SVC Audio: Highway Hero or Unnecessary Distraction?

Ever notice how your car’s audio system seems to struggle to keep up with road noise as you hit the highway? This is where SVC audio comes into play.

SVC is an acronym with a couple different meanings in the audio world. It can either stand for Speed Volume Compensation or Single Voice Coil. If you find this acronym in your vehicle’s audio settings, it probably means Speed Volume Compensation.

Let’s look at how this technology works and how exactly it makes for a better driving experience. But SVC isn’t perfect and with it come two drawbacks that most car owners are not aware of.

What is Speed Volume Compensation?

Speed Volume Compensation, also called speed-compensated volume (SCV) or speed sensitive volume (SSV) increases the volume of your car stereo as you drive faster.

Road noise, engine noise, and wind noise will crowd out the audio system when played at lower volumes. With SVC enabled, you don’t have to constantly adjust your volume as you drive at different speeds.

This is a particularly nice feature if you find yourself on highways with traffic lights, where you often go from 60 mph to 0 and back to 60 quite frequently.

How Does SVC Work?

car speedometer

On modern cars, SVC receives data from the speedometer. The audio system is then programmed to raise or lower the volume a set amount based on how fast you are going.

Many vehicles have various levels of speed compensation that you can set. Low SVC will barely adjust the volume. High SVC will turn up the volume a lot as you drive faster. Turning this feature off will leave the volume unchanged.

However, if you’ve modified your car to have a louder exhaust or you’re driving around with a missing catalytic converter, SVC (even turned up to the highest setting) may not help you all that much. 

How to Enable SVC

You can find speed volume compensation in the audio settings of your infotainment system. This setting looks different for every vehicle, but it will be under Settings -> Audio -> SVC or Speed Volume Compensation, or something of that nature.

Note that not all vehicles have an SVC setting in their factory head unit. Fortunately, some aftermarket head units offer speed sensitive volume control.

SVC setting

Benefits of SVC

There are several advantages to using SVC over adjusting the volume manually. Here’s why you should consider enabling the feature. 

1) Improved Audio Experience

When your audio music adjusts for the white noise in the background, you are less likely to miss the next sentence in your audiobook as you speed up in traffic. You can also clearly hear the conversation if you’re on the phone (connected via Bluetooth), for instance. 

2) Increased Safety

Speed volume compensation frees up your hands so you don’t have to adjust the volume yourself. This is especially useful in vehicles that do not have steering wheel controls for the volume.

Additionally, this is simply one less thing to think about. If your music adjusts automatically, you won’t be subconsciously distracted trying to manage your music while you’re also watching out for other cars around you. 

speed compensated volume

Limitations of SVC

While SVC is a pretty handy feature, it doesn’t always work perfectly. Here are some limitations of the software. 

1) Potential for Overcompensation 

If you’ve ever tried adjusting the SVC settings, you might notice that the ideal level of compensation lies somewhere in between two options the manufacturer gives you.

In this case, the SVC settings are not fine enough for your particular environment, tire choice, or driving style. You might have to choose between undercompensation where the volume doesn’t adjust as much as you’d like, and overcompensation where the volume gets too loud at higher speeds.

car makes rattling noise

2) Compatibility Issues with Aftermarket Stereo Systems

If you’re considering an aftermarket audio system, do some research to see if your vehicle’s SVC controls are compatible with the aftermarket system. In general, not all aftermarket systems retain all OEM features.

For instance, it is often necessary to buy a peripheral device to maintain your steering wheel controls if you replace the factory head unit in your vehicle.

What is a Single Voice Coil?

A single voice coil is a type of speaker or subwoofer that only has one coil of wire. It is cheaper than a dual voice coil design, but offers less flexibility in wiring combinations.


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