When I’m feeling stressed out, I love to get in my car, put on some tunes, and drive around aimlessly. Nothing can ruin a good drive for me — nothing, that is, except for speaker malfunctions. If you like cranking up the volume, you may have already noticed your car speakers rattle with bass.
Just recently, I heard a vibrating noise coming from my car doors. When I leaned my elbow against the door, I felt the vibrations passing through my elbow up to my shoulder. I even felt the bass in my chest — at which point I began to suspect that I may have been overzealous with the volume dial.
Essentially, I was feeling the impact noise that was coming from my vehicle’s sound system. The bass was shaking the sheet metal the car is made of and transferring to my own body. If you’ve ever leaned your head against a rattling bus window to catch some z’s, you know the uncomfortable sensation I’ve experienced.
How to Stop Car Speakers From Rattling Because of Bass
If you have noticed that the area around your car speakers is vibrating, there are simple steps you can take to stop that from happening.
1. Use the Equalizer
If your car isn’t something you might see on the Flintstones, you are probably familiar with your sound system’s equalizer. Thanks to this feature, you can individually adjust the volume of your bass, treble, and mid frequencies. Most people suggest having your bass slightly stronger than the treble, but you can play around until you find the perfect mix.
Of course, this plan hinges on you using higher quality audio files. If a 5-minute song only takes up a megabyte of storage space on your phone, it’s probably over-compressed. That level of compression is preventing you from being able to equalize the song because the file itself doesn’t store the basslines on a different track from, say, the vocals.
So I suppose the real first step here is to make sure you’re using a good source, and that your sound system is sophisticated enough to let you configure your music.
2. Tighten the Screws
The next thing you need to do is check for loose parts around the speakers. If the bass is rattling the speakers themselves, it could just be a matter of tightening the screws. Turn off your music and nudge the speakers and the surrounding surfaces a bit to see if they’re secure. Then just use a screwdriver to tighten the loose screws — hopefully, it’ll be as simple as that.
While you’re looking for loose things around the speakers, you should also check for objects you may have left lying around. Specifically, if you have speakers in your doors, they may be rattling the objects you leave in the door panels. Even if you need that stuff there, you could pad the compartment with a thin foam mat or a rag.
Lastly, you might still hear rattling even after you’ve taken care of these issues. In that case, the loose parts may be inside the car door or the trunk. If the noise is coming from inside a car door, you may have to open it up, which we’ll discuss in a bit.
3. Get a Good Subwoofer
As we have established, the only way bass could negatively affect you and your car is if you cranked the volume. Getting a subwoofer for your car is a potential answer to that problem. A subwoofer could give your bass some dimension without your having to turn the music up.
It would also take the burden of playing all frequencies off your speakers, which would relieve the vibrating sensation. After all, if your speakers are only playing middle and high register frequencies, they will probably rattle less. Getting a subwoofer or two would enable you to separately control the bass vibrations.
So if you’re listening to a podcast, you can turn the subwoofer down and eliminate the rattling. But if you want to listen to a song with a beat, you can crank it without distorting the main audio.
Keep in mind that, if you do get a subwoofer, you may have to invest in a capacitor as well. After all, most car manufacturers don’t think about upgrades you might make to your sound system when they’re designing vehicles. Most cars’ electrical systems aren’t prepared for the amount of energy a subwoofer would drain.
You would attach the capacitor inline onto the power cable between the car’s battery and your amplifier. The cap will get power from your alternator and keep it ready for your amp when it needs to produce bass frequencies. Essentially, it’s there to prevent your subwoofer from draining your car battery and impacting other battery-operated parts of your car. It also makes the amplifier’s power supply more stable, providing you with a high-quality bass reproduction that won’t blow your speakers.
4. Install Soundproofing Materials
Once you’ve tightened the screws that hold the car speakers in place and adjusted your bass levels, the rattling should be all but gone. If it isn’t, you may have to apply some soundproofing materials around the vibrating parts to permanently muffle the sound. Most people have to focus their efforts on the car doors, but you may also want to work around the back speakers.
The gist of it is the same no matter where you’re working. However, I’ll use the doors as an example since they can be a bit more difficult to finesse.
Depending on the vehicle you’re working on, you may have some difficulty taking off the interior of the door. Sadly, I can’t help you there; you’ll have to check your manual or look up videos online. Here’s one example of how it may go. You can also find more instructions for soundproofing your car door by clicking the link above.
After you have installed sound deadening materials in the door, you can spend some extra time on your speakers. The Road Kill foam speaker kit should focus the sound of the speakers and prevent them from vibrating too much.
While you’re looking inside the car door, you should immobilize any additional loose parts you find in there. Tape down anything that can end up shaking and hitting the plastic mask of the door from the inside.
