You get in your car, turn on your radio and expect to hear your music loud and clear. But there is a buzzing sound when you are listening to your music, or a high level of distortion. You aren’t sure, but something definitely doesn’t sound right. If this has happened to you, it’s quite possible you have blown a car speaker. Here’s how to diagnose the problem and decide on the right fix.
Understand how a speaker works
First, to understand what a blown speaker is, you need to know how a speaker works. At the basic level, a speaker is made of a magnet that surrounds a coil and is attached to a cone. A current is provided by an amplifier and goes through the coil of the speaker.
When a speaker is considered “blown,” it is not able to replicate the full range of sound; may rattle, pop, or buzz; or may not produce any sound at all.
Listen for the lack of high or low frequencies
When you turn on your radio, do you just head the low thumps of the drums but no high end guitar notes or vocals? If you can hear part of the music but not the full range, it’s possible your speaker is blown.
Sounds that aren’t music to your ears
If you hear buzzing, rattling, popping, or other sounds that are not part of your song du jour, it could be a blown speaker. If the cone detaches, that can cause a rattle.
If something isn’t sounding right, or the sound is “distorting” when you are at low to mid ranges, it’s likely that a speaker is blown.
But, distortion doesn’t always equal a blown speaker. To power your speakers, an amplifier (amp) is installed in your vehicle. If you are using an amp that is too powerful for the speakers you are using, they may cause some sound distortion.
This doesn’t mean your speakers are blown, although over time it could cause them to blow, but could imply it’s time to upgrade your speakers or downgrade the power of your amp.
How to measure electrical response
If you have a standard, electrical multi-meter you can take it a step further and check to see if there is an electrical response coming from your system. This can help determine if your coe or voice coil are damaged or if the speaker is totally blown.
First, check any electrical connectors to your speakers or amplifier. If everything is connected and no problems are found, when the speaker is off and unplugged, take your multi-meter and place one meter lead on each terminal.
If the reading comes out as an infinite impedance, your speaker is blown. If it reads 1.0, your speaker isn’t damaged the problem may lie with the electrical connections or elsewhere.
Assess the damage
Once you have determined if it’s a simple electrical connection issue or an actual problem with your speaker, you can begin to assess if the damage requires an easy fix or full replacement. Minor tears can be fixed with a speaker sealer. Larger tears or holes mean the speaker should be replaced.
If you aren’t sure, take it to a professional
If you have listened, measured, and checked and still aren’t sure if your speaker is blown, it is recommended to take it to a professional for diagnosis and repair.
While a blown speaker can be a nuisance to the music loving driver, it can also be a danger. Pops can startle you while driving down the road and drivers may be tempted to raise the volume of their radio to compensate, which can result in an accident if you can’t hear the traffic around you.