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How to avoid blowing speakers?

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 
Just curious what are some things you can do to avoid blowing speakers?

Two things I've heard was too much power or too little power. Too little blows tweeters and too much blows woofers? I just wanna know cause shipping speakers back to amazon or fry's doesn't sound like something I want to experience.
post #2 of 44
Don't turn them up too loud?
post #3 of 44
Make sure you have high quality amplification and adequate power.

It's VERY hard to blow a good quality speaker with too much power but fairly easy to blow it with not enough power due to the amplifier clipping the top of the wave form.

I had some Infinity Quantum 3 floor standing speakers that I fed over 600wpc to for years with no problems at all. I lent the speakers to a friend and he blew the mids and tweeters with a junk 100wpc Sony receiver. You can blow woofers from under powering them too...

You can read more about clipping here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clipping_(audio)
post #4 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pibbo View Post

Don't turn them up too loud?


LOL, straight and simple. :P
post #5 of 44
I concur with SleeperSupra.
It is better to have an overpowered amp than one that is lower than what the speakers are rated for, but I don't think distortion from an amp is what actually blows a speaker by itself. It is when the speaker distorts you get blown speakers. The thing is, if you are feeding the speaker a distorted signal, you won't know if it is the speaker distorting or the amp until the driver actually blows, so you are better off having more headroom than not enough.
post #6 of 44
I hadn't realized that a low-wattage amp can blow speakers. I'm on the verge of buying new speakers for my bedroom setup, which is amped quite modestly but effectively by a Denon M-31 micro-system amp/cd unit. The Denon's rated at 23W, but I've used it to power Mission towers and they sounded great. I'm very likely going to be replacing the speakers with either Paradigm Studio 20's or B&W DM601's or 685's, which are bothh bookshelfs. Provided I'm not listening at volume 11, do I run the risk of blowing these with the Denon?
post #7 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by SleeperSupra View Post

It's VERY hard to blow a good quality speaker with too much power but fairly easy to blow it with not enough power due to the amplifier clipping the top of the wave form.

Totally agree, and a statement that is NOT widely known by the average consumer.
post #8 of 44
It's not low wattage that blows a speaker.

It's compensating for the fact that you want it louder by turning it up past the point where the output is a clean signal. Once you've started turning your AC audio signal into something that's clipped to the point it looks like DC, you're going to start having issues.

It's all about not wanting to listen louder than your receiver can do.
post #9 of 44
Thanks, Chris. I was getting worried there! Any tell-tale signs I should be looking for in the sound? It sounds like I'll be safe as long as I don't go for rave-like decibels.
post #10 of 44
If you listen fairly loud, you CANNOT boost bass or treble, even a little bit. If you boost treble 3 dB, for instance, you double the power demand in the treble region affected by the control.
post #11 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Scarpelli View Post

If you listen fairly loud, you CANNOT boost bass or treble, even a little bit. If you boost treble 3 dB, for instance, you double the power demand in the treble region affected by the control.

Something to note. Boosting bass by 3db requires a LOT more power than boosting treble by 3db.
post #12 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by lwien View Post

Something to note. Boosting bass by 3db requires a LOT more power than boosting treble by 3db.

That is an excellent point, but then again, tweeters don't handle as much power, and much less abuse.
post #13 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Scarpelli View Post

That is an excellent point, but then again, tweeters don't handle as much power, and much less abuse.

Touche !
post #14 of 44
install an in-line fuse
post #15 of 44
IMHO, the best way to attack this is to find out the maximum power your speakers can handle, and get an amplifier/receiver that can pump out that much power...........cleanly.

Ohms is also pretty important, being that, as an example, 4ohm speakers will require more power from your amp, but some amps have difficulty with 4ohm loads.

Kinda important to know how to read the spec sheets, for speaker and amp manufacturers like to rate their products in the most favorable light.

Example:
Power output of amp..........200 watts (at 1khz)

Which means absolutely nothing being that you want to know how much power it puts out from 20 to 20,000 hz.

