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Why subwoofers blow: slam, bang, pop, and sizzle

Too much power or distortion damages subwoofers

A blown up subwoofer

An exploded view of the parts of a speaker. This particular example is the woofer from a set of Focal component speakers. (click the image to enlarge)

In a perfect world: the music sounds great

The sine wave below represents a signal that an amplifier sends to a subwoofer as a variation in voltage over time. The vertical axis represents voltage, the horizontal axis represents time. In AC (alternating current) signals, like music, the voltage swings between positive and negative values. Point A represents the point in time when the amplifier is telling the sub's voice coil and cone to be as far forward, toward the front, as that particular voltage (+V1) tells them to be. Point B is where –V1 voltage positions them toward the rear. Traveling back and forth rapidly, the cone pushes air and makes sound — and it's musical.

Clean sine wave

Overpowering your subwoofer – Slam and Bang

First we'll cover what happens when you give your subwoofer too much power. It's great to turn it up, but that extra volume starts to distort the music. Not only does it sound bad, but it can damage your speakers and subs, especially if you do this all the time.

Slam: The incoming signal tells the cone to move too far forward

Let's say that points A and B (and +V1 and –V1) are the maximum ratings of our subwoofer. If we increase the volume of the signal, the higher voltage (+V2) now tries to move the cone even further toward the front (C). The signal is still a clean signal, but now it is trying to move the cone and voice coil much further than they were designed to go, tearing the cone, spider, and surround apart, destroying the subwoofer.

Clean loud and louder sine wave

Bang: The signal tells the coil to move too far backward

On the other side of things, when the signal (-V2) tells the voice coil to move too far toward the rear (D), the voice coil crashes into the back plate of the magnet assembly, cracking the coil and its former (the tube it coils around), and probably jamming it in the voice coil gap.

Underpowering your subwoofer — Pop and Sizzle

Underpowering a subwoofer isn’t inherently bad for the sub. Not giving it enough power just means that the music will sound weak and lack detail.

The danger is when that power is coming from an amplifier that's being overworked and sending out a clipped signal. The clipped signal tries to make the sub do things it's not designed to do, which leads to it tearing itself apart or overheating and burning out.

First, what’s a clipped signal?
Clipping a signal, or squaring its waveform, occurs when the volume of a source signal exceeds the electronic capability of a circuit. Let's say our amplifier can't play a signal more powerful than what voltage V1 can produce. If we tried to increase the volume at the source, the amplifier wouldn't produce more voltage, it would distort the signal, eventually into the form of a square wave.

Square wave distortion

Pop: A clipped signal tries to move the cone too quickly

You will notice that the sides of the clipped signal are vertical. That means that the signal will try to move the sub's cone from all the way forward (point E) to all the way to the rear (F) in zero amount of time, travelling at the speed of infinity. Nothing travels that fast, and the sub either tears itself apart trying, or the flapping cone wobbles just enough to jam the coil in the magnet's voice coil gap, killing the sub.

Sizzle: A clipped signal also tells the voice coil to hold still and heat up

The other parts of a square wave, the top and bottom, are horizontal lines that represent the times the signal is telling the cone to stay all the way forward or all the way back. Current flowing through a stationary coil only heats up the coil, which doesn't even benefit from a cooling breeze due to movement. The coil usually burns through one or more of its windings, or heats up enough to deform its shape so that it jams in the magnet's voice coil gap.

There's another, more complex reason voice coils burn when subjected to over-driven, clipped signals. A square wave carries twice the RMS power of a sine wave of the same amplitude (height). So not only is the signal telling the voice coil to pop into a position and sizzle, it's doing it with almost twice the power of the sub's maximum capacity. Usually, it's the glue holding the coil wire to the former that first melts under all the heat, and the coil crashes in its gap.

Distortion is the sub killer

Low power and low volume will not hurt a sub – but distortion will. A clipped signal is a sub's worst enemy. It isn't loudness that destroys an under-powered sub, it's trying to get bass volume by turning up a distorting signal that does it.

Subs are made to withstand a lot more than their specified RMS ratings, so giving them a little more than their highest RMS rating is safe, as long as it's clean and distortion-free.

How to not blow your subwoofer — match the RMS power ratings

Ignore all "peak" and "maximum" wattage ratings, and use only RMS ratings. They may be harder to find, but RMS ratings are the only power ratings you should use. To safely drive a subwoofer, use an amplifier that can give it no less than 75% and no more than 150% of its highest RMS power rating.

It's also crucial you set the amplifier's gain correctly. If you don't know how, you can check out Tuning Your Subs or Using Test Tones to Set Amplifier Gain for some helpful tips. And remember, if you want to run two or more subs, you've got to supply enough power for each and every one of them.

