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I came across this voice-record from Madonna, which upon playing, made a terribly loud cracking sound. After I played this, I'm pretty sure that there was some damage to the speakers since I'm very convinced that the music sounded differently before.

The sound was playing for maybe, 5-10 seconds, I've played it again to prove it. After it plays and I regulate the sound, e.g. close the mp3 file/browser windows, the sound temporarily gets quieter but "recovers" after some time.

It really is a bad issue, would love if somebody could somehow analyse or prove it.


  • Would the speakers recover somehow from damage like that? For example if I turn off sound for some time?
  • Can I somehow test if my speakers are damaged?
  • Is it possible to damage hardware speakers from listening to a loud sound, especially something like this one?
  • If yes, how, if no, why?


The very loud cracking can only be re-produced if you play the mp3 online, e.g. open it in safari.

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The RIAA likes to put "bad" MP3s on filesharing sites... Just so you know – Canadian Luke Sep 28 '11 at 0:03
Well actually i remember this god damn file from news, back in the 2000s and god knows why, i wanted to listen to just the portion, where this cheeky singer is swearing. I did not know that there were some bad sounds on it. I'm someone who actually BUYS CD's but after this incident, my opinion drastically changed towards the music industry. I think i will, NEVER, EVER buy any music CD again! Note: I've never listened to madonna, just wanted to hear exactly this swearing part. – Herr Sep 28 '11 at 0:06
sounds awful to me. but maybe thats just madonna. – Sirex Sep 28 '11 at 7:33

Depends on the nature of the damage. Worst case scenario is your speakers 'blew' or the diaphragm of the speakers got torn - in which case there's not much you can do. In either case, i can see playing sounds at a lower volume making a difference.

Unfortunately most tests for either involve opening up your system and visually inspecting the speaker for tears on the cone, and/or checking the resistance of the speaker

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Yes, it is indeed possible to damage speakers from loud sounds. I'm not going to listen to your mp3, as I'm not risking my speakers to diagnose your issue here (sorry!), but there are a variety of things that may can happen if you exceed the maximum specifications your loudspeakers were designed for. I've "popped" a couple of speakers in my time by playing music excessively loud through an amplifier that is rated past the speakers (over-driving), but if your mp3 is recorded with sudden sounds as you state, this could easily temporarily overburden your speaker.

As you don't state what damage you think has been done, it is difficult to help you with more specifics.

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I've updated the question with the scenario – Herr Sep 27 '11 at 23:41

For what it's worth the file seems either deliberately or accidentally corrupt and so you were just listening to random sound artifacts:

enter image description here

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Well i was able to open it in audacity without any problems, in fact the high pitched sound cracks only shows up as wimpy little cracks. If you open it within a browser however, it makes a TERRIBLE sound. Weird. – Herr Sep 28 '11 at 7:06
Hmmm - very strange! It may be that if the noise pulses are of significant amplitude with very fast rising/trailing edges they are too extreme for audacity to render so you don't see their true magnitude. – Linker3000 Sep 28 '11 at 7:14
It may be dependent on my hardware, i have an iMac 27" mid 2011 – Herr Sep 28 '11 at 7:16
@Linker3000: It looks like you are describing severe clipping, which would damage speakers. I have not listened to or analysed the file though. – paradroid Sep 28 '11 at 7:29
@paradroid, Yes I was describing clipping in a non-techy way but you are right. Clipped waveforms have nasty flat tops and bottoms that represent a steady-state (eg: Direct Current-like) signal that can damage speakers. – Linker3000 Sep 29 '11 at 15:48

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