Speaker Explosion: Why It Happens & How to Avoid/Fix | my new microphone (2023)

Speaker Explosion: Why It Happens & How to Avoid/Fix | my new microphone (1)

It's a terrifying feeling to find out that a speaker that once worked amazingly well has been blown away and rendered useless. Understanding the reasons behind the speaker explosion and possible solutions will help us understand the occurrence of the explosion and what to do about it.

How do the speakers explode and how do we avoid and/or solve this?Speakers usually explode when too much current is applied. They also explode from physical damage or aging/deterioration. Avoid explosions by placing speakers at safe listening levels and in safe locations. Replacing burnt parts is often the only solution to repair burnt speakers.

In this article we answer the following questions:

  • What is a speaker explosion?
  • How do you turn off the speakers?
  • How to identify a burned speaker
  • How to avoid speaker explosions
  • How to fix speaker explosion

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What is a speaker explosion?

Speaker burst is a general term that refers to a speaker that is not working as intended or not working at all. Speakers affected by blowout are referred to as blown or blown speakers.

Burnt speakers may exhibit any of the following symptoms:

  • High audible distortion.
  • Limited frequency response (especially in multi-driver designs).
  • Low noise levels.
  • Intermittent sound.
  • High noise level.
  • Without sound.
  • Cannot be switched on (speaker active).

Note that these symptoms do not necessarily mean a speaker has burned out, but are often associated with a speaker explosion. See this section for more information on how to identify a blown speakerHow to avoid speaker explosions.

How do you turn off the speakers?

Speaker popping usually occurs when the speaker receives too much signal for too long.

The audio signals that drive the speakers are AC currents whose amplitudes are measured in AC voltages.

The speaker's voice coil is designed to be part of the circuitry that lets the audio signal pass. The direction and amplitude of the electric current translates into the movement of the speaker, which produces sound. A byproduct of this electrical current is heat dissipation from the voice coil.

With this introduction, let's look at the 4 ways your speakers will explode:

  • Burnt/melted voice coils
  • Cracked or overstretched cones/suspensions
  • aging/deterioration
  • blown fuses or loose wires

Before we discuss each of these blown types in detail, let's take a look at a simplified and labeled cross-sectional diagram of a moving coil speaker driver:

Speaker Explosion: Why It Happens & How to Avoid/Fix | my new microphone (2)

Although the magnetic structure and basket/housing and housing in general can be damaged, it is the voice coil, cone, suspension (spider and surround) and dome that are most likely to "burn out".

Burnt/melted voice coils

Heat is generally dissipated through the conductive element of the speaker driver.

However, if the amplitude of the audio signal is too high, the driver may not be able to dissipate heat effectively. This can cause burning and/or melting of the conductive element. In moving coil speaker drivers (which are by far the most common), this element is the voice coil.

Too much heat will effectively melt the coil into a single mass or even solder the coil to the magnet. This renders the speaker unable to accurately reproduce the audio signal or, in the worst case, produce any sound.

Suspension/cone cracked or stretched

Speaker drivers can sometimes break or stretch when a high level audio signal is applied. The speaker driver has a limited range of motion and may stretch or tear if pushed too far.

However, overdriving a loudspeaker with a large amplitude signal is unlikely to stretch or break the driver's cone/suspension.

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Rather, the first thing that occurs is an audible distortion when the controller hits its movement limits and starts to act non-linearly. The voice coil melting/burning mentioned above would likely occur before the driver is stretched or torn.

However, the speaker could well be damaged by physical trauma. Foreign objects and particles could damage and/or stretch the speaker. For this reason, many loudspeakers are equipped with protective grilles.

See my article for more information on speaker grilles and grilles

Any tearing or excessive stretching of the spider suspension in the speaker driver removes the restriction on X and Y axis movement of the voice coil. The loose voice coil begins to hit and/or stick to the magnetic structure and controller housing. This type of explosion results in significant audible distortion.


Older speaker material can degrade to the point of seriously degrading speaker performance.

We often see this with the foamy frames and suspension of older speaker models, but it can also happen with other materials that erode with normal wear and tear.

blown fuse or loose wires

Some powered speakers and studio monitors have electrical fuses to protect against speaker explosions. However, if these fuses blow, the speaker will not turn on and will appear to have blown.

