What are the Best Car Stereo Sound Settings?

full tone settings

A balanced car stereo sound setting is best. You should select a preset depending on your music preference and adjust to your needs from there.

The critical setting we’ll is talking about:

  1. Sound positioning balance
  2. Audio equalizer settings (Bass & Treble)


Car stereo sound settings can mean the difference between BLAH and AMAZING!


The best sound settings for your car stereo may be different from the settings for your home stereo. This is because many vehicles have a unique electronic sound system, and many of us prefer different-sounding music when driving vs at home.

A great-sounding car stereo is one of the keys to making your car fun to drive. You can’t just turn a knob and instantly have a great sound, though.

Different sound settings mean different volumes, and it’s easy to over-or under-modulate the loudness, so the treble sounds harsh or muffled, or the bass isn’t distinct enough.

We have a whole article about Kenwood car stereos for more detailed settings for that brand.

Sound Positioning Balance

tone settings - Balance
Sound positioning for a Vauxhall / Opal Corsa

The first setting you will want to check is the Balance. This is more of a preference and depends on having many passengers in the car. The Balance allows you to adjust the optimal position of the audio output.

For instance, if you rarely have passengers in the rear, you can adjust the audio Balance to the cabin’s front. The stereo settings will vary but will look similar to the picture above. It should have front, rear, left, and right sliders to have complete control for audio positioning.

Unlike some of the other knobs on your car stereo sound controls, there won’t be specific settings that sound perfect; it’s more of a preference.

Best Car Stereo Setting by Option

The Treble, Bass, and Mid that you want to select will vary depending on the type of music you listen to and your personal preference. Many car stereos have optional preset selections for certain music styles, such as Pop, Rock, Jazz, and Classical. The manufacturer has selected the best Mid, Bass, and Treble that they believe is best for that type of music.

tone settings - Music Type
Example of car audio setting presets

If you’re looking for a quick option for the best car stereo sound settings, just pick the option you listen to most, perhaps adjusting it slightly depending on your preference, such as upping the bass by two units.

Understanding what these settings do and when to use them can help you get the most out of your car stereo. We need to understand that virtually all car stereos are made for non-mobile listening. They operate in a fixed position in a car and come with features to improve sound quality while listening. To get the best sound quality in a moving vehicle, we need to change our perspective. The three core options in most car stereos are Bass, Midrange, and Treble.

Kenwood EQ Adjustments
Kenwood Equalizer Settings

Bass midrange and treble should be set at a ratio of 4:5

Bass –

Bass describes tones of low and deep frequency sound. Probably the most commonly known and notable equalizer setting. The bass mid and treble should be set at a ratio of 4:5 as a rule of thumb.

Don’t overdo your bass adjustments, or your music will be distorted. See the video below for an extreme bass setup of 40,000 watts.

SOUND WARNING – Mind your ears and speakers

Treble –

In simple terms, treble is the “high notes” counterpart to bass. Therefore, it’s recommended that your treble be set at a 4:5 ratio of bass to treble.

What HiFi has a list of songs they recommend to find the optical treble.

To test overall Balance, they recommend Clair de Lune by Kamasi Washington.

Have your usual music playing through the stereo when adjusting the settings. You will be able to visually hear the adjustments you make in real-time. Listen at low, medium, and high volume levels to test all variations.

tone settings - Bass, Midrange, Treble
Bass, Midrange, and Treble Equalizer Adjuster

When setting up your car stereo, getting the best sound possible is essential. However, getting the best sound quality is more about the right combination of settings and not just a matter of turning up or down specific options.

Ensure that your stereo is set up correctly for maximum sound quality. Use only certified and compatible speakers with an amplifier with an RMS power rating of at least 50 watts per channel or higher. This gives you the best quality sound platform for each speaker channel.

More is always better for amplifier power, especially if you are driving large-diameter speakers with high-profile magnets.

What is Midrange in Music (Car Audio)

The midrange is typically a frequency range between 300Hz – 5,000Hz.

Most audio content, including in-car music, falls within this range. 

What Should Bass and Treble be Set at in a Car?

There is no right or wrong answer regarding music in your car. 

Instead, it depends on your preferences, the type of music, and the car audio system you own. 

I appreciate this answer isn’t very helpful, so as a rule of thumb, you can:

  1. Start with a flat EQ – Then start to slowly adjust the following:
    1. Adjust the bass
    2. Adjust the treble
  2. Fine-tune the sound with small changes, listening to different music to make sure you like it in the new setting.


If it still doesn’t sound right after tinkering, consider using a preset.

Final Thoughts

As we’ve discussed, there isn’t always a standard “best” sound setting, but you can make it as good as possible for your preference and setup.

Ideally, your car audio setup will make you feel like you are at a live concert, but most people’s setup won’t entirely be at that level.

Get started by adjusting the balanced positioning of your music output. If you are likely to have a complete car of passengers, frequently leave it in the middle. Only two? Move it to the front of the cabin; you get the idea.

This guide is great for most car radios, even overseas, made by Japanese and German car stereo brands.

Audio is much like a preference and depends on what you listen to. Most stereos will have music presets that are good enough for most people, and if not, you can adjust the bass, midrange, and treble to your preference.

I loved my car but was frustrated with my media system. So I upgraded my stereo, making silly wires and precarious phone mounts a thing of the past. The Apple Car Play stereo was so good I wanted to show more people how this could be done and truly upgrade their cars multimedia system! Founder StereoUpgrade.com
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