How To Tell If Your Speakers Are Blown

By Gina

It’s one of the worst nightmares for speaker owners. You turn them on to listen to your favorite tunes, only to find the sound is muffled and the quality is, well, non-existent.

This can be pretty confusing considering they were working just fine the last time you used them! But, it’s not always clear why your speakers are suddenly sounding so poor. Maybe it’s a loose wire, or, maybe it’s that they have blown.

The sound of blown speakers is pretty easy to spot. They are usually fuzzy with a distorted, crunchy sound.

Most of the time, there is still some kind of resemblance to what you were listening to as the speakers send out a slight signal. However, on other occasions, there may be no sound output whatsoever. 

There are a few reasons why a speaker may become faulty. Speakers can sometimes look completely fine with only a little distortion coming through.

This can lead you to wonder if it’s the amplifier that is causing the issue or not. Sometimes, a speaker can sustain physical damage to the voice coil or cone, but other times, it’s not so obvious. 

To help you get to the bottom of your speaker problems, we have included some helpful tips and tricks to determine whether your speaker or amplifier is to blame.

We will find out if your speaker has indeed “blown.” Blown is a term used to describe a speaker that isn’t working as it should.

Whether your speaker is producing scratchy sounds at a low volume or no sound at all, by the end of this article, you should be able to tell if your speaker is blown or if it’s another issue. 

How To Determine Whether Your Speaker Is Blown Or Not 

Replace The Speaker 

One of the easiest and quickest ways to determine if your amplifier is working and your older speaker is not, is to replace the speaker with another one.

If you have a replacement speaker that you know works well, simply replace your old model to see if it’s the amp or speaker at fault. If the new speaker emits a clear, good sound, then the speaker is not the issue. 

However, it is still possible for a speaker to blow because of an amplifier malfunction. For example, take a solid-state amplifier. The power transistors of these are connected directly to the speaker.

If these transistors malfunction, they can pass excessive currents to the speakers, resulting in a blown voice coil. This is also possible with tube amps, but the output transformer usually blows first with these models. 

If you believe the amplifier is malfunctioning, and if it has a burning smell, you should investigate this problem first before trying out another speaker.

If you try a new speaker, there is a high likelihood that it will blow as well. If the signal distortion was accompanied by popping sounds with a burnt smell (and smoke pouring out), do not try a new speaker.

Simply address this obvious issue with the amp first. 

If you do replace the speaker, the new version needs to have the same impedance. However, a small mismatch in the impedance shouldn’t matter that much, particularly if it’s just a small test. 

You can also test your speaker with an amplifier that you know is working. Of course, you may not have another speaker in good condition. If this is the case, you can hook up the speaker in question with a working amp.

If this continues to output a poor speaker sound, it is quite safe to say that the speaker is probably blown.

Visually Inspect The Speaker

Another method of determining whether your speaker has blown is to simply inspect it visually. A blown speaker can show signs of physical damage. To inspect a speaker, remove it from the amplifier or instrument.

Next, take a look and inspect the cone. A healthy cone should have no holes or tears in it. If there are signs of holes or damage, it will not be able to reproduce a signal effectively, often resulting in a poor distortion sound. 

Blown speakers can also show damage through hearing certain mechanical movements inside. You can gently tap on the cone of your speaker to check if it is blown or not.

If it is not blown, it should have a firm, rigid drum-like sound. If you hear any kind of rattling sound, such as a loose snare drum, this is usually an indication that the speaker has blown or is damaged in some other way.

You can also gently push on the speaker cone but be careful not to puncture the cone with your finger or push it more than 5 millimeters in. This can damage the speaker further.

When pushing gently, you should hear nothing, or just about nothing.

Blown speakers, on the other hand, will produce a scraping or crunching sound with any little movement. This indicates a bad voice coil which will usually require a replacement. 

What To Do If My Speaker Has Blown 

A blown speaker is quite common. Fortunately, replacing speakers doesn’t have to be that expensive these days.

However, if you own an expensive speaker such as a JBL model, then you should consider repairing it rather than buying a new model.

But, it can become quite expensive when enlisting an experienced technician to fix it, sometimes as much as a new, albeit, lesser quality speaker. 

If you need to replace your speaker, ensure it has the same impedance for the amplifier. It should also have a rating that is at or above the wattage of the amp. Replacements are usually a good option.

But, holding on to your original is also advisable, so you can fix it in the future. If you don’t want your old speaker, you can sell it online, but for a fraction of its working price.

Someone will always want one for parts, but make sure to specify that it has blown first. No one wants a blown speaker unless the price is right.