Gains aren't to be treated as a volume control. In a properly setup system you can turn the system to maximum volume without hurting the amps or speakers.
When setting gain you should start on the lowest setting, zero (some amps even marked as some negative number).
Then crank the volume on the head unit to about 85% of maximum then slowly bring up the gain on the amp until you notice distortion and then turn it back a little bit from there.
What's the point of having a head unit that goes to 40 if you can only use 0 to 15? You set the gains so you get full volume range and match the amp to the head unit properly.
How to set gains on a car audio amp
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16 January 2007
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