Why Do My Speakers Cut Out At High Volume

why do my speakers cut out at high volume

When you’re listening to music loudly, you don’t want your car stereo speakers to go dead.

There are several reasons why your speakers may become unresponsive as you increase the volume. Fortunately, there are several options for resolving your speaker’s issue.

The most common cause of speakers cutting out at high volumes is either an amplifier issue or a crossover setup issue. Additionally, speakers that are not meant to withstand high volumes sometimes shut down when they are overpowered.

This article will teach you how to troubleshoot your system and prevent your speakers from going out during loud listening. Additionally, I will briefly clarify terminology such as:

  • Amperes
  • Capacitors
  • Clipping
  • Gain
  • Grounding
  • Ohms
  • Watts
  • Voltage

How to Fix Speakers Cutting out at Maximum Volume?

When you notice that your speakers are making unusual noises or are cutting out segments of your favorite music, there are many steps you should take to isolate the cause of the problem:

Inspect Your Amplifier

Today’s automobile amplifiers have a safeguard circuit that disables the amplifier is driven beyond its design parameters. If your system suddenly shuts down at high levels, something is triggering your amplifier’s protection circuit.

Examine Your Gain Knob

Your amplifier amplifies the audio signal provided by the radio or receiver. A normal audio signal is between 0.5 and 2 volts on average. An amplifier converts 0.5 volts to at least 20 volts and then feeds it to the speakers to generate music.

Your radio or receiver’s volume settings modify the outgoing signal. Reduce it, and the audio signal intensity falls; increase it, and the signal becomes stronger. An amplifier will magnify signals by the same amount, whether they are weaker or greater.

When the gain is set to a high value, the amplifier will maximize the amplification of your signal. If you listen to music in a low-level setting, an excessive gain may not be noticeable. Still, if you turn up the volume on your receiver, your amplifier may experience troubles.

Consider the signal from the receiver as a sine wave with peaks and troughs. When you exceed the power restrictions of your amplifier, the rounded heights become flattened or clipped. Clipped signals have a distorted and harsh tone, and they can also cause catastrophic harm to your audio equipment.

When an amplifier is clipping, it produces more power than it can manage, resulting in damage to the output transistors. Clipping also causes the voice coil of a speaker to grow heated. If the clipped signal is very powerful, it might burn the voice coil or even fire the speaker cone. The amplifier’s safety circuit suppresses the signal before it may cause damage to your equipment.

If your speakers are cutting off, you should check the gain on your amp. Adjust it to the point where your music becomes audible at around 3/4 of maximum volume, which will provide your amp with the headroom necessary to withstand musical peaks without being overtaxed.

Check the Temperature

On a hot summer day, automobiles get quite hot, and while air conditioning may make life easier for passengers, it does nothing to cool the trunk. The amplifiers are typically mounted in the trunk by most car audio installers and virtually all subwoofer installers.

If your amplifier is stored in your trunk, it may become overheated even before you crank up the volume on your favorite music due to the lack of air. Additionally, if you are playing loud music, your amplifier’s protective circuits may trip and the amp may shut down.

Other installers conceal the amplifier beneath the vehicle’s seat. While this keeps your amplifier in an air-conditioned environment, it does have some drawbacks. If your amplifier is too tightly fitted, it may not receive adequate air for cooling.

If your speakers fail to operate properly on a hot day, check to ensure that your amplifier receives appropriate air. Amp performs well when fastened to the rear seats or to the subwoofer enclosure box.

Ascertain that no impediments are obstructing airflow. If your amplifier is obscured by carpets or rubbish, a trunk cleanout will allow it to receive the essential ventilation. Additionally, you may discover that a cooling fan may help prevent your amplifier from overheating.

Check Your Grounding Wires

Your amplifier, like other electrical equipment, functions via a circuit. Electricity passes from the battery to the amplifier, and when the loudness is increased, the amplifier’s power requirements grow. However, it will receive that current only if the circuit is correctly grounded.

A properly connected ground wire is necessary for optimal automobile audio performance. According to Buck Pomerantz of Crutchfield Audio, “Improper or loose grounding is the number one source of amplifier difficulties,” and I have to concur completely.

Loose or undersized ground wires can obstruct the passage of electricity in the same way that a kinked hose obstructs water pressure.

After passing through your speakers, the electrical current needs to go somewhere. Your wall socket’s ground connection is plugged into a real cable that is located on the ground outside your home. The ground absorbs the current, allowing for a greater flow of electricity via your amplifier.

The ground wires of your amplifier may generate sufficient current to power your speakers at low volumes. However, as the volume is increased, the ground may be unable to keep up with the amplifier’s demands, and it will be unable to deliver enough power to the chassis for dissipation. It results in a voltage decrease.