JL Audio W3v3 exploded view
  • Greg from Phoenix

    Posted on 8/27/2019

    I have two 12 inch kendwood road series subwoofers at 250 rms each in a ported enclosure connected to a 600 watt Alpine amp. The amp is giving 330 rms to each subwoofer and when my music is not playing it has a subtle vibration sound coming from the subs what can I do to fix this ? Or is it normal?

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield on 8/27/2019
    Greg, You shouldn't hear any humming from a system even when no music plays. Maybe the amp gain is set too high. If that's not the case, check out How to diagnose and suppress noise for help chasing down and eliminating the hum.
  • Sonja M Celius from Pahrump

    Posted on 6/7/2019

    I had a Kenwood car system professionally installed on 5/31 on my 2005 300c. On 6/6 my trunk began smoking and several speakers produced no sound. I took it back to the installer and they stated I'd blown a 6×9 and one of my 2 subs. Everything was replaced, but I was told Id have to pay if it happened again. Well the exact same thing happened again today, 6/7. I was told that essentially it is my fault it happened because I played it too loud. For fear of this happening again I've kept it to a minimum today and it still happened. Could this just be faulty equipment or my hemi engine too powerful?

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield on 6/10/2019
    Sonja, It sounds like the speakers and subs you're getting aren't capable of handling the volume at which you want to play your music. You need speakers and subs with higher power ratings. Without knowing precisely what amplifiers you have, I can't give you any specific advice, though.
  • Donn Ferris from Melbourne Australia

    Posted on 3/15/2019

    Hi, this is a little off topic. I have been given some vintage 3 way speakers from the 80's. I don't know the brand as they were commissioned, high end. One sounds great, the other has a slight distortion in the large bass speaker at any volume. If I slightly touch the edge of the speaker the distortion stops. Any ideas what this is snd how to fix it? Thsnks

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield on 3/18/2019
    Donn, It means that speaker has a torn surround or cone. It needs repair or replacement. Take it to a stereo repair shop for fixing.
  • James from Jacksonville

    Posted on 12/3/2018

    I am brand new to the subwoofer in home audio. Reading this great article I came across the following sentence.."To safely drive a subwoofer, use an amplifier that can give it no less than 75%..." I just bought a Sub woofer that has a RMS of 300 watts and my AV receiver is only 100 watt RMS and at the most might go as far as 1/4 the volumn. I just booked it up and at low volumn with gain set all the way down it made some sporadic loud scratchy (?) sounds. So I shut it down waited, checked all the knobs and switches. Again it did the same after being on for a few minutes. I am using it in a 2.1.1 for mostly music. I have a few questions... Is this normal? And did I buy to much sub for my receiver? It's being used in a 16 X 14 bedroom and the wife does not like classic rock. I'm not even sure how I can test this sub if I can't drive it to the minimum 75% RMS. Any and all suggestions are welcome. I would not want to damage a new sub by not knowing the proper so and use. Thank you

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield on 12/4/2018
    James, The 75-150% rule of thumb about amp power applies more to world of matching car audio components than it does to home theater systems. It's okay to drive your sub with much less power than its rating - after all, you can always turn the volume down without hurting anything. Scratchy noises are something else, though. Without knowing precisely what gear you're referring to, we can't help you with advice. If you want a question answered about a system, you must identify the gear by brand names and model numbers so we can get the right information to you.
  • Darren Davies from Cardiff

    Posted on 11/26/2018

    Hello I'm having an issue.... AVR Denon 7200wa Sub : Velodyne digital drive 10 popping sound from the driver when a punchy bass note is happening. Mostly when the AVR volume is in the low region -55db The sub volume is at 34 AVR sub level is 0 Seems like I'm over amping a weak signal sub gain is 10 O'clock, If I set it closer to 12O'clock the sub seems to click into standby even though it still works (auto on is disabled) I raise the AVR sub level to +4 and the popping goes away when using most sources, but then switch to a TV show that has a lower level than a movie and the popping can come back. What I'm hoping for here is recommended settings, as I'm never quite sure if I'm under powering the sub but still overworking the AVR or vice versa I'm so tired of trial and error and still not feeling good about what I'm doing thanks in advance even if you can't help :) Darren

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield on 11/27/2018
    Darren, If you bought any of your gear from Crutchfield, you could call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system. Their toll-free number is on your invoice. If you purchased your equipment elsewhere, you can still get expert Crutchfield Tech Support - 90 days-worth for only $30. Click on this link for details.
  • Chris arnold from Vermontville

    Posted on 11/4/2018

    The subs are crackling. And i know that they are not broken its almost as if its getting full single frequencies low and high making it "clip" iv also bi amped and bi wired i have a marantz an pioneer more or less just explored the possibilities. Well i had it working perfect then took it appart and never went back to gether the same way. The subs i checked they work. The amp a dayton spa 1000 . Fuse didnt blow and all wires are ... seemingly funtional.. got any ideas ?

