How To Use an Oscilloscope For Car Audio || 7 Easy Steps To Follow

You can depend on an oscilloscope to test the cabling or wiring in your car to check your car audio. Also, you can check the signals to make sure of a proper electrical function.

Although there are some people, you will find, who use a multimeter for their car audio. But we suggest you rely on an oscilloscope to experience a better job.

However, are you looking for a complete guideline on how to use an oscilloscope for car audio? Then, here is an excellent solution for your betterment.

Here with us today, you will learn what an oscilloscope is, and its function, etc. So, keep reading our content and remove all your confusion.

What Does An Oscilloscope Mean?

You can simply consider an oscilloscope as a device that will help you measure the voltage-changing frequency. Besides, using an oscilloscope, you can check your car audio amplifier for sound quality and speaker outputs.

Understanding the measurement of voltage level is very important because it tells us whether the circuit is acting correctly.

Now it can be a question of what circuit is. Well, you are here to know about oscilloscopes, which means you know about circuits already. But, still, we will explain what a circuit means for your better understanding.

A circuit means a path through which a car, light/ fan,/TV’s electrical energy can pass. And, the voltage is considered as the electrical force that is to drive the device’s current from one point to another.

But, this voltage often doesn’t work correctly. And, to identify the problem, you need an oscilloscope. So, the importance of an oscilloscope is huge.

The function of an Oscilloscope

An oscilloscope keeps displaying the voltage signals over time. And, you will notice the signal is displayed like a graph. Where there are two axes will be visible.

function of an oscilloscope

However, look at the graph above. It shows the voltage level. You can consider those two axes as “X” and “Y.”
✔ Axis “Y” = Volume of Voltage
✔ Axis “X” = Unit of Time
In general, however, there are two basic ways how an oscilloscope works. And, these two ways are-

  1. Sampling
  2. Triggering


Sampling is the way how an oscilloscope converts the fraction of “Input Signal” into electrical values. The term sampling intends to represent the storage, processing, and display.
In a different way, sampling receives a number of electrical signals first and then displays that voltage range on the screen.
It goes through the function generator of stroboscopic light in successive volume levels of the waveform. After that, the total tone of waves starts displaying on the screen.


Trigger-Control, on the other hand, keeps displaying the repetitive waveform.

How to Use an Oscilloscope

If you are new, then the buttons of an oscilloscope seem a bit scary or intimidating. It is because you need to set all the buttons according to the accurate settings.
But, there is nothing to worry about because we mean to guide you on using an oscilloscope today.
The cables you use to plug in your oscilloscope and the button to get the measurement are called probes.

How to Use an Oscilloscope

So, at the first stage, you have to connect the probes with your oscilloscope. But in this stage, do not get confused with the cable pins. That means each probe has two leads with one BNC connector.

So, here, you have to connect both sides because the oscilloscope measures the volume of voltage. Usually, these two sides of a probe are called positive and negative sidesFigure: Probe

The side that is with an alligator clip is known as the negative side. And, in most cases, you have to connect the negative side to the circuit.

And, once you have connected the negative side, and then next, you have to connect the positive side to the button you need to measure.

Now, set the oscilloscope to the right measurement, depending on your measuring condition. But, you will be confused with so many buttons on an oscilloscope.

In this case, we want to make your go easier by sharing a hidden trick. That is, if you look at the given picture below, you will see a button marked written “Auto Set.”

using an oscilloscope

Now, keep a strong push on that button unless you are confident which button you need to connect with the positive side of the probe.
After pushing on that “Auto Set” button, it will start inquiring about the signal that should be connected based on your situation. And it will make the settings the best possible option. This is how you can use an oscilloscope.

How to Use an Oscilloscope for Car Audio

Here are 7 important steps that we will explain in such a way so that you can understand the uses of an oscilloscope for your car audio. So, let’s have a go-

How to Use an Oscilloscope for Car Audio

Step 1: Identify the clipping point of the head unit before setting the amplifier. But, you have to turn off the time alignment setting to disconnect the input from the head unit.

Step 2: Check whether you have disconnected properly.

Step 3: Now, in this stage, take a testing CD and play a testing tone. Usually, the measurement of standard tone is-

  • 50hz for Sub-Woofers-3db
  • 1000hz-3db for Mids
  • 3500hz-3db for Tweeters

But we recommend you to use 1000hz for your car audio component set up.
Step 4: Now, configure the oscilloscope in an accurate volume. Measure the wave of the output of every speaker channel from the source unit to the amplifier.

Step 5: You can now see the sine waves started to level out right after turning up the volume. You must remove those flat spots (leveling out sine waves) so that the car audio equipment will not be damaged.
Here, the level of the volume you recorded will be your specific volume level, and you cannot go louder than that sound level. In a word, you can say this is your new maximum volume.

Step 6:Re-insert the amplifier into the source unit and turn the volume to the maximum volume that you have recorded in step 5. Now, connect the oscilloscope to the car audio.

Step 7: Now, re-connect the speakers into the amplifier. So, it is now time to enjoy your music.

Oscilloscope for Car Audio FAQ

What is the purpose of an oscilloscope?

Well, you can use an oscilloscope to identify the electrical signals that change over time. Also, it is helpful to verify the circuit designs.

Can I consider an oscilloscope as a voltmeter?

Not exactly. Usually, an oscilloscope works as a voltmeter, but you cannot call it a voltmeter directly.

Is it okay if I don’t have an oscilloscope?

Well, we cannot say that an oscilloscope is a must. But, we can confidently make you sure that the oscilloscope will make you go faster than the multimeter.

How can I use an RCA cable to plug in music to my oscilloscope?

Usually, using RCA cable is getting an old version nowadays. In this case, you can use the BNC-PL259 adapter as well, along with your RCA cable. And then, you can easily plug in your music to the oscilloscope.

This togetherness will give the maximum output to require a loud sound. Later, it will act to improve the listening modes of your audio source materials.


If it has been a long while, you have been working with different types of electronics, but using a multimeter, then, it is now time to change your go. Once you learn how to use an oscilloscope, you will be a big fan of this.

An oscilloscope is a unique and dynamic instrument that will allow you to work more flexibly.

However, we tried to cover all the possible areas where you can get trouble using an oscilloscope. So, hopefully, you have now understood how to use an oscilloscope for car audio.

But still, if you find anything you need to share with us, please leave your valuable comment below. We will try to bring a possible solution to our following content.

Read also:

Leave a Comment