Did I Blow my Car Speakers?

Blown car speakers typically generate a rattling hiss sound that gets worse as the volume is raised. Speakers blow when the sound-producing diaphragm is physically damaged, usually by being pushed too hard. Speakers can also blow as a result of electrical problems, loose voice coils or improperly attached fittings.

How Do I Know When I Blow My Speakers?

If the volume is very high and one or more of the speakers suddenly seems to produce an unnaturally deflated, flat or “tinny” sound, it usually means that part of the speaker has blown. A blown speaker can still make sound, and in many cases can even approximate the sound of a functioning speaker, but when compared with a fully functioning speaker, the evidence is unmistakable.

The most common cause of blown speakers is leaving the volume on too high for long periods of time.

Partial blowouts are common because speakers usually contain more than one sound-producing element. The average car speaker system consists of three elements:

  • Cones produce midrange sounds, covering most of the frequencies associated with the human voice. A blown cone will sound weak and possibly rattle as the broken cone attempts to vibrate.
  • Tweeters produce high frequency sounds. These include sibilant ‘S’ sounds in the human voice and cymbals. A blown tweeter will produce a dark, muddy sound that seems indistinct, as if music is playing in another room.
  • Woofers produce low frequency sounds. These are not present in all cars, but you can’t miss them when they are. Large aftermarket woofers can produce booming bass sounds that vibrate the entire car chassis. A blown woofer sounds thin and tinny like a telephone speaker.

Non-functioning speakers may also simply be poorly wired. In this case, an audio professional can rewire the speakers. If the speaker elements aren’t physically damaged, the sound won’t be affected.