Can you smell your speakers when youre rockin out?

Lol, I know this a funny question, but whenever I'm listening at loud volumes, I can smell my speakers. It's always the same smell no matter what speakers I've had. It's not a burning smell, more like the insulation used in the boxes. Is it the air blowing through the insulation and then out the port, or cooked voicecoils? Like I said, it doesn't smell like burning electronics but I 'm not sure what it is. It kind of smells good; like new rubber in a bike shop or race gas smells to me. It's the association of good times :-)
No I can't. Perhaps your pushing your speakers too hard or are have a peculiar nuerological disorder? Ozone maybe?
No, I can't.....maybe something crawled into your port hole and died. haha :)

"It kind of smells good; like new rubber in a bike shop or race gas smells to me. It's the association of good times :-)"

Could it be something like secondhand smoke at a rock concert? They all smell the same.
Never smelled anything from my speakers.

I have smelled smoke from cooked electronics, but I guess that's not the same.

Could it be the smell of the wood glue or of the fiber batting (if any) inside the speaker being expelled from the speaker port by the woofers' large excursions?
I once had an old Marantz 1060 amp that smelled wonderful when it warmed up. Someone must have spilled a little scented oil or something into it.
When I turn it up, sometimes I can smell my neighbor heating up before calling the cops.
Lol MT, Ha Ha!
All Jokes aside, I can't believe I'm the only one. I don't know if it's the voice coils because it doesn't smell like burning electronics, or burning anything for that matter. It does smell more like batting / wood glue perhaps but part of me wonders if it is voice coils, which would be bad and in which case I should turn it down but if it is batting and glue, then I'll just rock on :-)
You are probably smelling the varnish from the voice coil heating up. If you can smell it, you are driving your speakers way too hard. The voice coil will eventually open if you keep it up.
Back about 10 years ago I had a pair of Martin Logan Quest Z's that didn't agree with one of the preamps that got "rotated" in one afternoon during a preamp "shoot-out" and something went terribly wrong...fried a bunch of wiring and resistors and stuff on both crossovers. But that sure as hell didn't smell too good. Smelled like $100 dollar bills going up in flames! Ha Ha Ha! (which it really DID end up costing multiple Benjimin Franklins to get my speakers fixed). Oh the joy....
maybe that smoke you smell is from something else...


So what your telling us is your speakers may smell but, as anyone who has heard them knows, they certainly don't stink.

Next time it happens, you may want to touch the speaker surrounds to make sure they aren't heating up. But I think you'd have to play some awfully powerfull music at very high, and sustained, volume to make the surrounds heat up. Unlikely, but you could rule it out easily enough. Good luck.

I like the voice coil theory, also perhaps could be crossover heating up?
When pushed to hard, mine do smell like pepperoni.
Joe, do you own Sonus Faber speakers?


you are probably pushing the speakers too hard.
Are you sure it is your speaks and not your amp or preamp? This has not happened to me, lord knows plenty of strange things have however.   

Very funny! Never heard of speakers smelling.

I received a pair of Focal speakers in September with beryllium tweeters and a notice in the owner’s manual about the dangers of ingesting that metal.

I texted one of my audio buddies to see if I should listen to loud music with these tweeters, he thought I’d be OK doing so, but warned me not to let my dog lick those tweeters!

Back to the smell...could it be that the smell is actually from the dried leaves & buds from a plant which comes from Mexico or Columbia?  Just saying  ;-)
Never heard of this.
The scent I was smelling was the insulation / batting, glue, wood, stain, (new electronics?) etc.

My last setup was in a smaller bedroom, sealed pretty well also.

The smell is of new speakers, like a new magazine, car or home.  The smell goes away after time or after the environments smells take over, just like your new car or new home smell goes away after awhile.

If you have sealed cabs then you probably wont smell what I'm talking about.  I think that the air moving through the cabinet, over and through the insulation and out the port is what I was smelling.

interesting though that no one else has smelled this on this thread.
b_limo, I experienced exactly what you did with a pair of ported speakers I had at one time. One day after letting them settle in for a few days I goosed the volume a bit and got the air flowing through the port and my large 22x20 room filled with the smell of the finish on the speakers. It was very interesting and, honestly, pretty cool. Those ports were certainly getting used.


