Last Updated on December 10, 2022 by Norvan Martin
In some cases, you might notice a burning smell coming from your subwoofer. This can happen if your subwoofer is brand or if it has been used for quite a while. This article will help you make an informed decision about what to do when your subwoofer smells brunt. I will also explain quick and easy ways to fix the faults that may have caused your subwoofer to smell burnt.
The main reason your subwoofer may smell burnt is that you are sending too much power to the subwoofer. You may also be putting too much pressure on the subwoofer by overusing it. This can cause the voice coils to burn. If your subwoofer is new, the burning small may just be due to the heating up of excess gues on the choice coil.
Here are the quick fixes depending on the cause of your issue:
Why Does My Subwoofer Smell Burnt?
There are a few reasons your sub may smell burnt, we discuss these in detail below.
1. Too Much Power Due To Unmatched Impedance
Remember, a subwoofer has an impedance (measured in ohms). Impedance refers to the measure of electrical resistance; which represents the “load” the amplifier will sense from the sub.
An amplifier will output different amounts of power (watts RMS) based on the impedance load (the sub) and the volume.
If the impedance load is low and the volume is high, the amp will send out more power. If the sub and amplifier are not matched, the amp may send more power than the sub can handle. This can damage the amp and the sub.
Here is an example:
Let’s say you have a 4-ohm sub rated at 300 watts RMS.
In this case, you need an amp that can put out up to 300 watts RMS into a 4-ohm or lower impedance load comfortably.
However, if you use an amp rated at say 8 ohms, then the 4-ohm load of the sub will pull too much power (more than 300 watts RMS) and will damage the amp and likely the sub. This can cause a burning scent.
What About Macthig Multiple Subs?
Matching a single sub is easy, but matching multiple subs is a bit more tickly. Firstly, ensure that both subs are the same in terms of impedance and power requirements. If they don’t meet this qualification, the power will not be evenly divided among them. This leads to some subs being underpowered (can cause the sub to pop) while others get overpowered.
In this case, you will have to determine how to connect them in series or parallel to get the right impedance. In series, impedance adds, and in parallel, it is the sum divided by the number of subs.
A simple example using 2 identical subs with 4 ohms each needs an amp with an 8-ohm impedance rating. This is assuming that they are connected in series. If they are connected in parallel, you will need a 2-ohm amp.
The best option to go for if you intend to run different types of subs in your audio system is to consider connecting each sub to its own separate amplifier.
2. Too Much Power Due To Overvoltage
another reason your sub may be using too much power is overvoltage. Overvoltage occurs when the voltage ratings are exceeded and the sub receives an electric signal outside of its capacity range.
To fix this, you need to set the subwoofer amp gains properly so that the sub can receive the correct levels of power.
3. New Sub (Coil Glue)
If your sub is new and the burning smells like rubber (faint smell), it’s probably just the excess glue that’s burning off. Some sub-manufacturers use excess glue on the voice coil and even the dust cap. Keep the system at a low volume and allow it to burn off completely.
If you have been running the subwoofer for hours, especially at maximum power, give it a rest for about 30 minutes to an hour.
How to Fix a Burnt Subwoofer (Step by Step)
As a non-professional, you will need some extra tools for fixing a burnt subwoofer. Some tools required for fixing your subwoofer include:
- A tool for tightening screws such as a screwdriver or other improvised tool.
- Soldering iron for joining wire to panels
- Air Compressor
- A multimeter to calibrate and measure electric current and voltage. And importantly;
Step one: Check If The Sub Is Really Burnt
To check if the subwoofer has truly burnt, you might need to inspect every component of your subwoofer including the wirings and connections. Another important step to take is examining the voice coil to see whether it is faulty.
The voice coil is a very crucial component of the speaker since it amplifies the current that passes through it. You can use the multimeter to test this voice coil. This is a pretty straightforward procedure.
Step two: Check The Cone
Move on from the elementary components to the speaker cone. This step is to assess the speaker in its cone as a key component of the subwoofer.
Step three: Remove The Frame
After you might have confirmed which of the component is faulty, remove the speaker from its frame to separate it for repair.