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield on 11/7/2018
    Chris, If you bought any of your gear from Crutchfield, you could call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system. Their toll-free number is on your invoice. If you purchased your equipment elsewhere, you can still get expert Crutchfield Tech Support - 90 days-worth for only $30. Click on this link for details.
  • Graham from Loveland

    Posted on 10/19/2018

    Hello, 12" pioneer sub being powered by Xpr520 2channel amp. Amp keeps going into preotect mode. System will play, but when driving, amp will switch between protect and normal, cutting the sub in and out. Worked fine 2 weeks ago, just literally started one night. Checked all the connections and fuses, have an in-line and it's fine. RCA are fine as far as I know, ground is clean, remote wire secure. Was going to try changing my speaker wires. Was thinking either my sub was blown of my amp is just toast. Checked my cone and rest of sub, seems fine, less than 2 years old. Amp is newer than that. Any tips would be much appreciated.

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield on 10/22/2018
    Graham, It sounds like you have a DVC 4-ohm sub wired as a 2-ohm load connected to a bridged 2-channel amp that can't handle a 2-ohm load. If that is the case, the best you can do with your gear is to wire them together like this.
  • Allen from Anderson

    Posted on 10/3/2018

    I have 2 skar ma 8s in a ported box and they're powered by a skar sk 1500 the speakers r rated 400rms the amp is rated 1800 rms at 1 ohm I have the wired 1 ohm parallel but the amp is clipping like the speakers need more should I get a higher wattage amp

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield on 10/4/2018
    Allen, That amp is already powerful enough to blow those subs to pieces. Sounds like the amp gain hasn't been set correctly. Check out this article for help with that.
  • Richard

    Posted on 6/15/2018

    Can i run a 500 watt rms 2 ohm mono amp to push a 600 watt rms 2 ohm dvc sub

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield on 6/18/2018
    Richard, The only safe way to hook that gear together is like this diagram
  • Manuel Santana from Springfield

    Posted on 6/7/2018

    Hello again, I have a pair of 10 inch dvc planet audio anarchys that are 750 watt rms each so 1500 rms total and 1500 max for each sub but you would want run at rms power an not much more if im right. The subs sound good but my first pair i fried the coils and im not sure quite how yet. They where hooked up to a planet audio anarchy 4000 amp wired parallel. The new anarchy subs i got are under warranty claim so i do not want to have any problem so i wired them in parallel/series for a 4 ohm independence but this seems to not be nearly enough power for what i want or had at 1 ohm. I can tune to make sure i dont over power but im not quite sure what number i should have the sub sonic filter tuned at and i dont quite under stand whay clipping is ether. Sorry for all the questions and tje lomg message but i was also wondering which works better in a rectangle slot stye ported box for stuffing. Polyfill or egg crate style foam pad and if it will decrease or increase sound.

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield on 6/9/2018
    Manuel, Clipping occurs when you turn the volume up so loud the amplified signals distort, possibly damaging the subwoofers. For bass notes, clipping sounds like a grinding or crunching instead of clean, mellow bass tones. For voices, clipping sound like the singer's voice has become hoarse or scratchy. Polyfill is only used in an enclosure that is too small for the sub in order to make it behave like a larger enclosure.
  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/4/2018

    Bryan, It sounds like your subwoofer is being overdriven and the amp is trying to protect itself by shutting down momentarily. The sub is definitely in danger. If you want louder bass, get a second sub.

  • Bryan from Evansville

    Posted on 5/3/2018

    Hello, I recently bought a pair of Klispch R-15PM bookshelf speakers and Klipsch 12" Reference subwoofer. I've noticed on some songs with strong bass the subwoofer will make a crackle sound and cut out for a couple seconds (not sure if that's what "clipping" is). I think it only happens when I turn the volume up louder. The gain is set halfway and low-pass filter is around 80 hertz. Wondering what it might be or what I could do to troubleshoot? And if this is putting me at risk of having the sub blow? Any help is much appreciated. Thank you.

  • Brandon

    Posted on 4/4/2018

    Hello I added a sub to my car (1k watt Pioneer 12") which i had no problems with except it didn't give me the bass I was looking for so i upgraded to a 2k watt 12" Goliath sub after adding this it popped both fuses on my amp after which i disconnected sub and connected straight to head unit and am now getting popping through all my speakers if I turn up the volume. Any info to fix this problem would help thanks. The amp was a 1k watt.

