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Jason Davidson - CB Radio Specialist

Jason Davidson

Over 18 years of hands-on experience with CB radios and installations.

RF Gain
Full Name RF Gain
What it does Adjusts your receiver sensitivity
Where to set it Commonly full right

What is the RF Gain control on a CB radio for?

No to be confused with the "RF Power" control, the "RF Gain" control is used to adjust your receive sensitivity. Normally you want this control turned far to the right, so you can receive the farthest signals possible. However, in some cases you may need to turn your RF gain down, keep reading for a better understanding of this particular CB function.

Receive distance

Most CB radios have both a squelch and RF gain control, the squelch control function was already covered here: What is a squelch control?. This article deals with the RF gain, or receiver sensitivity control. Much like the "mic gain" the "RF gain" control is strangely named as the normal position for this control is all the way up (to the right). Instead of "gain" this control should be thought of as "receive dampener, or receive reducer", as turning this control down will reduce your receive distance. Your ability to pick up far away signals is determined by how far you have this control set. Since most CB'ers want to know what's going on down the road, you would almost always keep the RF gain turned either all the way or most of the way up.

Getting rid of static: Squelch Control VS RF Gain

First of all, on the cheapest / smallest CB you can find, you will always find the three most essential controls. Volume, Squelch Control, and Channel knobs. The squelch control is ALWAYS present in CB radios, where the RF gain is not. Why is that? It's because the squelch control is an ESSENTIAL function for filtering out unwanted weak signal (or noise) from your speaker, whereas the RF gain control is an OPTIONAL function for reducing the receiver sensitivity. If you use your RF gain to filter, you will reduce your ability to hear far away signals. Your squelch control's whole purpose is to filter incoming signals. So what is the RF gain really for then? Keep reading to find out.

So when would I use the RF gain?

Here's the example I find works the best. Imagine you're talking with a friend on your CB. You and your friend are traveling down the road within a few miles of each other. However, you keep hearing some guy on a base station 5 states away yapping on your channel, when all you want to do is have a conversation with your buddy. If you turn down your RF gain, you can get rid of the guy that's 5 states away, while still keeping your buddy available -- as long as you don't turn your RF gain down too far. This is the reason for the RF gain, to get rid of other people who are farther away. If your intention is to receive as many signals as possible, for example if you want to monitor traffic down the highway as far as you can, then always keep your RF gain turned up all the way (far to the right).

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