Of course, my focus on the door speakers doesn’t mean that the back speakers are never at fault. The video below demonstrates what you should do if your built-in speaker or subwoofer suddenly starts rattling. Basically, the whole project will consist of you attacking the thing with sound deadening tape until it stops vibrating.
5. Take Your Car to a Professional
If all else fails, you can always get help from a professional. They may fix all your problems with something as simple as a bass blocker. These tiny devices are attached directly between the audio source, or radio, and the speakers. They should cut off most of the lower register without affecting the quality of the audio.
Alternatively, the people at your car repair shop could determine that your car needs a more serious speaker upgrade. Either way, they’ll know where and how to procure and install the materials you need.
Why You Should Fix Your Rattling Car Speakers
When you’re listening to music in your car, you want to make it sound as good as possible. Naturally, having a rich lower frequency range is a part of that equation. However, it’s not enough to turn the dial up to eleven. In any case, that can often get you in trouble with the law.
Furthermore, turning the volume up won’t even give you the audio quality you want. It could just end up distorting the audio and making it impossible to clearly hear the thing you’re listening to. Still, there are several things you can do to improve the audio quality inside a vehicle.
For one, you can start by doing your best to soundproof the car from external sounds. That way, you wouldn’t have to turn up the volume all the way up just to hear your music above the road noise.
So what if you just like to hear the sound of a strong, bone-shaking bassline? I know I do! Well, perhaps we should all hold off on cranking it up until after I’ve told you about the potential adverse effects bass vibrations might be having on your car. But first, let’s talk about how they may affect your body.
Loud Bass Can Cause You Harm
Can bass really cause you harm? Well, like most other audio frequencies, the lower register is only dangerous at certain volumes. That’s why people who have particularly noisy jobs have to wear earbuds.
The threshold of pain is around 140 decibels — that kind of noise can instantly rupture your eardrums. However, even lower volumes can seriously harm you if you’re exposed to them for longer than the permissible amount of time.
And that’s not even the whole story. After all, we perceive sound with our whole bodies, not just our ears. At rock concerts, you may feel the bass drum in your chest. Because of the shifting air pressure, particularly deep bass frequencies can impact our respiratory system more than anything else.
Most of the effects bass has on healthy people are momentary, if the sound wasn’t too loud. Some people even experience muscle weakness if they have to feel bass vibrations for a long time. Usually, that goes away after a few minutes.
However, if your bones are especially frail, loud bass noise could cause discomfort. Similarly, if you have a heart condition, you may want to keep the bass at a reasonable volume.
One thing I’d be particularly concerned about when it comes to listening to loud, low frequencies in a vehicle is the way the vibrations can affect our eyes. Namely, since our eyes have such a jelly-like consistency, the bass can also cause them to shake imperceptibly. That may lead to hallucinations, which is especially horrible if you’re driving at the time.
Loud Bass Noise Can Damage Your Car
Naturally, your health is the most important reason why you shouldn’t turn that volume dial too far. Of course, that’s not the only thing to consider here. You also need to worry about the shape of your car.
Regular noise in the middle and high registers probably won’t do anything to your car. However, bass sounds may actually speed up its deterioration. The metal parts your car is made of are always vibrating, that’s inevitable. Between the sheet metal pieces and the various wires and other parts of the car, that rattling eventually leads to certain areas weakening, rusting, or even breaking.
Incredibly loud bass noise can even make those vibrations visible to the human eye. In this video, you’ll see the lucky owner of a truly insane bass speaker setup lose consciousness after sitting in his car with the bass turned up. But before you see that, you’ll see how the noise is literally pulling the vehicle apart at the seams. And who knows what’s happening inside the metal frame!
In previous articles about automotive soundproofing, I’ve explained how you might prevent vibrations from affecting your car by using sound deadening mats. By attaching the adhesive mats to the sheet metal, you’re adding to its bulk and making it less likely to wobble. Additionally, if you wrap up the individual wires and parts that may bump into that sheet metal, you could prevent them from hitting the surrounding metal.
If you love playing bass-heavy songs in your car, make sure none of the vehicle parts can vibrate freely.
Enjoy a Bass-Heavy, Rattle-Free Ride
When you’re listening to your jams, you’re probably not particularly inclined to turn the bass down. I get it. You’re not about to miss that bass drop just because your ride is threatening to fall apart. But trust me, once the bass works a few screws loose or starts shaking things inside the car doors, you’ll want to fix it quickly.
Hearing rattling sounds but not being able to pinpoint where they’re coming from can be incredibly annoying. Fortunately, there are several ways to ensure you never hear that sound again. There are plenty of options between tightening a few loose screws or clearing out your door compartments and soundproofing your car or taking it to the shop. Hopefully, this guide has given you some clue as to where you should start.
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