How to Fix Stereo Speakers

Written by david woo
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How to Fix Stereo Speakers
All speakers are fragile, and will break when misused. (car audio speakers image by Alexander Zhiltsov from

If you are having problems with your stereo's speakers, there are a number of reasons why the speaker might be misbehaving. Although each issue has a possible solution, be aware that there is a certain point where a broken speaker simply needs to be replaced, either because it is simply not possible to repair, or in some cases too expensive to fix. Before you spend two or three hundred dollars on a new set of speakers, however, here are a few diagnostic checks you can perform to see if your problem is repairable.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Screwdriver
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Duct tape

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  1. 1

    Unscrew the back panelling that houses your speakers, exposing the ports where the speaker's wiring connects to the stereo. With each speaker, there should be two wire ports: one positive (labelled with a black "+"), and one negative (labelled with a red "-"). Make sure that the negative side of the speaker is connected via the speaker cable to the negative port of the stereo, and the positive side of the speaker is connected to the positive port of the stereo. A reversed polarity such as this can cause your speakers to lack the resonance and clarity that it should have.

    How to Fix Stereo Speakers
    Crossed polarities can affect sound quality, but won't cause the stereo to completely shut down. (3 way Speaker image by Edward Stephens from
  2. 2

    Unscrew the front cage of the speaker which covers the speaker's face (these are typically designed with holes or vents to allow the sound through). Check to see if the cup of your speaker is torn by running your finger along the outer rim of the speaker. Particularly with cheap paper cupped speakers, it is possible for this rim to tear simply from turning the stereo up too loud. You can temporarily fix a tear such as this by covering the tear with duct tape or other strong adhesive tape, but it is best to simply replace the speaker if you find that its cup is blown, because any tear will cause excessive rattling when you use the stereo.

  3. 3

    Remove the screws which hold the speaker in its housing (this shouldn't be too difficult if you have already removed the front and back panelling, as in steps one and two). From the back of the speaker, you should be able to see a conical shaped flexible cone made of durable paper or Kevlar. Check for any visible tears in the cone of the speaker. As with blown cups, it is possible to repair a tear in the cone with duct tape, but it is still best to simply replace the speaker once it is blown at the cup to prevent any excessive rattling when using your stereo.

    How to Fix Stereo Speakers
    Traditional speakers are conically shaped, as seen here. (speaker image by CraterValley Photo from
  1. 1

    Expose the back of your stereo by removing anything that might be blocking it from view, and locate all of the speaker wiring running from the stereo to your speakers. Check every pair of wires coming from each speaker to make sure that each speaker is connected to only one port (rather than a positive from one speaker connected to a positive for another speaker at the stereo's port). Crossing wires such as this is can cause your speakers to be completely nonfunctional, so be sure that the wiring is correct.

  2. 2

    Check for any exposed wiring in the back of the stereo that could be shorting out your stereo. A loose speaker wire or power cable that is touching anything metal can cause the stereo to shut down entirely, and make it seem as if your stereo is completely broken, when in fact the solution is just one wire.

    How to Fix Stereo Speakers
    Exposed wires can cause the stereo to shut down entirely. (speaker wire image by Paolo from
  3. 3

    Remove the fuse from behind the stereo; the fuse should be a plastic coloured tab, usually red, green, or yellow. Once you have removed the fuse, check to see if its connection is blown by looking for any fractures in the fuse. If you do have a blown fuse, you should replace the fuse with a replacement fuse of the appropriate power (usually clearly indicated on the old fuse). New fuses shouldn't cost more than two or three dollars at an electronics store.

Tips and warnings

  • Be sure that the power is turned off when performing any wiring checks.

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