Advice Articles

How Do I Prevent Damaging My Speakers Again?

You are Playing the System too Loud

All components have limits and exceeding the limits of either the speakers or the amplifier/receiver may result in speaker failure. Ironically, you are more likely to damage a speaker when using a low-power receiver than a high power one. An amplifier’s power rating is the power output without distortion. Amplifiers will put out more power than their rating, but at higher distortion levels. Distortion breaks speakers. On most receivers, full power is usually achieved when the volume control is at the halfway or “12:00 o'clock” position (this is asuming your receiver actually has a volume "knob". When you turn the volume knob past the full power point, the amplifier distorts. Sound that is harsh, strident, brittle or unpleasant in any way is an indicator of a distorting amplifier and is your signal to turn down the volume.

The wide dynamic range of today’s action/adventure movies also plays a role in damaging speakers. Explosions and other sound effects are recorded at a MUCH higher level than the dialog and average sound effects. If you set the system volume to a pretty high level during “normal” scenes, it’s going to be way too loud during the bang-bang, boom-boom scenes. If you want your system to play louder than it currently does, without distortion and speaker damage, you will have to get a better, more powerful amplifier/receiver (see The Truth About Power Ratings) and/or bigger speakers.

You Thought You Bought a PA System

Some people expect the system to be heard over the sound of running machinery, vacuum cleaners, chain saws or a room full of drunken revelers. Then their speakers break and they wonder why. This kind of usage exceeds the limits of safe operation of just about any gear intended for home use. Years ago we encountered a customer who kept reporting that his BIG expensive speakers were breaking over and over again. We finally found out that he put them on the porch of his house and played them while cutting firewood with a chain saw. I am not making this up. Cross my heart. He was using his home speakers as a public address system.

If you want to have a party and play really loud music, borrow a receiver and another set of speakers from a friend (invite the friend to the party), use "Y" cables to connect both receivers to the same CD player and run two systems. You’ll get more even sound coverage and (probably) avoid breaking something.

A Malfunctioning Amplifier or Receiver

If you’re reasonably certain that you’re not asking more of the system than it can safely deliver and if the speakers continue to fail, the odds are good that there is something wrong with your amp or receiver. One way to check is to turn on the system but play no music. Take off the speaker grilles and observe the woofer(s). If they are moving or are pushed out or pushed in rather than at rest in the neutral position, then your amp is putting out a DC voltage and that is a BAD thing. Get the amp/receiver fixed. If you are ever in doubt about the proper functioning of your electronics, have a qualified service center check it. Better safe than sorry.

Sometimes Even We Mess Up

Despite our best quality control efforts, sometimes we make a driver or tweeter with some sort of manufacturing flaw and it fails. Bad stuff happens to good people. Don’t worry, that is what warranties are for. Call us (800) 377-7655 and we'll help solve the problem.

This article was last modified Apr 24, 2014

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