Skip to Content

Bass Boost vs. Gain. What Is the Real Difference?

If you’ve ever been on the road and wanted to pump up the tunes a bit, then chances are you asked yourself – what is the difference between bass boost and gain?

You probably know these controls affect sound levels, but understanding how they differ can sometimes be confusing.

TedsWoodworking Plans and Projects

Bass boost and gain are both used to adjust the sound of audio signals. Gain adjusts the overall volume or amplitude of the signal, while bass boost enhances the low-frequency range of the audio. Gain is typically set at the input stage before the signal is processed or amplified, while the bass boost affects the sound after it has been amplified.

As an Amazon Associate, ImproveCarAudio will receive a small commission from qualifying purchases made through the links in this article.

Tip: Not all amplifiers have both settings adjustable, but if you need an amplifier with separate bass boost and gain to make your sub hit even harder, I recommend checking out the monoblock Alpine MRV-M500 (link to Amazon).

In this article, I will go over what bass boost and gain are, how they differ, and when you might want to use them.

What Are the Differences Between the Gain and Bass Boost in Car Audio?

If you’re into car audio, you’ve probably heard the terms “bass boost” and “gain” thrown around a lot.

MRV-M500 - Alpine Monoblock 500W RMS V Power Series Car Amplifier

These are two separate settings that can significantly impact the sound of your music, so it’s important to understand what they do and how to use them.

What is Bass Boost?

Bass boost increases the power of low frequency audio signals, such as the bass guitar or kick drum.

It’s often used to get more output from a subwoofer, which as you know, is specifically designed to reproduce low frequencies.

For example, if you have a bass boost setting of +3 dB, your amplifier will be asked to more or less double its output around that frequency.

One reason you might use a bass boost is to give your music a more aggressive sound. For example, if you love the feeling of a powerful bassline shaking your car, boosting the bass can help you get that experience.

Bass boost can also be helpful if you want to make low frequencies more pronounced, especially if they get lost in the mix of all sounds.

What is Gain?

Gain is another term for amplifier power. It refers to how much amplification a speaker can handle.

The higher the gain, the louder the sound will be. This is because when you increase the gain of an amplifier, you’re also increasing the strength of the signal being sent to the speaker.

This can be good if you want to make your music louder, but it can also lead to distortion if used incorrectly.

When Should I Set Bass Boost or Gain?

Now that you know the basics of bass boost and gain, you might wonder when you should use them.

The answer to this question depends on the specific needs of your music and your personal preferences. For example, a bass boost can be a great option if you want to give your music a more aggressive sound.

Just be aware that boosting the bass too much can lead to a messy or unbalanced sound, so it’s crucial to find the right balance.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to increase the overall volume of your music, gain might be a better choice.

Just be sure to use caution when increasing the gain, as it can lead to distortion if not used correctly.

I recommend always starting with the gain setting at a lower level and gradually increasing it until you achieve the desired volume.

Another factor to consider when deciding between bass boost and gain is the specific equipment you have.

If you have a high-quality subwoofer and amplifier, you can get more out of them by boosting the bass.

On the other hand, if your equipment is less powerful, increasing the gain might give you a louder overall sound without adding too much distortion.

I like experimenting with different settings to find what works best for different music types.


In conclusion, bass boost and gain are two separate settings that can greatly impact the sound of your music.

Bass boost is a technique used to increase the power of low frequency audio signals, while the gain is a term for amplifier power that improves the overall signal strength.

Remember to use caution when adjusting these settings and consult a professional sound engineer if you have any questions.


Why My Bass Sounds Distorted?

If your bass sounds distorted, it could be caused by several factors.

One possibility is that the gain setting is too high, causing the amplifier to clip the signal and create distortion.

To fix this, try turning down the gain until the distortion disappears. It’s also a good idea to ensure that your speakers are wired correctly and that the amplifier gets enough power.

Why I Can’t Get My Amp to Turn On?

If your amp doesn’t turn on, a few different things could happen.

Ensure the power wire is securely connected to the battery and the fuse properly. It’s also a good idea to check the ground wire to ensure it’s properly connected to the car’s chassis.

Also, if the amplifier has a remote wire from the stereo (it should have), check when the stereo runs and the signal being sent to the amp.

Why Does My Music Sound Distorted at High Volumes?

If your music sounds distorted at high volumes, it could be because the gain is set too high or the speakers are overloaded.

To fix this, try turning down the gain or reducing the volume until the distortion disappears.