Your automobile’s electrical system is limited in its ability to supply more power than the grounding wires can take, but the amplifier continues to draw power.

If the imbalance between supply and demand continues, it can cause damage to your amplifier, battery, and alternator. The amplifier’s safeguard circuit automatically shuts down the system, averting this tragic and costly outcome.

The following are some methods for resolving grounding issues that cause your speakers to cut out:

Ascertain that the gauge of your ground wire matches that of the wire connecting your amplifier to the battery. Scrape away any rust or dirt that may obstruct the passage of electricity.

Utilize a lock washer, star washer, or other conductive washer to guarantee a secure, clean, and electrically conductive connection.

Verify that your ground connection is secure and that your ground wire is firmly connected to clean, bare, and rust-free metal.,

To ensure that your amplifier is properly grounded, you may use a digital multimeter to verify the connection. A multimeter and a length of wire long enough to travel from your ground position to the negative terminal on your car’s battery are required for this. Then proceed as follows:

  • Adjust the ohms setting on your multimeter.
  • Connect one multimeter lead to the position of the ground.
  • Connect the other end to the battery’s wire.

If the resistance value is less than 0.5 ohms, you have a good ground connection sealed with silicone caulk to prevent further corrosion.

Inadequate Power

Cut-outs might also occur when your system requires more power than your vehicle’s electrical system can deliver. If you observe diminished bass performance and flashing lights when the volume is increased, your subwoofer may be taking up more current than your alternator can supply.

How to inspect your alternator:

  • Switch your multimeter to the voltage test mode.
  • Connect the meter to the battery of your automobile with the engine turned off.
  • If the voltage reading is less than 12.5 volts, charge the battery until it reaches 12.5 to 12.8 volts.
  • With the engine running and all lights and accessories turned off, check the battery voltage.
  • This Crenova 890Z Digital Multimeter can assist you in troubleshooting these and other electrical issues that may emerge with your vehicle’s audio system.
  • If your alternator is in good condition but can still supply adequate power to your system, you have many alternatives.

Increase the Power of Your Alternator

Your vehicle’s standard alternator is capable of meeting your vehicle’s electrical requirements. A high-wattage amplifier may require more current than the typical alternator’s 65-100 amps.

Amps are calculated by dividing watts by volts. A Polk Audio car amplifier capable of powering your fronts, rears, and subwoofer may draw 75 amp at full power even if your factory alternator can supply that voltage, which leaves little headroom for the rest of your car’s electrical demands.

Between 140 and 225 amps is the output range of a high-output alternator, which allows you to listen to music at any level while still leaving enough amperage for lights, windshield wipers, and power steering.

Install an Additional Battery

If you listen to music at a high volume for a lengthy amount of time, a dedicated 12-volt battery may benefit your car audio system. A second battery provides additional reserve power for extended listening sessions while the car is not in use.

A second battery is unnecessary for the majority of listeners. If you choose this path, you need first update your alternator, which is responsible for charging the battery while the car is running. A second battery provides further drain on the system’s amperage.

Incorporate a Power Capacitor

Capacitors are devices that store electrical charge and then release it when additional power is required.

A power cap will cost less than a new alternator or second battery, is much easier to install, and will relieve some of the strain on your car’s electrical system when the bass gets loud.

Capacitors perform best when coping with transient peaks and allow you to crank up the volume without fearing that a huge bass note would blow out your amplifier.

This PCX-30F Farad Capacitor from Power Acoustik can assist you in avoiding overtaxing your alternator during crescendos.

Examine all Your Speakers

If your amplifier is operating properly, the issue is most likely with your speakers. Numerous factors might contribute to your speakers cutting out when you play them at a high level.

Low-ohm resistance

The unit of resistance is the ohm.

Consider your speakers to be a network of pipes. Wider pipes can accommodate a larger flow rate than those that are narrower. Consider your amplifier as a pump that forces water through the pipes until they are full.

Bear in mind, however, that the amplifier will have to work more to fill the broader line than it will to fill the smaller pipes.

The following table summarises the various units of electricity that we utilize to power our speakers:

The current flowing through our rear speakers is measured in amperes or amp. (Not to be confused with our stereo system’s amplifiers.)

  • In ohms, we measure the resistance of our speakers to that current.
  • In volts, we measure the pressure of that current.
  • We quantify the current’s power in watts.

You may believe that your amplifier will have easier powering a speaker with a lower ohm value since it has less resistance. However, the situation is a little more complicated than that.

Two coils of wire are coiled around a magnetic iron core within your automobile amplifier. After MOSFETs (transistor switches) convert the direct current (DC) generated by your battery to alternating current (AC), the transformer increases the voltage but not the current.

If you just added a rear speaker to your automobile in addition to the front ones and connected them to your two-channel head unit together with the front speaker, you have not raised but rather lowered the resistance.

