Why Do My Speakers Cut Out At High Volume?
When you turn up the volume on your car stereo, you don’t want the sound to stop.
There are a number of reasons why your speakers might stop working when you turn up the volume. There are several ways to solve the problem your speaker is having.
Most of the time, speakers that cut out at high volumes are caused by a problem with either the amplifier or the way the crossover is set up. Also, speakers that aren’t made to handle loud noises sometimes shut down when they get too much power.
This article will show you how to fix problems with your system and keep your speakers from breaking when you play music loudly. Also, I will briefly explain some terms, such as:
How to Fix Speakers That Stop Working When Turned Up to the Max?
When your speakers start making strange noises or skipping parts of your favorite songs, there are many things you can do to figure out what’s wrong:
Check out your amp.
Today’s car amplifiers have a safety circuit that turns off the amplifier if it is driven past its limits. If your system shuts down suddenly when the volume is high, something is setting off the protection circuit in your amplifier.
Examine Your Gain Knob
Your amplifier boosts the sound signal that your radio or receiver sends. The normal range for an audio signal is between 0.5 and 2 volts. An amplifier takes 0.5 volts and turns it into at least 20 volts, which is then sent to the speakers to make sound.
The volume settings on your radio or receiver change the signal that goes out. If you turn it down, the audio signal gets weaker. If you turn it up, the signal gets stronger. No matter how strong or weak the signal is, an amplifier will make it bigger by the same amount.
When the gain is set to a high number, the amplifier will boost your signal as much as possible. If you listen to music at a low volume, you might not notice an excessive gain. Still, your amplifier may have trouble if you turn up the volume on your receiver.
Think of the signal coming from the receiver as a sine wave that goes up and down. When you use more power than your amplifier can handle, the rounded heights flatten out or get “clipped.” Clipped signals have a harsh, distorted sound, and they can do a lot of damage to your audio gear.
When an amplifier clips, it puts out more power than it can handle, which hurts the output transistors. Clipping also causes a speaker’s voice coil to get hot. If the signal that was cut off was very strong, it could burn the voice coil or even set the speaker cone on fire. The signal is turned off by the amplifier’s safety circuit before it can damage your gear.
Check the gain on your amp if your speakers are cutting out. Adjust it so that you can hear your music at about 3/4 of maximum volume. This will give your amp the headroom it needs to handle peaks in the music without being overworked.
See how hot or cold it is.
On a hot summer day, cars get very hot, and the air conditioner might make things easier for the people inside, but it doesn’t do anything to cool the trunk. Most people who install car audio and almost all people who install subwoofers put the amplifiers in the trunk.
If you keep your amplifier in your trunk, it might get too hot before you turn up the volume on your favorite song because it doesn’t get enough air. Also, if you play loud music, your amplifier’s safety circuits may trip, which could cause the amp to turn off.
Some installers hide the amplifier under the seat of the car. This keeps your amplifier in a place with air conditioning, but there are some problems with it. If your amplifier is packed in too tightly, it might not get enough air to cool down.
If your speakers don’t work right on a hot day, make sure that your amplifier is getting enough air. The amp works well when it is attached to the back seats or to the box that holds the subwoofer.
Make sure that nothing is blocking the airflow. If your amplifier is hidden by carpets or other things, a trunk cleanout will give it the air it needs. You may also find that a cooling fan can help keep your amplifier from getting too hot.
Check the wires that connect to the ground.
Your amplifier works the same way as any other electrical device: it has a circuit. The battery sends electricity to the amplifier, and when the volume is turned up, the amplifier needs more power. But it will only get that current if the circuit is set up right and the ground is connected.
For the best car audio performance, the ground wire must be properly connected. “Improper or loose grounding is the number one cause of amplifier problems,” says Buck Pomerantz of Crutchfield Audio, and I have to agree with him.
Ground wires that are too small or too loose can block the flow of electricity in the same way that a kinked hose blocks the flow of water.
The electricity needs to go somewhere after going through your speakers. The ground connection in your wall socket is connected to a real cable that is on the ground outside your home. The ground soaks up the current, which lets more electricity flow through your amplifier.
At low volumes, the ground wires of your amplifier may be able to make enough current to power your speakers. But as the volume goes up, the ground may not be able to keep up with the amplifier’s needs, and it won’t be able to send enough power to the chassis so that the heat can escape. It makes the voltage go down.
Your car’s electrical system can only send as much power as the grounding wires can handle, but the amplifier keeps pulling power.
