Easy fixes for stereo sound issues

A poorly functioning stereo speaker can dampen your music enjoyment. Some common problems are easy fix by a quick patch or simply by repositioning the speakers.

Easy fixes for stereo sound issues

My speaker has a rip

Patch a speaker cone with a coffee filter

Hi-fi speakers are made up of two or more drivers within each cabinet. The driver cones are often made from cardboard, which is susceptible to tearing. If the tear is less than 2.5 centimetres (one inch) in length, you can patch it to restore sound quality. Ideally, you should repair the speaker from behind so that your fix is less visible, but many speakers are hard to remove from their cabinets, so you may need to work from the front.

  1. Remove the speaker's grille (if it has one).
  2. Mix one part white glue (or wood glue) with five parts water in a small bowl. Tear (rather than cut) a strip off a paper coffee filter. It should be larger than the rip in the speaker by about 1.5 centimetres (1/2 inch) in each dimension.
  3. Using an artist's brush, paint the glue solution onto the damaged area of the speaker and onto one side of the filter strip. Gently press the filter over the tear, and paint over it again with the glue solution. Allow the paper to dry before trying the speaker again.

Word to know

Driver: The function of a driver is to translate electrical signals into the vibrations that we hear as sound. Drivers do this by using an electromagnet to move a flexible cone backwards and forwards, so creating vibration. Most speakers have a tweeter, which is a small driver that produces high-frequency sounds, and a larger driver, or woofer, to reproduce the deeper sounds. Other drivers may be present to handle intermediate frequencies.

7 ways to improve your stereo’s sound

The position of the speakers in your room has a huge effect on the quality of sound produced. Whether you have a basic stereo or high-end model, follow these tips to maximize your listening pleasure.

  1. Check your wiring. The left and right outputs from your CD or MP3 player must be connected to the amplifier's left and right inputs, and speakers must be linked to their correct outputs on the amplifier, too. If not, the hi-fi will not render stereo sound correctly and you'll notice some strange audio effects.
  2. Position the speakers so that they make an equilateral triangle with you (the listener) at one of the corners. Don't put the speakers right up against the wall as this will overemphasize bass sounds; if possible, avoid placing speakers in the corners of a room to avoid unwanted sound reflections.
  3. Make sure that larger freestanding speakers cannot vibrate against the floor by using a stand or mounting them on rubber feet.
  4. Smaller "bookshelf" speakers should be placed on sturdy pieces of furniture that don't rattle or resonate when the music hits particular frequencies. Fit the speakers with rubber feet, or use small blobs of Plasticine to secure them at their base.
  5. Try to position speakers so that their tweeters are at head level.
  6. Switch your stereo system to mono and play a CD. The sound should seem to come from the "middle." Adjust volume and balance controls to make any corrections.
  7. Experiment with your setup. Play a recording of acoustic or vocal (not electronic) music through your system and move your speakers around to find the configuration that sounds the most natural.
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