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Author Topic: Monitors/Speakers possible Damage/ How to know?  (Read 2364 times)

jaimech

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Monitors/Speakers possible Damage/ How to know?
« on: January 04, 2016, 08:34:26 pm »

Hello.  I am a experienced musician just starting to produce at my newly set up home studio.  So pretty inexperience in that regard.  I just got my first set of Professional Monitors/Speakers and I invested in a nice pair of Focal CMS 65. On the second day of using them I answered a FaceTime call on my iMac and stopped working on my mix. The FaceTime App was at a much lower volume level so I just hit the volume knob on my interface to the maximum level which was just decent for FaceTime. When I finished my call and went for a cup of coffee, very stupidly, I just played the mix I was working on and of course it was at a very high and unbearable volume. It was just a couple of seconds because as soon as the sound came out of the speakers I hit the volume know and turned it down. My question is: as you can imagine now I am paranoid about if I damaged my beautiful brandon new focal speakers. Is there a way to know, is there a sound test you can do on the speakers?
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Fletcher

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Re: Monitors/Speakers possible Damage/ How to know?
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2016, 09:40:20 pm »

Chances are way better than even that they're fine... the way to tell is to listen to the bass track solo'd at a fairly decent level... if you hear distortion that wasn't there before you might have an issue.  Most likely it will sound just like the bass you originally tracked [I'm sure you'd have noticed if the tweeters were gone... but just for the hell of it, try the same "solo" thing with vocals and drum overheads if there are any].

One thing about powered monitors is that they generally have more than sufficient power for the drivers... what kills drivers isn't power per se -- its distortion.  More distortion is created when you have insufficient power than when you have sufficient [or in my case -- "over kill"] power moving the drivers.

I hope this makes sense.

Peace
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CN Fletcher

mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid


"Recording engineers are an arrogant bunch
If you've spent most of your life with a few thousand dollars worth of musicians in the studio, making a decision every second and a half... and you and  they are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives, you'll get pretty arrogant too.  It takes a certain amount of balls to do that... something around three"
Malcolm Chisholm

jaimech

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Re: Monitors/Speakers possible Damage/ How to know?
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2016, 12:28:57 am »

Hi Fletcher.  Thanks I feel a little better but I still donīt understand what you mean by "One thing about powered monitors is that they generally have more than sufficient power for the drivers... what kills drivers isn't power per se -- its distortion.  More distortion is created when you have insufficient power than when you have sufficient [or in my case -- "over kill"] power moving the drivers."

Can you further clarify?

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Fletcher

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Re: Monitors/Speakers possible Damage/ How to know?
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2016, 06:16:33 pm »

OK... not too difficult a concept here.  If you have enough amplifier, the amplifier will reproduce the wave form as that wave form is presented to the amplifier.  This will permit the driver material to move in and out in a normal and natural movement.  For the sake of visualization, imagine the driver moving to a 1kHz sine wave -- it goes out, it goes in, it goes out again, it goes in again... lather, rinse, repeat -- the amplifier isn't causing the mechanical part [the driver] to move in an unnatural manner.

Now -- imagine that same wave for where there is an insufficient power amplifier... the net result will be a "clipped" wave form.  Instead of the natural "peaks" and "troughs", the waveform will move up - hit the point of "clipping" -- smooth out the top of the wave into a line [causing the driver material to stay stop and stay stationary for a bit], then as the wave form recedes, the driver will once again follow its path back to the "center" line -- and have the same "herky - jerky" motion on the bottom side of the waveform.

This creates heat.  When the driver doesn't move in a smooth in and out motion, heat is created.  Heat is the mortal enemy of any driver element.  With the exception of Piezo tweeter elements, driver technology is all based on magnets, and electrically charged elements... be they the ribbon in a ribbon tweeter or the coil that pushes a woofer or compression driver -- its all about the electricity that travels through the charged element.  That charge will be positive or negative -- which will relate to the positive or negative charge of the surrounding magnet.  If the charge is similar, the the driver moves out... if the charge is dissimilar, then the driver moves in -- if the charge is a flat line [as in the case of our clipped signal], it forces the driver to hold its position [which they don't like to do, and that's what causes heat].

Heat, over time, will break down the insulation on coils... which leads directly to driver failure.  The only time you can run into problems with "too much power" is if the driver's coil gets pushed out of the gap [due to too much power creating an over excursion of the driver's coil... and that coil doesn't come back and seat itself properly], or you can pop the ribbon element [again, and over excursion thing].

If neither of those events occurred... then your driver elements are fine. 

I hope I explained this clearly... please feel free to let me know if I have done an insufficient job for your comprehension of the way these things work.

Peace
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CN Fletcher

mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid


"Recording engineers are an arrogant bunch
If you've spent most of your life with a few thousand dollars worth of musicians in the studio, making a decision every second and a half... and you and  they are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives, you'll get pretty arrogant too.  It takes a certain amount of balls to do that... something around three"
Malcolm Chisholm

duskb

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Re: Monitors/Speakers possible Damage/ How to know?
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2016, 04:02:53 pm »

That was pretty good Fletcher.

Jaimech, powered monitors tend to be pretty safe from over-excursion and volume damage by in large. In addition to having amplifiers matched to the drivers they typically have clip lights to warn the user of possible damage and protection circuits to help for the quick errant feedback spikes when a door is opened during a loud tracking session. I don't know the Focal circuits but all of the powered monitors I have used can be driven pretty loud without damage.

I wouldn't make a habit of it though...it's not good for the ears.
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JSantos

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Re: Monitors/Speakers possible Damage/ How to know?
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2016, 08:55:46 am »

One way to know if you have damaged monitors is if you're hearing distortion. Once I had my HS8's right monitor had a burnt coil inside, which created a hole in one area creating the distortion and lost frequency.

Perhaps an A/B test would be useful in this situation, I guess...
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Don Boomer

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Re: Monitors/Speakers possible Damage/ How to know?
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2016, 12:54:08 am »


... what kills drivers isn't power per se -- its distortion. 

What kills drivers either too much power, either thermal power or at too low (mechanical limits) of a frequency. Not distortion. You play distortion through them all the time (e.g. your basic electric guitar).  Speakers don't care what shape the waveform is that is played through them (in terms of damage). 

And they don't stop their motion when asked to produce square or clipped waves.  Inertia won't let that happen.  The only way they stop is if you stop sending them signal, and then it takes some time for them to come to a rest.

The good news is that speakers for the most part either work or they fail.  Damage that allows the speaker to still make noise can happen, but it's rare.
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