Every so often, a soundbar's output gets distorted, and listening becomes a pain. This isn't the norm, but it is the truth that many people have had to face. The culprit many times is a blown speaker. But is it really possible to blow out a soundbar’s speakers?
You can blow out a soundbar's speakers. A power surge, or playing your music too loud, are just some of the things that can bring your speakers down. Don't worry, though, because most good speakers can be re-coned.
But that's only part of the story. Below, we'll discuss the main reasons why a soundbar’s speakers can blow out and how to diagnose and fix the problem. Whether it's a high-end Sonos Arc (on Amazon) or a budget model like the Sony HT-S100F (also on Amazon), there are a few things you can do to diagnose and prevent speaker blowouts.
Not every poor quality sound signifies a blown unit. For example, If you have connected your soundbar to other speakers, you might encounter poor output due to a poor connection or incorrect placement of the other speakers.
The following are undeniable signs of a broken speaker, starting with some of the obvious things you can check and moving toward some things that are a little more complicated.
Distortion is a deviation from the ideal, desired sound curve. It occurs when the original sound signal is corrupted or when the output device cannot correctly decode the signal, as in the case of a blown soundbar speaker. This is usually the easiest and most obvious sign that a speaker is blown.
It is easily identifiable as a fuzz or hiss coming from the speaker, especially in louder volumes. All you need to do is turn up the volume and listen for any uncharacteristic sounds to diagnose this.
The system range is the range of frequencies your speaker can produce. The human ear can detect frequencies between 20Hz and 20000Hz. Heart thumping bass is closer to the former, while piercingly high notes are closer to the latter. Most good-quality speakers can produce sounds close to these extremes.
If your speakers aren’t on their deathbed, you should be able to clearly hear sounds from the lowest and highest ends of the frequency spectrum. An equalizer can help you test for this, and you can try listening to music with deep bass but also female (high pitched) vocals. A movie with a loud action scene that then moves into just dialogue can give you an example too.
Every speaker vibrates as it produces sound. It is easier, however, to detect vibrations from bigger soundbars than from smaller ones. For this reason, this method is best suited for soundbars with larger speakers.
If there's no vibration coming from your soundbar even at high volumes, then there's a good chance that its speakers might be blown.
When a speaker blows out, it is likely to have some signs of damage. Look out for a ripped cone or one that’s off its moorings. Also, look out for any signs of damage in the foam surrounds of the soundbar’s speakers.
For some soundbars, it won't be possible to check this unless you remove some of the cosmetic shield in front of the speakers. So, if you're worried about damaging, or further damaging a speaker you suspect to be blown, it's probably best to go ahead and get in touch with the manufacturer instead.
If you’re familiar with sound systems, you could take apart your soundbar and use a standard multimeter to check the electrical response of its speakers. The resistance reading for a speaker that’s functioning normally should be equal to its official ohm rating.
A speaker that’s blown, on the other hand, might have an infinite resistance reading, or one that’s lower than the recommended value. It is important to note, however, that you should only resort to this method if your soundbar is out of warranty and if you are familiar with the inner working of sound systems.
Good quality soundbars aren't cheap, and the thought of getting the speakers blown is enough to cause sweaty palms. Watch out for the following things to make sure you preserve you speakers.
From time to time, defective products escape quality control and make it on to the consumers. But don’t worry because usually, these defects manifest within the soundbar’s warranty period, so you can get a replacement or have your unit repaired for free.
Misalignment, poor gluing, and coil gap fragments are examples of factory defects that could cause your soundbar’s speakers to get blown out. Since you want to catch this in time for the warranty repair, it's a good idea to really crank the unit when you first get it, not loud enough to blow it, but at an appropriately high volume that it's designed for, to stress test it.
This is one of the most common reasons for speaker blowouts. Manufacturers generally apply very rigorous testing standards to avoid this, but if you work your soundbar too hard for a prolonged period of time, something is going to give, which is another reason why you should remember to turn it off once you're done using it as well (more on that in our tutorial). This can sometimes be caused by mismatched amps and speakers.
We've written on the blog before about how you can't damage your speakers from underpowering them, but the opposite is definitely true. So you'll want to briefly pause and think twice when buying an amplifier to power your soundbar, to make sure the wattages match (or are at least in the same range).
An electrical power surge can easily blow your soundbar’s speakers. The excess power overloads the voice coil, burning it and therefore rendering the affected speaker unusable. Connecting the speaker to a high-quality surge protector (which you may have the other equipment nearby connected to) is great insurance against this.
We actually have a whole separate article about just this question - protecting your speakers from power surges - so be sure to check it out if this is something you're interested in.
The best way to keep your soundbar functional for a long time is by properly taking care of it. From regularly cleaning to properly connecting it to the mains, you must be dutiful when maintaining all aspects of your home theater system, even when it comes to cleaning your TV screen (more on that in our tutorial). The following are some things you should do to prolong the lifespan of your soundbar.
Regular cleaning ensures that your soundbar remains in peak condition. Use a vacuum cleaner or compressed air to clean out the dust. Do not, however, use liquid cleaning agents as they could damage the soundbar’s electrical components.
Static electricity has been known to cause problems for electrical equipment. Consider using anti-static mats and spraying anti-static chemicals on your soundbar to reduce the risk of speaker blowouts related to static.
Keep your speakers away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures and ensure that there’s good ventilation. Also, make sure that your soundbar operates within the manufacturer's recommended temperature range.
As mentioned, one of the most common causes of speaker blowouts is electrical surges. Ensure that you install surge protectors on your electrical outlets to keep your soundbar and all other appliances safe from abrupt changes in the power supply.
Blown speakers can be fixed in a process called re-coning. This process entails removing all moving and damaged parts of the speaker and replacing them with new ones. There are even some kits you can use to recone your own speaker, like the Springfield Speaker Pro Speaker Reconing Kit (on Amazon)
You should only attempt doing this yourself if you're an expert and even then, you risk voiding your warranty. In some cases, it might even be cheaper to replace the whole soundbar unit than to repair it.
Like all other speaker systems, soundbars can blow out if they’re not well maintained. Always ensure that you wire your soundbar up correctly and keep it in a reasonably cool environment. Do not block any of its vents, and most of all, do not spill any liquids on it.