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What Causes Speakers to Crackle and How Do You Stop It?

Everyone wants their audio experience to be the highest quality possible. Whether you are a professional musician, an audiophile, or a bit of both, it can be frustrating when you get a crackling sound coming out of your speakers

Provided the speakers themselves are not damaged, most of the time when you have crackling sounds in your speakers it is due to a faulty connection somewhere in the signal chain.

There are many points in a sound system where this can occur: the more devices in the signal chain, the more places for possible problems.

The audio signal is alternating current, which moves the speaker cone via the voice coil and magnet. When it is a positive pulse, the speaker moves forward; with a negative pulse the speaker moves backwards. With a good signal, this is a linear movement, but when this signal is momentarily interrupted and reconnected, the speaker’s movement is interrupted, and there is a pop or click sound that occurs. 

Ways Audio Signals Get Interrupted

How do audio signals become interrupted? Any point in the signal chain could have a loose connection, corrosion, cold solder joint, or even a dirty potentiometer.

When these faulty connections are making and breaking the signal current quickly and in succession, the many pops or clicks will sound like crackling.  

Sometimes, like with potentiometers, the crackling is not consistent, and only happens when the pot is turned. The cure for this can be as simple as “exercising” the pot. This is done by moving the pot from minimum to maximum quickly about a dozen times. That can clean the contact points in the pot.

Sometimes the crackling is bad, but when you turn the system up loud, it can go away. This is usually a sign of a poor solder connection.

Other times it may be a loose connection in a plug or terminal.

Crackling Sounds with Different Types of Devices

We have all heard the popping and crackling that can happen with vinyl records. This is from dirt and scratches; it is not the same as the current interruptions. Vinyl records create static electricity, which attracts dust and in turn, causes the scratching noise we are familiar with. When you scratch the vinyl, you get more severe pops. Keeping your records clean with an anti-static brush will help, as will care in handling the records.

Digital systems can have another type of crackling. When the input of an analog to digital converter is over driven, you get more of a crackling sound which happens hard and all at once.

It is a very unpleasant sound. It is not like the distortion you get when overdriving an analog signal, which can actually sound good for some things, such as electric guitars. With analog, the distortion starts off mild and gets heavier as you drive it harder. However, if your amplifier is being driven into distortion, this can quickly damage your speakers.

How to Stop the Crackling and Popping in Your Speakers

The good news is that you can probably fix that annoying crackling sound you hear coming out of your speakers, you just need to find out what is causing it. 

Starting at the speaker, make certain the drivers are not damaged; look for cracks or tears in the cone. If that looks good, check the connection of the speaker wires to the speakers.

Do they look solid and clean, or are they frayed? When you have a signal going to them, wiggle the speaker cable near the connection point. If it affects the crackling, you should repair the connection. Sometimes cheap cables can cause noise and crackling. Wiggling cables along their length will usually let you know.

If everything is good so far, move to the next item in the signal chain: your amplifier. Is the connection at the speaker output good and solid? If so, check the connection at the input. Plug and unplug it a few times to see if there is any change.

If all is good, continue moving back through the signal chain until you find the issue. Check any controls to make sure they are working well. It should become pretty obvious when you find the problem spot. You may need to replace a cable, or clean or repair a connection.

Is Crackling the Same Thing as Speaker Distortion?

Speaker distortion is not the same, it is caused either by physical damage, or overpowering. Using too powerful of an amplifier can cause the speaker to exceed its limits, causing distortion and damage. 

Shop for High-Quality Audio Solutions from Galaxy Audio

The last thing you want is to invest in audio products that deliver sub-par performance. You need products and a partner you can trust. At Galaxy Audio, we offer a wide range of pro audio equipment and accessories to anyone from the pro audio tech to the audio novice.

For over five decades, our team has been working hard in this industry and has provided audio solutions to some of the most famous names to take the concert stage. Check out our latest products or contact us to learn more about how we can help.

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