  • Now again, use the fade control to lessen the front speaker and to balance the rear.
  • Make sure the sound is coming from the rear speaker.

Every time you make any changes through fade control, take notes of these adjustment settings in a notepad, or perhaps on your phone.

At this point, if the front and rear speakers have the same balance setting, then you are done here. But if they are not equal, then you have to look for a suitable balance setting for both of them.

Adjust the Balance Controls of the Stereo

  • Gradually increase the rear speaker’s volume with the fade control until the sound gets the proper depth. At the time, the sound will come from the rear speaker, but it will feel that it is coming from the front one
  • If your stereo has a separate receiver to control the tone difference, then to get the same effect, you can decrease the treble of the rear speaker compared to the front speaker

Adjust the Tonal Qualities

For our next step, you are going to make sure whether the tones are perfectly balanced or not. To do this, you have to sit tight and listen to the music several times.

Things you have to find out are the presence of high notes, mid-range notes, and low notes.

  • Check whether all the notes are in perfect order and well-balanced
  • If it sounds weird to your ears, then find of which note is causing trouble
  • Find out if your stereo has tone-adjusting EQ presets
  • If you get one, then test the presets and make changes in equalizer sound booster or bass booster to improve the sound quality
  • You can also try fine-tuning with other EQ adjustments, mid-range controls, bass and treble

While trying these different combinations on equalizer presets, cuts, and treble boosts, try to keep the following notes in mind-

  • Once the adjustments over, the high notes have to be clear, and there should be no screech or piercing
  • The middle-range notes require flat and clear
  • Keep the bass full but steer clear from incredibly loud booms

How to Tune a Car Audio System with RTA (Real-Time Analyzer) compare

RTA comes in handy when you want to match your car’s audio condition to a perfect audio frequency and check the discrepancies. Tuning with RTA will help you figure out the extent of trouble your car’s exterior is causing for the audio system.

Things You Need Before You Begin RTA Tuning

  • The never-to-miss gear is the microphone that you will use to monitor the frequencies. The mic is a receiver which measures the music frequencies coming from your audio system.
  • Next, you need a software or app to see the measurement on the screen. There is an app called Room Equalizer Wizard (REW) for those who want to use a laptop, and iOS users can opt for RTA (yes- that’s the name of the app).
  • It would be best if you get some sound/noise that produces either pink noise or white noise. However, only audiophiles can distinguish these fine sound waves, so if you’re not an audio-expert better stick to the app. (Pink noise brings higher energy in lower frequencies and lower energy in higher frequencies. Alternatively, white noise provides equivalent vibrations at each point of the frequency).
  • If necessary, consider buying a mic stand, and if not, then hold the mic between the seat and the headrest.


The techniques of using RTA are the same everywhere. While people may have different opinions on certain steps, the core actions don’t vary.

Play Pink Noise and Adjust the EQ Settings

  • Position the reference mic
  • Set the pink noise over your car audio system
  • Monitor the RTA (It is better to stay in the back because you might get in the way of frequencies)
  • Make changes to adjust the equalizer setting and keep checking continuously


  • The goal is to let the RTA reading flow like water
  • Avoid making it too flat or too high; keep in mind that it entirely depends on your listening experience
  • Inspect the anomalies in the graph try to flatten out the abrupt ups and downs

DIY Car Audio Modification

Are you out of budget but still need to modify your car audio system? If so, then we have good news for you. You can upgrade your sound system with significantly less money. All you have to do is go for DIY audio modification.

Purchase Some Decent Speakers

If your car has a factory-installed speaker, then chances are, the quality will not be up to par. Most of the time, factor speakers are made of lightweight paper that distorts the music.

So, to begin with, you have to buy some good speakers made of high-quality materials but comparatively at a lower price. A high-end speaker will have better sound and a longer lifespan.

Upgrade the Stereo If It Is Damaged

Get a head unit to enjoy a crystal-clear sound. You may find smart stereos available at a reasonable price. Also, you can connect it via Bluetooth and listen to your own from the phone.

Be Creative with The Adjustment

Going berserk with the settings will do more harm than good. For instance, if you think increasing the bass will give you a superb effect, then you are wrong. Instead, it will end up distorting the music and pressure your speakers. In that case, you should work backward, leaving the bass the way it is.

A suggestion for an all-around sound setting would be to turn the treble and mid-tones down and then increase the overall volume until you like it.

Add an Amplifier

Don’t neglect an amplifier’s effect by considering it to be an equipment that just boosts volume. A good amplifier can send on-point signals to the speakers that make the sound crispier and smoother.

Avoid Using Poor Audio Files

If you want to enjoy listening to songs, you should stop using excessively compressed audio files. It might sound well in your earbuds, but when it comes to a real audio system, the effect will not be the same as before.

Adjust the Sound Settings If You Have Connected Your Phone

Your phone will have an equalizer if you are playing music on your smartphone. So, it’s another option to modify your audio system by adjusting the EQ.

Sound Deadening Mats

When you’re riding along, enjoying your favorite music- a sudden honk forms the outside can spoil your music trance. So, using mats to deter outside noise is an excellent way to get better sound. Also, the deadening mats will improve the echo inside your car. Sound deadening mats are cheap, so you can get a few of them and put them around strategically.

Get A Subwoofer

Installing a subwoofer would change your whole car-music experience because most subwoofers include a built-in amp. It means you are getting two for the price of one. Adding a subwoofer to your audio system will make the music rich and vivid.

All Set!!

There is a subtle yet noticeable difference between feeling the music and listening to it. Tuning can make you feel the music instead of simply listening. Now that you know how to tune as well as the difference it makes in a car audio system, it’s time to take action.

Besides, the process is not headache-inducing at all. So, why enjoy crappy tunes when great music is just a few pokes and prods away?

We hope this article can help you make your car audio system’s music come alive!