And then, does it put out that much power at 8 ohms, 4 ohms. Does it put out that much power with ALL channels driven, or just two? LOL..........I remember Kenwood rating their THX amps at 6 ohms just to try and cover their bases.
post #16 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by darkgrey3k View Post

install an in-line fuse

The problem with a fuse is it will protect the woofer, but not the tweeter. A tweeter fuse is always much smaller value, and has to be in line with the tweeter wires from the crossover. The other problem with a fuse for speaker protection is "pilot error." Most people who blow lots of speaker fuses simply replace them with a larger value so the fuse doesn't blow. Well, guess what...a tweeter voice coil is a fuse, too!
post #17 of 44
I was always under the impresion that a fews blows in about 1 second and speakers blow in milliseconds.
post #18 of 44
Umm...........I do believe that one can hear a speakers distress, either from the woofer, tweeter or mids and turn down the power in time to save them. I don't believe that speakers blow in milliseconds. At least, I don't think they do.
post #19 of 44
How do you know if you "blow" something. Is it very noticeable?
post #20 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Megasabin View Post

How do you know if you "blow" something. Is it very noticeable?

Now there's a question for Linda Lovelace.
post #21 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Scarpelli View Post

If you listen fairly loud, you CANNOT boost bass or treble, even a little bit. If you boost treble 3 dB, for instance, you double the power demand in the treble region affected by the control.

Very good to know this. Thanks!

I'll eventually probably just replace the tiny Denon with a Cambridge Audio integrated amp, which I'd imagine would also improve sound characteristics as well as safely driving my speakers. Since it's just my bedroom setup, I don't want to go overboard, but how can I resist?
post #22 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Megasabin View Post

How do you know if you "blow" something. Is it very noticeable?

Most definitely. With a blown tweeter you'll hear nothing in the upper register. Music will sound very very bloated.

With a blown woofer or midrange, pretty much the same thing - you won't hear anything in that range, or at least anything that will sound very good.

One way you can blow your speakers is by having an H/K. Well, almost. I have an AVR 520. Though the sound is wonderful, I'm grateful it's a high current. Approximately 4 times (last just on my new Energy RC-70's, but twice on my Polk RT800i and once on my Ascend 340's) I had the volume to max (about +8, not sure). Sound was distorted, I think, but not as bad as you'd think at full volume gain. The last two times iit occured was when I had my 100 watt/ channel PA2000 driving my mains.

Now I know what you're thinking, why on earth would I increase the volume to max. Answer is - I wouldn't. Far far too loud. Nice to know that no clipping occurs though as my speakers all held up fine. It was reported here once, but I have a faulty volume control. Very rarely, but once in a while, the volume just starts increasing like someone is holding down the volume gain button on the remote. It just does it. I've caught it a couple of times. But once I was painting when it happened, and the three other times I was doing some other kind of housework when it occurred. By the time I got to the receiver to turn it down, with my ears bleeding, she was already at max volume.

First thing I do is listen....well, first thing I do is let my ears recover. Next thing is put my ear up to each driver in my speaker to listent to make sure sound is coming out of it and it sounds OK (not like static, or pops, or no sound at all). Luckily I've never had my speakers blown. I believe it is because the h/k is a 'high current' amp it can get very loud and supply the current without clipping, at least in short bursts. As the sound was distorted at top level but no where near as bad as you'd think it would be.

So since my watas are far below my speaker rating, I agree that watts do not play as big a part as what people here say, but rather the current being drawn. Can it supply the current required for the watts at a certain volume level? If it can - even if you only have a 20 watt rated amp, like a tube amp, then you'll be fine if it can handle the current. A 300 watt amp / receiver means squat if the current can't provide the power being called for by the speakers at a certain volume level.