If the supply and demand gap keeps getting bigger, it could hurt your amplifier, battery, and alternator. The amplifier’s safety circuit shuts down the system automatically, preventing this tragic and expensive accident.
Here are some ways to fix grounding problems that cause your speakers to stop working: Make sure the gauge of your ground wire is the same as the gauge of the wire that goes from your amplifier to the battery. Remove any rust or dirt that could get in the way of the electricity.
Use a lock washer, a star washer, or another type of conductive washer to make sure the connection is safe, clean, and able to conduct electricity.
Check that your ground connection is strong and that your ground wire is securely attached to a clean, rust-free metal surface.
You can use a digital multimeter to check the connection to the ground to make sure that your amplifier is properly grounded. For this, you’ll need a multimeter and a piece of wire long enough to reach from the ground to the negative terminal on your car’s battery. Then do the following:
- Change the setting for ohms on your multimeter.
- Connect one of the multimeter’s leads to where the ground is.
- Join the other end to the wire on the battery.
If the resistance is less than 0.5 ohms, you have a good ground connection that has been sealed with silicone caulk to keep corrosion from getting worse.
Not Enough Power
Cutouts can also happen if your system needs more power than your car’s electrical system can provide. If the bass sounds less good and the lights flash when you turn up the volume, your subwoofer may be using more power than your alternator can provide.
How to inspect your alternator:
- Put your multimeter into the mode for testing voltage.
- Connect the meter to your car’s battery while the engine is off.
- If the voltage is less than 12.5 volts, charge the battery until it reads between 12.5 and 12.8 volts.
- Check the battery voltage with the engine running and all lights and accessories turned off.
- This Crenova 890Z Digital Multimeter can help you figure out how to fix these and other electrical problems with the audio system in your car.
- If your alternator is in good shape and can still give your system enough power, you have many options.
How to Make Your Alternator Stronger
The standard alternator in your car is able to meet the electrical needs of your car. A high-wattage amplifier may need more power than the 65-100 amps that a typical alternator can provide.
When you divide watts by volts, you get amps. Even if your factory alternator can supply 75 amps, a Polk Audio car amplifier that can power your fronts, rears, and subwoofer may draw 75 amps at full power. This leaves little room for the rest of your car’s electrical needs.
A high-output alternator can put out between 140 and 225 amps, which means you can listen to music at any volume and still have enough power for lights, windshield wipers, and power steering.
Put in an extra battery.
If you listen to music at a high volume for a long time, a dedicated 12-volt battery may help your car audio system. A second battery gives you more power in case you want to listen for a long time when the car is not in use.
Most of the people listening don’t need a second battery. If you go this route, you’ll first need to replace your alternator, which charges the battery while the car is running. The system’s amperage is used up even more by a second battery.
Power Capacitors should be used.
Capacitors are devices that store electrical charge and then release it when more power is needed.
A power cap costs less than a new alternator or a second battery, is much easier to put in, and will help your car’s electrical system handle loud bass better.
Capacitors are best at handling transient peaks. This means that you can turn up the volume without worrying that a big bass note will blow out your amplifier.
Power Acoustik’s PCX-30F Farad Capacitor can help you keep your alternator from getting too tired during crescendos.
Check all of your speakers.
If your amplifier works fine, the problem is probably with your speakers. If your speakers cut out when you play them at a high volume, it could be due to a number of things.
Low resistance in ohms
The ohm is the unit of resistance.
Think of your speaker system as a series of pipes. More water can flow through wider pipes than through narrower ones. Think of your amplifier as a pump that forces water through the pipes until they are full.
But keep in mind that the amplifier will have to work harder to fill the wider line than the smaller pipes.
The units of electricity we use to power our speakers are listed in the table below:
Amps are used to measure the amount of current going through our rear speakers. (Not to be confused with the amplifiers in our stereo.)
- In ohms, we measure how much our speakers push back against that current.
- We measure the force of that current in volts.
- We measure the power of the current in watts.
You might think that a speaker with a lower ohm value will be easier for your amplifier to power because it has less resistance. But the situation is a bit more complicated than that.
In your car’s amplifier, two coils of wire are wound around a magnetic iron core. After MOSFETs (transistor switches) change the direct current (DC) from your battery into alternating current (AC), the transformer increases the voltage but not the current.
If you added a rear speaker to your car and connected it to your two-channel head unit along with the front speakers, you didn’t increase the resistance; you actually decreased it.