  • Bob from Santa Ana

    Posted on 2/14/2018

    "When an amplifier sends a clipped signal to a sub, it also sends it twice its top RMS power" No, that is not true unless the clipping is so, so, severe that the waveform has become a square wave. The signal would have to exceed the clipping point by some tens of dB to reasonably approximate a square wave. Your description of what a clipped signal does to a loudspeaker is highly inaccurate on a number of points.

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 1/29/2018

    Mark, My opinion on this subject ranges from maybe to probably. I heard the sonic differences between two car amplifiers demonstrated at a Crutchfield training session, but the amps were very different in price as well as internal technology. You probably won't hear any differences between two amps with similar specs and features made by reputable manufacturers.

  • Mark from Rio Rancho

    Posted on 1/29/2018

    Is it possible to hear a diffetence between two different brands of subwoofer amplifiers with the same amount of rms power and roughly the same price point?

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 12/26/2017

    Jorge, Those subwoofers are actually rated for 500 watts RMS each. That amplifier can only send them one-half of their rated power, but it should be alright as long as you don't send them a distorted signal trying to get more bass.

  • Jorge

    Posted on 12/24/2017

    So I have 2 10' JL Audio 10w3v3-4 subs each rated at 300 watts rms so =600 watts both together. My amp is a Kenwood 500 rms power. Will it cause distortion, or any problems to the speakers that can mess them up? Will it play them without me having to worry about the amp damaging the speakers?

  • Reticuli

    Posted on 11/21/2017

    "Pop: A clipped signal tries to move the cone too quickly You will notice that the sides of the clipped signal are vertical. That means that the signal will try to move the sub's cone from all the way forward (point E) to all the way to the rear (F) in zero amount of time, travelling at the speed of infinity. Nothing travels that fast, and the sub either tears itself apart trying, or the flapping cone wobbles just enough to jam the coil in the magnet's voice coil gap, killing the sub." Fairly certain that's pseudoscience. You were on the right path just sticking to the RMS issues of square waves regarding woofers. Over-excursion and excessive RMS leading to thermal damage are the two risks two woofers.

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 9/30/2017

    Don, Factory amplifiers and their speakers and subs are closely matched for power and impedances with each other. Aftermarket subs and speakers rarely work well with factory amplifiers, which are voiced and EQed for low-impedance and low-power factory speakers. I recommend getting an aftermarket amp for your subs.

  • Don from PALATKA

    Posted on 9/29/2017

    I recently installed 2 10" kicker sub's in my 2016 Ford Taurus. The car had a amp already with the factory system. The sub's play sometimes but then they will stop and make a weird noise then play again? Could the factory amp be too small to power the sub's? Thanks

  • Jesse Smith from Arkport

    Posted on 8/15/2017

    I have 2 Sony explodes, 12"s, peak wattage of 2000watts for each one. First where can I find the rms, second how big of an amp should I purchase

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/11/2017

    Anthony, It sounds like a malfunctioning amplifier took out the subwoofer connected to it. Replacing the amp seems to have fixed the issue.

  • Anthony from Joliet

    Posted on 7/10/2017

    I have a kicker L3 and had it hooked up to a alpine Mrp-m500 amp the day I hooked it up I was driving for about a hour and a half and I heard the bass cut on it the same time it did in the song so I rewound the song and I was right no sound so I turned off the subs from my hu and wait until I got home turned it back on and the sub wasn't working right it made weird bass noises so I disconnected and bought 2 kicker cvrs 2003 models drove for 2 days and same thing so I turned em off for a day turned em on again to see if it would do what the L3 did and no they worked fine again so I switched out my amp and no problem since my question is what's wrong with the amp and is my L3 blown I don't want to hook it up to this amp because it puts out 1000-1500 rms not exactly sure

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 6/29/2017

    Tyler, I think you should return to your installer and voice your concerns. Maybe there's an EQ setting or subwoofer level in the receiver's menu that needs adjusting.

  • Tyler Evans from Phoenix, Arizona

    Posted on 6/28/2017

    So I recently got a new Bluetooth head unit installed in my car. Before the install some songs had a lot of bass but after the install these same songs had little to no bass making me think my subwoofers are skipping frequencies. It's frusterating because I want these songs to sound good in my car but it's faint/weak bass versus powerful bass.

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 6/19/2017

    Douglas, There's one cause of subwoofer malfunction that I failed to discuss in the article: old age. Your powered subwoofer is making bad noises because either the voice coil has an intermittent short or the amplifier does. Sounds like it's time for a new home theater powered subwoofer.