Your head unit may have been perfectly capable of handling the 4-ohm load from your front speakers set. However, if two 4 ohm speakers are connected to a single circuit, the head unit detects a 2-ohm load.

If you want to transmit 100 watts through a resistance of 4 ohms, five amps of current at a voltage of 20 volts is required. Transmitting 100 watts into the resistance of 2 ohms takes just 14.14 volts but 7.1 amps.

Assume your new subwoofer box comes equipped with two 400-watt, 2-ohm speakers. If the builder connected the two drivers in parallel, they would provide the amplifier with 1-ohm loads. Sending 400 watts into a 1-ohm load draws 20 amps rather than the 14.14 amps required for an equivalent 2-ohm load.

The majority of automobile amplifiers are capable of handling a load of two ohms. 1ohm charging will tax all but the most powerful amplifiers, but if you play your system at low volumes, your amp should be able to hold up.

However, if you have dual subwoofers, you’re unlikely to want to use them quietly. Additionally, if you request an excessive amount of current, your amplifier will shut off.

Before connecting your stereo system, check their ohm ratings. If they are less than the maximum capacity of your amp, try putting them in series rather than parallel.

The following table summarises the differences between parallel and series wiring:

Parallel Wiring—connects the positive and negative terminals of speaker A to the amplifier in parallel. Speaker B is connected to speaker A’s positive and negative terminals.

Series Wiring—connects the positive terminal of speaker A to the amplifier. The negative terminal of speaker A is connected to the positive terminal of speaker B. Connect speaker B’s negative connection to the amplifier’s negative terminal.

In parallel wiring, the ohm rating is increased, but the ohm rating is decreased in a series wiring. By series connecting your two 2-ohm subwoofers, you can easily create a 4-ohm load for your amp.

Blown Speaker

Your speakers operate via a voice coil, a tightly wound coil of thin wire encircled by a magnet. When current is sent through a voice coil, it becomes magnetized and interacts with the magnetic field of the surrounding magnet. As a result of these interactions, vibrations are generated, which the speaker converts to sound.

Two things can happen if the voice coil is destroyed as a result of being overdriven. The coil may rupture, resulting in an open circuit, or it may fuse, resulting in a short circuit.

If you use an ohmmeter to inspect a blown speaker, a short circuit will report 0 ohms, but a damaged circuit will show infinite resistance.

An open circuit abruptly stops at the breakpoint, leaving the current with nowhere to go. Because a short circuit reverses the flow of electricity, connecting the positive and negative terminals of a battery with a wire causes it to heat up rapidly and, in some circumstances, explode within seconds.

Overdriving can potentially tear the cone of a speaker. If one of your speakers is making rattling and popping noises, it may be damaged. While the sounds may be intermittent and present just when you turn up the volume on your music, it is only a matter of time before this damage reaches the voice coil.

You may choose to repair your broken speaker immediately rather than later.

Damaged Cables

While your speakers may be in good condition, your connections may be insufficient. When the door is opened or closed, a crimped or damaged wire leading to the door speaker may cause the sound to cut out and kick back in.

Suppose a bare portion of speaker wire contacts the chassis; any electricity that travels through will flow directly to the ground (the car body). If your speaker connections are loose, the vibrations caused by loud music may jolt them and dislodge the connecting wire. If the positive and negative wires come into touch, the amplifier will interpret this as a short circuit and shut off.

To determine whether you have damaged wires, begin by unplugging all of your speakers and then playing each one independently.

If one of the switches to loud music, you’ve identified the root of your issue. Replace the wires and double-check that the replacements are securely attached.

Why Do My Speakers Cut Out At High Volume: FAQ’S

What causes speakers to stutter?

The sound will cut in and out if the cable does not connect cleanly and unobtrusively to both the speaker and the audio receiver. The speaker wires must be completely in touch with the terminals and tightly contained within their appropriate connecting locations.

If your speaker has a round or slot port that is blocked then this can cause issues as well. 

Can a poor ground result in clipping?

What does the term “Bad Ground” mean on an amplifier? The bad ground on the amplifier will result in irreversible damage to the speaker amplifier. The bad ground does not occur overnight; various symptoms precede it, including clipping, overheating, and abruptly shutting down.

Which capacitor is the most appropriate for audio?

Polystyrene and polypropylene are the ideal capacitor materials for audio circuits. Although polystyrene is the preferred material, it is only available in levels up to.001 uF.

Speakers Cut Out At High Volume: The Bottom Line!

You do not need an electrical engineer to troubleshoot your car radio if the speakers suddenly stop working. However, having a fundamental grasp of how your system works and the different things that might go wrong will assist you in determining what is wrong and providing suggestions on how to solve it.

You now own that information. Enjoy your listening experience at whichever volume you like!