How to Adjust and Tune Your Car Stereo Equalizer Settings

How to Adjust and Tune Your Car Stereo Equalizer Settings

Tuning the sound system in your car can be a challenge if you don’t have the correct information or resources. Many car owners think that the traditional sound settings and systems provide suitable sound quality. However, there is more to enjoying quality music and sound than most people would expect.

So, we look at how to adjust and tune your car stereo equalizer (EQ), whatever size stereo you have. Plus, we shall also be looking at the best sound settings you can use for your sound system.

Best Sound Settings

So, what is the best sound setting for EQs? The best sound setting depends on various factors. In some cases, there is value in adjusting the sound of a vehicle to suit the quality of songs. For instance, it can involve changing the sound quality to suit oldies or modern recordings.

Other listeners might also opt to adjust the EQ to fit a specific genre. It’s the main reason why most aftermarket models come with varying equalizer pre-sets, including jazz, rock, or vocal pop.

However, for everyday use, the ideal setting for the equalizer would be any sound frequency level that can suit your entertainment needs. For example, if the subwoofer is more potent than the midrange in your car speaker, a good equalizer will auto-adjust to send more sound to your tweeters.

If you have a multi-channel speaker system, you can use a multi-band equalizer to get the best sound settings. Doing this will be ideal for preventing issues, spikes, or drops around sound notes as you enjoy music.

When set the right way, the equalizer in your stereo can help bring out the best sound quality. In addition, tuning your EQ helps enhance the quality of sound reproduction by eliminating significant peaks and dips between sound frequencies. These are issues that can lead to unpleasant or compromised sound quality.

The traditional car EQ systems often feature at least three bands of frequencies you can leverage. However, the more complex types can have as many as 13 or more frequency bands. A good example would be that a three-band EQ represents three categories of frequency: mid, bass, and treble tones.

The types with more bands provide a better division of frequency categories. For instance, the 13 band frequency version would be better than the three divisions.

How Do I Set Up My EQ?

To set up your EQ, consider getting a tool known as a Real-Time Analyzer (RTA). It’s a tool you can use to measure the sound produced in your car. You can easily download an RTA app on your phone. A good example would be the best “Sound Spectrum Analyzer.

These software feature tools are referred to as pink noise generators, which are available with most high-end RTA apps. Pink noise is similar to a broad range of frequencies which often average between 20 and 20,000 hertz.

Play pink noise on your car stereo while using the RTA app. The app will provide a graph with information on specific frequencies. Since you are evaluating the quality of pink noise, there shouldn’t be any significant gaps between frequencies. Instead, the frequency range should feature a gentle curve.

Basic Guidelines to the Best Equalizer Settings

The first piece of advice would be to position your car in a safe and silent environment. After that, adjusting the best equalizer settings requires tweaking, listening, and some time. Below are some helpful tips for you to consider:

Set the Crossovers First

If your car audio system features crossovers, ensure that you set the first. Even if cross-overs tend to be handy for customizing sound, they don’t function similarly to the equalizer. Instead, the role of a crossover is simple, which is to raise and low the level of a particular frequency.

Plus, the cross-overs also help direct the range of frequencies to speakers in the given sound system. A good example would be when you customize a low-pass crossover in an amplifier to direct low bass frequencies properly.

This can include directing the frequencies below the 100Hz level to a subwoofer that can handle such sounds. The crossover will also eliminate any frequencies that cannot be played on the subwoofer.

Choose A Good Source

Choosing a good sound source is vital in setting up your car sound system for success. In this case, you want to use music that has been appropriately recorded. You can also opt to use recordings suitable for testing the most appropriate songs for your sound system.

Avoid using music that streams through the AM/FM RADIO or music streaming from your handheld device. You can only do this once you have calibrated the equalizer. Plus, over-the-air radio does not provide complete frequency responses over the traditional 20-20kHz frequencies or Bluetooth compressed sound systems.

A better alternative would be to consider any storage solution that has high-quality music. If you are not competent at choosing high-resolution music, there are various sites you can use. The other option would be to use Apple CarPlay® (AC) or Android Auto™ (AA).

