3 tips to make the most of your speakers

Using the right speakers for your system and the right cables for your speakers, along with knowing how to deal with cut-outs, should make your speakers last you a long time. Here's how to keep the music playing.

3 tips to make the most of your speakers

1. Match speakers correctly

  • When replacing the speakers for your stereo system, make sure they match the wattage and ohm rating (a unit of electrical resistance) of your receiver or amplifier (it may be noted on the back of the unit).
  • If you don't, you're running the risk of damaging your system or your new speakers.
  • Most speakers are rated at eight ohms, but if you have any doubts about compatibility with your hardware, contact the receiver or amplifier manufacturer.

2. Use heavy-gauge cables

  • Okay, so you have top-shelf stereo equipment and a terrific set of speakers, and yet the sound quality still isn't quite up to snuff. What's the problem?
  • It just might be your speaker wire.
  • If you're using thin, poorly made cable, the sound will suffer.
  • You don't have to go overboard and buy the most expensive speaker wire out there (it can be surprisingly expensive), but you should choose a nice, heavy-gauge cable, preferably from a recognized manufacturer.
  • Also, be sure to keep your speaker leads as short as possible; the added length will only make the signal work that much harder to get to the speaker, and it may pick up extraneous signals.
  • And don't forget to always turn off the power to your stereo receiver or amplifier when adjusting the speaker wires to avoid damaging your system, your speakers, or both.

3. A cure for speaker cutouts

  •  Does your hi-fi system suffer from wobbly sound? You know, this is when one or both speakers cut in and out for no apparent reason while playing.
  • First check the wire at the speaker terminals. A poorly-connected or extremely frayed wire at the terminal will cause it to respond intermittently.
  • You can solve this problem by re-stripping the wire and attaching crimp-on terminals to prevent the wire from slipping off in the future.
  • Or you can place a bit of solder on the exposed wire tips; melt just enough solder to coat the strands evenly.
  • If the speaker connection isn't the problem, however, the source may be in your amplifier or receiver (some contact cleaner on the volume control may solve the problem).
  • It could also be caused by a defective driver or crossover in the speaker, which may require professional servicing or replacing.
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