Table of Contents
- 1 What Happens When An Amplifier Goes Into Protect Mode?
- 2 What is Amplifier Protect Mode?
- 3 Solutions For Amp Going Into Protect Mode
- 4 How to Troubleshoot Your Amplifier In Protect Mode
- 5 How To Disconnect and Test Your Amp
- 6 How To Stop Amp From Going Into Protection Mode?
- 7 Why Does My Amp Go Into Protect Mode When RCA Is Plugged In?
- 8 Why Is My Kicker Amp in Protection Mode
- 9 How To Fix Kicker Amp Protection Mode
It’s so strange, your amp goes into protect mode when the volume is turned up. Nothing can be frustrating like when you have your well-functioning amp, then on turning up the volume, it goes into protect mode.
Before we dive into details, here are some quick solutions to the problem:
Your amplifier may go into protect module due to loose wiring or incorrect speaker wiring causing a low speaker load impedance resulting in power overload and overheating. Other causes may be issues with the charging system, blown fuses, or failed output transistors.
In the same breath, there are some quick solutions to this issue. This includes checking the onboard fuses and transistors, fix internal wiring as well as any overvoltage or overheating issues.
What Happens When An Amplifier Goes Into Protect Mode?
Arming yourself with information about how Amp functions can prevent you from scratching your hair out when not sure what could be wrong.
With electronic gadgets, anything could go wrong when you least expect it. In fact, you should be happy your amp has a protect mode, because some amps will simply blow your fuse and stop working instead of going into protect mode. You can check out our guide on why does my amp keeps blowing fuses to learn more.
Therefore, it is important to stay prepared when such a moment, comes up. There are other variations of the issue as well:
- Amp goes into protect mode when turned on
- Amp goes into protect mode when the car starts
There are many things that can lead to an Amp going into protect mode. Getting acquainted with your Amp can lessen the trouble every time it goes into protect mode. It will certainly protect you from running for an Amp technician.
It’s only a few tweaks that can save you time and money. Let’s demystify the problem behind Amp protection mode.
What is Amplifier Protect Mode?
Essentially, Amp is designed to increase the amplitude of electrical signals, mainly sound reproduction. So, in the first place what could lead an Amp to go into protect mode?
This shutdown state prevents serious damage to the amp or any of the components in the system. This same issue can occur on some receivers as well. For example, we recently wrote an article explaining how to fix a sony receiver protector error.
It might be annoying if your amp keeps on going to this mode, but it might be saving you from a bigger headache or costly replacement costs in the future.
Every time your Amp experiences a shutdown, just know it is designed to do so to prevent serious damage from happening or components in the Amp system. However this can cause issues in your sound system, for example, your speakers and subwoofers will not work even though the amp has power.
You may be annoyed by the idea of protection mode, but it can save you lots of more trouble in the future. However, some of the common problems that could prompt your Amp going into protect mode are:
- When the Amp overheats. For example, if you connect multiple speakers to the amp incorrectly
- Wires becoming loose
- Wrong installation of the Amp
- Amp failing to function internally
- Power overload. Sometimes you want heavier bass on your amp for example. A common issue is selecting the wrong bass knob. Things like this can overload the device.
- Improper installation
- Loose wires inside the amp
- Internal failures in the amplifier
- The amplifier overheating for any reason
- Power overload
But for this post, we are focusing on your Amp going into protect mode when the volume is turned up.
However, this article focuses on your car amplifier going into the protection mode when you turn up the volume button. Here’s how you can fix the issue if it occurs.
Solutions For Amp Going Into Protect Mode
Solution 1: Check On-board Fuses
Not all amplifiers will illuminate the protection LED when the fuses are blown, so you need to check to ensure they are functional.
If the fuse holders have melted, have the amp checked by a technician to determine the reason they melted and if the fuse holder is usable.
Generally when the fuse holder melts the contact is badly oxidised, and the clips lose their tempering, which means they can longer function properly and will continue to overheat. However, just because a fuse doesn’t look blown, doesn’t mean it’s intact.
If you doubt its functionality, pull it from the holder and measure the resistant across it – set meter to ohms.
The resistance in a normal fuse rated more than several amps will typically read 0 ohms, though most meters can’t reach that low. You can try holding the leads together for about five seconds to know how low the meter amplifier you’re using can go.
Solution 2: Fix Incorrect Wiring
If the speakers are wrongly wired, which in most cases happens to car owners, this can definitely lead to protect mode.
Also, having a poor charging system can be the main culprit giving you a headache. However, that cannot be ruled outright.
