How to Test Speakers for Damage

Have you been experiencing some distortions in your speaker sounds lately? Well, this could be a sign that the speaker is damaged or it can also mean something else. Damaged speakers usually have a poor sound quality and produce buzzing sounds when they are in use. The worst-case scenario is that they may just stop working and you eventually have to replace them. 

Beyond the buzzing and distorted sounds, you can actually test for damages in your speakers to confirm your suspicions. So how do you test the speaker for damages? You can test speakers for damage by connecting them to a battery or a multimeter. If the speaker is not damaged, it will produce a pop sound when you connect it to the battery. A good speaker will also read moderate resistance values that are not extremely low or high when you connect it to a multimeter. 

If you have been suspicious about your speakers being damaged and have had no way to confirm those suspicions, this article is a must-read for you. Knowing the state of your speakers helps you to replace them earlier in case there is any damage that would have further destroyed other components in your audio system. If you are ready to learn more about how to test your speakers for damage, continue reading this guide for the detailed steps. 

What Causes Speaker Damage?

Speakers are designed to convert electrical signals to sounds for your hearing. Since the speakers need electrical signals to operate, it means that the more electrical energy they get, the louder they will sound. 

However, the speakers also have a limit on how much electrical energy they can accommodate in their operations. Too much electrical energy beyond their threshold will damage them. 

Most speakers get damaged as a result of electrical failures. When the electrical power is too much for the speaker to handle, the voice coils or cones just blow up and you will have to replace your speaker all over again. 

To avoid damaging your speaker this way, you monitor and regulate the volumes on your amplifier. You can do this by adjusting the bass and treble gains on your amp for combinations that will not stress your speakers beyond their capacities. 

Similar Reads:

How to test a speaker without an amplifier

How Do I Know If My Speakers are Damaged?

Although identifying a damaged speaker is not so much of a big deal, confirming your suspicions can be a little bit challenging if you do not know how to test for damage in the speakers. 

Normally, your speaker will be connected to an amp via speaker wires, detection of damages by the eyes or eyes can only be speculation since it could be that the speaker wire or amplifier is also damaged as well. 

If you have been using your speakers for a while and you are accustomed to their sound quality, a drop in the quality of sounds should alert you that either the speaker or amplifier or speaker wires are damaged. A sudden shutdown of the speaker may also give you a lead. 

However, if you want to confirm your suspicions, you can test the speaker for  damages by using: 

  • A battery
  • Multimeter. 

How to Test a Speaker for Damage Using Battery

You can test your speakers for damage using a 9-volt battery and some battery connectors or conductors. 

First of all, you’ll have to isolate your speaker from the amplifier in order for you to have uninterrupted access to the speaker. 

If you connected the speaker to the amplifier by terminal receptacles, you can slide the receptacles off the amp’s terminals to disconnect the speaker from the amp. 

For soldered connections, you should remove the solder from the connection points between the speaker and amp by heating the solder up with a soldering iron.

Once the speaker is disconnected from the amp, you’ll be set to use the battery to test for damage in the speaker. 

If you want to use the battery to test your speakers for damage, follow the steps below: 

  1. Place the battery connector or conducting wires into the terminals of the battery. 
  2. Connect the other ends of the conducting wires to the terminals of the speaker. Make sure to connect the positive pole of the battery to the positive pole of the speaker. Similarly, touch the negative terminal of the speaker with the conductor that is connected to the negative terminal of the battery. If you are lucky to have your speaker terminals spaced out the same way as the battery’s ends, you can touch the terminals of the speaker with the poles of the battery without the need for a conducting wire.  
  3. After touching the terminals of the speakers with the wires, the speaker should pop out a sound or vibrate to signify that it’s working and not damaged. If no the speaker produces no sound or vibrations, then you can conclude that the speaker is damaged. 

When touching the terminals of the speaker with the battery, you should touch the terminals and remove the wires as quickly as possible. If you keep the battery connected to the speaker for a long, you will totally drain the battery and also damage your speaker. 

How Multimeters With Speaker Resistance

The multimeter is a device that you can use to measure some electrical properties such as resistance. 

Speakers are designed to allow electrical power to flow through them in order to produce sounds. However, the speaker is not a perfect electric conductor, as the electrical power that flows through always experiences some form of resistance which is measured in Ohms. 

When you use the multimeter, you can accurately measure the resistance of the speaker. 

All speakers come with resistances, which are often written on the back of the speaker. If you want to know the resistance of the speaker, just observe the writing at the back of the speaker and you’ll see the resistance there written in Ohms. 

Because speakers operate at different frequencies, the electrical power that flows through them is somewhat alternating. So, the resistance that is labeled at the speaker is actually based on an Alternating Current (DC) rather than Direct Current (DC). You can therefore refer to this resistance as impedance due to the AC.  

When you connect a multimeter to the speaker, you should expect to see a slight variation of the resistance reading from the assigned impedance on the speaker since the multimeter works on DC. 

How  to Test a Speaker For Damage Using Multimeter

Before you the multimeter to test for speaker damages, ensure that the readings are set to Ohms and the initial reading is zero Ohms. If the reading is anything other than zero, your multimeter is faulty and you should consider replacing it. 

To test your speakers for damage using a multimeter, you can follow the guide below: 

  1. Disconnect your speakers from the amp. Depending on how the speaker is connected to the amplifier, you can solder or slide the receptacles at the amp’s terminal. 
  2. Take note of the impedance written on the back of the speaker. It could be 4 Ohms, 8 Ohms or 16 Ohms. 
  3. Touch the positive and negative terminals of the speaker with the probes of the multimeter and note your reading. If your speaker has a 4 Ohm impedance, the resistance reading should be between 2 to 3.8 Ohms. Values within this range are not extremely low or high, so you can conclude that your speaker is in good shape and it’s not damaged. On the other hand, values outside this range are an indication that the speaker is damaged. 

Similarly, you can read the resistance of your speakers and record them. For an 8 Ohms impedance speaker, your resistance should be between 5 to 7 Ohms in order for it to be considered a good speaker. 

With a 16 Ohms speaker, you should read resistance values from 12 to 14 Ohms, otherwise, the speaker is damaged. 

Final Thoughts

Damaged speakers can be recognized by the poor-quality sounds they produce and the distortions in those sounds. However, these signs are subjective, rather than objective. 

So if you are relying on the quality of the sounds to inform you about when to replace your damaged speakers, it may be too late and you will only get to realize that your speakers are actually damaged after a very serious glitch causes your speaker to malfunction. 

The best way to monitor the health of your speakers is to test them for damage. In this article, I have explained two ways by which you can test for damage to your speakers. 

The battery test is the easiest and most common since batteries are easier to come by. The multimeter test, however, is the most accurate and you can use it to monitor the health of your speaker for a very long period of time. 

So, the next time you feel that your speakers are damaged, make sure to confirm your suspicions by using the battery or multimeter to test for damages in the speakers.


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