What is RF Gain and Squelch on CB Radio?

When you start your search for a CB radio, there are certain terms that you will come across from time to time. The two most common you might hear about is RF gain and squelch. And to be honest, these features are a must for your CB radio.

But do you know what they even do?

If you’re thinking about what is RF gain and Squelch on CB radio is, then it’s time to find out about it.

Just stick with me, and you’ll get your answers.

What is RF Gain?

What is RF Gain and Squelch on CB Radio

You might be surprised to find out, RF means nothing special. It is just short for the radio frequency that gets used to transmit signals.

But what does RF gain supposed to mean?

Now, as you know, RF uses waves to send signals. There are no wires used. Everything is wireless. Therefore, the chances of that signal getting interfered in the atmosphere are relatively high. With all the devices today using the RF for communication, signals overlap with one another. That isn’t good for your transmission.

To encounter this issue, your radio got to increase the signal strength. That way, it can overpower other signals and get to its destination. And that thing gets done using the RF gain.

The gain here is the boost for the signal if you think it that way.

How Does RF Gain Work?

RF gain works modifying your CB radio’s sensitivity. What it does is boost the strength of your reception for transmissions that come out from far. And it does so by turning your radio receiver weaker.

By tuning it to weak transmissions and slowly turning it down, you make the transmitter close to getting a stronger signal. This gets done to make sure to eliminate the noisy signals. And to do that, you’ve got work with your squelch control.

Using the combination of squelch and RF gain, the signal you get is much more precise than usual.

Is Microphone Gain and RF Gain The Same?

Now, people ask this question often. And it makes sense as many don’t understand how the CB radio operates.

So, confusing the RF gain with the microphone gain isn’t at all surprising.

And if you think they both work the same and are the same thing, you can’t be more wrong. Though the idea is the same, it gets done differently with the microphone gain to increase the transmission strength.

Instead of boosting the signal, what gets amplified is the voice of yours. You don’t have to scream at the speaker as the gain will do that for you.

However, if you’ve got to choose between the two, the RF gain is a better option for various reasons. The transmission-reception at a distance is better, but there is less distort and background noise with RF gain.

You can’t say the same for mic gain.

What is Squelch Control?

The next thing you might encounter with the CB radio is the squelch control. Undoubtedly, it is another critical feature that makes your CB using much more effective. And that’s why you won’t find any CB without one. Even in your handheld walkie-talkies, you might find one.

Now, what does it do?

If I’ve got to put in simple words, I will say it reduces the background noise when there is no real communication going.

Usually, when you use the radio, there is something called static, even if there is no communication going. When you turn your radio on, this is the first thing you’re most likely going to hear—the white noise.

Now, this unbearable sound is the result of many reasons. As you already know, RF is getting used for almost everything. There are all kinds of things in the atmosphere that interfere with the waves you use for transmission. Those things are causing that static you hear on the radio.

And that’s where the Squelch control comes into play.

Using the squelch, you can set it to a threshold. If some noise reaches that threshold, only then will it come out of your speaker. Otherwise, there will be no sound. So, when you turn the squelch to a higher setting, it is actually working on getting those stronger signals for you to hear it on the radio.

Just move it right to hear the strong signals and move it to the left if you want to get the weaker beacons. So, it is kind of a filter, as you can see.  And also, clearly, it works the opposite way of your RF gain ultimately. That’s because the other looks for the weak signals where the squelch focuses on the nearby strong waves.

That’s why by combining the two, you can get the best result when it comes to getting those clear transmissions over the CB radio.

Types of Squelch

Now, on the CB radio, you might find different types of squelch systems. There is the traditional one, which is kind of an audio switch. This one uses a fixed or adjustable threshold level.

The working of it is quite simple. When the signal received has a strength below the set threshold level, it doesn’t make any sound. The ideal option is to set the level above the RF noise level slightly.

However, to set the level higher, the signal strength requires to be higher too. That’s why, when the transmission distance increases, the operating range of it decreases.

Besides the regular squelch system, there is the other one called the noise squelch. What it does is that it uses a reference voltage to compare with the received signal adjusting the squelch.

Then there is the more refined pilot-tone squelch. Here, you will receive an audio signal that falls in the audible spectrum. When it doesn’t get a proper strength signal, it will keep quiet. And when you detect the presence of it, you will hear a sound coming from the CB radio.


Hopefully, by now, you know what is RF gain and Squelch on CB radio? And how they play a big role in the CB radio audio transmission.

Also read: How To Operate CB Radio – Learn Before Use It

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