Losing your speaker in a blowout is akin to falling out with a dear friend with who you shared many great memories. It’s that awful feeling that leaves you empty, knowing there is no more music until you repair or replace it. But are you in the position to make any potential fixes?
To manually repair your speakers at home, you need to understand some essentials. You need to understand why blowouts happen so that you can fix it or avoid it in the first place. Prevention is sometimes better than a cure. So, let’s take a look at how loudspeakers work and how you can fix or eradicate blowout issues.
What is Loudspeaker Blowout?
Blowout is a term that is used when your speakers have stopped working. There is no explosion or dramatic, loud bang like the term suggests. If your speakers have experienced a blowout, they can also be referred to as blown or blown-out. Here are some of the most common symptoms of blown speakers.
- Low volume.
- Intermittent volume.
- Audio distortion.
- Limited frequency response.
- Speakers won’t turn on.
- No volume.
- High levels of noise.
If your speakers have one or more of these symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are blown. It might just be a warning sign of other potential issues with your hardware.
Why Do Speakers Get Blown Out?
One of the main causes of speaker blowout is when too much electrical current is used to power them. Your speakers are driven by audio signals that are amplified and measured in AC voltage.
The speaker uses a voice coil in the circuit to pass on the audio signal as the electrical current, which is then converted into sound by the speaker. During this process, the signal can cause the voice coil to heat up, and this is the major cause of most blowout issues. So, let’s take a look at the ways a speaker can blow out due to the dissipation of heat.
Melted and Heated Voice Coils
Heat dissipation is usually caused by the speaker driver’s conductive element (voice coil). But if the audio signal is amped too high, the driver can also struggle to handle the excess heat effectively. The conductive element, or voice coil, overheats and can lead to melting or burning.
The excessive heat will simply melt everything together into a single lump that could even join the magnet to the coil. Your speaker will be incapable of reproducing quality sound and, in some cases, will stop working altogether.
Stretched or Ripped Speaker Cone/Suspension
The processing of high-level audio signals can stretch or tear the speaker driver, especially if they have a limited range of motion. But in all honesty, highly amplified signals shouldn’t rip or stretch the driver cone/suspension.
Before it causes a tear, you should get some warning signs. You might firstly experience audio distortion when the drive reaches its limit of motion. And before any tears happen, the aforementioned melting or burning of the conductive element should take place.
Tears caused by physical trauma…
Even without the overloading of signals, your speakers can pick up damage from physical trauma. They are constantly bombarded with particles and other foreign objects that can stretch and cause rips. Using protective grills or meshing is one preventative measure you can take to limit this potential issue.
The spider suspension in your speaker driver can tear or overstretch. This could restrict voice coil movement between your Y and X-axis. The voice coil will become loose and start to bump and stick to the magnetic parts of your driver. The telltale sign of this issue is massive sound distortion.
Deterioration and Ageing
The older we get, the more we deteriorate, and speakers are no different. If your speakers are older, the deterioration of the materials can cause a loudspeaker blowout. This is routine wear and tear, and in most cases, can’t be repaired.
That said, this problem can arise with older speakers that have foam-type surrounds and suspensions. General erosion is the most contributing factor to the sound degradation of your speakers.
Loose Wires and Blow Fuses
If you use studio monitor speakers or active speaker varieties, they usually have their own fuses. This protects them from a total blowout. But if the fuses do blow, your speakers will not be powered. Replacing the blown fuse should easily fix the problem.
It’s highly unlikely that your active speakers have blown out in the quintessential meaning of the term. However, it’s also possible that loose wires are causing a possible blowout with symptoms that include distorted sound in the form of popping and crackling.
How Can We Identify Blown Speaker?
Now we fully understand what a speaker blowout is and some of its potential causes, we need to learn how to identify a blown speaker. If your speaker has any of these below symptoms, it probably means your speaker is blown.
Moderate Level Distortion
One of the most common symptoms of speaker blowout is moderate level distortion. Listen for audio distortion coming out. The reality is that distorted sound in your speakers could simply be because you’ve turned up the volume too loud. But there is a chance that it could mean your speaker is blown out in some way.
Reduced Frequency Response
Modern speaker models usually have multiple drivers and crossover network features that dish out the frequency bands to the drivers. The frequency response of the speakers can be seriously affected if one of the multiples of drivers gets blown out.
For example, if your tweeter driver gets blown, the high-end range will become distorted or stop working. If the woofer driver is blown, the mid-range will stop working or suffer distortion. Lastly, if the subwoofer driver has blown, the low-end could also stop functioning or become distorted.
Understanding Popping, Crackling, and Rattling
Did you think that Rice Krispies are the only things that pop and crackle? Well, blown-out speakers can also experience the same phenomena. Hilarity aside, if your speakers start popping, crackling, and rattling, you probably have one of the following issues.
- Torn suspension cone material causing a blowout.
- Partially melted or burned voice coil causing a blowout.
- Loose wires or poor connection interrupting the current between your amp and speakers.
- Loose speaker grills or mesh causing rattling.
- General distortion of the audio signal.
