My Subwoofer Smells Burnt – What Can I Do?


Welcome to the diagnosis department where you will know exactly why your Subwoofer Smells Burnt!

Oh what’s that smell? Is something burning? I’ve felt it more times that I care to admit.


There can a be a few reasons why your sub might give a burnt smell. I will tell you exactly which are the most common symptoms and how to fix them.

Quick heads up: if your woofer is new then it’s quite common to have a burn-off smell while you break it in. Eventually it goes away after a few days.

Also you have to make sure your amp is delivering the right power plus you’re not pushing it over it’s limit. Scroll and I will share with you what I know and how to solve it once and for all.

Tell me already!


What Will I Learn? show

why does my subwoofer smell burnt


Why Does My Subwoofer Smell Burnt?

Your subwoofer tends to have a burnt smell mainly because of the voice coil on the subwoofer. This voice coil is an element that receives sound signals from the amp, after which the process of converting these signals begins within the unit.

These voice coils tend to be stuck to the subwoofers using copious amounts of adhesive or glue, which is why too much heat due to overuse can cause the adhesives to burn, leading to this kind of smell.

It is, therefore, important to ensure that you use the subwoofer up to its given capacity and not beyond it. In many subwoofers, this kind of phenomenon usually takes place for a limited period of time, after which the smell stops, but it can also go on for longer with some.


What Causes Overheating?

Overheating is the main cause that leads to your subwoofer smelling burnt. What, then, causes overheating? Let’s take a look at some reasons behind a subwoofer overheating so that you can keep those in check whenever you use the subwoofer.

Overpowering the Subwoofer

Overpowering the subwoofer is associated with the amp that you use in your sound system. It is important for the amp and the subwoofer to be compatible so that they can both function effectively. You should maintain this by keeping the right crossover frequency across all the units.

In case your amp has too much power, then this can cause it to send an extremely strong signal or current to the subwoofer which can then cause it to overheat in the process of trying to manage the current on its own and converting it into waves.

This overheating can then cause the glue on the voice coil to start burning.

Loud Volumes

If you keep listening to your music at high volumes, then this can lead to overheating as well. The subwoofer is meant to enhance low frequencies of sounds from your music but loud volumes can end up sending too much power to it.

Once again, this will end up putting too much pressure on the subwoofer as it will have to work harder to handle the sounds. This can then cause the coil to heat up more than usual, causing the adhesive to start burning and leading to an unpleasant burning smell.

Warped Audio

Warped audio can also cause the subwoofer to overheat beyond measure. Whenever you play a song, sound or audio from another source that does not blend in well with the rest of the audio, then this can cause the sound that your subwoofer receives to be warped.

It can then lead to overheating since the distorted audio will create issues for the subwoofer in terms of converting the sound signals.


Do New Subwoofers Smell?

New subwoofers tend to smell a bit burnt because it can take time for the unit to get used to working within your requirements. This can thus cause the glue on the voice coil to burn easily whenever the unit heats up due to usage.

This is a pretty normal occurrence that you do not need to worry about too much since the smell should ideally dissipate once the glue burns off.


Do Subwoofers Smell While Loosening Up?

Your subwoofers might take some time to loosen up from the tightness once you start using the unit. This mainly involves the suspension of the subwoofer becoming unrestricted so that it can start working properly by enhancing the bass and low frequencies.

This process does not usually involve any kind of burning smell because the elements that are loosening up are not connected to the glue of the voice coil. If this happens, then there might be an issue with the unit itself or you might be using the subwoofer incorrectly.


Should I Be Concerned If My Subwoofer Smells Burnt?

If your subwoofer smells burnt due to the voice coil, then you do not need to be too concerned since the smell should fade away and clear up once all the extra adhesive on the coil burns up.

On the other hand, if the smell continues to last for a few days, then you might have a problem in terms of your unit itself or an individual element of the unit. Make sure you figure out what the issue is and get the unit or component repaired or replaced.


Why Subwoofers Smell Burnt Final Remarks

Through this guide, you now know the reasons behind a burning smell from your subwoofer as well as how to tell when this smell is harmless and when it might be concerning.

Either way, you can try to take it easy on your subwoofer to prevent it from getting worse.

You may also like: Top truck shallow mount subwoofers


Frequently Asked Questions:

Is the burning smell coming from a subwoofer normal?

It’s normal from a new subwoofer to have a slight burning smell when you first turn it on. This is because the glue needs time to burn off though so this should go away in a few days or so if you’ve been using it for a while. It’s not like the glue is over heating and burning all at once, it takes a little bit of time so don’t worry about too much.

Why does my subwoofer smell like burnt rubber when it plays?

If you notice that your subwoofer smells like burnt rubber when you are playing it then this is because your voice coils are getting hot and causing this burning rubber smell to come into the air.

Why do my subs smell like burning?

You may be wondering why your subwoofers smell like burning. It could be because of a number of reasons, such as excess glue or burnt voice coils. Make sure you figure out what is causing this and try to fix it as soon as possible. To understand the issues, please re-read this article.

What does burning voice coil smell like?

Burning voice coil smells like burning rubber or tire, and it is very pungent. If you smell this, your voice coil is probably burning and you will need to check it out.

Is It Possible to Fix a Burnt Subwoofer?

A fully burnt subwoofer might mean that the voice coil or the cone itself is damaged. You can try to fix the cone, but you might need to replace the voice coil or even the entire unit. I wrote an article that explains how to fix a burnt subwoofer.

Can Subwoofers Catch Fire?

While rare, a subwoofer can catch fire if you keep using it in an unsuitable way, such as by overpowering it, using warped audio or loud volumes.

Can excess glue on the voice coil be the reason for subwoofer smell?