So b_limo, what's your new setup like? You need to update that system page.
b_limo, i agree with several other members that you are probably pushing your speakers too hard.
My understanding is that voice coils are very inefficient in converting electrical energy into mechanical (pistonic) motion energy - we are talking 2-4% efficient - hence voice coils can get hot pretty quickly.
I also am wondering whether the speaker is not manuf totally correctly in that there isn’t sufficient clearance between the insulation materials inside & the voice coil magnet so that when the voice coil is getting hot, it’s touching the insulation material & that material is outgassing....
I've had B&W ported speakers myself & a family member has ported Green Mountain Audio speakers + I've heard my friends' ported speakers (such as ATC, Von Schweikert, Star Sound Caravelle, etc) & never smelt the speaker when we were rocking. 
He is not pushing the speakers too far. The smell comes from the materials used. MDF is obviously a material which is commonly used and carries on outgassing for many years. The woofer, crossover parts, wires etc all have a smell from the chemicals used. This is toxic but there is no law to protect us.

Every speaker i have bought has a chemical smell. If it's ported then obviously as you raise the volume, more airflow means more smell being released.

The worst speakers in this respect are the green mountain Audio.
They use fibreglass inside the cabinet (which is pretty unusual for a speaker) which then gets blown out through the port into your room. You would need a a particle counter to measure this because the fibres are invisible.
GMA also use car wax on the cabinet. It was a terribly strong smell enough to cause headaches. I removed it by scrubbing it off but it still took several months to go away.
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fibreglass and polyester are different materials. The PMC and B&w used foam. Nothing like fibreglass. 
re. Kenjit's new posts maligning Green Mtn Audio the link to the thread is (sorry the link provided in my earlier post was incorrect):

Fiberglass is a exceeding good material to line a speaker cabinet with, JBL did it many years ago.  As far as it being "dangerous"  is used extensively in almost any home as insulation,  in the walls, floors and the attic.  If it was this "dangerous" don't you think it would be unlawful to use as home insulation.

Good Listening


I agree fibreglass is great when it comes to sound absorption but i am talking about health and safety. And what I have posted is completely relevant to the title of this thread. I am just offering my opinion on another aspect of speakers which is often not spoken about.

The fibreglass industry would suffer a loss if they started to admit it is actually more dangerous than it is often claimed.

The danger exists when the invisible particles become airborne and then breathed in.
If GMA can prove using an air particle counter that no fibreglass is released from the port when playing music, then they can claim its safe. Otherwise I would like to know how much of that stuff comes out.
If you think there is a safe limit on the amount of this stuff you can breath in, thats your opinion. My own view is to avoid the stuff completely. Its safe in the attic because nobody goes there. Its not airborne. You can easily avoid this by simply using other materials like polyester. GMA used polyester in my speakers at my request. They dont do it routinely as it takes more effort. Neither polyester or fibreglass has any effect on bass anyway. It takes much more than a bit of fibreglass, to get rid of bass energy inside a tiny cabinet.

If it was this "dangerous" don’t you think it would be unlawful to use as home insulation.

No. You cannot depend on the law. If you want to avoid air pollution, you cant depend on the law because its being broken all the time. Car pollution IS dangerous but the law does not protect me every time I go out in public and breathe in all of those fumes.
I agree with Bombywalla. Kenjit's continued attacks on Green Mountain Audio are unwarranted and incredibly tiring. Move on to a different subject already. It is difficult to believe all of the whining going on after 4 years. 
I think bombaywallas attack on ME is unwarranted given that he doesnt even know the story of what happened. The truth is that contrary to GMAS claim, i received no refund. If anything, GMA are the ones trying to smear me so that they can be absolved of any blame whatsoever.
It is very unusual for manufacturers to come out and criticise their customers so eagerly.

Just because I mention facts about GMA doesnt mean I am attacking them

The bottom line is that this roy johnson fellow is a controversial character and so is the whole theory of time cohesion which he fervently defends and promotes.

He has dismissed Professor malcom Hawksfords research on time coherence and told me that he didnt know the math behind it. Hawkford is one of the few people who does serious research in audio and the math is all there in his papers for everyone to see. Roy has published not even one paper on time coherence in the AES so his claims are unproven.

