Damage caused by clipping. - Car Audio | DiyMobileAudio.com | Car Stereo Forum

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Old 01-09-2017   #1
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Default Damage caused by clipping.

Okay, couple days ago I said something stupid and I freely admit to it. I said I "blew" my SI BM MK IV subs due to pushing a small amp past its limits and it clipping. Now blow was the wrong term to use and I understand that but here is my question.
Can you or can you not hurt a speakers voice coil due to excessive clipping? You see these subs were happy with a Mosconi Zero3 pushing them. I could drive them to my hearts content and not have any issues ever. Never used all the amps available Power but used more than the subs are rated for. No issues ever.
In my next install I fed them with a 600 watt amp and I pushed that amp hard enough where many many times it went into protect mode and I know many times I sent a clipped signal to the speakers. Eventually they no longer performed properly at moderate volumes. There was no longer that high level of accuracy the subs were known for. They no longer liked to dig low as well. I tried them on a couple other amps (Sinfoni Prodigio, Mosconi Zero3, JL 1200/1) and they still did not sound right. So I believe that the clipped signal is what hurt the subs. Since then they have been replaced and now have 1200 watts available again and sound fantastic.

So in true SQ fasion I get ripped by a couple real smart fellers that I am an idiot for saying I blew the subs due to overdriving a small amp and sending an clipped signal to them.
So am I an idiot for making this assumption or is the clipped signal what hurt them? I realize "blow" was the wrong term to use and should have said "damaged" but usually people understand "blow" as just a plain hurt.

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Old 01-09-2017   #2
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Default Re: Damage caused by clipping.

So, clipping probably helped burn the coil, but only because the average Power over time was more than the Speaker could take.

If you had been using a 150 watt amp and clipping the signal continuosly, the sub would still be fine.

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Old 01-09-2017   #3
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Default Re: Damage caused by clipping.

If the clipped signal produced more heat then they could handle then yes. That's typically what happens.
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Old 01-09-2017   #4
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Default Re: Damage caused by clipping.

Pretty much what the above two folks replied with.

I want to very specifically squash the idea that clipping, all by itself, can damage a speaker. This is absolutely false. You can play a square wave through your subwoofers (or tweeters) at a low level for as long as you want without any damage whatsoever.

The reason clipping is bad is as you likely experienced, and as mentioned by the two folks above: the average Power delivered goes up dramatically.

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Old 01-10-2017   #5
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Default Re: Damage caused by clipping.

Hurt? I didn't know they had feelings. Blown, burnt, damaged, toasted sounds better to me lol.

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Old 01-11-2017   #6
 
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Default Re: Damage caused by clipping.

Here's a good read from Focal on how speakers are damaged. More often than not, voice coils are burned when a low powered amp is overdriven and presents more Power than the voice coil was designed to handle. This excessive Power results in excessive heat that either burns the coil or loosens the adhesive allowing the coil to separate from the former.

For a Speaker rated at 300 watts of clean power, it will receive an average of 30 watts of music (1/10th) however a 100 watt amp when overdriven will put out far more than 30 watts and burn the coil.

Additionally, a Speaker is damaged when overdriven with excessive clean power or a poorly designed enclosure that allows the speaker to exceed it's mechanical limits.

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Old 01-11-2017   #7
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Default Re: Damage caused by clipping.

What is "clean power"?


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Old 01-12-2017   #8
 
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Default Re: Damage caused by clipping.

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Originally Posted by danno14 View Post
What is "clean power"?

Yeah I probably shouldn't have said that as it will start a debate 😆

Let's just remove all references to "clean power" in my response and just replace with the figures, i.e. 100 and 300 watts.

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Old 01-12-2017   #9
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Default Re: Damage caused by clipping.

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Originally Posted by danno14 View Post
What is "clean power"?

It's what you get when the amp isn't driven past its limits, but you knew that

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Old 01-12-2017   #10
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Default Re: Damage caused by clipping.

