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Blown speakers


I recently took a 2 hour trip in my Volvo and the whole time I played music pretty much as loud as I could. My friend told me that one of the speakers was “gone” when we arrived. I faded and balanced the audio and checked every speaker today. Two of my nine speakers produce no audio, and one sounds like its about to go. These speakers are all stock. I wonder what I should do at this point? I love my music and I need to listen to it more than reasonably loud. Should I replace the 2 dead speakers, or also the third one as well? Or, should I get an entire new set of speakers? Additionally, since its a 2000, the head unit seems to be a bit dated. I have to use an FM transmitter with my iPod to get my music since there is no cassette player (for an adaptor). should I get a new head unit as well? Or is all of this too pricey for a 11 year old car? Thank You

If you like your music and plan to keep the car for a while, you may as well update the stereo. Speakers are the most cost-effective upgrade you can do. They are fairly cheap and will make a bigger difference than any other single upgrade you can do. If you do end up getting rid of the car eventually, you could always pull the speakers back out and reinstall the factory ones. Speakers usually have decent interchange among other vehicles, and there is a market for them if you can’t use them on your next ride.

Go to, see what’ll fit your Volvo. I’d either replace the speakers in pairs, or replace all of them. They’ll have alternative head units, too, but do the speakers first, you may find out you’re happy with the sound at that point.

‘Blowing’ speakers often happens when you overdrive your amp into distortion, so a more powerful head unit might solve it.

Second this! I’ve gotten all my car stereo stuff through Crutchfield. Great company.

Stock speakers, especially in cars of that era, are crap, so you definitely want to replace all of them - not only because the others will die soon, but because you’ll get very different sound from the new and old speakers. A lot of 'em are made of paper, if you can believe it. Get a good set. I’d upgrade the head unit too - you can get good ones fairly cheap these days, and you can always yank it and re-install the factory stereo when you get rid of the car. Be sure to get the adapter kit - it’ll make it much easier to hook the new stereo up to your car’s wiring harness.

For inexpensive stereo upgrades I’ve had good luck with Pioneer equipment. You’ll definitely want to get a sub, however, as stock-sized door speakers aren’t very good for bass.

The reason you likely blew the speakers is the audio quality of using an FM transmitter/iPod is absolute dung and is distorted a bit.

A friend was amazed when I introduced her to plugging her iPod directly into a 1991 Subaru’s CD in port in a car equipped with AM/FM/Cassette.

A new head unit is inexpensive, the only downfall is they typically have tiny buttons and look pretty ugly on the dash.

I think they make the units so they advertise themselves like buy me, buy me at a store and don’t want to blend in.

Even Crutchfield’s least expensive speakers (~$40-50 a pair) will be superior to the OEM speakers. In addition, Crutchfield supplies adapters to mount the speakers, wiring harnesses to connect the speakers without the need to cut or splice the Volvo’s wiring, and installation instructions.

Ed B.

The reason you blew your speakers is because you were clipping the amp. This happens when you play it beyond what it is rated for. This causes a square sign-wave (which basically very distorted sound) to the speakers.

Obviously you have to replace the speakers.

If you want to play VERY LOUD music (which is STUPID BTW)…you might consider more efficient speakers. The higher the efficiency the speaker the louder it’ll play with fewer watts…Example - A speaker with an efficiency rating of 94db’s will play just as loud with 1 WATT as a speaker with an efficiency rating of 88db’s with 60 WATTS.

Now for the RANT…playing very loud music will damage your hearing…let me repeat it and turn up the volume in case your deaf already…PLAYING LOUD MUSIC WILL DAMAGE YOUR HEARING.

People who are exposed to loud music for periods of time throughout their lives have drastic hearing loss. Young people with hearing loss is growing at a very alarming rate. People in their 20’s and 30’s are the fastest growing number of people who need hearings aids then any other age group. It’s gotten so bad the Navy is having a hard time finding radar techs (who need good hearing). It use to be 1 in 1000 had hearing so bad they couldn’t qualify for radar school…now it’s 1 in 100…and rising.