You need to read threads like this old one to see what I mean
Roy Johnson is not the only person that supports the virtues of time coherence. John Dunlavy, Richard Vandersteen, Pat McGinty, Jim Thiel, and Dale Pitcher all either build or have built phase coherent speakers that have been highly regarded and well received by critics and users alike. Reference 3A is another company that favor coherence. Why aren't you blasting all of these fine speaker designers for their decision to focus on phase coherence? To dismiss this design choice as nonsense is ignorant or a clear sign that you are doing nothing more than grinding an axe. There is a reason that John Atkinson performs impulse response test on every speaker that he tests. He must feel every test he runs on a speaker is important to it's overall performance, otherwise he wouldn't perform them. In some sort of twisted way, you have taken a thread about the way a speaker smells when playing and turned it into bashing GMA and their design choices yet again. That should give any one reading this a clear clue what a nut job you are. Give it a rest.
Why aren't you blasting all of these fine speaker designers for their decision to focus on phase coherence?
Roy Johnson himself dismisses those other designers. Roy wont be pleased that you are conflating his superior designs with all of those others you name. According to Roy, only his speakers are time coherent, correct me if I'm wrong.

If time coherence was so important, EVERY designer would be using it in their designs not just the handful you name. EVERY audiophile would insist on it. 
Time coherence is neither necessary or sufficient for great sound. Proof? B&w, wilson, magico, YG, avalon, etc
I think the air filters I put in the two AC/heating units in my house are fiberglass, fiberglass should never be ground up and snorted, and I've never encountered smelly speakers in over 50 years of speaker usage…I've never paid much attention to Green Mountain Audio but hey…they look kind of cool...
At what point did I say that time coherence was necessary for great sound? My point is that time coherent designs can, and have sounded great. It is only one of many design decisions that any builder decides upon at the very beginning. Great sound is produced using many different design decisions. Dismissing all designs of one type because you didn't like one example is foolishness.  
After many decades as a professional musician and more recent decades as a paid (overpaid usually) live sound mixer…plus decades as an audio geekster (man…I'm OLD), I've narrowed my speaker preferences down to these: The ones that sound great to my ears. I find that using my ears instead of those attached to the heads of other people work much better in terms of actually hearing things that I might like. 
How dare you tell people what I think, especially of other designers! I agree and admire what countless designers, past and present, have accomplished. Indeed, many ideas of others and the research of others have triggered my own. This is reflected on my website, under the History of Loudspeakers- a long list of what anyone would consider important developments in speaker design.

I agree with wolf and others here that fiberglass, especially acoustic fiberglass (which is bonded) is not a health hazard. IF IT WERE, then our EPA would have banned it, as they did asbestos. You may not know this since you are in England. And fiberglass is not banned in the UK or EU if you’d done a search.

In answer to the original poster’s question, in my experience as a manufacturer, I agree with others that the two most likely culprits for this odor are the residual fumes inside from a varnish or other wood-finish overspray. This should go away after several months. The other cause could be from voice coil heat causing outgassing of the adhesives used on the voice-coil wires and perhaps the plastic voice coil former itself, on which the wires are wound (if it is not an aluminum former). Sufficient heat is generated when playing rock music at REALLY LOUD levels, and that means using at least a 75W amp on 90dB speakers, to a 250W amp on insensitive speakers. It cannot be the fiberglass inside the cabinet, because that has very little odor even when new, and because the ambient temp inside any home speaker’s cabinet is never high unless it’s sitting in full sun all day.

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Wolf, I have to say that I always enjoy your sense of humor.
Two years ago I brought home a new pair of Magneplanar 1.7s. I'm listening to them as I type. For most of those first two years, the mylar in the panels was radiating a smell. They exuded it even when nothing was playing. It didn't fill the room but I could always smell it when I went near one. Sometimes louder music made it a little more active, but never enough to ruin the experience--it usually radiated in a 3-foot radius maximum. 

The panels eventually settled down. I just stuck my big nose within 1" of one speaker while it's playing, and no more new polyester odor.
Kenjit, I’m not attacking you; rather i’m letting all other members know that you have a major axe to grind
So do you. You seem to pop up every time I mention GMA. Are you being paid by them?

Your episode with Green Mtn Audio
A) you dont know the story. B) I’m not complaining about my whole experience with GMA. I am only sharing my opinions when its relevant. 

the OP wanted to know if others could smell their speaker.

