A Science Odyssey Radio Transmission

FM vs AM: What's the difference?

Graphic comparison of AM (Amplitude Modulation) and FM (Frequency Modulation). In AM, the height of the crests and troughs of the carrier wave changes because of the addition of the audio signal. In FM, the horizontal distance between the crests and troug

FM radio works the same way that AM radio works. The difference is in how the carrier wave is modulated, or altered. With AM radio, the amplitude, or overall strength, of the signal is varied to incorporate the sound information. With FM, the frequency (the number of times each second that the current changes direction) of the carrier signal is varied.

FM signals have a great advantage over AM signals. Both signals are susceptible to slight changes in amplitude. With an AM broadcast, these changes result in static. With an FM broadcast, slight changes in amplitude don't matter -- since the audio signal is conveyed through changes in frequency, the FM receiver can just ignore changes in amplitude. The result: no static at all.

The Early Years of Radio

How is a Radio Wave Emitted?

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