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  1. #1

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    Back in my home hi-fi crazy days, I remember reading about how distortion damages speakers(?) So if I put a distortion device in front of my clean Bud, will that harm it?


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  3. #2

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    Hi Woody,
    Only if the signal is greater than the speakers' capacity to handle it (i.e. overload). If the distortion is simply a sound effect without boosting the signal to the point of overload, then there should be no problem.

  4. #3

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    I think that a damaged speaker gives distortion.

    And the hifi rules are a bit different from guitar amp world. Not all but some.

    The speaker gets often damaged by sudden peaks of power. With guitar those happen most with clean sounds. The distorted sound (specially with pedal) is already compressed so it has not such sudden power peaks.

    (This is mostly amateurs thinking after some decades of playing and tinkering. I am not theoretically educated in this area of wisdom.)

  5. #4

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    There is "speaker distortion", a certain type of distortion that pushes the speaker to its limits, often used in rock and blues playing, that is potentially harmful to a speaker. But for typical usage, especially in low volumes, you 'll never get it.

  6. #5
    So with a high-gain preamp, I could use my Bud as a "rock" amp?

  7. #6

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    I've done many rock gigs using my Acoustic Image combos with a modeler into the effects return. At reasonable volumes it works great.

    Danny W.

  8. #7

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    I once loaned my Fender Deluxe in a 15 inch cabinet with a 100 watt bass speaker to a rock-in-roller. When I got it back the voice coil was melted and stuck fast. That was only a 18 watt amp. He pulled the distortion knob and cranked it up full. He did buy me a new speaker.

  9. #8

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    Some guitar speakers are designed for producing good, musical distortion. So it's part of the intended use. It might shorten the life of a speaker but we are still talking about decades of use. Hifi speakers might take more abuse from distortion.

  10. #9

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    Did you not play some AC/DC on your stereo?

  11. #10

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    Tube amps and distortion pedals clip and compress the signal and may be safer than a more dynamic clean signal at volume (see discussions on other forums about 'clean' signals and load boxes exhibiting unexpected distortion). The issue the HiFi folks were referencing was probably clipping from solid state amps:

    "With regards to most tube amplifiers, clipping is not as likely to damage speakers as long as the power level isn't excessive for the drivers subjected to the clipping signal. With direct-coupled solid-state amps, the clipping will result in a DC-like signal which will heat up the drivers."

    solid state amp clipping speaker damage

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound
    So with a high-gain preamp, I could use my Bud as a "rock" amp?

    Yes. As long as the signal is inside the specs the speaker wants to see, you won't damage it.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thumpalumpacus

    Yes. As long as the signal is inside the specs the speaker wants to see, you won't damage it.

    You will also notice that since distortion (mainly at high volume levels) produces additional heat in the voice coils of speakers (which in certain situations can be enought to wreck the voice coils), most speakers that are designed for use with high gain amps, typically have larger voice coils, to better dissipate heat (this why so many Celestion speakers typically have such big honking voice coils). Though, if you play at medium or (better yet) low volumes, the heat issue for voice coils isn't much of an issue.

  14. #13

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    I burned up a set of JBL's in my fender twin back in the 60's. That was before I became a jazzhead. I'm surprised i can still hear. But high frequency feedback is different than distortion. You can burn the coils.