Yes and I answered by saying GMA was the worst. I speak the truth. They smeared some sort of car wax on the cabinet. It was stupid because otherwise the marble cabinet has no smell at all in comparison to your average mdf cabinet which does outgas toxic fumes for many years.

While it might be true that the other brands like B&W & PMC that you tried use acoustic polyester there are many other brands that have not listened to that could be using acoustic fiber. None of those other brands were maligned - only Green Mountain Audio was.

i never said PMC use polyester i clearly said they use foam. I own them. I am stating facts.

Realize that if you attack people & manufacturers you are very likely to be attacked yourself

and realise that the reason you dont see Roy Johnson posting on parts express, diyaudio and other technical forums is because his crazy theories wouldnt stand up to scrutiny.
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I understand you don’t like Green Mountain Audio - fine. Not everyone is going to like this brand

It’s not as simple as that. It’s the whole experience I was dissatisfied with. It was just a con job. I was promised wonderful sound and he even agreed to find a buyer if i wasnt pleased. This was a false promise which never happened. The guy then started attacking my cables, speaker stands and amp and finally my room. When someone mentions cables, thats when you know its a scam. I recognise that people on audiogon buy into the importance of cables, but there has never been any scientific proof for it. Record a cd using two different cables and I dare you to see if you can hear the difference.

Roy johnson never came over to my house to hear what I was complaining about so he could only guess what was wrong. But if you read the hifi choice review of the Rio, you can see that Roy refutes every criticism Paul makes about the Rio. He never accepts the blame. Paul mentions two criticisms, namely the forwardness and bass. According to Roy the first is not a flaw but the result of ’’time coherent’’ sound. The second is due to Pauls listening room being too long. (And by the way the ''5 star'' review it got means nothing. We all know how these reviews do not correlate with each persons own opinion of the product used in his or her home. Note that stereophile dont give stars)

GMA also do not honor their warranty. They wanted $200 for a few replacement screws and new foam grills. A complete scam.

Now if you want to continue this discussion, start a new thread.

Otherwise I wont bother defending myself against your false arguments, bombaywalla. You only know what GMA tell you. You know nothing about the whole story. You know nothing about the story of what happened to their UK distributor, who vanished. You know nothing about the numerous complaints i have heard privately, about roy johnson, from other speaker DESIGNERS who do understand the mathematics behind speaker design and cannot be so easily duped by Roys many false claims and arguments about time coherence, lobing and other aspects of speaker design.
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GMA also do not honor their warranty.
you kept the speakers for 2+ years. from the report you filed with the BBB of CO you wrote you opened the speaker yourself & tried to fix (like you know anything about speaker design by your own admission!). And, after all of this you wanted the manuf to take the speaker back & refund you money. WTF? When he didn't you cried like a little school-boy & now you write "GMA also do not honor their warranty". 
After what you did to the speaker + the length of time you kept it, no manuf would honor their warranty.....

Thanks to everyone for their support. Kenji is the only one to act this way out of many thousands of clients since 1991. You may have noticed he never answers anyone's question but only changes the subject and accuses someone else of attack. How strange. Shall we ignore him in this thread from now on? Certainly not doing the O.P. any good. Otherwise, best wishes.
Roy -- I have the perfect solution. You send me a pair of the same speakers in question here and I will report back to the forum every 3 months with an update... After, say 10 years we should all be done, eh?


In the first few hours of use this might be ok - voicecoil adhesives are getting "baked"

But later in life - you are burning up the ferrofluid and possibly damaged the kapton paper over the coil wires and may have caused arcing (that strong smell)

The op speakers probably failed a short time after the original post unless it was "baking"

The OP said he smelled something, no matter what speakers he used....isn't it obvious?  The smell has nothing to do with the smell he smelt, but has everything to do with the smell that's smelling from the one common denominator in his system that hasn't changed.  If more than one electrical item hasn't changed he may have to narrow it down by a process of bet is on a current hungry component such as his amplification.
b-limo you will not smell it over your herb odor!
shadome, you are completely right about the outgassing of adhesives going away sooner than later. Now, concerning your idea about ferrofluid burning up- first, it is a synthetic oil very similar to Mobil One, which means it burns at a temp much higher than any voice-coil winding and voice-coil former should be able to survive. Regardless, I am glad you suggested  that.

But dave_b got it right-- the point we all missed was the smell always being present. I would suspect the transformer in the power amp. desniffifying? Yes!