What Causes Speakers to Blow? Find Out Here!

Blown speakers are frustrating whether we’re talking about computer or TV sound systems. Luckily, these are still repairable, and anyone can do it at home. But before you learn how to fix them, you need to know what causes speakers to blow. This way, you can pinpoint the best solution for your unique situation.

For this post, I’ve broken down each possible cause for blown-out speakers, how to confirm—and fix them.

What Does it Mean When Speakers ‘Blow’ Out?

Speaker blow-out is an umbrella phrase referring to a plethora of issues in the device. Specifically, it pertains to those who don’t work as they’re supposed to or cease functioning. Here are common signs of a blown speaker:

  • Audible distortion.
  • Reduced frequency response.
  • Low volumes. 
  • Unwanted noises that come from the speakers. 
  • No sounds. 
  • The speakers don’t turn on. 

These aren’t exclusive to blown-out speakers and may signify a different type of damage. I discuss more of these tell-tale signs below. 

What Causes Speakers to Blow?

Now that you know what it means when a speaker ‘blows out,’ it’s time to see what causes speakers to blow:

what causes speakers to blow (infographic)

🔊 Abused EQ & Volume

black and white guitar amplifier
Speaker Volume Knob by Anastasia Zhenina

Abused equalization and volume are the likely culprits if you’re dealing with blown speakers from entertainment or car sound systems.

What happens is the equalization systems get abused before cranking up the volumes. For example, turning your sub’s settings way up alongside bass and volume might tear its cone. And, in turn, you get blown speakers.

So, slow it down and let your equalization systems catch up with your demands. Keep the frequency response in the normal range to avoid blowing out a speaker at high volumes. 

Mismatched Speakers & Amplifier Power

photo of brown Marshal guitar amplifier on brown board
Marshall Speaker and Amplifier by Made by Moro

Mindlessly setting up your sound system can underpower or overpower your speakers. And this can cause them to blow off, damaging both devices.

Specifically, this leads to clipping, which results in the irregular movement in the cone and coils of a speaker. But despite being in conjunction, each one may also face unique dangers. 

Here’s what happens when you overpower and underpower speakers through mismatching: 

Underpowered Speaker 

An underpowered speaker can distort amplifier clipping. 

The audio comes out as square waves instead of the usual smooth sine wave when this happens. And this can be jarring for the speaker cone to reproduce, damaging your speakers over time. With your speaker cones failing, you’ll end up cranking the source material and amplifier more—and more. 

Eventually, this will result in a blown speaker unable to produce consistent audio. 

Overpowered Speaker

The same distortion can happen with an overpowered speaker. However, instead of amplifier-level, this one focuses on speaker-level as it’s getting over-driven. When you overwhelm your speakers, the cone will be forced to jump out beyond its range of movement. And when these violent acts get repeated repeatedly, you’ll eventually destroy the cone—and speakers.

Both cases will often lead to cranking up the average power beyond its intended limit. And over time, this may result in damaged coils and cones. Eventually, your speakers will cease to work ultimately.

So, to avoid such drastic results, I suggest double-checking your speakers and amps to see if they’re compatible.

💥 Hot Source Material 

photo of optical disc drive
CD on a Record Player by Patrick Lindenberg

Source materials refer to the song files you’d play off of your smartphones, CDs, tablets, or other gadgets with an aux cable. Most would play these mp3 files at max volume or burn tracks onto a CD. Although this lets you achieve better sound output, be careful as this can lead to blown speakers. 

For instance, even if software programs on your PC allow you to crank volumes up to 300%, don’t. Just turn up the actual speakers to avoid hot source materials.

Luckily, this incident rarely leads to blowing speakers as it’s easily preventable. 

Additionally, you can alter the audio files on your source material beforehand. It gives them a bass boost, improving overall sound quality. But be warned, this increases your chances of getting hot source materials. 

🔥 Burned or Melted Voice Coils

person holding red and yellow round ornament
Copper Coils by Mika Baumeister

The conductive elements of your speaker drivers are responsible for dissipating heat.

