rf gain and squelch on cb radio

RF Gain and Squelch on CB Radio

Noise usually comes in many forms. While it is impossible to get rid of noise, static noise should always be kept at a minimum because it will make you struggle a lot to hear the message.

However, the RF gain and squelch control on your CB radio go to great lengths to ensure that the noise is the least of your problems.

This article will thus explain a few things about RF gain and squelch to help you better understand why you need to have these features on your CB radio. In addition, it will also guide you on how to connect RF gain and squelch to your radio.

What is RF Gain?

RF refers to Radio Frequency which is ideally the frequency that allows wireless communication of a vast number of devices. On the other hand, RF gain refers to the sensitivity adjustment of the radio.

RF gain works by counteracting noise in the environment. You can think of it as a sensitivity filter as since all it does is filter out the noise from the signal that the radio should be receiving.

One thing to note about it is that it reduces noise in the receiver without necessarily affecting reception power. As such, you should normally have your RF gain control turned far to the right to receive the farthest signals.

Conversely, turning the control to the left will reduce your radio’s receive distance. There are many instances when reducing the receive distance can come in handy. A good example is when you want to lock away conversations from radios that are farther away.

What is Squelch?

In many ways, squelch is similar to RF gain since squelch control equally helps you get clear signals. Squelch simply sets the threshold for signals that goes into the radio.

Turning the knob to the far right means that an incoming signal will have to be strong for you to hear it. On the other hand, turning it far left will allow you to hear weaker signals.

Ideally, squelch control allows you to filter out the signals based on their strengths. This is important, and it also happens to be the reason nearly all CB radios come with squelch control even when the radio lacks RF gain.

In addition, squelch control also filters out static noise, and this also goes to show why it is an important feature for CB radios. As such, CB radios hardly ever lack squelch control since radios without the feature would be difficult to use.

What’s the Difference Between RF Gain and Squelch?

The differences between RF gain and squelch are subtle if you simply consider the two as filters. Their true differences come in once you think about what they are filtering out.

Whereas RF gain filters out noise that naturally exists in the environment, squelch control filters out weak signals. RF gain acts like a receiver sensitivity controller which helps the CB radio either reduce or increase your ability to pick up far away signals.

How Should I Set RF Gain and Squelch on a CB Radio?

For starters, there’s no right setting when it comes to RF gain or squelch control on a CB radio. This is because there are instances where it would make sense to reduce both RF gain and squelch control. However, there are a few rules that we can share to help you get started.

RF Gain

By default, you should have your RF gain set all the way to the right. This will enable your CB radio to pick up signals that are far away. In case you are in an area with many obstructions, increasing the RF gain will help you get clearer signals.

On the other hand, you should reduce RF gain if you deliberately want to filter out certain signals from your radio. Since RF gain works by filtering noise, reducing RF gain will make the radio more susceptible to noise. In turn, only the clearer and stronger signals will manage to make it to your CB radio.

Squelch Control

Like RF gain, you should also have squelch control set all the way up to the right if you want the longest receive distance. Since squelch control is superior to RF gain, you will get fewer signals if you turn the squelch control knob to the left. You should only do this if you want to pick up strong signals rather than all available signals.

Leaving the knob at maximum is useful when you want to get information from all directions. This is usually ideal for truck drivers who prefer using the CB radio to get weather updates or traffic information from nearby drivers.

How to Connect RF Gain and Squelch

If you are new to CB radios, you probably have both RF gain and squelch set to maximum for the longest range. However, you should also know how to connect RF gain and squelch on your CB radio. You can do so in 5 simple steps:

  1. First turn off your radio. This, as you will later realize, will be important in helping you settle on one signal.

  2. Turn both the RF gain and squelch control to the far left (the lowest setting) while the radio is off before turning it on.

  3. Next, turn on an ideal volume level that you are comfortable with before continuing. Note that while tuning, some signals may be louder than others. This is why setting an ideal volume level is important.

  4. Increase the squelch slowly until the radio is almost silent. This will ensure it can receive both strong and weak signals.

  5. If the radio has RF gain, slowly increase the RF gain by turning the knob clockwise until there is no noise.


The differences between RF gain and squelch control may be subtle for most people, but everyone should strive to have both these features in their CB radios. While they both help increase or reduce the receive distance of your radio, they act as filters for noise and signals respectively.

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