You can as well check the health of output transistors because when they fail, the Amp automatically goes into protect mode.
If the Amp functions normally when the volume is dropped, the Amp is experiencing too low an ohmage as a result of mistake with the wiring.
What happens in such a scenario? If the subs are badly wired, expect them to draw too much current until the protection circuit is forced to intervene in order to prevent any damage from happening.
The normal range ohmage should operate is 2 ohms, but in case you are running it at 1 ohm, definitely, this problem is bound to be experienced.
To figure out about that, have the Amp not to be applied with any power, take the Multimeter, make sure its set to ohms, and measure the resistance that is in the middle of the output transistors terminals.
Now, both the terminals should not have anything near to zero ohms and in case you do find one or two, they should be removed immediately from the circuit for a checkup.
Alternatively, an open emitter resistor or a broken one can be the cause for an Amp to go into a protect mode.
When you entirely fail to identify the shorted outputs, have a keen eye on the emitter resistors to make sure no broken terminals are there.
Incorrect wiring is an issue that affects most car owners, especially those who regularly disconnect their amplifiers.
That can make your amp to go into protection mode. A poor power system can also be the main cause of the issue in your stereo system. As such, you can’t rule this out immediately.
You need to check your transistors as the amp will automatically go into protect mode if they are faulty.
However, if the amplifier works as normal when you drop the volume, then it’s experiencing a low ohmage issue that may result from improper wiring.
Solution 3: Fix Overvolatge – Too Much Voltage
The more your Amp volume is turned up, the more voltage it requires for it to maintain the amplitude levels.
For instance, if you have put on volume 30 and at that level, the Amplifier is working fine with no problem, when you turn to volume 40, the amp goes into protect mode and returning it back to 30 everything works again fine.
You may see when it is operating on volume 30, the voltage at that stage is 12v or beyond, however, when you increase, rather than voltage going up, it drops causing protection mode.
You know, the Amp is designed to have a minimum of 10.8 volts for it to function normally, but when the voltage drops below that, to protect itself, it goes to protect mode.
Since it is a power issue, check your battery or the alternator to why they could be changing the voltage on volume increase to see if their voltage is constant.
Solution 4: Check For Overheating Issues
If the amp immediately goes into protection mode when turned on, then the overheating is unlikely the cause since the amp would not have heated up as yet.
Wherever you have your amp mounted, make sure there is enough airflow all the time to keep it cool consistently. This may stop sudden cut-offs.
In addition, your amp will start overheating if there’s a mismatch in the speaker’s impedance and its working range.
Shortened speaker cables can also make it overheat. However, it’s wise to start by checking easy points of failure such as fuses though most amps don’t usually go on protect mode due to a blown fuse.
Nonetheless, it worth checking as it’s easy and can save you a significant amount of time.
Solution 5: Short Supply
Sometimes the amplifier is thrown into protect mode because of driver transistors or shorted output. This could be due to:
- Having solder bridges in between components pads or tracks
- Having a short between heatsink and transistor case, as a result of punctured mica-washer
- Transistors that are incorrectly installed
When identifying the failure, first you should know there are two types of shorts
- Hard short
- Soft short
Hard short – When measured using a multi-meter and no power applied, it shows low resistance in between the supply rails. They normally identify blown transistors, punctured mica-washers or solder bridges. Nevertheless, hard short is not common with new Amps
Soft short – To identify this one you measure resistance in between the supply rails to each other, earth and the output do not show low resistance (that is less than 650 ohms or so).
You may get resistance that is higher in the other direction or the same. Make sure you change the meter leads as you test to measure both polarities. Soft short indicate something is installed incorrectly.
Solution 6: Output Stuck to Supply
In case the output sticks to one supply or the other, here is the cause below:
- Faulty transistors
- Experiencing broken tracks
- Dry/ cold solder joints
- Solder bridges in between component pads or tracks
- Having components that are incorrectly installed
If the driver transistor or one output is shorted, it leads to a soft short, while open circuit transistor perhaps in combination with its opposite being shorted cause rail sticking. Having a stuck rail can be as a result of the following faults near the input:
- Solder bridges in between component pads/ tracks
- Open circuit sink transistor/ current source
- Non- conducting class- A driver transistor
- Having incorrectly installed diodes, transistors, LED’s
- Can be caused by open circuit bootstrap resistor chain
The tricky part is identifying the fault that is why before you troubleshoot, you invest in the best tools to capture the problems effortlessly.
Some of the most effective troubleshooting tools you can use, in case doing the work by yourself are:
- Multimeter – There is a digital one and analogue. For those who know how to use the analogue meter, they may pick up some faults easier than using a digital meter.
