No, magnets are not inherently bad for speakers. In fact, magnets are an essential component of speakers as they are used to create the magnetic field that interacts with the voice coil to produce sound.
When things aren’t built correctly however, speaker magnets can cause severe damage if they come into contact with ferromagnetic surfaces like screws. Furthermore, their magnets could interfere with delicate electronics like pacemakers and credit cards and cause irreparable harm – potentially even leading to permanent damage.
Recently developed innovations have enabled speaker companies to use new materials like Iron Nitride without compromising on performance, opening up endless opportunities for speaker designers.
1. Physical Damage
Speakers are essential components for converting electrical audio signals to audible sound waves, with their success determined largely by the performance of their magnets, which help make them so potent.
As anyone familiar with magnets from grade school would know, magnets have north and south poles that attract or repel each other depending on their polarity. Their magnetic fields can have an influence even though there may be space between their magnets and objects within range of its effects.
If a speaker’s magnet comes into contact with metal, two magnetic fields will interfere electrically and degrade performance of its speakers. To prevent this from occurring, keep speakers away from any metal objects which might hit or rub against them physically, and long term exposure can cause their magnets to lose their magnetic properties over time, diminishing sound quality further.
As with other waves, magnetic fields cause interference that may impair audio playback. Therefore, it is wise to keep speakers away from any type of ferromagnetic metal such as magnets. Just as dropping two marbles into a standing pool of water produces waves which interfere with one another, so too do magnets produce magnetic fields which interfere with one another and cause interference between audio samples.
Electromagnets of speakers use variable current to generate an oscillating magnetic field that causes its voice coil to vibrate, thus stimulating diaphragm movement and producing soundwaves into the atmosphere.
Ferrite and neodymium magnets are two of the most frequently used speaker magnets, with the latter offering superior tonal response in higher-quality speakers. Even the best speakers, however, may experience magnetic interference if too close to any metal objects – for optimal performance it should be kept 6cm from speakers as a rule – along with credit cards, floppy disks or hard drives in order to avoid permanent damage to either.
When a speaker magnet comes into contact with metal it can cause overheating. The magnetic field from the magnet creates heat in the voice coil that must be dissipated quickly for optimal performance and safety. If heat builds up inside it will damage both its components as well as permanent damage to the speaker itself.
Ferrite magnets are often employed in speaker design due to their low magnetic resonance and ability to come close to metal components without damage, though some high-end hi-fi speakers also utilize neodymium magnets – smaller but producing greater power, they can even come closer than ferrite.
Both materials offer their own distinct advantages and disadvantages for speakers. Alnico was used in vintage amplifiers but its disadvantages include high cost and limited power handling capacity. Neodymium costs significantly more but provides greater performance as well as being durable.
Speaker magnets produce a magnetic field that can have adverse effects outside of their speaker cabinets, such as impacting computer drives and CRT monitors, refrigerator magnets or any other strong magnetic objects nearby. As a result, speakers should always be kept away from these items to minimize the magnetic influence generated by speakers’ magnets.
Magnetic fields produced by speakers may interfere with one another and interfere with sound waves produced by speakers, leading to distortion in soundwaves and diminishing audio quality overall. The extent of interference depends on both magnet strength and proximity between magnets.
As seen above, speakers can be damaged in various ways. Some types of damage involve physical contact between objects and speakers while other damage comes from metal coming into contact with their magnets. It’s essential that speakers remain away from anything which might physically damage them as well as avoid touching metal near or touching magnets unless absolutely necessary.