The WORSE is devices like ipads and car stereos where their ears are being subjected to db levels approaching the threshold of pain (120dbs) or MORE.

People who live in an industrialized society already are bombarded with noise all day long…it’s hard to get away from. Just from normal living we experience some hearing loss as we get older. I no longer have 20/20 hearing (20hz to 20khz). Last time I checked (about 5 years ago) it was something like 20/17. People living in jungles of Africa or South American have almost no hearing loss even at 70yrs old.

You may find there are external amplifiers involved with your system which may be part of the problem.

Playing music load in a car is at least a distraction for the driver in my opinion which diverts his attention from where it should be at all times, focusing on driving the car safely. I suggest you save the loud music for when you are not driving.

Although I also like my music loud at times, I’m worried that you’re overdoing it here and damaging your hearing. It won’t be fun to struggle to hear conversations in loud rooms for the rest of your life (which I’m actually observing now with some of my middle-aged friends). In the long term, you’ll probably be happier if you can keep the loud music to a reasonable limit now.

Everyone has you pretty well covered on what to do so I will only say that I agree with Mike about your future hearing loss, and it WILL happen. It will also not be pleasant for 2 reasons.
One is that it affects your ability to do many things and two is probably the worst of the 2 options. That is having to deal with people who may get repeatedly frustrated with you during a conversation even AFTER you tell them that you’re audibly challenged.

Believe me, I know because I have a 50% loss in one ear and 60% in the other. This hearing loss is due to decades of being around motorcycle exhaust, aircraft engines, various air tools/equipment, and loud music from the car, various concerts, and even my own guitar amps.
I love loud music as much as anybody but there’s a price to be paid for it. It may take years to surface but eventually the problem will appear and things will not be much fun anymore.

At this point my 300 Watt guitar amp overrides the approx. 50% hearing loss… :slight_smile:

You know sometimes it seems I do have ADD but then I have never damaged the sound equipment in any of my cars. As others have stated here I also now wished I hadn’t listened to music so loud my ears would ring afterwords. Go your way Car Guy, I’m certain you know what you are doing is just fine. You will know the real story in about 20 years down the road.

And if it’s NOT loud enough…it means you haven’t the intelligence or maturity to understand the consequences…I’m constantly telling my 13yo to turn his IPod down…my 18yo son and 24yo daughter both understand the consequences…and don’t play it at loud as they use to. So that means you’re somewhere between 13 and 18.

“This causes a square sign-wave” --It’s called a square wave, not a “square sign-wave” (or sine wave, which is a different waveform) When an amp is “clipping”, it means it’s clipping off the top of the waveform, because you’re asking for it to deliver more energy than it can, which makes the audio sound distorted.

Sorry to be a pedant.

No disrespect to MikeinNH, but the reason you blew your speakers is a combination of age, cheap materials used in OEM speakers and higher average power over a period of time than the speakers can handle. Whether you clipped your amp cannot be determined based on blown speakers.

He is right about everything else, except his math when it comes to speaker efficiency. A speaker with an efficiency of 88 dB/watt at 1 meter will need 4 watts to match the volume of a speaker rated at 94 dB/watt at 1 meter with 1 watt.

You can spend a lot of money on your cars sound system, but it will never be able to match even a cheap home system. Cars are just a lousy acoustical environment. A door or trunk is simply not a good speaker enclosure. The interior noise level in most cars is 75 to 90 dB at 70 mph. To take advantage of the full dynamic range of good music means the louder passages have to be up to 130 dB, which is WAY too loud. A luxury car with an interior noise level of 66 dB would be a little more enjoyable.

Having your favorite music along on a long trip or even the daily commute is nice though. I just wouldn’t go overboard on expensive speakers. I just bought a set of Polk Audio’s from Crutchfields ($99/pair) that work for me. They have speakers running upwards of $500/pair, that seems to be a waste to me.