But when an audio signal’s amplitude gets too high, your driver might not be able to remove this heat. And this can result in burned or melted voice coils inside speakers. 

Whether your voice coils get burned or melted, these render your speakers incapable of producing sound waves accurately. Or, in a worst-case scenario, not reproduce any audio at all. 

❌ Damaged Cone or Suspension

black and brown round speaker cone - what causes speakers to blow
Speaker Cone by Scott Major

When high-level sound signals are applied, tearing or stretching may occur.

Aside from that, your speaker drivers will also develop a reduced range of motion. And this, in turn, might push them too far, affecting their cone and suspension. 

Eventually, all these will lead to blown speakers. 

The first sign of a damaged cone or suspension is audible distortion. Your speaker driver will begin to reach its movement limits, acting non-linearly. 

👴 Aging or Natural Deterioration

red and blue plastic toy
Wet Small Speaker by Dusan Jovic

Like any other item, speakers degrade over time. And the material of older speakers might deteriorate to the point where it affects audio performance. 

This scenario is more common among speakers with foam surrounds and suspensions. But it can still happen with other speakers using different materials. 

After all, wear and tear are inevitable and can affect any model or brand of speakers. You can prolong your speaker’s lifespan and prevent them from blowing by paying more attention to how you use them.

So, don’t just slap in your favorite songs and press play! Be more calculating next time.

🧨 Blown Fuse 

gray and white rolled cables - what causes speakers to blow
Bundled Cables by Scott Johnson

Most active loudspeakers today use electrical fuses to protect themselves from blowing out. But this doesn’t save them from overheating, wear and tear, and other damages. And if these fuses blow up, your speakers won’t be able to function altogether. 

Fortunately, you can replace this fuse yourself and bring your speakers back to life! And you can do this while saving your unit from high-amplitude sounds.

I also recommend fixing any loose wires you see, which can blow a speaker, affecting its performance. From chipping to crackling, loose wires are a menace. 

How to Tell if You Have Blown Speakers? 5 Common Signs

After discovering what causes speakers to blow, determining if you have a busted unit can be tricky. After all, almost every unusual sound leads to some form of damage. Some will be more apparent than others, and it all differs depending on how badly damaged your speakers are.

Below are five common signs of blown-out speakers. Knowing these makes it easier to see if you have a damaged unit or not.

🔵 Distorts at Normal Volume Ranges

If your speakers distort even at average volumes, you might be dealing with more than one issue. You might have loose, burned, or melted voice coils or a torn cone. Either way, if you turn up the volume and notice the distortion getting worse, you may have a blown speaker on hand. 

🔵 Faulty Frequency Response

Inaccurate frequency response is a telltale sign of a blown speaker. When this happens, you’re likely to hear less bass and treble. In other words, if there are no high frequencies present, you have a blown speaker on hand.

🔵 Little to No Cone Vibration

A speaker cone moves fast to push air around, creating sound. If this vibration halts, it might mean it isn’t receiving power. And yes, this applies regardless of the volume you’re playing speakers at. When this happens, your speakers either have a loose wire or a faulty element within their assembly.

If you notice a lack of cone vibration, your speakers will likely be blown out.

🔵 Unusual Noises

If you hear unusual sounds beyond distortion, you’ve likely blown out your speakers. So, pay attention to your speakers, especially if you’re confident it’s not coming from the source material. And if you notice even just the slightest popping, rattling, or chipping, take action.

🔵 Unusually High, or Near Infinite Impedance

Use a multi-meter to test your speakers’ voice coil impedance if available. And if you see that it’s near the infinite line, you’re dealing with an electrical issue. Generally, your coils should only have an impedance between 4 to 10 ohms.

Blown Speaker Test – How to Confirm You Have Blown Speakers?

If you’re still unsure if you have a blown speaker or not, here are a couple of tests to help you out:

✔️ Inspect the Cone (Test 1)

The first test you can do is visually inspect the cone. Do this by removing the grill to look at the speaker part closer. If you see any rips, scratches, or other damages, you don’t need to test anything else. 

