Fixing a blown speaker is not hard at all if you follow the steps I’m about to show you.
Most speakers fail because they received too much power (usually when playing bass-heavy music at high volumes), however, others fail because the voice coil overheats after hours of use.
From what I’ve seen on forums and discussion boards, this is what I have concluded to be the most common causes of speaker failure:
- Excessive power, usually played at high volumes.
- Failing voice coils after hours of use.
- Physical abuse or mishandling by the user (Dropping your bass box onto concrete from 5 feet up).
- A speaker that has been exposed to moisture or water for an extended period.
- A blown speaker that has not been used for some time (sometimes capacitors on the crossover inside the bass box go bad after prolonged periods of non-use).
Fixing your own speakers can actually save you money because most professional installers charge between $60-$100 per speaker (if not more) for labor alone.
You might be thinking, “I’ll go to a shop and let them fix it.” but some shops will charge you $50 just for coming out to your car. That’s more than the actual repair costs on some occasions.
So, if you’re looking to save some money and want to learn how to fix your own speakers, read on…
First, let’s start with what you DON’T want to do:
- DO NOT stick screwdrivers or anything metal inside the speaker cone! If you’re trying to remove the dust cap WITHOUT removing the basket first, chances are you WILL end up damaging your paper cone and possibly even getting cut by broken parts of the voice coil (tweeter and driver elements often come out attached to broken pieces of spider). Just take my word on this.
- DO NOT attempt to solder anything yourself unless you know EXACTLY what you’re doing; if not…don’t bother.
After those two warnings, here is my step-by-step guide on how to try to fix a blown speaker:
7 steps to Fix A Blown Speaker
Step 1: Open the box
Most speakers are roughly similar in design or have very few parts that can be broken when opening them up. It will usually consist of a basket with attached components, some type of mounting method (ie. screws), speaker wire terminals on the backside, and finally, the speaker cone(s) with attached voice coil(s).
There are several different types of systems for attaching speakers to bass boxes including but not limited to magnets, curved brackets, L-shaped brackets, angle brackets, circular rings with multiple arms/tendrils which hold onto small protrusions on the speaker basket.
There are also all kinds of different attachment methods for wiring speakers through factory holes in rear deck panels or through the firewall to reach an amp.
Just keep in mind that you’ll see different things when opening up your particular speakers, but I’m pretty sure there’s no way to really harm yourself by just manually looking at what each part does without removing it first.
Step 2: Remove Dust Cap (optional)
Once opened, look for screws or other methods of attaching components together. Sometimes you can remove the dustcap(s) without removing the speaker basket if there are no objects preventing it from being removed with a little force behind it.
If so, go ahead and remove the dustcap(s) and inspect them for damage. Most 12″ speakers have a 3/4″ wide dust cap covering a voice coil attached to a paper cone that has “spider” arms.
The spider is simply a thin layer of corrugated cardboard, but it provides rigidity for the speaker to be able to withstand the high pressure & temperature changes while driving around your neighborhood.
Step 3: Remove Speaker Basket
If you cannot remove the dust cap without removing the basket first, which means you’ll need to remove screws or another type of mounting hardware in order to get at the voice coil(s), then do so now.
Just make sure not to damage any fragile parts when removing them from their seats/retainers.
Step 4: Inspect Speaker Components for Visual Damage
Now that you have everything apart…it’s time for some detective work! You are now ready to investigate how your speaker became damaged.
Take a minute during this step and try to replicate the harmonic frequencies that cause cones to flex. Pull on each edge of the cone gently, then somewhat firmly (but not too hard).
Do you notice any types of flexing or tearing?
Although it’s best for you to do this yourself, if you’re unable, have someone else flex the cone for you at different points along its perimeter while looking through the dustcap hole with a flashlight pointed towards the voice coil.
Step 5: Inspect Speaker Components for Physical Damage
If there are no visual damages found, then go ahead and remove the foam surrounding the center pole piece(s) which will expose the top-end of whatever type of wire that is attached to the voice coils.
You want to take note of how the wire(s) are wrapped around whatever material they’re wound onto, where it starts and stops, and whether or not there’s any obvious damage (like kinks…or something more serious). If you see any type of black burn marks or hole in the insulation near where the coil meets whatever material it’s wrapped around, then your speaker is done for.
If there are any parts that you could replace, now is the time to start doing your research on prices and availability. If you can’t find a replacement part or simply don’t feel like spending the money, then it may be worth it for you to cut your losses by just tossing out whatever looks obviously damaged and buying a completely new set of speakers…especially if they’re not expensive in the first place.
Step 6: Replace Foam Surround & Check Speaker Components for Functionality (optional)
If there are no visual damages found, but you want to make sure the speaker is not damaged internally, then use your multimeter in continuity mode and check for continuity between all of the terminals on the speaker.
Just make sure that you don’t hook anything up backward or else you could damage your meter instead of fixing your blown speakers
Step 7: Reassemble
Assuming everything checks out, now it’s time to re-install all of the parts and make sure nothing gets damaged as you attempt to put it all back together again.
The only tricky part will be getting everything back into its original position without adding or removing any extra stress on the components that may or may not have been weakened during disassembly and inspection.
Step 7: Test out your speakers to see if they are functional again.
Ideally you’ve found the reason why the speakers were damaged and figured out how to fix a blown speaker. If everything checks out, you can either choose to keep them or sell them so that somebody else has the chance of enjoying working speakers with a little more “umph.”
Have fun, listen responsibly, and don’t push your speakers past what they’re designed for—or else they’ll blow out again.