I know you said that everything sounds fine, just wanted to throw out another possible scenario.

Have you tried to push down on the diaphragm of the Speaker and listen? The reason i mention this is I ran into a similar issue...i thought my BMKIII's had problems...they used to sound good...ran them hard at times and they started sounding horrible. What I ended up finding was the boxes weren't "sealed" anymore, i heard air escaping around the speaker....and the culprit...the glue holding down the surrounds. Literally 80% of the glue let go. I had to re-glue mine...and they were back to sounding like they did when new.

Just another thought... not sure how the IV's are glued ;-)

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Old 01-12-2017   #11
 
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Default Re: Damage caused by clipping.

I have a McIntosh amplifier that has a feature called powerguard that electronically attenuates the signal so the amplifier never goes into severe clipping this is a really handy feature to have in a amplifier and it works as i have never damaged any of my speakers by over driving them i believe McIntosh has a patent on this but surely other manufacturers could come up with something similar so it just goes to prove all amplifiers are not the same
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Old 01-12-2017   #12
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Default Re: Damage caused by clipping.

Quote:
Originally Posted by northendguy View Post
I have a McIntosh amplifier that has a feature called powerguard that electronically attenuates the signal so the amplifier never goes into severe clipping this is a really handy feature to have in a amplifier and it works as i have never damaged any of my speakers by over driving them i believe McIntosh has a patent on this but surely other manufacturers could come up with something similar so it just goes to prove all amplifiers are not the same
It's like a backup camera on a car, it's nice to have, but I sure hope you learned how to drive your Car without relying on it. If you need a fancy feature to prevent you from damaging speakers, you should probably start fresh from the beginning and learn a bit more.

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Default Re: Damage caused by clipping.

well if you play wide dynamic range music its easy to clip a amp as you well know and as for learning a bit more i think i have that part down pretty well thank you
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Old 01-12-2017   #14
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Default Re: Damage caused by clipping.

Quote:
Originally Posted by northendguy View Post
well if you play wide dynamic range music its easy to clip a amp as you well know and as for learning a bit more i think i have that part down pretty well thank you
That wasn't an insult to you, it was a simply to point out the fact that the vast majority of people have run amps without that feature and never blown a speaker. I agree, it's a neat feature, but it is not a necessary feature. Music is dynamic, and a bit of clipping isn't really an issue, with proper gain settings you don't need that level of protection.

Like the backup camera analogy, it's a nice feature, and can be used to assist, but it shouldn't be used instead of proper gain setting/learning to use your mirrors properly).

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Default Re: Damage caused by clipping.

here is a thought that i have wondered about ?
lets say you turn the gains down on your amp... way down.... i have kids so i set mine well below the point to where the amp will clip that way if they turn the music up it really never gets even close to clipping plus sometimes my brother borrows my Car and i know him he will turn it to 11 lol...by doing this wouldn't the head unit send a clipped signal to the amp
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Default Re: Damage caused by clipping.

Quote:
Originally Posted by northendguy View Post
here is a thought that i have wondered about ?
lets say you turn the gains down on your amp... way down.... i have kids so i set mine well below the point to where the amp will clip that way if they turn the music up it really never gets even close to clipping plus sometimes my brother borrows my Car and i know him he will turn it to 11 lol...by doing this wouldn't the head unit send a clipped signal to the amp
Very possibly, which is why it's worse to set a stereo/amp up this way. If the signal is clipped before getting to the amp, the amp will amplify that clipped signal.

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Old 01-12-2017   #17
 
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Default Re: Damage caused by clipping.

Quote:
Originally Posted by northendguy View Post
well if you play wide dynamic range music its easy to clip a amp as you well know and as for learning a bit more i think i have that part down pretty well thank you
Typically the damage is due to a prolonged hard clip which can be difficult to hear in subs mounted in the trunk.

You're right that there's often clipping due to slightly overdriving the amp that doesn't result in any damage.

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