After all, the foam around the cone naturally degrades over time. Hence, it’s become a common cause of blown-out speakers. So, it makes sense why this is an excellent way to confirm if your units are busted—or not. 

If so, I suggest replacing your speakers entirely. Repairing them is no longer viable as you’re simply waiting for them to break even further.

✔️ Check for Distortion, then Play it Back (Tests 2 & 3)

You can recreate distortion by pushing a too-hot audio signal through your speakers. Playing purposeful distortion helps you see what’s exactly happening to your speakers. 

I suggest playing an mp3 file from its official source to ensure it’s free from any alterations. If not, the gain might be too hot in that version, causing more issues. So, carefully choose your audio files for this test!

When you find a reliable mp3 file, play it at moderate volume. And when you spot any distortion in your speaker’s cone or tweeters, you might have a blown unit. But to be sure, I recommend recording it and playing it back. 

Fixing Your Speakers Blowout Issues

There are many ways to prevent a speaker from blowing. But if it’s too late, don’t fret, as blown-out speakers are pretty easy to fix. So, after you learn what causes speakers to blow, check out the tips below to resolve them!

🛠️ Replace Blown Fuses or Loose Wires

The most straightforward fixes for blown speakers are changing a fuse or rearranging loose wires. The most common one you’ll likely encounter is the connection cables between the speaker driver and the amplifier. 

Luckily, replacing these is easy enough. Just make sure to read the manufacturer’s instruction manual to avoid complications. 

🛠️ Install a New Surround or Suspension

Replacing a speaker’s surround or suspension helps make your speakers more stable. It fixes distortion caused by blown speakers. You’re bound to do this in the future as a speaker’s suspension goes through some severe wear and tear. And it’s among the first parts to break down. 

🛠️ Do Some Re-Coning

In the discussion about what causes speakers to blow, one of the most common causes is damaged cones. Like the suspension, the cone also undergoes plenty of wear and tear. As a result, they get damaged a lot. I recommend replacing the cones as soon as you notice any discrepancy. 

That way, you’ll be able to fix your blown speakers and prevent it from happening for a while. Also, it’s best to replace any damaged voice coils you come across for the best results.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What does a blown speaker mean?

A: A blown speaker refers to any discrepancy present in the device. It doesn’t mean the speakers have blown up. Instead, it’s an umbrella phrase encompassing multiple issues that may have caused a speaker to sound distorted—or completely go silent. Either way, it’s safe to say that blown speakers make terrible sounds or have none. 

Q: What do blown speakers sound like?

A: A distinct aural sign of a blown speaker is persistent buzzing or scratching. It can make these sounds alone or at a specific recreated pitch. But in some cases, blown speakers may have no sound at all.

Q: How to stop my speakers from blowing up?

A: To prevent your speakers from blowing up, keep their receiver volume between 5 to 6 dB below its max setting. Staying under 6dB stops your speakers from overdriving their receivers. If you go beyond that, it may result in irreparable damages. Hence, it saves your entire sound system from blowing up. 

Q: Is it possible to fix blown speakers?

A: Blown speakers can still be fixed, but it can be a complex process. You must take it apart and replace damaged parts individually to repair your speaker. And glue or wire the same components into the speaker. The difficulty level depends on your speakers’ issues, ranging from easy to you need a professional. 

Q: Why do my amplifiers keep blowing my speakers?

A: Low-impedance loads on amps are the leading cause of blown speakers. You can refer to your amplifier’s owner’s manual to determine the recommended impedance. And adjust from there. But remember, this still heavily depends on your situation. For instance, your amplifiers might be overheating, which affects your speakers. 

Q: What are my alternatives for a blown speaker?

A: Try to save your blown speakers as much as possible by repairing them immediately. But if you’ve done everything or have to spend thousands to fix your speakers, replace them. Luckily, you don’t need to blow your budget as there are plenty of speakers you can get for under 500!

Final Words

What causes speakers to blow? From scorched wires to simple mismatches, there are many ways a speaker can blow up. Understanding these causes can help you find the best solutions or at least let you better comprehend the occurrence behind them. And prevent them from resurfacing again.

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