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Why Does FM Radio Sound Better Than AM? (Sound Quality Test)

Writen by Edwin Jones

Fact checked by Andrew Wright

why does fm radio sound better than-am

Radio has been connecting people and communities for over a century. From news and music to talk shows and sports, it caters to different groups with diverse interests and tastes.

When listening to the radio, you basically have two options – AM or FM. Between the two, FM radio offers more clarity and range, thus, it’s often acknowledged as the superior option.

But, why does FM radio sound better than AM? That’s the question we’ll attempt to answer in this short post.

AM Radio vs FM Radio: Differences in Sound Quality


First, let’s start with a quick comparison of AM vs FM. This will give you an idea about how they work, and eventually, what creates the difference in sound qualities.

  • Carrier Wave Modulation

While AM and FM work under the same principle, they’re different in terms of the modulation of the carrier waves. In the case of AM, the amplitude varies. Meanwhile, in the case of FM, it is the frequency that changes.

  • Bandwidth

Another important thing to note is that frequency modulation broadcasting has a higher bandwidth, which is also the reason why the sound quality is generally better.

FM frequency bands are higher. They can range from 88 MHz to 108 MHz. On the other hand, AM frequency range is only from 535 KHz to 1605 KHz.

  • Transmission

This is related to what has been mentioned above about bandwidth. The bandwidth of FM stations is 105 KHz. This is 15 times more than that of AM. This also means that FM is capable of transmitting up to 15 times more information, resulting in better sound quality.

  • Range

If there’s one thing that makes AM better than FM, it is its range. With its larger radio wavelengths, the broadcast distance is longer. This means that AM signals can reach farther. Also, physical obstructions are less of a problem in AM than in FM.

What Causes the Differences Between AM and FM?


Among others, one of the most important factors is the susceptibility to noise interference. AM radio uses signals subject to fluctuations and interference from other electronic devices, which can lead to noise, static, and other distortions in the sound. The main reason why AM sounds worse than FM.

In contrast, FM radio transmits the audio signal via the changing frequency of the radio wave. This method of modulation offers a clearer, higher-fidelity sound with less noise and distortion than AM radio.

This frequency modulation technique used in FM radio also allows a wider range of frequencies to be transmitted. That’s why FM radio can deliver a wider range of sound frequencies than AM radio. It’s crucial for music broadcasting, where fidelity and clarity are crucial.

Additionally, FM radio signals are less affected by atmospheric disturbances than AM radio. Lightning or changes in atmospheric pressure can cause static interference on AM radio frequencies.

How to Make AM Radio Sound Better


Sure, FM is better than AM. That’s one thing we’ve already established. However, that does not mean that the quality of AM has to suffer. You can make it better by doing the following:

  • Using an External Antenna: Most radios will have built-in antennas. However, they might not suffice. More than using the right antenna, you should also position it at the right angle or direction for optimal functionality. 
  • Change the Radio Position: If you’re using a portable AM radio, changing its position can be instrumental in improving deception. It’s best to put it in an open area, like a window. 
  • Turn Off Electronics: Operating the AM radio next to electronics can further degrade its sound quality. Hence, it might help to put the radio away from mobile phones, computers, TVs, other electronics, and even appliances.


So, why does FM radio sound better than AM? It’s because their modulation methods affect their bandwidth and susceptibility to interference.

The higher frequency range of FM and the fact that static does not affect its signals make it sound better. From the FM radio frequency chart to the mode of carrier wave modulation, there are many reasons why the sound quality of FM is superior.

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