Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Speaker failure

Yesterday the Medion computer speakers that I used with my Elecraft K3, failed. I was WSPRing on 10m and had the speakers switched off at the time but I saw some unusual interference on the waterfall and switched them on to listen. Nothing happened. No audio, nor did the blue power LED light up.

I checked the obvious things such as the cables and that the power supply was delivering 14V DC. It was. I took the speaker containing the audio amp over to the workbench and tried it on the bench power supply. Although the speaker was behaving as if no power was being applied, 20mA was being consumed when the switch was on. I have no idea where it was going.

Without a schematic there isn't much I can do but I doubt that the speakers are repairable anyway. There are no active components on the circuit board apart from one integrated module attached to a small aluminium heatsink. This has presumably let its smoke out. There are a number of capacitors on the board and the cable connections are extremely well filtered against RFI. I have never seen such attention paid to preventing RFI. I guess that this is because Medion is a German company and Germany seems to be the only country that takes compliance with EMC standards seriously. The speakers were almost completely immune even when I ran 100W. Having a tone control they produced very rich-sounding audio from the K3, unlike its internal speaker which is shrill to listen to and has very little bass response.

I've now replaced the Medions with a pair of passive speakers that I originally got for this task but with those the audio sounds boxy no matter how I fiddle with the K3's RX EQ settings. The only benefit of them is that I'm using one less wall wart!

These Genius speakers look like they might be a good replacement but ordering a pair would be a lottery as I have no way of knowing if they are RF-proof enough. One pair of Logitech speakers I bought were a dead loss. They were handed to the local Oxfam shop within an hour of the postman delivering them as they were so sensitive to RF they were beyond hope.
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