How To Troubleshoot Home Audio System Speakers that have stopped working
Troubleshooting by nature, involves breaking down a fault into possible causes, and eventually isolating the fault to a particular area or cause, and then solving the problem.
The first scenario we deal with here, is that the speakers are stone dead ie No noise or scratchiness comes out of the speakers at all.
Possible causes are, starting with the simplest and cheapest to fix first :
1. Speaker wires are disconnected from the audio system output connectors. Check and reconnect.
2. The volume control of your audio system is turned right down. Turn up the volume slowly until you can hear something.
3. Your "source" switch is switched to some unused input. Sources are usually DVD, Tuner, CD, Sat, BD, FM, Video, Disc, Phono, Tape, Aux, etc, etc.
4. Your speakers are switched off. Some audio systems (eg Sansui) have a on/off switch for the speakers. Check if you have such a switch, and make sure it is switched on.
5. Speaker wires are connected to the wrong audio system output connectors. Some systems have an A and a B output, with a switch somewhere that toggles between these two outputs. Try connecting the speaker wires to the other output.
6. Speaker wires are connected to the wrong connectors on the back of the audio system. Check in the manual that came with your system that you have connected the speaker wires to the correct terminals.
7. Speaker wires have come loose from the connectors on the back of the speaker boxes. Check and reconnect. Sometimes the speaker wires can come off inside the speaker boxes, but this will usually only affect one speaker at a time.
8. The audio system is not plugged in or switched on. Even seasoned technicians get caught with this one at times!
9. Speaker wires are frayed and are shorting out the connection to the speaker. Check your speaker wires for any loose metal wires sticking out anywhere. Even one little wire touching the chassis of the audio system can short out the system. This can also cause other problems, like blowing your output stage, (see item 11) so check the wiring carefully in a good light for any breaks, kinks or fraying.
10. Speakers are blown. To test if your speakers are blown, disconnect the speaker wires, one spaeker at a time, from the audio system, and quickly touch the two wires onto the two terminals of a AA size penlight battery. The battery's voltage should cause your speakers to make a loud scratching sound. This means they are still working.
11. Output stage of your audio system is blown. This is a serious, expensive fault. To test it, get another speaker from another audio system, make sure your volume control is turned down to about 10%, and briefly connect it to your suspect audio system speaker output connectors. If you hear nothing, turn the volume up to about 20% and try again. If the output stage of your system is blown, you can sometimes smell an acrid smoky smell if you stick your nose on one of the ventilation grids of your system.
The second scenario is if the speakers are making a noise, but it's scratchy, distorted, muffled or a combination of these. Possible causes are bad wiring connections, speakers damaged from setting the volume too high, or using the wrong speakers for the system (eg using 16 ohm speakers in a 4 ohm system or vice versa)
Most speaker problems are minor and inexpensive to fix, unless of course you are in the habit of playing your audio system full blast for long periods of time!