Clipping Signals


What is Clipping?

The term “clipping signal” refers to the flat shape of a waveform when the amplitude (height) of the wave passes the peak voltage. The power output is much greater than the RMS power rating. The waves are also steeper, with less time between peaks. The result is power consistently close to peak.

“Gain” is not a volume control

A common cause of clipping is using the gain control to increase amp output and volume. However, the gain knob only controls input sensitivity.

Amplifiers perform a fairly simple function. Voltage comes in, and the amp increases that input by a certain factor. If the gain (input sensitivity) is too high, the amp will still try to increase the signal, according to its design. The resulting output exceeds the amount of voltage the circuits can handle. A clipping signal is now coming from the amplifier. Heat begins to build in the amp circuits and the speaker’s voice coil.

An oscilloscope (o-scope) lets you visualize waveforms. Some users rely on an o-scope to set levels precisely based on the image of the output waveform. This method is so precise that it is only correct for the exact settings and input when the it was set. Any change in head-unit volume, voltage, or audio source recording level can put your system at risk.

How to fix a clipping signal


  1. Adjust your low pass filter (LPF) to 100-125.
  2. Set subsonic to 30-35.
  3. Flip Main/Strap switch to “Main”.
  4. Reduce amp gain to 0 (all the way to the left).
  5. Install the remote gain knob and turn it 1/2 way up (12 o’clock position).
  6. Set all head unit EQ settings and bass controls to 0.
  7. While playing audio from the source you use most commonly, turn the head unit volume to 3/4. You will not have output yet.
  8. Slowly turn the gain on the amp until the clipping indicator on the remote starts to flicker as the frequencies in the music change. Do not allow the clipping indicator to glow solid or flicker continuously.