If you are an audiophile like me, or just love great sound in music, cinema, and TV, then most likely you have a few sets of subwoofers on your various equipment. If you are like me, then you also have a penchant for turning the volume up so loud that the windows rattle. Then, one day, poof, your subwoofer sounds like it was dragged down the road a couple miles and tossed into a swamp. Although we will discuss the home theater subwoofer, they are pretty much all the same. I had a problem with the subwoofer in my car last month and since I am on a tight budget at the moment, I had to go with the DIY repair until better circumstances happen along.
The first thing you want to know about subwoofers is the various parts. Most speaker systems are similar, however, subwoofers have a few special parts unique to them. The back of the speaker is a magnet. It’s one o f the strongest magnets for its size that you will come across. Up from the magnet is the housing or metal frame. On the inside of the magnet is the wire coil. Extending upward from the magnet and coil is the large dark paper (sometimes plastic) cone. The cone is the most recognizable feature of an y speaker. On the subwoofer, you will notice that around the edge of the cone connecting it to the frame is a flexible ring. This is known as the surround and is the most common culprit of subwoofer mishaps.
Before having to get into the guts of the subwoofer, it is always best to check more easily fixed conditions first. Use your owner’s manual and go through the list of troubleshooting tips. Just about every owner’s manual has at least a few. They will have you check the simple steps, like making sure it is getting power if it is an electrical powered unit. Many are not, but you will want to check this. If the subwoofer does require electricity, then the next thing you want to check is if there is a blown fuse. Again, refer to your owner’s manual on where to find and how to replace any fuses.
If you are getting absolutely no sound, or distorted sound, the next thing to check is the wiring. Make sure the speaker wire is connected to the subwoofer and also connected to the correctly to the receiver. You never know what mischief your children have been up to when you haven’t been looking. If you don’t have children, check anyway. There is always the possibility of meddling burglars, ghosts, and/or gremlins.
If you have determined that your wiring is soundly connected, another problem may be the wire itself. Check the wire for any cuts, tears, bite-marks, etc. If you find something, it is easily fixed with a small knife and electrical tape. If you don’t find anything, try replacing the wire anyway. If the subwoofer works with the new wire, then we know the culprit.
If your subwoofer still is not working, it is time to remove the cover from over the speaker, or to get to the speaker by removing a part of the case. Check the surround. Like I said, this is the leading culprit of subwoofer problems. See if there are any tears or if it has separated from the frame. If so, you can go out to any audio store and buy a surround repair kit. This requires patience and manual dexterity. It will require you to remove, with a razor, the old surround and fix in the new one. It must be done slowly and carefully to avoid any entanglements or incorrect placement.
If you are not so patient to replace the entire surround, there is the simple option of temporarily repairing the existing surround. This works best for small tears. Simply find a piece of SUPER sticky tape, secure to the tear, and voila! it’s fixed. A sturdy and longer lasting solution is to use a rubber epoxy. Mix a bit of rubber epoxy, dab it onto the tear and wait for it to dry. In many situations this will work fantastically with minimal noticeable loss or distortion.
Any other problems you have with the subwoofer, including the coil and the cone are usually not able to be remedied at home. For these problems you will have to suck it in and visit the professional repair service. Or, as is more fitting in our society, trash it and buy something better. It’s the perfect opportunity to upgrade without too much trouble from your spouse.