  • Douglas Samuels from Edmond, OK

    Posted on 6/16/2017

    We have a13 year old subwoofer hooked up with our surround sound to our TV. It has worked great till about a month ago. No settings or volume have changed. We do not "jam" to loud music. In the past few weeks the subwoofer has started to make an occasional loud popping noise. Is it just old and wearing out or something else? Thanks

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/30/2017

    Rei and Martin, It sounds like your amplifiers' gains aren't set properly. Check out this article for help with that.

  • Martin from Houston

    Posted on 5/27/2017

    I have kicker 15 when played low works great and loud makes a popping nosie and bonging nosie

  • Rei from St.croix

    Posted on 5/6/2017

    I have two 15in db drive subs and they move kind of funny, like they have too much power. I think its the tune but i dont know how to tune the equalizer

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/5/2017

    Michael, Subs can play notes below their stated frequency response, just not as loud as the rest. The fact that your sub box is tuned low will help the subs play down there. It shouldn't cause any damage. Over-powering does that.

  • Michael Whalen from warwick

    Posted on 5/4/2017

    Buck I have 2 12" mtx thunder 7500 there lowest the hertz can drop is 45 but my box is tuned at 36 hertz will this damage my subwoofers?

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 4/25/2017

    Connor, There's no way of knowing. Every subwoofer is different and can take different amounts of abuse before burning out.

  • Connor McGowan from Columbia, MO

    Posted on 4/24/2017

    Ok good deal, thanks for the swift response. One last question. If after playing those bass boosted songs clipping did occur, how do you think it would roughly take before my subs are blown?

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 4/24/2017

    Connor, You can absolutely clip the signal going to a sub by boosting the bass. When clipping, the nice round, full bass tones turn thin, crackly, and buzzy. If you like the tone using a bass boost, go ahead and max it out and reset the amp gain so no clipping can occur.

  • Connor McGowan from Columbia, MO

    Posted on 4/24/2017

    Hey buck, first I would like to say that your information is specific and helpful to everyone's problems on this thread. I was wondering about clipping and it's effects to my subwoofers. Now, I recently played music around 85 percent of max volume on my subwoofers with music that was bass boosted, however, I was using Spotify's equalizer function which can increase the bass on songs (I had the bass boosted option turned up all the way) - not sure if that makes it any better. I played these bass boosted songs for around 20 minutes or so, would this cause clipping in my subwoofers?? If so what would be a distinctive sound it would create? If not, would this form of bass boost be an acceptable one? In other words would it be okay for me to play these songs bass boosted using Spotify's equalizer function without any concern of clipping? Thanks.

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 3/6/2017

    John, It certainly sounds like the replacement subwoofer amp and/or control module are faulty. I think you should go back to your dealership and find out if the replacement parts are still under warranty. If they are, have them perform the warranty repair. If not, that'll give you a great excuse to call Crutchfield and have an Advisor set you up with a good aftermarket stereo system.

  • John Reed from Jacksonville, FL

    Posted on 3/5/2017

    I have a Ford 2010 Sport Trac with factory subwoofer. Yesterday after about 10 min of driving, it popped, then over a short period began rapidly machine-gun popping. This continued to get louder until it drowned out the radio. Turned bass all the way down, no help. Changed speaker bias to 100% front, no rear, no help. Turned radio off and on. Noise gone but back in less than a minute. Turned radio off again for 5 min, then back on and it was fine rest of the way home ~10 more minutes. Today testing it, the popping is back. I have disconnected the subwoofer. Any guidance on whether it's the subwoofer itself or something external to it? I ask this because last year I went through an 8 month exercise with Ford while they replaced: 1) my radio 2) my alternator 3) some electronic control module all without success. Finally they said "We ended up having to replace the audio control module and the amplifier for the subwoofer" and it's been fine for 4 months until now.

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 2/7/2017

    Susan, It sounds like the amplifier driving your subwoofer has issues. If it's still under warranty, call your dealership and see if they can arrange for a repair.

  • Susan from Edmonton

    Posted on 2/5/2017

    My home theatre woofer randomly makes very loud bangs. The music is not being paid loud or is the TV. Does anyone have any idea as to what's going on? We just bought it a year ago with the TV and sound bar. Give them a call?

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/31/2016

    Corey, It sounds like your receiver is probably sending out distorted, clipped signals that the amp is dutifully sending along to the sub, which fries for the reasons delineated in this article. The amplifier's gain and the receiver's output volume should be set so no distortion can ever play. Check out this article for a good way to set gain.

