What's that buzz, tell me what's a happening...

Playing Radio Head's "Pyramid Song" (a little loud but not even 10 watts) where Thom Yorke's eerie hum begins and one of my speakers starts to make a vibrating sound like a cheap old phonograph! I figure its inside the box, maybe behind the woofer. Almost sounds like a screw is loose and matching frequencies are causing it to vibrate and sing. This has never happened before!

"S**t" says I, and I start putting pressure on every screw head, binding post, sides of the cabinet etc to no avail. "S**t" says I again. I want to rip apart the woofer, get in there and hot glue everything. Probably not a good idea.

Ya think I can take the screws off the woofer or the binding post plastic housing thingee (or both) to take a peek? Is this a typical DIY thing to do? We're talking Totem Sttafs. What do you think could be loose in there? Or is it something more ominous...:-(
Rotted surrounds probably. Remove the grill and look. How old are they?
That's funny, I was playing a cut from Radiohead's OK Computer and it arc'd one of my KT88's in my amp. This was years ago, but I'll not forget the cut of music, though I don't remember the title. I'd been noticing how far the meters (Mesa Baron) were spiking with this particular cut. I'm going to have to look it up now! I think it might have been Paranoid Android.
The speakers are supposedly 3 years old. I've only had them for a month. There is no noticable flaw from the outside, and the buzzing seems to come from the inside. Very resounding in there I might add.

So far it has only buzzed twice (both times on this Radio Head CD) and only when the music plays at a lowly frequency for a period of time and at a loudish volume. Jeez Louis, it didn't do this for Leonard Cohen or Stan Getz! I just don't feel like hauling these down to a repair shop (first I'd have to find one). I could possibly ignore the buzz or just never play Radio Head (NOT!). I'm getting brave. Could it hurt to go in and take a lookee?
Call or Email Totem...they'd be the best to tell you whether you should and can open things up.
If you are handy with tools taking the woofer out shouldn't be a problem. Hopefully it's as simple as a wire slightly out of place and is vibrating against something. Knowing exactly where it's supposed to be is difficult.
Be sure to note the correct orientation of the driver before removal.
Perhaps you are simply over driving it...this is after all a small woofer and low frequencies take huge amounts of excursion on a small woofer?

It may also be a lose dust cap or perhaps the driver wire is touching the woofer cone when driven hard.....so yes do open it up and take a look!
First, try tigthtening all the woofer screws a little to see if one is loose. This happened regularly on my Spica Angeluses, exactly as you describe. Important: Don't overtighten! If the screw doesn't turn easily, then it's probably not the problem. If you get to one screw that turns easily, turn it until it's snug, then play the troublesome track.
What amp are you using?
Since you say the problem is in only in one speaker, I would first swap the speaker cable connection R->L, L->R, and see if the problem moves to the other speaker.

This will tell you a couple of things. First, it will confirm if the problem is just in the one suspected speaker. If you don't get the buzz with the cables swapped, you know the issue is/was in that suspected speaker. If the buzz does move to the other speaker, then the problem could be an issue with the design of that particular speaker model, or it could possibly be something in the chain before the signal reaches the speaker.

After the experiment, don't forget to swap the cables back to the original position and reconfirm that you still have the issue before you start "digging into" the speaker.

Anyway, it's free and it's easy to make the swap to insure the issue is really in that one speaker.


I had a similar problem with my Focals. Turned out the woofer was off-center in the cabinet. It took taking out the woofer and realigning and re-insralling it in the cabinet taking care to tighten the screws the same distance in even intervals until the woofer snugged into the cabinet.

That worked for awhile. then the noise came back, again at low frequency so I just requested a new woofer from Focal which they sent me free of charge. Now eveything is in working order. So again, it might be worth contacting Totem and seeing what the options are including a new driver.

Good luck
Well, did all that was recommended except one. Changed the L/R wires. Same speaker, same problem. Gave each screw a little tightening. Same problem. Decided to go in.

Went in from the back. Could see both drivers through the post hole. You know what? There really isn't a lot to these things is there? I think anybody with a little wood and tools could put something like this together. Pick up a couple of drivers, bolt them in... I digress.

The buzzing stopped when I grabbed the woofer magnet and gave it a bit of a torque grip. "Ha" says I. I'll tighten down the woofer some more and bob's yer uncle. The one piece of information I didn't heed was not to tighten too much. Now the darn T-10 torc bolt heads are all stripped (do they make a T-12 or T-13?). Bad to worse is the buzz is still there (starting to sound like a bad bugs bunny episode). Now when I walk by and I got Norah Jones or someone playing I think I can hear some buzzing. Turns out there isn't any (Norah is far enough removed from Radio Head I guess) but I go through the same thing some time later.

At this point I'm not sure what I'll do. I'd like to take that woofer right out of there and see if it isn't the whole problem. I'll have to come up with some finess way to get those very tight bolts out. The problem is, I'm not feeling very finess right now. Time for a Scotch.