You hop in your car, connect your iPhone, and hit play on your favorite Apple Music playlist – only to be disappointed by distorted, muddy sound oozing out of your speakers. If you’ve noticed Apple Music just doesn’t sound great in your car, you’re definitely not alone. Many users experience issues with subpar audio quality when streaming from the app in-vehicle.
The good news is there are several straightforward troubleshooting tips you can try to get your tunes sounding crisp, clear, and bumping again. With just a few simple tweaks, you can have Apple Music rocking like it’s meant to in your car.
Adjust Your Car Stereo’s Loudness Setting
One of the most common culprits behind poor Apple Music audio quality in cars is an excessively high loudness setting on the stereo. Many car stereos have an audio enhancement setting called “Loudness” that aims to amplify bass and treble frequencies. This compensates for how our ears perceive sounds differently at lower volumes.
The idea is that boosting low and high frequencies gives music a fuller, richer sound when listening at lower to moderate levels. However, problems arise when loudness is cranked up too high. Excessive loudness boosting can introduce audio distortion, causing muddy, blown-out, rattling sound from your car speakers.
Check your car stereo for a button or knob called “Loudness,” “Super Bass,” or something similar. Try turning this loudness enhancement effect down about halfway or even off completely, then test Apple Music playback again.
Too much loudness compression ruins the clean dynamic range of the music, so dial it down until you find the right balance between solid bass and crisp treble without distortion. You may need to toggle between zero and halfway loudness to get the optimal setting. Just a subtle touch of enhancement can work wonders compared to cranking it to the max.
Be aware many stock car stereos have loudness pre-programmed in that can’t be disabled fully. In this case, resist turning the main stereo volume dangerously high, as this can trigger excessive loudness processing too.
Ultimately, the goal is minimizing unnecessary audio compression so your music retains its nuances and natural dynamic variation from soft to loud passages. A touch of loudness can give that missing oomph while still preserving sound quality.
Re-Pair Your Phone to Your Car Bluetooth
Another common source of Apple Music playback issues in cars relates to glitchy Bluetooth connectivity between your phone and car stereo. Over time, the wireless Bluetooth pairing can develop faults that lead to choppy audio, skipping tracks, or muted sound.
Try unpairing your phone completely from your car Bluetooth system, then forgetting the connection on both devices before re-pairing them from scratch. Essentially giving the pairing a fresh start can rejuvenate the connection.
First, access your car stereo’s Bluetooth settings, usually by tapping a Phone or Wireless button on the dash. Select the option to delete, unpair, or forget the device. Then on your iPhone, under Bluetooth settings, choose “Forget This Device” to erase your car.
With the slate wiped clean, turn Bluetooth off and back on again on both your iPhone and car stereo. Make both devices are set to visible/discoverable mode. Then re-initiate the pairing process. Make sure to confirm any codes that pop up and wait for the “Paired” confirmation.
Taking a few extra minutes to forget then carefully re-pair your phone with your car Bluetooth can effectively reset the connection, often fixing audio glitches in the process. Be sure to test with some Apple Music playback afterwards to ensure it sounds smooth.
Update Your Car Stereo Firmware
Over time, car stereo and infotainment system manufacturers release updated firmware versions for their hardware. Just like updating your computer or phone’s OS, new car stereo firmware improves performance, patches bugs, and optimizes compatibility issues that arise.
Updating your car stereo’s firmware can potentially help resolve Apple Music problems like choppy/skipping playback, intermittent connectivity drops, or compatibility issues with iOS.
Start by checking your car’s manual or the stereo manufacturer’s website to see if any new firmware is available for your specific car stereo model. You’ll usually download the firmware update file to a USB flash drive, then insert it into a USB port on your car’s dash.
Follow the on-screen prompts to initiate the update, which can take 10-20 minutes. Make sure your car is turned on and the stereo remains powered throughout. Don’t disconnect or interrupt the process.
Updating does carry a small risk of something going wrong and bricking the stereo, so proceed with some caution. But in most cases, new firmware successfully installs and tunes up the performance. It’s worth looking into especially if your car stereo is several years old. At minimum, it gets you up to date on the latest improvements.
Upgrade to the Latest iOS Version
Ensuring your iPhone or iPad is always up to date with the newest iOS version is another key way to optimize Apple Music performance and compatibility.
Apple regularly issues software updates that include bug fixes, security patches, enhancements, and improvements to music/media playback capabilities. But you need to manually download and install these updates as they become available.
Updating is easy – on your iOS device, go to Settings > General > Software Update. Tap Download and Install when you see a new version is available. Just make sure your device remains plugged into power and connected to WiFi throughout the process.
Staying current with iOS ensures maximum compatibility and minimizes bugs or limitations when using Apple Music and other media apps. The latest iOS optimizations can really make your CarPlay experience shine. Don’t ignore those update notifications!
Max Out iPhone Volume Before Playback
Before digging into advanced troubleshooting, try this simple audio setting – make sure your iPhone’s volume is turned up near maximum before connecting to your car.
Even with your car stereo volume cranked high, low playback volume coming from the source iPhone can make Apple Music sound weak and anemic through your speakers.
Check that the volume buttons on the side of your iOS device are turned up to the highest comfortable level without distorting. You can also swipe up from bottom of your iPhone to access the on-screen volume slider. Max it out before playing music in your car.
Giving your iPhone’s volume a boost ensures a robust audio signal is being transmitted to your car stereo, over Bluetooth or wired. Just be careful not to increase the phone volume so much that it distorts the signal – high yet clean is the goal.