Will accidental max volume damage a speaker?


I think I’m okay but I would still like some reassurance. My preamp has an option to use one RCA input as a pass through that bypasses the volume control. In other words whatever volume goes in, goes out. Weeks ago I set it up that way to test a different component and I forgot to set it back when I unhooked that component. So today I hooked a dac to it using the dac’s fixed outputs, so I assume line level. So when I started a song it was loud, really loud for about four seconds. Probably not as loud as if I maxed out the volume intentionally, although I’ve never done that so I can’t be sure how loud that would be. Just wondering if speakers have a safety mechanism designed in where the drivers can’t over travel and cause damage. My speakers are Usher Audio dancer mini-x DMD. They still sound perfect to me but I’ve always wondered about this question anyway so it motivated me to ask. I've probably just watched too many comedy movies where teenagers literally explode their speakers like there was a grenade in them
milkdudd
If there was permanent damage, you'd probably be able to hear it. But no, speakers generally don't have some sort of limiter built into them to protect against overdriving or overloading. So just be careful.
Okay thanks. I just listened for a couple of hours and they seem just fine. I guess the question would be how loud is a direct line level input compared to a normal condition of maxing out the volume dial. Maybe my accident didn't really have them as loud as I thought. Some of it may have been startle factor and my ear was almost right next to the speaker. Still it was pretty darn loud. Thanks again for your response
Not entirely true. Some subwoofer drivers have built in bump stops like the suspension on pickup trucks. This keeps the driver from ripping out it's wires if it is over driven. You can't miss when this happens. It make a racket!
Other drivers, it usually takes a while to over drive them. The main mode of failure is overheating. This is with clean power. Most drivers are burned out by distortion. Clipping is basically square wave which is +- DC. Everyone is familiar with what happens if you place a wire across the terminals of a battery. That is exactly what happens to the voice coils. But, it takes a little time depending on how bad the distortion is. There is a good argument that says powerful amps are safer. 
If all the drivers are working you are OK. 
If  you didn't take out a tweeter immediately, you are fine. Some speakers with first order crossovers can easily have a tweeter damaged with a short burst of loud music. I've done it  before with Green Mountain Audio speakers.

So if it sounds fine to you, it's probably ok. 

Oz



What if it's NOT accidental?  I turn every system I have all the way up.
As often as I like, too.  NO button pushing.

I've lost a couple of tweeters through the years, all ribbons or planars.
Out of over 500 small planars and ribbon drivers. Round VC speakers a single ring tweeter.

Power on, Power off, Thumps and POPS. That I would worry about.
Volume down, do what every you're going to do, including shutting down.
Always volume DOWN..

Regards
OP. I did the same thing with my new Audio Research REF 6SE and my then new Sonus Faber Amati Traditional. I think I got it turned off in closer to two seconds… and hopefully no hearing damage. It did not damage the speakers fortunately. 

 I was actually rather upset that ARC would cluster the three output pairs together and not, at least, put some caps on the pass through outputs. Wiring your system up against the wall… with you head upside down is asking to have this happen. My dealer puts tape across the outputs so his folks don’t accidentally do this in the show room. I think this is a real stupid oversight by manufacturer not put in some safety mechanism.
ARC clearly labels it's input and outputs. They are grouped because that is the cleanest way to organize the boards and wiring. They assume anybody rich enough to be able to afford their equipment would be able to read, even upside down.
"...I guess the question would be how loud is a direct line level input compared to a normal condition of maxing out the volume dial..."

That signal is the max voltage your preamp produces. WIDE FULL OPEN! 
“WIDE FULL OPEN!” 
Exactly
As many have already said, you would know (i hope) if you did any damage.  Speakers fail mostly due to heat. the voice coil, the electromagnet that moves the speaker cone/dome/whatever is wound with very small wire.  Over time it gets hot and !poof!.
The good news is everything has mass and takes time to heat up. How much time....depends.

The telltale signs are:
1. doesn't play2. a scratching sound as the speaker element moves, with associated distortion
This is why, as a sometimes equipment designer with stuff in and out of my system(s) literally 500-1000 X/year, i have fuses in my speaker cable.  And you know what?  Life goes on and I get great sound. No, not fancy fuses, ones i buy  LOT of at the Home Depot.
$15k speakers (when they were last sold) with unobtanium drivers are not something i wish to jeopardy.

Tweeters can go quite quickly - just a warning.  Woofers tend to require continued abuse.

But the bottom line is - if they still work, they are likely undamaged. 

G
If they still work and you hear them as sounding ok you probably got lucky you did not hurt them and i am glad you did not .
Lesson learned. Thanks for passing it on to the rest of us.
nope, Not if you have them Fused Correctly
They assume anybody rich enough to be able to afford their equipment would be able to read, even upside down.

LOL!!
Thanks for all of the input. A change I made to my system after this happened has proven to be a really good one, so ironically I think my system sounds better now than it ever did. Seemingly proof that I lucked out. I checked and the RCA fixed outputs of the dac I hooked to the preamp is 2.3v rms. Am I correct that a balanced output (if it had it) would have been much worse? Talking about laying on your back and trying to get everything hooked up just right, kind of similar last night I had to adjust some small gain switches on the back of my amplifier, holding a small mirror, using a headband mounted flashlight to look at the backwards numbers of the switches as I pushed on them with my fingernail. It worked but I doubt if it's in the manual that way
"...Am I correct that a balanced output (if it had it) would have been much worse?..."

no. You were WFO. There is no such thing as WFO plus a bit more, you were maxed out. 
If it sounds ok, it’s likely ok. 

My daughter, a professional musician, was over with a friend once, wanted to play a cd of her new EP, didn’t realize that just because the volume control goes from 0-20, doesn’t mean you want to go anywhere north of 6. Ouch!
Who fuses speakers? Not hi-fi, maybe mid-fi...