- Signal source – Though not very much reliable in effectively identifying the underlying Amp problem
- Oscilloscope – It is a little bit pricey and one of the most effective in exposing any fault though again requires a good understanding of how to use it plus how to read the results.
How to Troubleshoot Your Amplifier In Protect Mode
Over 70% of cases of Amp malfunction are not caused by a device error or manufacturer error, but improper following of instruction when doing the connection.
Troubleshooting your amplifier fully for a problem like this may be a bit tricky for someone who is relatively green in car audio systems.
That means it may be worth asking for a friends help if he has more experience with anything that goes beyond installing the components.
Secondly, first-timers who are less knowledgeable about the Amp operation, once they spot a problem, they rush to call Amp technician to fix the problem.
However, even those technicians make mistakes by diagnosing wrong issues and that starts another cycle of problems. Therefore, it is paramount that you study the step by step process to understand:
- How the Amp works
- How to connect all angles required to make it work
- How to troubleshoot when a problem arises
So, learning about simple steps you can use to diagnose your Amp is helpful to save you more trouble in the future.
When the Amp goes into protect mode when the volume is increased, before making your conclusion and running after the fault blindly, exhaust first all the possible problems.
Determine what is the exact nature of the problem as once you do that; you will end up with a clear procedure on how to handle the fault.
Wrongly diagnosed problem may multiply another fault that was not there in the first place.
Here’s how you can troubleshoot the protect mode when the volume is turned up issue:
1. If The Amp Malfunctioned After Turning It On The First Time:
- The failure may be due to an installation problem
- If you hired someone to install the amp, consult them before doing a lot of tiresome diagnostic work at home
- Start the diagnostic process by checking the ground and power cables, and make sure the amp is physically detached from any bare metal in the car.
2. If The Amp Malfunctioned After Listening Through An Exceptionally Long Session:
- Your amp may have overheated. It’s normal for your amp to go into protect mode when it gets too hot to prevent permanent failure. Keep in mind that turning up the volume may involve pumping more power into the amplifier, which will also make it overheat if you’ve been listening to it for a long time.
- The amplifier will also overheat if it doesn’t have enough airflow, especially if its located under the seats or in any other confined space.
- One of the easiest ways of testing this is setting up a 12V fan to blow air over your amp. If it doesn’t respond, consider changing how it’s mounted or relocate the amp to a less constrained space. That may fix the problem.
3. If It Malfunctioned When Driving On A Rough Road;
- If the amp wires were not secured tightly during installation, driving on a rough road may loosen them.
- In some cases, a shorted or loose wire will make the amplifier go into protect mode to prevent further damage from occurring.
- Diagnosing and fixing the problem will require checking each ground and power wire individually.
How To Disconnect and Test Your Amp
1. Disconnect And Test The Amp
In simple terms, troubleshooting an amplifier in protect mode starts by bringing it back to basics. Essentially, you will need to disconnect the amplifier from the speakers and head unit to check if the problem is still there:
- Check The Voltage: If your voltage is around the 12-voltage range and the amp is still in protect mode, consider disconnecting all the wires. That includes both signal cables and speaker wires. It’s also important to disconnect all the amplifier’s RCA cables to avoid any component damaging while trying to fix your issue.
- Power It Up: Try powering up your amplifier after disconnecting the speaker and signal cables. If it does, connect the RCA cables and check whether it will go into protective mode. If it doesn’t, connect each speaker wire at a time. However, you will need to start by disconnecting all the speakers except one if you’re using a mono amplifier with only a single pair of wires.
- Check The Speakers: If only one pair of your speaker cables are causing the amp to jump into protect mode when you turn up the volume, disconnect all your speakers. That will allow you to separate them and ensure that they don’t touch each other while connecting them. However, if the speaker still goes into protect mode, consider checking your speakers as one of them may be spoilt.
- Check For Grounding Issues: Installation issues may also result in the speaker going to protect mode, especially if the amplifier has contact with bare metal on your car. If that’s the case, you probably have a ground or power problem. That occurs when metal components in your vehicle act as a ground. For this reason, you should never let bare metal touch your amplifier.
2. Reconnect and Test Your Amp
If your amplifier doesn’t get out of the protected mode even after disconnecting everything, that shows you don’t have power or ground issues. That means your amplifier might be defective.
Nonetheless, the problem might lie in other components if the amp doesn’t go into protect mode when you add the volume with the speakers and signal wires connected.
