Replacing a blown out speaker

You really like your bookshelf speakers. You've become accustomed to their sound and hey, they are almost part of the family. But sometimes woofers blow out. Now what?

Diagnosing a faulty bookshelf speaker

If your sound is suddenly tinny because one of your woofers has blown out, then it's time to grab a screwdriver and do some investigating. Here are a few things that could be wrong.
  1. The wires to the woofer are somehow disconnected. (unlikely but hey...)
  2. Your buddy turned your system up to 11 and poof!  Yes, we've had this happen. 
  3. Your crossover is faulty. (possible but unlikely)
  4. Rot, yes, speakers get old too.
In any of these cases you'll need to pull out the speaker and check for item 1 first. Don't worry, removing a woofer for inspection is pretty easy. You'll need a Phillips head screwdriver. (usually)

  • First remove the speaker grille from the cabinet. You can usually pry it off with your fingers. Avoid using tools.
  • Carefully, remove the screws from the woofer being careful not to puncture the cone.
  • Carefully lift the woofer from the cabinet. If it is tight, use a small flat head screwdriver or putty knife to remove it.
  • Check the wires to be sure they are fully connected to the speaker.
If all is well note any designations on the rear of the speaker. Take note of the impedance and diameter. Put it back in the cabinet for now. If you think it's the crossover you can test this by removing the woofer from the other speaker and trying it in the malfunctioning cabinet. If it works there then you could be having a problem with the crossover.

Buying a new woofer

This is the cheapest way to get back to listening to your music but it does get a bit tricky. Here's what you need to do.
  • Note the correct impedance.
  • The size of the woofer itself as well as material, aluminum, poly, other fancier materials like Kevlar, etc.
  • The diameter and mounting (screw) configuration.
  • Depth of the cabinet. 
Once you do this you're ready to go shopping for a new woofer.  

Important - If you're replacing a woofer and it's not from the manufacturer of the speakers, you'll want to replace the woofer in both cabinets. Why? No matter how carefully you think you're matching the speakers to the one you already have, the new one WILL sound different than the original. Lots of folks might not notice the difference but chances are you will. 

Is it worth fixing the speakers vs buying a new set of bookshelf speakers? It depends on how old your speakers are, how attached to their sound you've become and of course, if you have the money. But if you have a little bit of DYI in you and some time to spare, you can do it.

What speakers are good for bass?

Many factors contribute to how much bass a speaker delivers including: the size of the speaker driver, the frequency specifications of the crossover, the design of the speaker driver and the design of the speaker cabinet.

Speakers with larger than 5 inch woofers generally will deliver better bass than those with smaller drivers.  But that is not the only option for creating reasonable bass as mentioned above. The following speaker designs can fool you into hearing more bass. Some work well, some, not so much.

  • A ported speaker where the design has a hole in the back or front of the speaker cabinet can, in some instances, deliver greater bass response to the ear. These are referred to as bass reflex speakers. The general premise is the port allows for more air to be forced out of the enclosure to create more low end sound. The caveat here is that these ports are usually "tuned" to a specific low end frequency (like when you blow into a bottle). This is a cheap and effective way of delivering more bass at the expense of accuracy of bass frequencies. 
  • Crossover's are devices that sit inside your bookshelf, tower or even bluetooth speaker that decide which speaker in a multi-driver cabinet is getting what frequencies. They can even limit the low end frequencies from reaching the speaker to either avoid overdriving the speaker or creating a sound preferred by the engineer. 
Many bluetooth speakers use ported designs to give greater bass response to their design. Bose does this quite effectively in their soundlink mini and other products.

Are there any general guidelines to finding speakers with good bass response?

Not really. At one time some European speaker manufacturers produced speakers with less bass response do to regional tastes. This is no longer the case. 

Continued after break...

The best way to decide is to get the speakers in your home and listen to them. If all other things are equal you can always EQ the bass to your taste. The next best path would be to read forums to see what others think about bass response of different systems. The challenge here is it's difficult to tell by descriptors whether what they like is what you'll like.

As always, your ears are your best tool for choosing audio products. Note to readers, this blog helps keep us being able to not buy screw top wine. Clicking on links and purchase products my result us getting a small commission. Thanks if you do!

Why are my Outdoor Speakers so Quiet?

Of all the reasons your outdoor speakers don't sound as loud as your indoor ones, the Speaker Wire you're using is not one of them. Why when your receiver is on volume 55 are your indoor bookshelves loud but when you switch to zone 2 or speaker B, (depending on your receiver) which are your outdoor speakers do the speakers not sound as loud?

It all comes down to volume. No, not the volume of the receiver, but the volume of the air the speakers are trying to move. In an enclosed room speakers have a relatively "bounded" amount of air to move. This reduces dispersion, and the amount of pressure they exert when they reach your ears.

Once outside, soundwaves have a greater amount of air to move and can disperse more quickly, appearing to create less volume.

Other reasons your outdoor speakers have less volume.

  • Different impedance than the indoor speakers
  • Different size speaker drivers
  • Your volume on the zone you have them on is less than the speakers inside

Which Speakers for a Turntable?