Your head unit may have been able to handle the 4-ohm load from your front speaker set without any problems. But if two 4 ohm speakers are connected to the same circuit, the head unit sees a 2 ohm load.
If you want to send 100 watts through a resistance of 4 ohms, you’ll need 5 amps of current at 20 volts. It only takes 14.14 volts and 7.1 amps to send 100 watts through a resistance of 2 ohms.
Let’s say your new subwoofer box has two speakers with 400 watts and 2 ohms. If the builder put the two drivers in parallel, the amplifier would get a load of 1 ohm from them. When 400 watts are sent into a 1-ohm load, 20 amps are needed instead of the 14.14 amps needed for a 2-ohm load.
Most car amplifiers can handle a load of two ohms. Even the most powerful amplifiers will struggle with 1ohm charging, but if you play your system at low volumes, your amp should be able to handle it.
But if you have two subwoofers, it’s not likely that you’ll want to use them quietly. Also, if you ask for too much current, your amplifier will turn itself off.
Check their ohm ratings before you connect your stereo system. If they are smaller than what your amp can handle, try putting them in series instead of parallel.
The differences between parallel and series wiring are summed up in the table below:
Parallel Wiring: The positive and negative ends of speaker A are both connected to the amplifier at the same time. Speaker B is hooked up to the positive and negative ends of speaker A.
With series wiring, the positive end of speaker A is connected to the amplifier. The speaker A’s negative end is connected to the speaker B’s positive end. Connect the negative end of speaker B to the negative end of the amplifier.
In parallel wiring, the number of ohms goes up, but in series wiring, the number of ohms goes down. If you connect your two 2-ohm subwoofers in series, you can easily give your amp a 4-ohm load.
Your speakers work with a voice coil, which is a tight coil of thin wire around which a magnet is wrapped. When current flows through a voice coil, it becomes magnetized and interacts with the magnetic field of the magnets around it. Because of these interactions, vibrations are made, which are then turned into sound by the speaker.
If the voice coil is broken because it was driven too hard, two things can happen. The coil could break, which would cause an open circuit, or it could fuse, which would cause a short circuit.
If you check a broken speaker with an ohmmeter, a short circuit will show 0 ohms, but a broken circuit will show infinite resistance.
At the breakpoint, the current in an open circuit stops all of a sudden and has nowhere to go. Because a short circuit reverses the flow of electricity, connecting the positive and negative terminals of a battery with a wire makes it heat up quickly and, in some cases, explode within seconds.
If you drive too fast, you might tear the cone of a speaker. If one of your speakers rattles and pops, it may be broken. Even though the sounds only happen when you turn up the volume on your music, it won’t be long before this damage gets to the voice coil.
You might decide to fix your broken speaker right away instead of waiting.
Even if your speakers are in good shape, your connections may not be enough. If the wire to the door speaker is crimped or broken, the sound may stop and start when the door is opened or closed.
If a bare piece of speaker wire touches the chassis, any electricity that flows through will go straight to ground (the car body). If your speaker connections are loose, loud music could shake them and pull out the wire that connects them. If the positive and negative wires touch, the amplifier will think there is a short circuit and turn off.
Start by unplugging all of your speakers and playing each one on its own to see if any of the wires are broken.
If one of the switches turns on loud music, you know what the problem is. Change out the wires and double-check that the new ones are attached well.
Why do my speakers stop working when the volume is turned up?
Why do people who speak stutter?
If the cable doesn’t connect to both the speaker and the audio receiver in a clean and quiet way, the sound will cut in and out. The wires for the speakers must be fully connected to the terminals and held tightly in place in the right places.
If your speaker has a blocked round or slot port, this can also cause problems.
Can clipping happen because of a bad ground?
What does it mean when an amplifier says “Bad Ground”? The bad ground on the amplifier will damage the speaker amplifier in a way that can’t be fixed. The bad ground doesn’t happen all at once; there are signs like clipping, overheating, and shutting down suddenly.
What kind of capacitor works best for audio?
The best capacitors for audio circuits are made of polystyrene and polypropylene. The best material is polystyrene, but it only comes in levels up to.001 uF.
The bottom line is that speakers stop working at high volumes.
If the speakers on your car radio stop working all of a sudden, you don’t need to be an electrical engineer to figure out what’s wrong. But if you have a basic understanding of how your system works and the different things that could go wrong, you will be able to figure out what is wrong and get ideas on how to fix it.
Now, that information belongs to you. You can enjoy the music at whatever volume you like.