Who else wants to know How to tell if a speaker is blown?

Nothing can describe the feeling that is felt when your speaker is playing your favorite jam, and all over sudden it shuts down or loses energy. Sometimes it is hard to tell whether your speaker has jammed or it is your system. You will need to know how to tell if a speaker is blown to diagnose such problems.

On the worst case scenario, you might go for new speakers, and the problem is because of some faults in how the wiring was done. That is why it is important to know the steps of diagnosing and telling whether your car speaker is blown or not.


How does a car speaker work?

For you to tell whether your speaker is blown or not, you will need to know some basic knowledge of how speakers work. All speakers operate almost using one principle, a principle that converts electrical signals into sound signals as shown in this video. Speakers have three parts, the electromagnetic coil, permanent magnet and the cone.

1. Electromagnetic Coil


Speakers have an electromagnetic coil, a metallic coil which induces a magnetic field when an electric current flows through it. Since the current flowing through is alternating, the magnet will change its polarity, and in the process, it flips.

This coil is placed close to a permanent magnet. So at the time when the electrical pulses change direction from one point to another, and the magnetic poles of the rapid change, this makes the coil to be attracted and repelled by the magnet. This will result in a forth and back movement that is rapid and in line to the electrical pulses flowing through the coil.

2. Permanent magnet


Unlike the electromagnetic coil, its magnetic properties are permanent, and it is firmly fixed so that its polarities remain in one direction. It is meant to attract and repel the coil as its polarities change.

It is important to note that the magnetic field that flows on the back of the speaker is of no use. That is why you can stick the speaker onto a metallic fixture, and it will still function correctly.

3. The cone


The coil is attached to a cone which is made of a soft and flexible material which most of the time is a paper or plastic. This material helps in amplifying sound vibrations through the air and to your ears. As the electrical coil moves forth and back, in accordance with the electrical pulses passed through the coil, the sound will be generated.

The cone will, therefore, magnify the sound amplitude so that it reaches your ear with enough strength and velocity. The higher the pitch of the sound, the higher the frequency and the higher the amplitude.This results in the higher volume of the sound. That is why the more you turn your volume up, the more your speaker’s cone vibrates.

Speakers will use different sizes of cones for different frequency ranges. That is why woofers will have large cones; midrange drivers moderately sized cones and tweeters small cones. Now that you know how speakers work, here are the steps to follow for you tell if your speaker is blown.

Steps to tell if a speaker is blown: You will have to listen for damage

Determining if your speaker is blown will involve you listening carefully to the type of sound that comes from it. The problem might be with music and not your speakers. That is why the following steps will be necessary;

1. Power the engine

Most of the car systems will work if the car is turned on. If your car’s systems can just work without turning on the vehicle, then this step won’t be necessary.

2. Play your favorite tune

After turning on the music, it will be the time now to listen to your speakers. Play your favorite track on full range volume. It should be a common track that you love listening to so that you are clear on what sound and details to expect. The track should have clear bass lines.

3. Adjust volume levels

Now that you have your favorite track playing turn the volume up, balance the bass and the treble. Ensure that they are all at the default level, at the 12 o’clock position. If you realize that the sounds being produced lack a range of a certain frequency, it means the speakers are not well equalized. It will be the best time to revisit the crossover.

4. Listen keenly for distortion

Distortion is noise. The sound has been produced is not clearly heard, instead a disturbing buzz sound it constantly produced. The best way to identify distortion is by having a reference point. You can use your headphone for comparison. If the same distortion is experienced on the headphones, then your car speakers are fine, the problem might be with the music.

If you realize that the distorted sound is missing in the headphones while it is present on the car speakers, then most likely your speaker is blown up. Try also to listen for rattling and shaking sound as well. These are the common symptoms of a blown speaker. These rattling sounds are mostly from a detached coil.

5. Listen for Lack of range

Does all frequency range from your track come through? Is the punchy bass line heard the same way you hear it on your home speakers or woofers? If no, then you must be missing a range, and one of your speakers is blown up. It might be the woofers or the midrange speakers or the tweeters. Try listening to each one of them carefully.

6. Pan the speakers

Try isolating the speakers to find which one has the problem. One way to isolate them is by panning using the pan function. Turn the panning all the way up to the left or the right side speaker. By doing so, you will have to concentrate on one speaker at a time.

Since by this time you will have known the kind of problem which may either be distortion, rattle or lack of range. It means it will be easy to identify the faulty speaker. Sometimes you can use the fade settings to isolate your speakers. This is by going 100% rear or front of your car.

It is also worth watching this video to learn more about how to tell if your speakers are blown.

What about the connections?

The other way of determining whether your speakers are blown or not is by testing the wire connections. These are the steps to do so;

Test the Speaker from the amplifier wires

This will require you unscrewing your speaker and cutting the connections.  You should go ahead and use this method if you are good with handling electronics. After removing the speaker and the wires, attach the speakers to the 9-volt battery and listen for a popping sound from the speaker.

If the speaker does not pop, you are left with two possibilities. Either the connection is faulty, or the speaker is blown. That is why the next step is necessary.

Inspect the speakers

Try connecting a 9-volt battery to the speaker. Listen for a pop sound. If the diaphragm moves, it means the speakers are not blown, and the problem was with the connections. If the speaker is dead still or does not produce any sound, then the speaker is blown.

You can as well use a multimeter to measure the voltage and the resistance of the speaker. You can use them by attaching the meter’s leads on the terminals. If the speakers read 1.0 ohms, the speaker is not blown, and if the resistance is infinite, then the speaker is blown.

Wrapping Up

There you have it on how to tell if a speaker is blown. These are the main steps in finding whether your car speakers are blown, or if there is a problem with your connection. Sometimes, however, the problem might not be with the connection or the wires. Instead, the problem might be with the amplifier. That is why again performing some test on your amplifier will be of importance.

Brian Casey

Here at Car Speaker Land we have only one goal: to bring you the best speakers around. Well, actually we have two goals: we also want to make sure that you’re able to get things going without having to pay the steep fees which are often charged for even the most basic procedures in auto shops.

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