Speaker design also plays a lot into it IMO. Though I'd like to hear Paul's comments on that as being in the business he knows far far more than I ever will about that. But like amps (and receivers) you can buy 200 watt rated speakers for a ridiculously low price, but if you hooked those up to my receiver and it played one of it's tricks, I highly doubt a cheap speaker with badly designed crossovers would be able to handle it and would probably fry.
post #23 of 44
Quote:


How do you know if you "blow" something. Is it very noticeable?

Quote:
Originally Posted by steve71 View Post

Now there's a question for Linda Lovelace.

post #24 of 44
More about fuses...

While some rail fuses in amplifiers are slow blow fuses (to avoid being popped by instantaneous peaks), tweeter fuses have to be fast blow to offer any protection at all. The concept of a fuse is it is a "thinner" wire than any other tract of wire in the signal path, and any heat generated will cause it to fail, protecting the desired component. If a larger fuse is used, it won't blow, and something else; usually a tweeter voice coil; will open up instead. If you continuously blow fuses, you are probably damaging electronic components eleswhere in the signal path, and eventually they'll fail, too. Going with a bigger fuse helps to keep the fuse from blowing, and that is a stoopid solution. Wrapping foil around a fuse is even dumber. I've seen lots of both.

As I stated earlier, speaker systems aren't usually fused because while a woofer may require a 2 amp fuse, a tweeter may need a .5 amp fuse. If the whole speaker is fused with a 2 amp fuse and you toss an amp of current at it, the woofer won't blow, but the tweeter will.

Anyway...
post #25 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pibbo View Post

Don't turn them up too loud?

That pretty much covers it. The tricky part is determining what is too loud.
If something doesn't sound right then it is probably too loud. After a while
you learn the sound of a clipped amp. You also learn the sound of your
woofers bottoming out. These are things you want to avoid

I like to have an amp roughly matched with the speakers capability.
I like clipping lights in case I get carried away. I'd like to have equipment
that could play louder than I'd ever want - but that would be a waste of money.
post #26 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by unclepauly View Post

Just curious what are some things you can do to avoid blowing speakers?

Two things I've heard was too much power or too little power. Too little blows tweeters and too much blows woofers? I just wanna know cause shipping speakers back to amazon or fry's doesn't sound like something I want to experience.

1st: Avoid alcohol.
2nd: Remember that you can get a STD, (Stereo transmitted disease)
3rd: If you must, remember to unplug them first.
post #27 of 44
My amplifier/receiver has a setting that allows me to set the max volume the receiver can achieve. My fiance sat on the remote once and the sound just kept getting louder. Luckily I was next to the stereo to manually turn it down quickly. This prompted me to put a set MAX limit to what the amplifier will go to.


Back in the day, my dad installed an inline fuse (just once per speaker L/R) on his Klipsch La Scala speakers. It turned out to be a good thing as I (as a 2 or 3 year old - I'm 26 in 3 days) ran over to the amplifier and cranked it up as far as it would go. I'm told the speaker got unbelieveably loud and then a faint pop followed by no sound. To this day, my dad still hast those speakers and they still get rediculously loud.
post #28 of 44
When your in the sound room buying speakers and reciever, simply crank the nuts out of the speakers you are considering. Any speakers that dont blow from your abuse are the ones you Buy
post #29 of 44
Revived thread!! smile.gif

So I was messing with Play to in windows the other day.. Sent an mp3 to my Yamaha AV-720 hooked to energy RC-70s and RC-LCR and rear RC-10's.. Well the little volume control bar within the play to function controls THE AMP volume directly and not just the windows output level..

grrrrrr!

SO of course, I set it to max in one click and Nazareth played at max volume for a few seconds before I was able to recover from sonic shock and lower it. I don't "think" I damaged anything at this point.. I am going to run a quick test tonight.. (any tips on testing individual speakers?)

I hope my speakers are beefy enough to take what the AV-720 threw at it at max volume..

Very angry at the play to function right now.. So stupid..

I am really hoping nothing is f'ed up..
post #30 of 44
Back to the original question... don't drop your speakers. I had an in-law knock over one of my towers and now the tweeter crackles frown.gif
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