Tuning Car Stereo: Manual, Fade and Tone

In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some of the earliest steps to consider if you’re looking to tune your car’s stereo system for optimal audio performance. Particularly if you’ve had aftermarket audio components like speakers, amplifiers and subwoofers installed, these generally come with a wide range of settings and tuning options – and getting them right will make a big difference between high-quality sound and lesser options.

At Laketown Speed and Sound, we’re happy to offer a wide range of car stereo and audio upgrades, plus comprehensive expertise on how best to utilize our equipment to attain high-quality sound. While most of part one went over the equalizer in your stereo and how to tune it, today’s part two will look at some more specific tips on stereo tuning, including fade control, tone and others – but we’ll begin by going over an important note on your manual.

tuning car stereo fade tone

Importance of Manual

First and foremost, stereo units that have advanced features like digital sound processing, automatic equalization or several others may require some specific care or steps while tuning – if these are not taken, you risk improper alignment or other concerns. For these areas, it’s important to refer to the operating manual for any such components; the manual will give you specific recommendations or requirements for tuning various elements, plus will warn you about tuning approaches that will not work.

Assessing Audio

When you’re ready to tune your car’s stereo, the first step is to turn it on with the car parked – this should never be done while driving. From here, pick a song you listen to often, and which you won’t mind listening to several times as you reference your sound levels during tuning.

If possible, choose a song that has variety in sound. You want it to include high notes like brass or cymbals, but also low notes like bass and medium notes like guitar or vocals.

Tuning Fade Control

Once your song is playing, tune the stereo’s fade control all the way to the point where music is only coming from the front-most speakers. Now adjust the left-right balance to your preference. Before moving forward from here, make a note of the settings you’ve landed on here.

Next, do the opposite: Turn fade control so sound only comes from rear speakers, then adjust the left-right balance to your preferred level. If you find that the balance settings you’ve achieved here are identical to those you saw with the front fade, you’re in good shape. If not, however, you will have to “compromise” between two settings, finding the right balance. This will involve re-testing both the front and back using the same methods we’ve gone over, usually ending with a situation where rear volume is slightly lower than front volume.

Setting Tone

Next up, listen to your music for balance – that is, are you hearing high, medium and low notes all at the same time? If not, your first step will be to check your EQ presets, such as sound booster, bass booster and others; you can test these to make music sound better using bass, treble and mid-range controls. Try different combinations until your music sounds perfect, with high notes that are clear but not invasive, mid-range notes that are smooth, and bass notes that are full – but not booming or shaking your vehicle.

For more on how to tune your car’s audio system, or to learn about any of our car audio, window tinting or other automotive services, speak to the staff at Laketown Speed and Sound today.