Registered: 22nd Feb 01
User status: Offline
Level setting, done by ear, is more art than science. Basically you want to start with the first component in the chain (head unit) and work your way to the last component (amplifier).
Start by turning all of the input level adjustment knobs (gain controls) on your components fully counter-clockwise (to their minimum setting). Set the tone controls (bass, treble, loudness) on your head unit to no boost (bass and treble level = 0 and loudness is off). Make sure your fader and balance controls are set to the middle position. If you have more than one RCA pair you will want to set each gain adjustment separately.
Next set all of your equalizers settings (if you have an equalizer) to the center (detent) position so they produce no boost or cut. What we want is as pure a signal as possible.
Put in some good quality source material, preferably a CD with strong output and a clean recording. Hard rock would be a bad choice here. Try something cleaner, maybe acoustic, that you're familiar with.
Turn the headunit's volume up slowly until you begin to hear distortion. When you hear it, stop and back off slightly until you no longer hear it. If you don't hear distortion, even when the volume is all of the way up then you have a quality head unit. That's what we're looking for.
Now with your head unit at maximum undistorted volume move on to the next component.
When you reach the amplifiers you may need to wear earplugs to adjust them to their maximum level. As before, turn up the gain until you hear audible distortion.
That's it. Play some music and verify that everything sounds right. Congratulations! You've just learned to properly adjust the settings on your car audio system.
One thing i forgot to mention is to leave the bass till last as this will mask the lower frequency from the comps and allow distortion to be introduced.
Best to disconnect the sub untill it's needed.
Originally submitted by DIGGIDY