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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.

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