- Reconnect The Amp: At this point, you’ll need to connect your patch and speaker wires individually to know which one is causing the issue. You can then connect everything accurately and ensure there’s no ground problem to ensure the problem is not there. However, if it’s yet to go away, then it’s clear your amp or wiring has an issue. For instance, a faulty speaker or a damaged coil can cause such an issue.
- Check A Specialist: If you’re sure that nothing is shorted out and your amp doesn’t have overheating issues, then the amp may have an internal fault. Consider consulting an audio specialist to check for internal faults, repair or install new components to replace the damaged ones.
How To Stop Amp From Going Into Protection Mode?
So how do I stop amp from going into protection mode? You can prevent your amp form from going into protect mode by preventing the amp from overheating. This means you should always check for and prevent the issues that can cause your amp to overheat. This includes a lack of airflow, electrical shorts, wiring problems and so on.
Why Does My Amp Go Into Protect Mode When RCA Is Plugged In?
This is a common problem, the amp works fine without RCA cables plugged in. However, once you plug an RCA cable into the amp, it goes into protect mode. This is likely because your RCA cables are bad. Get a cheap meter and check your RCA cables to see if they are good.
If you don’t have a meter, you can also plug an iPod, smartphone, etc into the amp directly with a 3.5mm to RCA adapter. If it works OK, then it’s your RCA cables or your head unit is bad. If it doesn’t work, then your amp or sub is bad.
Why Is My Kicker Amp in Protection Mode
Protection mode prevents permanent damage and failure. There are 4 possible causes for your Kicker amp to go into protection mode. Kicker calls it “SORT” which stands for Short, Overvoltage, Reverse polarity, and Thermal.
Here is a description of each:
- Short: A short occurs whenever current travels along an unintended path, for example when a +ve and -ve wire come into contact. In some cases, shortened or loose wires can also cause your amp to go into protect mode. Problems with your power and ground wire can damage your audio devices. Normally, it could be a bad speaker wire, or the wire shorts the chassis ground.
- Overvoltage: An electrical problem can cause a surge in voltage somewhere in the circuitry of your Kicker amp.
- Reverse Polarity: Reverse polarity occurs whenever the intended live and neutral power terminals are reversed. However, if the amp has been working properly, it’s probably not reverse polarity.
- Thermal: If your Kicker amp went into protect mode, you could be a victim of overheating. Lack of airflow and poor impedance matching are often responsible for overheating. However, if it goes immediately into protection when power is connected, It is likely not overheating.
Another possible cause of the problem is internal hardware problems. If the contacts that your Kicker amplifier fuse clips to get hot or has malfunctioned, you are right to suspect an internal problem with the amp.
How To Fix Kicker Amp Protection Mode
To troubleshoot and fix your Kicker amp protection mode issue, follow the procedure below:
- Remove The Speaker Wires: Remove the speaker wires and see if protection mode disappears. If it does, this means at least one of the speakers is shorted or grounded.
- Test Wires: Test each pair of wires across themselves and from the wire itself to ground with a multimeter set to the lowest resistance (ohms). The meter should read about 3-4 ohms. However, from each individual wire to ground, it should read infinity. If the meter reads “0” ohms, that means it is shorted and that is the issue.
- Measure The Terminal Voltage: Now set the meter to read DC volts and measure the voltage at the amp positive terminal. If you find that the voltage is higher than 16V or lower than 9V, you’ve located the problem.
- Remove RCA: Remove the RCA inputs and test for correct power-up without protection mode. If protection mode does not kick in, that means you have a shorted/grounded input. To determine which input is defective, replace them one at a time and retest. In this case, you will need to replace the cable.
If all the above tests pass, then there is likely an internal short in the amp or some other issue with an electronic component like a transistor (e.g a MOSFET). This willl require a technician to troubleshoot and repair the amp.
An amp is a simple device, but sometimes they can be very complicated, such that even pro technician find it intimidating a times to deal with.
In the event that you have tried all the manner of things and no leading fault, you can identify, look for an experienced technician to diagnose the problem or consider buying a new Amp altogether.
If you have never had prior experience with an Amp and it happens to go the protective mode way, never try to troubleshoot it.
Call experts, however, if not your first time, learn troubleshooting steps to guide you when that unexpected moment comes. Last but not least, make good use of the manual. So there you have it, solutions when your amp goes into protect mode when volume is turned up.
These solutions should also work for issues such as when your amp goes into protect mode when turned on or when your amp goes into protect mode when car starts.
If for whatever reason you’ve given up on your amp and decide not to fix it, there are also ways to make your speaker louder without an amplifier. Also, if you already have another working amplifier, you can also connect multiple speakers to that single amplifier. Good luck!