The simple answer is this. Any speaker will work just fine with a turntable. You might think that since you've got an analog signal coming from a turntable, as opposed to a digital signal coming from say Pandora or Amazon Music, you need a different kind of speaker. You don't.

Speakers are Analog

By their nature, speakers are analog devices. An electrical signal causes the electromagnet, a metal coil in the speaker to move back and forth, causing the speaker to viabrate. This in turn creates the sound generated by the speaker cone moving back and forth.

But What Speakers Should I Buy?

This depends less on your use of a turntable, which I believe everyone should at least experience once in their lives, then it does in your personal taste. Different speakers create different types of sound. Many factors change the texture and form of the sound of a speaker, including;

  • Size and shape of the cabinet
  • Materials used for the cabinet
  • Is the cabinet ported or not
  • How many drivers (speakers) does it use? 2 way, 3 way, 2.5 way?
  • The materials of the speaker cone
  • The design of the crossover
  • The type of magnet  
It's important to note that finding one speaker that has a neodymium magnet that you like won't mean you'll also like another speaker because it has a neodymium magnet. There are just too many other variables to account for to make that leap. 

Use Your Ears

The best way, the only way to tell what the best speaker is for you, turntable or not,  is to listen to them. Comparing a few different speakers in a similar or better yet, exact same environment is prefered. 

Subscribe to this blog via email in the upper right corner of this page to get our upcoming series on how to do critical listening when purchasing a speaker. 

As for Turntables

Since you're interested in turntables, here are a few suggestions we like from the simple but good to expensive and crazy good. 

Note, if you purchase something on this blog it may create an affiliate payment to The Speaker Guys which BTW,,, keeps us in beer and writing more of these great articles. Thanks.

Why do Speakers Crackle?

Sometimes it's the little things in life that just annoy the daylights out of you. Crackling speakers can be one of them. yesterday they were fine, today that annoying sound distorting your listening pleasure. But why.

3 Reasons your speakers might crackle

  1. A loose speaker wire. This is likely the number one reason your speakers are crackling. It's also the easiest to fix once you find it. Check the speaker terminals on the back of the speakers as well as your amplifier and insure they have a solid connection. How does this happen? Think cat, dog, kid. 
  2. Yeah, a loose wire. This time it might be within the speaker assembly itself. The wires that go from the terminals on the speaker to the speaker cone. This, unfortunately is not something you're likely to successfully fix yourself. 
  3. It could be your amplifier. If the crackling is occurring when you adjust the volume knob on your amp or receiver, then it's likely dirt in the pot (potentiometer). There are potentiometer cleaners you can try to mitigate the problem but it's hit or miss. 
Bluetooth speaker crackling? Throw it out and get a new one.

There are other reasons like cone alignment which would only happen on very old speakers, but the most likely reason is a lose wire.

Note that some links on The Speaker Guys might offer us the ability to be paid a commission if you purchase a product. Our editorial integrity is up there with Batman so no worries we'll try and fool you. 

What is the best way to power speakers?

The best stereo amp for you depends on what type of listening you do, what type of speakers you have and if you need portability.

Speakers don't do well without an amplifier of some type. In fact, they do nothing, so let's get right too it.

3 Ways to Supply Power to Speakers
  1. Buy an traditional small stereo amplifier or receiver if you also want a tuner.
  2. Purchase self powered speakers which have their own amplifiers built into them.
  3. Get battery powered speakers
All three options work and depending on the environment each has an advantage.

The small amplifier route.
If you are a traditionalist getting an amp, whether it be high end or low, gives you the most control over any effect the amplification will have on your music. It also allows you to be a little more free on how you allocate your funds. If you want a great pair of stereo speakers but can't afford the complimentary expensive amp, you can start with something that fits your budget and move up later. We're fond of this approach.

Best use:
  • If you want to power bookshelf, tower or architectural speakers that you just have to have but may not have room for a full on receiver. 
  • Powering old bookshelf speakers you have around the house.
Self powered speakers. Taking this approach can have mixed results. There are plenty of low end self powered speakers that will deliver noise but not music. You can get low price self powers PC speakers which can sound very nice but often either look weird or have other shortcomings. On the flip side there are plenty of excellent self powered speakers on the high end that will sound fantastic. One advantage to this type of set up, on the high end at least, is that you may get separate amps for the woofer and tweeter. Most times this will yield a superior results.

Best use:
  • You don't want the extra wires running all over the place.
  • You want the extra quality sound you might get from the separate amps and don't want or have room for an amp.
  • NOTE: many self powered speakers you'll find are Studio Monitors designed for near field listening. These are designed for someone sitting 2-3 feet away from the speakers and generally don't give as good of a showing in other environments or listening situations. 
Battery powered speakers. This category is usually relegated bluetooth speakers. You can usually get some great results with small to mid-sized speakers that can deliver some real punch. Once you get into larger speakers, ones that will deliver truly satisfying bass response, battery power will fall by the wayside.

Best use:
  • You need portability
That's all we have for today. The moral here is to think about what is most important to you before deciding.

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