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Recognizing Thermal Failure and Mechanical Failure in Loudspeakers

Like car repairs or broken appliances, blowing a loudspeaker is never something you plan for — and it’s always a pain when it happens. But it does happen. The best venue owners can hope for is that it won’t happen on the night of a big event. (We’re happy to say that the rock-solid systems installed by JD Systems in sports bars, restaurants and clubs around the New York Tri-state area all performed as well as the Giants on Superbowl Sunday.)

There are two types of loudspeaker failure. Let’s talk about them and some of the warning signs, so you can recognize failure before it happens and line up a spare part in time. Because we know even a few minutes without your sound system is too long.

Thermal Speaker Failure

Thermal speaker failure is the most common, and it occurs when the speaker’s internals overheat and stop operating. This can be caused by a number of factors.

  • Audio signals outside the speaker’s capabilities, leading to excess energy converted to heat which burns out the speaker’s internals
  • Amplifier clip
  • Excessive EQ at high frequencies, generating too much heat and causing thermal failure
  • Too much input power driving the speaker too hard for too long

To prevent thermal speaker failure, pay close attention to the signs of amplifier clipping, speaker distortion, or higher-than-usual average power levels on your speaker system. Use high-pass and low-pass filters to ensure the speaker is only receiving signals it can convert into sound effectively.

Causes of Mechanical Speaker Failure

Mechanical speaker failure occurs when the speaker cone is moving too much, causing the voice coil to exit the gap. The speaker coils rub together and may short out or open. To avoid this, use high-pass and low-pass filters and make sure your amplifier has the correct power output for the speaker.

Sounds pretty easy, right? If you’re not sure if your sound system is properly installed, with the right filters and amplifiers, talk to a professional AV installer for a sound check-up before the next big event.

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