Step four: Replace The Voice Coil
Remove the speaker cone and voice coil to replace whichever part is damaged. After replacing the damaged part, reassemble the other parts removed.
Why Does My Subwoofer Smell Like Burnt Rubber When It Plays?
Subwoofers have an adhesive film on the interior that progressively melts away when heated. Every subwoofer (or speaker) has a voice coil, which is an essential component. Glue is often used to bind the voice coils to the speaker basket.
Many manufacturers use a lot of glue to make sure the binding is strong. As a consequence, as the glue dries, there is usually an excess of adhesive on the voice coil. The following are some of the reasons that contribute to the subwoofer’s burned smell:
- Continuous use of the subwoofer at a very high volume
- Using the subwoofer with an amp stronger than its stipulated capacity
- Playing a sound that keeps sending out distorted output
These factors lead to overheating of the inner component resulting in the melting of the glued surface that produces the burnt rubber smell you perceive.
Is It Normal For a New Subwoofer To Smell?
When the voice coil of a new subwoofer heats up for the first time, it emits an unpleasant odor that smells like burned rubber.
When this happens, it means there is too much glue on the voice coil, which burns when the voice coil heats up and gets damaged. Due to this, the subwoofer smells like it has been burnt.
However, not every new subwoofer has an excessive quantity of glue on its voice coil. Subwoofers that don’t have excessive glue will not smell when switched on. However, it is acceptable for new subwoofers to have a distinct odor.
This is mostly because many manufacturers employ a high quantity of adhesive to bind the voice coils to the speaker basket, which results in the glue burning as soon as the voice coil gets too hot.
Subwoofer Smell Like Glue
As earlier stated above, subwoofers have a special component that helps them push out the sound. This component is known as the voice coil.
However, the manufacturer adds this voice coil to the speaker by using glue. The amount of glue that is used is therefore responsible for the degree of smell you perceive from your subwoofer.
How To Get Rid of Subwoofer Burnt Smell
While the burnt smell in subwoofers is primarily caused by excess adhesive used on the coil, there are other contributing variables that make a subwoofer smell like burnt rubber. There are several methods to decrease this burned rubber smell. They include the following:
- Use in a well-ventilated environment to reduce heating up that leads to overheating of the subwoofer.
- Using an excessively loud volume is a factor that could heat the subwoofer internally, consequently resulting in a burnt rubber smell. Use the subwoofer at an average volume capacity to reduce overheating of the glue on the voice coil.
- Don’t overpower the subwoofer. Ensure the amp you are using has the right amount of power for the subwoofer. Overpowering the subwoofer can burn the voice coil leading to the burnt rubber smell.
What Does Burning Voice Coil Smell Like
The voice coil is joined to the speaker using glue or adhesives. When this glue is added in excess, at first use the glue might begin to melt away giving rise to a rubber-like smell which is the smell of the burning glue.
Subwoofer Sparkling (What Should I Do?)
When you start hearing a popping or sparking sound from your subwoofer, one of the most fundamental problems this could mean is that there is a major fault with either the wiring, speaker, or connection.
The following are some of the steps to help you properly diagnose and manage the problem;
- The first step is for you to remove the subwoofer from the power source to prevent further damage.
- Check to verify that the speaker cables are connected correctly to both the speakers and the stereo receiver.
- At times two electronic device signals might jam leading to the cracking or sparking sound you hear. To ensure this is not the problem, it might be a good idea to turn off any nearby electronic devices that might be interfering with the sound from the speaker.
- If after taking all of these steps you can still hear the sparking sound, you might want to change old wires and other external components.
If the problem persists, you might need to try out new subwoofers.
Conclusively, the points in the article have been compiled to help you take the proper steps when the smell from your subwoofer is becoming too much and uncomfortable. With the help of this article, you should be able to determine if the smell from your subwoofer is normal or abnormal.
Norvan Martin is the founder of BoomSpeaker.com. He is a professional Electronics Engineer and is passionate about home theater systems and AV electronics. BoomSpeaker was created as an online hub to share his knowledge and experiences as it relates to home theaters and home audio electronics.