Replacing this fuse could bring the speaker back to life while maintaining protection from high amplitude audio signals.

Loose wires can also cause speakers to burn out in the form of distortion, crackling, and popping.

See my article for more information on creaky speakers and loose cablesWhat is causing your speakers to pop and crackle and how to fix it.

How to identify a burned speaker

As mentioned above, burned out speakers can have any of the following symptoms:

  • High audible distortion.
  • Limited frequency response (especially in multi-driver designs).
  • Low noise levels.
  • Intermittent sound.
  • High noise level.
  • Without sound.
  • Cannot be switched on (speaker active).

Observing any of these symptoms may mean the speaker is burned out.

Use the following points as a guide to identify a blown speaker:

  • Hear distortion at low and mid levels
  • Hear reduced frequency response in the low, mid, and high frequency bands
  • Listen for noises, pops and pops.
  • proof of power
  • 9V Batterietest
  • infinite impedance test

Let's break each one down in a little more detail, shall we?

Distortion at moderate levels

Listen to the distortion on the speaker.

It's normal for speakers to distort when their amplifiers are overloaded. However, if there is significant distortion at reasonable listening levels, it could mean the speaker is burned out in one way or another.

For more information on speaker distortion, see my articleWhy do the speakers distort at high sound/audio levels?

reduced frequency response

Many loudspeakers are equipped with multiple drivers and a crossover network that effectively analyzes the appropriate frequency bands for those drivers.

When a driver is blown in a multi-driver speaker, the frequency response of that speaker is greatly altered.

  • If the tweeter is burned out, the treble will be distorted or absent.
  • If the woofer is burned out, the midrange will be distorted or absent.
  • If the subwoofer burned out, the bass will be distorted or absent.

Rattling, popping and cracking

Clicks and crackles can be a sign of problems with multiple speakers:

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  • Explosion due to torn off cone/suspension material.
  • Explosion due to partially melted/burned voice coil.
  • Loss of power due to a bad connection (loose wires) between the speaker and the amplifier.
  • Other loose components such as the grille/mesh.
  • Distortion in the audio signal.

So rattling, popping and popping can be a sign that the speaker is blown, although not necessarily.

For more information on speaker fatigue in the form of pops and crackles, see my articleWhat is causing your speakers to pop and crackle and how to fix it.

no energy

If the speaker is active but won't turn on, it could be a sign that your amplifier and/or electrical components have burned out. This can be considered an explosion.

Hopefully the speaker has a fuse to protect it from damage. If this is the case, replacing the fuse may cause the active speaker to turn back on.

Of course we need to make sure we are sending enough current to the speaker before assuming the speaker is blown or not.

Try a 9 volt battery

We can test whether a speaker works or not by connecting its electrical wires directly to a DC power source.

Carefully remove the speaker and connect a connector cable to a 9V battery terminal. Then take the other connection cable and bring it into contact with the other terminal of the battery. The speaker should make a popping noise and slide in or out (depending on which terminals are connected to which wires).

If the connecting wires remain in the terminals, the speaker should remain pushed in or pushed out. Touching the second connector wire should cause a rapid click as the speaker driver moves back to its home position. Changing the connection wire and terminals should cause the speaker to move in the opposite direction.

If there is no sound of movement coming from the speaker during battery connection, the speaker has burned out and the driver (voice coil) or suspension needs to be replaced.

infinite impedance test

Another test can be done by measuring the impedance across the conductive voice coil with a multimeter. If the impedance is much higher than the speaker's nominal impedance (usually nominal 2, 4, 8, or 16 ohms), it probably means the speaker is burned out.

How to avoid speaker explosions

Avoiding a speaker explosion begins with the purchase and/or selection of a speaker for a particular playback system.

Cheap speakers are often made from less durable materials that are more easily damaged by regular wear and tear and overuse.

Older vintage speakers, like other highly desirable vintage audio gear, can sound amazing. However, some older speaker materials may need to be replaced due to corrosion and aging.

Perhaps more important than the loudspeaker material is the combination of the loudspeaker with a suitable amplifier.

This is largely solved with active speakers. With passive loudspeakers, care should be taken to connect them to the appropriate amplifiers.

Again, sending too much signal to a speaker can turn it off. This can easily happen when speakers and amplifiers are mismatched.