  • Corey from Grand rapids

    Posted on 10/29/2016

    Hi! Great article! I have the kicker cxa600.1 amp, rated at 600rms. I have it powering the 12" kicker 43VCWR122, rated at 500rms in a ported box from kicker. I'm going on my third sub now (same one) in 5 days time, because it keeps burning up. The first time the gain was just below half, and the second the gain was up about a quarter. I know the amp is a little bit more powerful, but it still falls in your 150% range. The article was helpful, but I just don't understand why this keeps happening.

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 9/27/2016

    Kevin, It sounds to me that you may have a loose connection, a mis-wired amplifier turn-on lead, or a defective amplifier. The fact that you bought some of your gear from Crutchfield may entitle you to free lifetime tech support. Their toll-free number is on your invoice. Call them, or click on this link for more details.

  • Kevin Jefferies from Virginia Beach

    Posted on 9/26/2016

    My subs make a weird pop, static noise . I have re grounded and made sure it was bare metal, new rca not ran by the power wire, new rca adapters in radio and all connections are tight I re did them all. New speaker wire inside ported box to the actual sub. No matter what gain I turn it to it makes the noise. When I shut the car off it makes the noise too then eventually stops . Could it be a bad amp ? I bought my radio from you guys too but I'm pretty sure the radio is still good .

  • Jim from Chattanooga

    Posted on 9/7/2016

    I've been into stereo systems for many years, and one thing I've learned, you can never have enough power from your amp. My opinion, to save your speakers, buy an amp with more than enough power to avoid clipping. Jim in Tennessee

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/23/2016

    Josh, If there's no distortion you might be okay, but it is never safe to run a subwoofer with the amplifier gain set incorrectly. This article will show you a few ways to set gain correctly.

  • Josh from UK

    Posted on 8/22/2016

    Is it safe to run a sealed sub at max gain but with low-medium volume from the hi-fi system providing it is not distorting?

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/1/2016

    Brian, Popping noises usually indicates that the subwoofer is being overdriven to such an extent that the voice coil former is crashing into the back plate. The sub will get damaged if this condition continues. Turning down the volume will help. If that's not enough bass for you, get a higher-rated sub.

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/1/2016

    Bran, I'm unfamiliar with your gear, but I can say that using a 2-channel amp to drive a subwoofer system is usually inappropriate. Most 2-channel amps can't drive loads lower than 4 ohms when bridged, and don't have very much output power anyway.

  • Brian Lamont Young from COLUMBIA

    Posted on 7/31/2016

    I brought 2 new skar audio ddx 10 and there making a poping noise at hight volume can anyone answer this ?

  • bran from sa

    Posted on 7/30/2016

    I have an taga dvc sub 2500rms and dixon 2 chanel non bridge amp 6000watt rated 800wat chanel i tried my sub in few other amps quitly is poor my vriend 500watr dixon 10inch playes harder what is the reason ismy sub damged?

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/27/2016

    Michael, Not knowing what an "RF punch display unit" is or how you can see that the signal is clipped without hearing any distortion makes it difficult to troubleshoot your system. Clipping can originate from many places in a system, including mis-set volume and tone controls in the receiver or amplifier. Check out this article for help setting the amp gain correctly.

  • Michael Davis from Mobile

    Posted on 7/26/2016

    Hey Buck. I have an old school Rockford Fosgate Punch Power 250.1 mono amp pushing one RF DVC HX2 12 inch sub wired up for 2 ohms. At 2 ohms the amp pushes 500w x1 RMS and the sub handles 500W RMS. I also have the RF punch display hooked up to the amp. I am noticing that I am getting a clipped signal when the bass hits hard sometimes. It does not sound distorted (at least as far as I can tell) and is only turned about 65% up volume when this happens. I am wondering if I am getting the clipping because I don't have the gain turned up enough or maybe too much on the amp. It is slightly over half way. Also I wonder if I have the bass or volume turned up too much maybe? Bass is set to plus 3. Subwoofer level is default so no plus or minus from the head unit. I have the amp hooked to a 1 farad capacitor. As far as I understand I've got everything hooked up right. Any thoughts as to why I'm getting the clipped signal. Discloser: the head unit is a cheap Dual unit as I haven't gotten the one I want yet. Not sure if that might be the cause. Thanks!

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/19/2016

    Hayat, I can't comment on the operation of gear I'm unfamiliar with which Crutchfield doesn't carry. I can recommend you check out this web article about setting amp gain properly.

  • Hayat

    Posted on 7/19/2016

    I have hertz HX380 D 15 inch dual coil sub (700RMS) powered by Hertz HDP1 amp (1000RMS @ 2 ohms), 4 gauge wire from battery and for ground, now the problem is that my sub cone and my amp is getting hot, is it normal ? or not, and what gain settings should I use ? Thanks in advance

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/7/2016

    Saravana, If your Polk sub is the single voice coil (SVC) MM1040, then you could wire it to two bridged channels of that amp like this diagram. If it's the MM1040D dual voice coil (DVC) model, then the only safe way to wire it to those bridged amp channels is like this.