Yes, excess glue on the voice coil can be the reason for the subwoofer smell. When when you are using the voice coils and they overheat, it burns the excess glue on it.

Does a new subwoofer always smells burnt?

There are a few of hem that do. Typically there’s burn off smell with a new subwoofer (new subs) during the break in period.

Related: Subwoofer stopped working but amp is on 

Where does the burnt smell originate from?

There are multiple reasons such as: excess glue burning, voice coil glue, burning electronics, voice coil heats, enhanced bass causes voice coil overheats; glue begins to burn around the speaker basket it happened with a brand new subwoofer. Luckily there are plenty of homemade you tube videos to help you. Either way excess glue and voice coil overheats are the main causes. Also you shouldn’t forget that the glue to attach voice coils can be a cause as well. All in all the voice coil issue and excess glue has to be checked out first.

Why does my subwoofer smell like glue?

There are multiple reasons, such as excess glue burning, voice coil glue, burning electronics, enhanced bass causing voice coil overheating; glue begins to burn around the speaker basket it happened with a brand new subwoofer. Glue is used in almost all speakers and they smell because of that.

Why is my subwoofer getting hot?

There are many reasons, but the most common would be voice coil. It’s important to check it out, because if you continue using the system, you run a chance of burning your subwoofer out.

What does a blown sub smell like?

A blown subwoofer smells like every other type of burnt electronics, which means it can be pretty smoky depending on what is burning. It can also smell like a hot rubber melting.

Can a subwoofer catch fire?

It’s possible, but it doesn’t happen often. The main causes of subwoofer fire would be either the amplifier or the speaker alone, and that this is why you don’t want to mistake any other smells for this.

Can you fix a burnt subwoofer?

Yes you can fix a burnt subwoofer and here are the steps to do it:

  • Remove the damaged subwoofer
  • Take it apart and find the damage piece or pieces
  • Change the damaged piece or pieces
  • Glue everything together
  • Wire it in place

Can a subwoofer burn out?

Yes a subwoofer can burn out, typically happens during clipping when the sub tries to do something that it can’t handle it overheats and eventually burns out.

Why does my subwoofer smell like fish?

This can happen if there is a short circuit in the subwoofer and it has caused components within to overheat. It could also be due to an old, dusty coil that is burning off its deep odors.

How long do subwoofers last?

The general lifespan of a good quality subwoofer can range from five to eight years; however, it largely depends on how well you maintain your speaker unit by protecting it from dust and heat damage as well as keeping connections secure and clean.

New subwoofer smells burnt, why?

It’s possible that the internal components of the new subwoofer have been damaged during shipping or installation causing an electrical short circuit resulting in overheating of certain parts which produces an unpleasant burnt odor.

What causes a burning smell from subwoofer?

Burning smell from subwoofer is mainly caused by the voice coil getting too hot due to overuse, such as overpowering the subwoofer, playing loud volumes, or playing warped audio.

How long should you expect a burning smell to last on new subwoofers?

Generally, you can expect the burning smell to dissipate after a few days if it is due to glue on voice coil burning off; if not, then there may be an issue with the unit or a component that needs repair/replacement.

Will an overheated subwoofer produce an unpleasant scent?

Yes, if your subwoofer has been overheating due to overpowering it, playing loud volumes of sound, or playing warped audio files then this could cause it to produce an unpleasant scent as the voice coil gets too hot.

Why does my subwoofer smell like it’s burning?

The burning smell usually indicates that the voice coil has burned out, which can be caused by an overdriven amplifier, too much power being pushed to the subwoofer, or a defective driver.

What is a speaker voice coil?

A speaker voice coil is a thin wire that is wound around an aluminum former (cylinder) and suspended in the magnetic field of the speaker. The audio signal to be amplified is passed through this coil, generating an electromagnetic force which moves the cone of the speaker, thus producing sound waves.

How much power can a speaker handle?

The amount of power a speaker can handle depends on several factors such as its size and design, but generally speaking it should not exceed its power handling rating. Too much power could cause damage to both the speaker and/or amplifier as well as excessive distortion.

What happens when a subwoofer voice coil heats up?

When a subwoofer voice coil heats up, it can lose its magnetism and reduce its ability to generate sound waves from an audio signal. This can lead to reduced sound quality or complete failure of the speaker if left unchecked for too long.

Why does my subwoofer smell like burnt rubber?

If your subwoofer is emitting a burnt rubber smell, it’s likely due to excessive heat generated by either too much signal input or poor ventilation within the enclosure. This excessive heat can cause damage to both the components inside and outside of the woofer, leading to permanent damage if not addressed immediately.

What causes voice coil overheats?

The primary cause of a subwoofer voice coil overheating is when the sound system’s subwoofer is pushed too hard, drawing more power than it can handle. This can lead to physical damage, resulting in a burnt smell or burnt rubber smell emanating from the subwoofer’s voice coil.

What does a burnt smell coming from my subwoofer indicate?

A burnt smell coming from your sound system’s subwoofer typically indicates an issue with the speaker’s voice coil that could lead to permanent damage if not taken care of immediately. The most likely cause is overheating due to being pushed too far which results in excess current running through the system and damaging components.

Last Updated on October 23, 2023 by Brian Beasley

Written by Danny Reid

Hey, I'm Danny, and I know how hard it can be to find the perfect audio gear. Need a new stereo, amp, speakers, or subs? Don't worry – my blog is here to help you cut through the noise! My mission is to give you the best reviews, so you can make the right decision for your audio needs. And if you ever get stuck thinking, "Where does this blue wire go?" don't worry – I've got tons of cool tips to help you out of any jam. So come along with me on this fun, sound-filled adventure, and let's find the perfect audio setup to make your tunes really sing!