I would recommend that you go with a brand that makes home stereo equipment as well. I’ve seen to many car only companies whose equipment just seems to be a little lacking. I’m guessing that they just don’t have the R&D that the bigger companies have.

If you are going to use an iPod, consider a head unit that has an iPod adapter, not one that uses a general purpose aux in port. You will enjoy it more. You can hide the iPod under the dash and control it through the head unit.

Keep all the old stuff so you can transfer the new stuff to the next car you buy.

There’s cranking up the volume and then there’s cranking up the volume…

ZZTop - YES…Metallica - I don’t even consider that music.

The problem with these immature idiots…is they are cranking the volume up to levels near the threshold of pain…Do what you want…Just don’t do it around me or my kids…In your OWN car or your head-phones…FINE.

As I read your post, your car (and speakers) are about 11 years old. The cones do age and coupled with playing your music at a high level did them in. I have a pair of Acoustic Research AR-2ax speakers that I purchased in 1965. About 10 years ago, the bass speaker in one of the units gave out and I had to replace it and I don’t play music at a loud level.
In your 11 year old car, I think I would just replace the dead speakers and go from there.

He is right about everything else, except his math when it comes to speaker efficiency. A speaker with an efficiency of 88 dB/watt at 1 meter will need 4 watts to match the volume of a speaker rated at 94 dB/watt at 1 meter with 1 watt.

Sorry but your wrong…

DB is a LOG scale.

Taken directly from the below url…

Many high quality domestic speakers have a sensitivity of 84 dB for 1 W at 1 meter, but professional speakers can have a figure of 90 dB for 1 W or even 100 dB (especially for some large-coned woofers). I.E., An ‘84 dB’ source “speaker” would require a 400-watt amplifier (assuming it didn’t burn out) to produce the same audio energy as a ‘90 dB’ source being driven by a 100-watt amplifier, or a ‘100 dB’ source being driven by a 9.92 watt amplifier(though in practice modern sub-woofers are often driven by high power amps to overcome the restriction of a small enclosure through the use of equalization).

We have no idea what the condition of the OEM speakers are/were. So therefor it’s IMPOSSIBLE to speculate if that was a contributing factor in them blowing. I do know that when driving amps (especially cheap car audio amps) they start to clip…and clipping will DESTROY speakers…even high-end professional speakers.

I just bought a set of Polk Audio’s from Crutchfields ($99/pair) that work for me. They have speakers running upwards of $500/pair, that seems to be a waste to me.

I wouldn’t pay $500 for anything from Polk. They are NOT considered high-end. They make decent mid-fi audio speakers. And I agree. But as you said…you don’t need good speakers for a car…vehicle acoustics is LOUSY.

I find my Toyota OEM sound system just fine. And I loved my Pathfinder Bose system. But they weren’t even in the same ball park as my home system.

I’ve owned efficient speakers for years. My current home setup is home-made speakers using Altec - Pro components and a 12watt/channel amp. My speakers have a efficiency rating of 96dbs. My amp couldn’t even drive a speaker with only a 88db sensitivity rating.

I have a pair of Acoustic Research AR-2ax speakers that I purchased in 1965.

The AR-1 and AR-2 were phenomenal speakers for their time. If memory serves me…they were 10" Altec woofers with 2" GE tweeters. The AR-1 was the first GOOD Acoustical Suspension speaker. Great sounding speaker. Designed by Henry Kloss who went on to founded other speaker companies…like KLH and Cambridge Sound Works.

Well, actually, I think he has the ability to understand that it’s more important to hear what’s going on outside the car than inside. While you’re thumping your music (and rattling your license plate frame because you loud stereo guys always seem to put 9 jillion dollars worth of equipment in the car but can’t afford a 50 cent rubber damper to keep your car from sounding like crap) you’re missing the sirens and horns that are going on outside.

Was the ADD comment realy necessary?