Vintage image of Klipsch engineer demonstrating distortion

Why Cheap Speakers Distort at High Volumes

Why Cheap Speakers Distort at High Volumes

When listening to your favorite music, you may decide to pump up the volume. Nothing can kill the experience more quickly than speaker distortion. Why do some speakers sound fine at low volumes but distort at high volumes? Here are some reasons this may occur.

A common misconception of speaker distortion is that when the amplifier sends too much power, the speakers will blow. In fact, the opposite is true. You’re much more likely to hear distortion or cause damage if your amplifier is under powering the speakers. Higher volume means asking the amplifier for more power. If it is unable to provide enough, your speakers will distort.

If speakers are a low build quality, they can easily be damaged at high volumes, regardless of the amount of power from the amplifier. As volume increases, the drivers extend further and faster. The increase in movement causes heat inside the speaker. If the speaker components are poor quality, then heat damage may occur. Ultimately this leads to distortion. When your speaker is playing at low levels, damage may not be noticeable, but the higher the volume, the more evident this becomes.

The key to preventing distortion means choosing speakers with quality components. Furthermore, you’ll want to choose an amplifier that provides sufficient power for your system. Combining quality speakers with the right amplifier will ensure your system is equipped to handle music at any volume.