  • Saravana from Kuwait

    Posted on 7/7/2016

    I brought Polk mm1040 dvc 10" subwoofer it has 350 Rms and want to pair with boss AR2400 . Like 2 channels I want to use it for four speaker . And other two channel for subwoofer bridgeable connection . Is that ok for the subwoofers

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 6/28/2016

    Shenice, When a subwoofer blows, it makes grinding noises or no sound at all. Your amplifier may be damaged, though. If you bought your gear from Crutchfield, you could call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system. Their toll-free number would on your invoice. If you purchased your equipment elsewhere, you can still get expert Crutchfield Tech Support - 90 days-worth for only $30. Click on this link for details.

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 6/28/2016

    Brett, Like this article explains, there are a few ways subs can get destroyed. Trying to play distorted clipped signals, whether produced by a overly-loud source or a mis-set amplifier gain, is usually the culprit.

  • Shenice from Sackville

    Posted on 6/28/2016

    Hey! So, the other day I was driving and everything was working. Then all of a sudden one day I turned on my car and my subwoofer made this loud boom bang sound for about two seconds, then I tried to play music and I have no bass. Now every time I start my car my sub makes that loud boom bang sound.. I checked all the cords and they are all attached, my amp is still lighting up so I'm really not sure what it is, is my sub blown?

  • Brett

    Posted on 6/27/2016

    I got a 2 ohm sub with 500rms (power acoustik Stw-12) and a 2 ohm 500 w rms amp(mb quart xa1-500.1), 2 of the same rated subs that keep blowing, not understanding why?

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 6/1/2016

    Timmy, From here, I can only suggest re-checking every connection. You didn't mention whether or not your amp is powering up - maybe that's the problem. If you bought your gear at Crutchfield, you could call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system. Their toll-free number would be on your invoice. If you purchased your equipment elsewhere, you can still get expert Crutchfield Tech Support - 90 days-worth for only $30. Click on this link for details.

  • Timmy from Fairbanks

    Posted on 5/30/2016

    I have two JL 8w7ae's in a sealed custom enclosure powered by a audiocontrol epicenter 1200. I just bought it all new and installed. One night I went to bed and it worked fine, when I wokeup the subs made no noise whatsoever. I checked all connections, fuses, and everything, everything seems fine. Just no output from the sub (none at all). The cone moves up and down when I press on it. Is it possible I blew my sub the first day and then after it cooling overnight it just completely died?

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 4/27/2016

    Clairice, There's always a chance someone can damage audio gear by fiddling with controls, especially when they're not sure what those controls do. "Dropping the hertz" could mean a few different things, from lowering a low-pass setting to adding bass boost. A common reason for subwoofer failure is a mis-set gain control, allowing over-driven, distorted signals to burn-out the sub. Knowing exactly what receiver and powered sub your fiancé has (yes, make and model number do matter to the discussion), might make it possible to access the owner's manuals and find out what each control does and how to use it safely to get the best bass possible.

  • Clairice Dale from Knightdale, NC

    Posted on 4/27/2016

    Buck, first I'd like to say great content. I have a question for you. My fiance installed a brand new rockford power sub (I forget which model but it doesn't matter to my question) about a month ago and came home looking like a sad panda today because it blew. He was screwing around with his head unit and he says he dropped the hertz to the lowest rockford says that sub can handle. Is there such a thing as blowing a speaker because you're trying to get it to play too low of a frequency or was it more likely too much power? Thanks!

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 4/26/2016

    Erik, When an amplifier sends a clipped signal to a sub, it also sends it twice its top RMS power - so your subs may be trying to play with 6000 total watts, 3000 each. The popping sounds you hear are the voice coils bottoming out against the back plates and the cones trying to reproduce a square wave. To me, it sounds like you're over-driving your receiver or amplifier or both. Set the receiver's output and amplifier's gain so no distorted signals will ever play. If that result isn't loud enough for you, you'll have to add another amp or sub to your system.

  • erik from greenville

    Posted on 4/26/2016

    i hav 2 american bass xfl dual 2 ohm 15 subs on a soundstream t1.6000 3000.1 at .5 oh i have 250 amp high alternator and a deep cycle 100 amp hours in the back sounds good at moderate volume when i turn it up the speakers pop ive tried everything can you please help me the subs 1000 rms and can take 1500 rms a piece all day

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 4/19/2016

    Ameer, I'm not familiar with that amplifier, but it sounds like you're just plain overpowering your subwoofer. The knocking is the voice coil hitting against the back plate - you're lucky the sub hasn't died altogether, unless it has by now. To get more bass, you'll need to add another subwoofer.