Any kind of popping, rattling, or crackling sounds emanating from your speakers is the result of a blowout. Although that is not always necessarily the case in every situation as there are exemptions to the rule.
Limited or No Power
If your studio or active speakers won’t turn on, the lack of power could be caused by a blowout. Fried electrical components could be the problem. However, it could simply be that your fuse has blown and just needs replacing. You might need to check if your speakers are receiving proper power from the electric source before you diagnose a blowout.
Test Speaker’s DC Source with 9-Volt Battery
Check if a speaker is working with the power supply by attaching it to a DC source. First, open the rear of your speaker and connect one of the wires to a 9V battery. Take the other wire and place it on the other battery terminal. Your speaker should make a popping sound and be pushed inward or outward depending on which wires you attached to which terminals.
If you keep the wires touched on the terminals, the speakers should remain in an inward or outward position. But if you dab them in a tapping motion, the quick pop represents them quickly moving in or out. If you switch over the terminal wire connections, the same should happen in the opposite direction.
If you perform these checks and you get no noise, it’s safe to say that your speaker is blown. You will more than likely have to replace the suspension or the voice coil.
Infinite Impedance Testing
Testing and measuring the infinite impedance with a multi-meter such as the excellent, yet affordable AstroAI Multimeter 2000 across the voice coil is a good way to detect loudspeaker blowout. The impedance needs to be checked against the rated impedance of the speaker. And if the impedance is higher than the speaker impedance rate, you probably have a blowout on your hands.
Can We Avoid Speaker Blowout?
It is possible to avoid speaker blowout in some scenarios, and there are some preventative measures you can take. If you are in the process of purchasing a new loudspeaker, now is the time to make the right choice. Avoiding speaker blowout by purchasing a particular playback system is the recommended approach to take.
Cheaper speaker models are exactly that. They are constructed with the cheapest materials that break and overload easily. Older vintage speakers might look and sound great, but their internal components have usually corroded and disintegrated.
But you do have the option to replace those internal components if needed, so it’s not a complete washout. And you could replace them with these highly recommended loudspeaker models.
- Polk Audio T15 100 Watt Home Theater Speakers
- Electro-Voice 1000W Powered Speaker
- JBL Professional High-Performance Loudspeaker System
- Pro Bass Elevate Portable Powered Loudspeaker
Matching your speakers with a proper amplifier is an important factor. This is a non-issue with active speakers because they have their own preamps. However, you will need to be careful when hooking up standard speakers with an amplifier.
Overloading is a major concern with this method because sending too much signal to your speakers can cause a blowout. It’s extremely easy to mismatch the speaker and amp.
It’s only common sense that an amp with a higher output than your speakers will cause you issues. Alternatively, the amp with a weaker signal will also cause damage and extreme distortion when it doesn’t reach your speaker’s max output limit.
Using safer listening volume
A simple preventative measure to avoid a blowout is to use safe listening volume levels. Constantly blasting your speakers with high volume can eventually lead to a blowout.
Keeping your speakers protected also aids longevity and limits possible blowouts. You can attach grills, a mesh cage, or even place them in a protective cabinet. Handle your speakers with love and care at all times.
Fixing Your Blowout Issues
I always get asked if it’s possible to fix blown-out speakers, and in most cases, it is. First, you need to test your speaker for a blowout. If it is blown, do not send any more signal to it because you are risking further damage.
Replacing your speakers could be the best line of attack. If it’s cheaper or less complicated to replace your speakers instead of fixing them, I recommended that you do. Cheaper speakers blow out easily and are usually beyond repair. However, repairing them where possible is a much better strategy. So, let’s take a look at how you can fix your blowout issues.
Replacing the Surround/Suspension
The “surround” is also known as the “suspension” and connects the driver’s speaker cone to the speaker enclosure. The suspension takes some serious abuse over time and is usually one of the first parts to break down and deteriorate.
If your surround can easily come apart, fixing it will be simple. Obtain a repair kit and a replacement suspension part and reconnect it yourself.
Re-Coning Your Speakers
You won’t be able to repair your speaker so easily if your cone/suspension or spider is ripped or stretched. This also applies if your voice coil is melted or burned. Your only option will be re-coning your speakers.
Replacing all the moving parts affected during the cone assembly, such as the voice coil and surround, is necessary. Remove the cone, the coil, and the other components of the blown speaker. Also, remove any excess adhesive or the remains of burned materials and then install the new cone.
Fixing Blown Fuses and Loose Wires
I don’t particularly see blown fuses and loose wires as full-on blowouts, but replacing them is easy enough. Use the included manufacturer’s manual to take you through the simple process of replacing a speaker fuse.
Fixing and replacing loose wires will take more time and hassle. Problematic wires could be the connection cable between the speaker’s drivers and the amp. And if so, you might have to perform some soldering duties.
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Loudspeaker Blowout – Final Thoughts
This is a common issue that can cause you immediate heartache if you constantly listen to music. But if you act swiftly, you can troubleshoot the problem in no time. You will need to repair or replace your current speakers. It’s that simple. If you are buying new ones, always make sure that you don’t purchase cheaper models with inferior materials.
Until next time, happy listening.