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how can you tell if you blow out your headphones driver... can you blow out just bass?

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by captainlorax, Jul 8, 2010.
  1. CaptainLorax
    How can you tell if you blow out your headphones driver (a result of playing volume too loud)? can you blow out just bass?
    If I hear some fuzz on the phones (no equalizations on) is it just me hearing some less than perfect production or has some of the bass "blown out". I can hear the bass booming perfectly on lots of songs but I hear a bit of fuzz every once in a while.

  2. momomo6789 Contributor
    hair. or clipping
  3. Uncle Erik Contributor
    Yes, probably a hair against the driver or your amp is clipping.

    Drivers fail in two ways, generally. One, you'll get a tear in the cone or surround. That's pretty easy to diagnose because you'll see it and will absolutely hear it when the headphones play anything. You can also have the cone separate from the voicecoil, which is also easy to spot since they won't play anything or the voicecoil will buzz against the cone. You'll know if this happens.

    The other way a driver fails is if it overheats and the enamel on the wires in the voicecoil melts. The wires in there are generally pretty fine and the enamel insulation is thin. If you overheat it, the enamel will melt or flake, causing a short circuit in the voicecoil. If the driver shorts in this way, you won't hear anything. It'll just be dead.

    So if you're getting decent sound on some tracks, you don't have a tear or separation and you don't have a melted voicecoil.

    If an amp is asked to supply more power than it can handle, then it "clips" or cuts out when it can't produce enough. With solid state, you often get a harsh noise or buzzing. Tubes clip more gently (sometimes hard to notice) but also clip when they run out of power. The solution is to get a more powerful amp.

    You might also have a hair against the driver. That happens, so take a look and make sure one isn't poking in there.
  4. PhoenixSong
    Hmm I've blown a few of my earphones and such before, in the most severe cases the driver just died. Other damages include some buzzing/rattling sounds or sound that has deviated from the original signature (bass overblown and loose/flabby, or treble that becomes uncontrollably harsh and splashy)
  5. Steve999
    The only think I ever blew out was a tweeter on one of my step-father's Advent speakers when I was a teenager. I don't even remember what it sounded like, I just remember that I felt horrible about it. Very fortunately a local really good hifi shop had the Advent tweeters in stock and fixed it in a day, and only charged me for parts (I think it was $50).

  6. bigshot
    That's a good description. I've found it isn't a subtle thing. It's very annoying. It's more subtle when just one driver in a three way system is blown. Then you get some sound clean and some blown. But with a headphone it would probably involve all frequencies.

    If it's just in bass, I would think it might be something like a hair that only buzzes at maximum excursion.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2018
  7. tansand
    I lost bass on a pair of soundmagic E50. I caught the cord on a doorknob. There are vent holes for pressure release, but I think I pulled it out too suddenly and the suction damaged the driver. Bass was just gone though, not intermittant, still had mids and highs.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018
  8. PhoenixSong
    Seems more like a case of cable damage, where several strands of the many fine wires in the cable are snapped or dislodged. Same thing happens when plugs are not fully inserted into jacks, it's a connection thing. From what I know, human eardrums are way more susceptible to damage than earphone diaphragms. Btw I owned the E50 in the past as well :)
  9. tansand
    That makes sense about my human eardrum, you could be right!
  10. ev13wt
    I have managed to suck a DT-770 driver out with a vacuum, making it sit "on" the gap instead of in it. I did hear something still, just ca. 30dB quieter and with a highpass at ... 1000Hz ?
  11. Zapp_Fan
    If there is some mechanical damage to your headphone (say, a loose wire in the coil, part of the former coming apart, part of the housing coming apart, etc.) then you may only hear it at certain frequencies, since some loose part might only cause noticeable noises when it's resonating. So it's possible to have a problem that seems to be bass-only. The way to fix that would be to take the headphones apart (as carefully as you can) and see if anything is loose, rubbing, stuck, etc. Or take it to a repair shop.

    But, so long as your headphone only has one driver per ear, it is not possible to only damage the bass capability of the driver. At least, I personally don't know a way that could happen. If you have multi-driver IEMs though, it's actually not unlikely at all.

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