I’ve been an audio/video geek since elementary school.  I always wanted to be the kid who got to turn the filmstrip projector, run the 16mm projector…I could go on.  I never met an A/V receiver I couldn’t find a use for and must have at least 4 of them around the house.

Amanda and I are at the new house in Keeseville this weekend.  Whenever we come we try and bring more stuff from the house in Potsdam.  This trip I packed up my “occasional use” stereo set from upstairs–the one I use when I want to hear vinyl.  It’s comprised of an RCA receiver from the 90s or 2000s and two Harmon Kardon floor speakers I found by the side of the road shortly after moving to Potsdam.  I brought this and the TV from my den to the new house and got it all hooked up last night.  Amanda and I watched some TV and went to bed.

This morning while we were enjoying some coffee I turned all the gear on and noted a slight buzz coming from the speakers.  It was annoying, but not unbearable; and you couldn’t really hear it while content was playing.  Then all of a sudden the audio started cutting in and out and the amp was making clicking noises.  I got out of my chair and proceeded to do the things once does to such equipment when one doesn’t really know what’s wrong with it–you know; turning it off and on again, blowing dust out of it, hitting it, etc.  While I was doing this, Amanda exclaims, “did you see that?!”  I hadn’t, and asked her what she was talking about.  She had seen a spark come from the right-hand speaker.  I looked over and saw some wispy smoke coming from the speaker, which I thought was novel.  After all, this wasn’t “This Is Spinal Tap” and I certainly hadn’t dialed anything up to 11!  And anyway, amp was still buzzing, so I should probably pay attention to that, right?

Wrong.  10 seconds later I noticed that the smoke wasn’t going away.  There was more of it, and as I stared at it, the speaker burst into flames!  The cloth grill very quickly started burning along with the speaker cone.  I blew on it, but that was no good so I shrugged, picked it up, and told Amanda, “get the door!” and brought it outside tn tossed it face down in the snow.

That receiver and speakers have now been replaced by Dad’s old Fisher receiver from the 1960s and the KLH speakers he bought from the Hi-Fi shop when at college in Potsdam.  I never thought that speakers could/would catch fire like that.  But I’ve learned a valuable lesson: If there’s AC voltage going IN to something, then there is the possibility that that voltage can come OUT of it on any kind of wire if the right things go wrong; and that this is why equipment should always be unplugged whenever you are making any kind of change to connections.

One of these things is not like the other…

Closeup of the dead speaker.

Burnt speaker cone and cloth cover.

CLoseup of speaker cone without cover.

5 thoughts on “Buzz…Pop…*poof*

  1. Another valuable lesson I see here: if you’re going to have to carry flaming equipment out of your house, experts suggest doing this only when there is sufficient snow on the ground to extinguish the fire.

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