  • Ameer from Trinidad and Tobago

    Posted on 4/15/2016

    I have one 10jl audio w6 v3 subwoofer with a sound magus 800.1vs amplifier. When playing at medium volume it works fine but when I raise more volume the subwoofer starts to knock, stick and shuts off (not all at once). I taught it was the subwoofer but when I tried another one it did the same. Is it current?

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 4/7/2016

    Eric, Loudness is a subjective perception and can't exactly be measured - it's different for each individual person, although most agree that a 10 dB increase in SPL sounds like a doubling of the loudness. An amplifier that produces 4.5 dB more power than your 1,000 watts RMS amplifier would be a 2,800 watts RMS amplifier. If 1,000 watts isn't loud enough for you, maybe 2.8 times as much power will do - only you can tell. And $600 for a 2800 watts RMS amplifier sounds like a bargain to me.

  • Eric

    Posted on 4/7/2016

    Follow up question....i was told by by adding a rather expensive new piece of equipment I would get a DB increase of much louder is this really? I am obviously into quality and Being as loud as possible, to a serious bass head is 4.5DB worth 600 more dollars in your opinion

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 3/23/2016

    Eric, As counter-intuitive as this may sound, increasing the power to your subs from 1,000 watts to 1,200 watts, 200 watts total, will increase their output power by about 0.79 dB, which is considered inaudible. It takes about a 1 dB increase for our hearing to notice a difference. A 1,500 watt amplifier, for example, would increase the sound level by 1.76 dB, which you would definitely notice.

  • Eric Pokorny from Juneau Alaska

    Posted on 3/23/2016

    I have two JL audio 12" w7's in my car wired parallel (1.5ohm) I'm using a JL audio SlashV2 (1000/1) so I only have 500 watts going to each sub....I should also state the car has a fully upgraded charging system (HO alternator, XS power d6500 battery, 0 gauge Big 3, true 10 farad capacitor, and 0 gauge wiring all the way back to the amp...I also have a JL audio HD 600/4 running 2 sets of C5 components.....ok now for my I'm sure your familiar with all the above mentioned equipment...I want to drop the slashV2 (love the amp it's physical size is just to demanding of space) and replace it with the JL audio HD 1200/1. Aside from the obvious major physical size difference in the amps, do you think that extra 100 watts to each sub will make them noticeably louder? Also have them in a shared chamber custom ported enclosure tuned to 33.5hz.

  • Martin from Joliet

    Posted on 2/15/2016

    Wow Buck your on the ball!

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 1/6/2016

    David, I had never heard of a rotary subwoofer until now. After reading a bit about them, I can say that I really don't know for sure how they fail, when they do. I can only assume that as in any moving coil and magnet arrangement, too much power and attempts to reproduce large square waves can cause damage.

  • David Drake from Palomar Mt.

    Posted on 1/6/2016

    Would this happen with a rotary woofer?

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 11/23/2015

    Thomas, Usually, a blown sub makes no sound, so yours is probably not blown, although something else may be wrong. If your sub has dual voice coils, you can test to see if they both are okay by "bumping" each coil's connections with a 9-volt battery. If they both make a click sound, then both coils are good. You may just be noticing the changes in the sub's performance due to break-in, the softening of a sub's suspension and tone over time with use. Try re-setting the amplifier gain to see if you can regain any of the power that you sense was lost.

  • thomas

    Posted on 11/22/2015

    i noticed my subwoofer isn't as strong as it was before. had it for about 9 months. could my sub be a little bit blown or have some kind of internal damage? the cone looks fine and i've never had a burnt smell coming from the trunk.

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/27/2015

    Cohen, An active subwoofer, one with a built-in amplifier, will have its amp and woofer matched for power, but I'm fairly confident it can still be blown from excessive input volume.

  • Cohen Moonsamy from durban

    Posted on 8/27/2015

    I have a pioneer 150w 8 inch active sub in my car. If I turn i turn up the volume will I blow my woofer? It has a box and amp spec for the driver. For its size it really packs a huge punch with tight bass.

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/20/2015

    Johnny, If you bought your home theater system from Crutchfield, you could call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting it. Their toll-free number is on your invoice. If you purchased your equipment elsewhere, you can still get expert Crutchfield Tech Support - 90 days-worth for only $30. Click on this link for details.

  • johnny hall from Mansfield

    Posted on 7/19/2015

    Why does my sb16 harman kardon subwoofer goes in and out the light will be blue play a while then stop can you reset it

  • grasshopp from charleston wv

    Posted on 7/14/2015


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