We know intuitively that an amplifier with a higher power output than the speaker can drive can blow it out. But even a weaker amp can do harm if cranked up to extremes of distortion, even if the speaker is designed to handle more than the amp's "maximum output".

Of course, that doesn't mean that speakers and amplifiers always have to be a perfect match. Rather, the loudspeaker should only work with safe signal amplitudes.

So, maintaining a safe listening volume is one way to prevent speaker blowout.

Another way to prevent an explosion is to protect your speakers. This is more true for speakers that live on the go (guitar cabinets, PA speakers, etc.).

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It's a good idea to leave the grilles/mesh on the speakers. Taking care of the speakers is another good idea if speaker longevity is a concern.

Related article:How long should the speakers last (typical lifetime)?

How to fix speaker explosion

So the question stands. What can we do to fix a burnt speaker?

First things first, if you think your speaker has blown, test it as soon as possible. If you know for sure it's blown out, don't apply any more audio cues to it. You risk further damage.

Next, I have to say that there are some cases where replacing the speaker entirely is the best option. If replacing the entire speaker is cheaper and less complicated than ordering parts and repairing it, then it's better to just replace the speaker.

This could be the case with cheap speakers. This is also the case if the speaker has completely burned out beyond a simple repair.

That being said, blown speakers can often be repaired. Let's see how.


The surround sound is the suspension piece that connects the driver cone/diaphragm to the speaker cabinet/speaker box.

This component is subject to severe mechanical stress throughout the life of the loudspeaker and is often the first component to degrade through normal wear and tear.

If the frame has fallen apart, repairing it is relatively easy. Get a repair kit and a replacement frame. Surround speakers, as opposed to niche components, are more universal and come in several popular sizes.

new cone

If the cone/diaphragm and/or spider are broken or stretched, or the voice coil is burnt/melted, the speaker will not be easily repaired. An explanation is required.

Reconing refers to the replacement of all moving parts that make up the speaker cone assembly, including the voice coil and suspension (spider and surround).

Trim the blown speaker cones, coil, bobbin and spider assemblies; Clean all traces of glue and burnt material and install the replacement cone assembly.

Find conversion kits and spare parts. Keep in mind that many low-end speakers aren't worth re-taping, and many don't even have the replacement parts needed to do a proper re-taping.

Please note that as the speaker driver works in conjunction with your box, a compatible driver is required to properly reconnect the blown speaker. Even a better specification controller can sound worse on paper than the original when placed in the same case.

blown fuse or loose wires

While it may not be an actual explosion, loose wires and blown fuses will need to be repaired for the speaker to function properly.

Replacing a fuse, if the speaker has one, is fairly easy. Remove the blown fuse from the fuse box and replace it with a new one. Many active speakers and monitors come with an extra fuse located in a pocket near the outlet. You may need to order a replacement fuse.

Fixing loose cables could mean replacing the patch cord between your speaker drivers and your crossover network and/or amplifier. The connections may also need to be re-soldered.

Carefully disassemble the speaker and re-solder if necessary.

Why do my speakers distort at high levels?There are two main reasons why a loudspeaker distorts at high levels. Most commonly, the audio source itself is distorted. However, loudspeakers can also distort if their drivers are pushed to the extreme of their intended movement, in which case they will behave non-linearly and produce a distorted sound.

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See my article for more informationWhy do the speakers distort at high sound/audio levels?

What causes popping and crackling speakers and how can we fix them?Clicks and crackles from the speakers are caused by an interrupted electrical current (audio signals) or in other words a loose or dirty connection. To resolve crackles and pops, troubleshoot the connection cables to locate the problem area and secure the connection and/or replace the cable.

For more information on speaker fatigue in the form of pops and crackles, see my articleWhat is causing your speakers to pop and crackle and how to fix it.

Choosing the right PA speakers for your applications and budget can be a challenging task. For this reason I createdMy New Microphone Complete PA Speaker Buyer's Guide. Try it for help buying your next PA speaker.

With so many speakers on the market, finding the best speakers for your applications can be overwhelming. For this reason I createdComplete speaker buying guide for my new microphone. Try it for help determining your next speaker purchase.

Finding the perfect pair of studio monitors for your studio can be difficult. For this reason I createdThe complete studio monitor buying guide from My New Microphone. Check this out for help choosing the best studio monitors for your setup.

This article has been approved in accordance with theEditorial guidelines for my new microphone.

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