Tips for choosing the right songs:

  • Go for songs that have excellent instrumentation and vocals. Avoid the types that can produce synthesized sound, as these are likely to have severe compromises in quality.
  • Consider songs that have a diverse frequency range with deep bass and high-pitched tones. Consider songs with quality acoustics, such as AWOLNATION’s Sail.
  • Music has distinct movement and separation qualities for optimal sound delivery.
  • Use your favorite or any popular song, especially the types that have high-quality audio and sound delivery benefits.

Try the Factory Installed Car Stereo Presets

Usually, all car audio systems come with a unique EQ pre-set system. These can include hip hop, jazz, rock, RnB, and various others. These are a great way to start. When choosing each pre-set, you should access the menu interface that displays frequency level changes.

Plus, you also come across notable changes in the quality of sound. If the EQ section in your car is inactive, then you probably want to check whether the music system is playing music.

Remember to Check Whether You Have Several Equalizers

Even if you have several components in your sound system, remember to use only one EQ system. Once you choose one EQ on your system, leave the remaining ones on the default setting.

Do this because tuning an equalized sound signal will produce poor quality. In addition, such tuning is inconsistent and will make you miss out on some critical frequencies for enjoying audio content.

The best equalizer to use would be the one that works best for your system. For instance, a new head unit with an in-built equalizer can be ideal for those who like to tweak lots of settings conveniently. Plus, the types that feature touch displays are the most convenient for this process.

Remember that some processors and outboard amps provide better adjustability benefits than a flip-out head unit. Some high-end audio system brands also offer apps to customize the systems on your handheld device.

How to Tune Your Car Stereo Equalizer

The process of tuning your car stereo equalizer involves a few resources and techniques. The good thing is that it’s easy once you get all the steps correctly. These steps include:

  1. Park your vehicle in a quiet area without any external noise that can compromise sound measurements. Ensure the engine and other components such as the AC are off.
  2. Then, set up the RTA to “octave” mode, which is the same as the number of bands on your EQ. Next, set the measuring speed to average at slow or medium. An excellent place to start would be with the 1/3 octave. However, if you have fewer EQ bands, consider setting it using a lower number of sound frequency bands.
  3. Set your equalizer to flat, and switch off any other settings such as bass boost, especially for systems that feature amplifiers.
  4. With RTA running and your microphone connected, play the sound, activate the RTA app, and play a pink noise. It’s the app you use to measure the sound input produced by your sound system. However, ensure that you use high-quality pink noise for the best sound results.
  5. Once the RTA starts to function, and sits in the middle place between the seats at the ear level. Keep track of any sections that will produce peaks and dips in sound.
  6. Start adjusting the EQ gradually for the bands in this section, and keep track of the changes. Adjusting the EQ up or down excessively for each frequency can incline you to compensate by changing other bands during the changes.
  7. Remember that a well-tuned system should produce a flat RTA line across the entire audio range. That said, achieving this goal is not easy, and you have to aim for the best settings for custom adjustments.
  8. Once you have the settings corrected, save them as a pre-set in your radio. Then, play a music track with excellent sound quality or anything familiar.

Check for Anything Missing

After a few hours of listening, you might notice a few things that weaknesses including:

  • When you experience dull or poor-quality sound quality from your sound system, try placing a set of tweeters at the front of the car. Do this to help liveliness to the sound. Usually, receivers come with a signal processor that helps boost the sound quality. Also, remember to check up for any extra equalization functions, which can help improve music quality significantly.
  • Are the vocal instruments in the system audible? If the recipient has a midrange control, consider boosting it up slightly, especially with a parametric equalizer in the 400-1000Hz range. Try replacing your full-range speakers with high-quality mid-range alternatives.
  • Is the sound system too bright? If the front speakers feature swiveling tweeters, try and adjust their position. For instance, try pointing the speakers away from you to help gauge the sound quality. If you have component tweeters, consider checking cross-overs for any switching in the output level. For instance, a drop of – 2 Db can significantly impact the sound quality tweeters produce.

The ability to tune your car system right has many benefits, including improving your ride quality and saving you lots of money in system maintenance costs. There are various steps in tuning sound systems, and it’s a process that also relates to your entertainment needs. You also need tools such as RTA apps and equalizers for the best results.

Brett Gordon

The engine behind editing at DigMyRide and the brains behind its build. During the day, Brett is a thirty-something dude from SoCal climbing the corporate ladder, but by night, he spends his time contributing to the online world of automotive tech & trends.