By: Jeremy Neisser
Are you tired of listening to your AM radio and struggling to hear what the newscasters are saying? Do you find it frustrating to listen to low-quality AM radio when tuning in for casual listening? If so, you're not alone. Many people experience poor AM radio quality and wonder why it sounds so bad.
In this article, I will explore the possible causes of low-quality AM radio and present some solutions to help you improve your listening experience. From listening during the day or night, to having too many electronics running, to not using an external antenna, there are several factors that can affect the sound quality of your AM radio. Keep reading to find out more about these issues and how to fix them.
AM Radio Sound - Key Takeaways
There are several factors that can affect the sound quality of your AM radio, including listening during the day or night, having too many electronics running, and not using an external antenna.
By addressing these issues, you can improve the quality of your AM radio and enjoy a better listening experience.
Whether you use AM radio to communicate with others, listen to live updates, or as part of a hobby, it's important to understand the causes of low-quality AM radio and how to fix them.
Why Does AM Radio Sound Bad? 6 Possible Causes (and Fixes!)
Issue #1. You’re Listening During the Day
If you're listening to AM radio during the day, you may notice that it doesn't sound as good as it does at night. This is because AM radio waves can travel further at night than during the day. During the day, the ionosphere is full of single molecules that pair up more readily at night, making it harder for AM radio waves to travel and limiting their reach.
To improve your AM radio listening during the day, listen to stations within a 100-mile radius and double-check that the station broadcasts during the day. The FCC has an AM Query resource that's invaluable for finding your favorite AM station and its hours of operation. Once you know the daylight hours your favorite AM station broadcasts, make sure you tune in at those times!
Issue #2. You’re Listening at Night
When the sun sets and no longer ionizes the molecules in the ionosphere, their behavior begins to change. They group together, allowing AM radio waves to travel more across the ionosphere. The result? AM increases its travel radius by hundreds of miles at night. However, some AM stations must reduce power at night, which might limit your listening radius.
To improve your AM radio listening at night, refer to the AM Query or a similar tool for checking the hours your favorite AM station broadcasts. If the station has to reduce power at night, try tuning in closer and seeing if that helps. If the station has to stop broadcasting at night, listen to it during the day or find another station to enjoy.
Issue #3. You Have Too Many Electronics On
Running electronics in your home when you're not using them can degrade the fidelity of your AM signal. Everyday electronics are culprits, from televisions to smartphone chargers, laptop and desktop computers, vacuum cleaners, microwave ovens, lights, printers and scanners, and electric blankets.
To improve your AM radio listening, unplug as many electronics as you can. Turn off whatever you don't think you'll use while listening to AM radio and unplug that too. The fewer appliances and electronics running, the better your AM signal should sound.
Issue #4. You’re Not Using an External Antenna
Many radios have AM antenna inputs that support external antennas. If yours doesn't, consider upgrading to one that does. That in and of itself could be a big part of your problem!
To improve your AM radio listening, add a loop antenna if your radio includes an external antenna input. This circular-shaped antenna boosts radio reception, eliminating your problem with poor-sounding AM radio. If even a loop antenna doesn't improve the clarity of the radio enough for your liking, try an antenna booster. However, these options only work if you've reduced indoor interference from electronics and appliances.
Issue #5. Your Antenna Isn’t Facing the Right Direction
How you position your antenna matters! If the antenna is situated all willy-nilly, that could explain why your AM radio reception is less than desirable.
To improve your AM radio listening, aim your loop antenna toward the direction where you know the AM station emanates from. For any other type of AM antenna, you can do the same, minus the part about the wheel.
Issue #6. Your Radio Isn’t Facing the Right Direction
Check your radio direction, as this can also impact AM station clarity. Position your radio so it faces toward the nearest window with its rear aimed outside. This method is most effective when you reduce outside interference from your electronics.
To improve the sound quality of AM radio, I recommend starting by unplugging any electronics or appliances that may cause interference. Next, use a loop antenna or antenna booster and position the antenna and radio correctly. Finally, try listening at night when AM radio can travel further and produce better sound quality. With these steps, you should notice a significant improvement in your AM radio listening experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between AM and FM radio?
AM and FM radio are two different types of radio broadcasting technologies. AM stands for amplitude modulation, while FM stands for frequency modulation. The main difference between AM and FM radio is the way the carrier signal is modulated to transmit information, such as music or spoken word, through the air.
What does AM stand for in radio?
AM stands for amplitude modulation. This is a type of radio wave used to transmit information, such as music or spoken word, through the air.
What is the frequency range for AM and FM radio?
The frequency range for AM radio is from 535 KHz to 1605 KHz, while the frequency range for FM radio is from 88 MHz to 108 MHz. This means that FM radio signals have a higher bandwidth than AM radio signals.
Why does FM radio sound better than AM?
FM radio sounds better than AM because FM radio signals have a higher bandwidth than AM radio signals. This means that FM radio signals can carry more information, such as higher quality audio, than AM radio signals.
How does modulation affect the sound quality of AM and FM radio?
Modulation affects the sound quality of AM and FM radio by determining how the carrier signal is modulated to transmit information, such as music or spoken word, through the air. AM radio uses amplitude modulation, which is less effective at transmitting high-quality audio than frequency modulation, which is used by FM radio. This is because FM radio signals have a higher bandwidth, which allows them to carry more information, such as higher quality audio.
Hi & Welcome!
My name is Jeremy and I have been an avid car nut for many year. My first car was an 1987 Honda CRX. I put in my first Kenwood stereo, amp, 2 10" JLs and a CB Radio in it and have been an avid user of CBs and car radios for years. I'll do my best to share my tips, information and thoughts to help you with whatever question you might have, ABOUT ME