A blown subwoofer can be a real disappointment for any audio enthusiast. When a subwoofer is functioning properly, it adds depth and power to your audio experience, enhancing the low frequencies with precision. However, when it is blown, the sound becomes distorted and unpleasant. Instead of producing deep, rich bass tones, a blown subwoofer may emit crackling, popping, or buzzing noises. 

The once smooth and impactful bass becomes muddy and unrefined. Imagine listening to your favorite song, but instead of feeling the thump in your chest, you're met with a jarring and distorted noise. It can be quite frustrating. In this blog post, we'll dive into the details of what a blown subwoofer sounds like and how to prevent it from happening.

Why Does a Subwoofer Blow? 

Before we get into the sound of a blown subwoofer, it's important to understand why it happens. A subwoofer blows for various reasons, including:

  • Overpowering: If you have your subwoofer connected to an amplifier that is too powerful, it can cause the cone and voice coil to move beyond their limits and damage the sub. This issue is caused by the subwoofer's cone becoming stuck between the coil and the magnet. This can occur when you provide too much power to the subwoofer or if moisture gets into the subwoofer cone.
  • Overheating: Subwoofers can overheat if they are played at high volumes for extended periods or if they are placed in an enclosed space with poor ventilation. The heat can cause the components to expand and weaken, leading to failure.
  • Low-quality audio source: Playing low-quality audio through a subwoofer can cause it to blow because the speaker is trying to reproduce frequencies that are outside of its capabilities.
  • Age and wear: Over time, subwoofers may wear out due to usage or simply age, making them more prone to blowing. Regular maintenance and replacement of worn-out components can help prevent this. 
  • Physical damage: Accidents happen, and subwoofers are not exempt from physical damage. Dropping, kicking, or even excessive vibration can cause damage to the sub's delicate components.

What Does a Blown Subwoofer Sound Like?

Now, let's get into the main question - what does a blown subwoofer sound like? As mentioned earlier, instead of producing clear and powerful bass tones, a blown subwoofer will produce distorted sound and unpleasant sounds. Some common sounds to listen for include.

Scratchy Crumbling Noise: 

This noise is similar to someone crumpling paper and can indicate that the voice coil has come loose or detached from the cone. It may also be caused by a damaged surround, which is the rubber ring that helps keep the cone in place.

If the cone is making scratchy noises while you move it with your hands, then damage has occurred. It needs to be removed from your home theater system, before causing damage to any other equipment.

Distorted and Muffled Bass: 

A blown subwoofer may produce bass that sounds distorted and muffled. This is a result of the damaged cone and voice coil, which cannot effectively reproduce the low frequencies. If partially blown subwoofer may still produce some bass, but it will be noticeably weaker and distorted.

A speaker cone flexing too much or a damaged voice coil rubbing against the magnet can cause this sound. Distorted signals may also cause your subwoofer to blow. Distorted signals can come from a low-quality audio source, an amplifier that is too powerful, or incorrect settings on your sound system.

Popping or Clicking:

If you hear popping or clicking noises, it could be a sign of a damaged voice coil. The voice coil is responsible for converting electrical signals into mechanical vibrations, and if it becomes damaged, the sound will be affected.

Subwoofer Cracks a Lot:

If you notice your subwoofer making loud cracking noises, it could be a sign that the cone has torn or ripped. This is often a result of overpowering or playing music at high volumes for extended periods.

 It Sounds Like Something Has Stuck Between the Coil:

Another common sound of a blown subwoofer is a rattling or buzzing noise that sounds like something is stuck between the voice coil and cone. This could be caused by physical damage or debris getting inside the subwoofer.

No Sound at All:

In some cases, a blown subwoofer may produce no sound at all. This could indicate that the entire speaker has been damaged beyond repair and may need to be replaced.

Sometimes, sound does not distort at low volume but when you increase the volume slowly it starts distorting and this distortion then increases continuously with the rise in volume.

Constant Rattling Noise: 

If you hear a constant rattling or buzzing noise, it could be a sign that the subwoofer's connection to the amplifier is loose.

This can also happen if the subwoofer is not securely mounted or placed on an unstable surface. If you hear a rattling or distorted sound coming from the speaker, this is likely an indication that the subwoofer has blown.

Squealing or Whistling Noise: 

A blown subwoofer may also produce a high-pitched squealing or whistling noise. This could be caused by a damaged voice coil or an issue with the amplifier. External amplifier noise can also be picked up by the subwoofer and amplified, creating unwanted sounds.

These are just some of the common sounds a blown subwoofer can produce. If you notice any of these noises, it's best to turn off your audio system and inspect your subwoofer for any damage.

How to Prevent Subwoofer Damage

As they say, prevention is better than cure. Here are some tips to prevent your subwoofer from blowing:

  • Use the right amplifier: Make sure to match your subwoofer's power handling capabilities with the amplifier's output. This will prevent overpowering and potential damage.
  • Give it room to breathe: When setting up your audio system, make sure to leave enough space for ventilation around the subwoofer. Avoid placing it in enclosed spaces or near sources of heat.
  • Handle with care: Treat your subwoofer delicately and avoid any physical damage. This includes proper installation and secure mounting.
  • Regular maintenance: Just like any other electronic device, subwoofers need regular maintenance to stay in good condition. This includes cleaning, checking for loose connections, and replacing worn-out components.

These preventative measures can help prolong the life of your subwoofer and prevent it from blowing.

FAQs

Can you fix a blown sub? 

In some cases, a blown subwoofer can be fixed by replacing the damaged component. However, if the damage is severe or the entire speaker has been affected, it may need to be replaced.

Can a subwoofer burst? 

Yes, a subwoofer can burst if it is pushed beyond its limits. This can happen if the amplifier is too powerful or if the volume is set too high for extended periods. In addition, physical damage or defects in the manufacturing can also cause a subwoofer to burst.

What does a good subwoofer sound like? 

A good subwoofer should produce clear and powerful bass tones without any distortion or unwanted noises. It should also seamlessly blend in with the rest of the audio system, enhancing the overall sound quality. Overall, a good subwoofer should enhance the listening experience without drawing attention to itself.

Can low bass damage speakers? 

Yes, low bass can damage speakers if the volume is set too high for extended periods. This is especially true for subwoofers, which are designed to handle low-frequency sounds. Overpowering a subwoofer can cause permanent damage to its components and result in a blown speaker.

Conclusion

In conclusion, a blown subwoofer can produce a range of distinct sounds that indicate a malfunction or damage. When a subwoofer is blown, it may produce a distorted, muffled, or buzzing sound. The bass may become weak or non-existent, and the overall audio quality may need to improve.

One common indication of a blown subwoofer is a rattling or vibrating noise coming from the speaker. This rattling can occur when the voice coil or cone is damaged and no longer functions correctly. Additionally, a blown subwoofer may emit a scraping or scratching sound when the voice coil rubs against the magnet or other parts of the speaker. 

It's important to note that a blown subwoofer should not be ignored or dismissed as a minor issue. Continued use of a blown subwoofer can lead to further damage and potentially harm other components of the audio system.

Remember, regular maintenance and proper care are essential to keep your audio equipment functioning at its best and prevent issues like blown subwoofers. Keep an ear out for any unusual sounds and address them promptly to ensure optimal sound quality and longevity of your audio system.

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