Not long ago, right after installing new door speakers in my car, I had to take one out and repair the foam ring.
Fortunately, it did not take a long time before the speaker was fixed and back in the car, and I thought that it might be a good idea to write an article about fixing speaker surroundings.
In general, to repair small damage on the surrounding ring, fill a damaged place with elastic silicone glue. Bigger damages and cracks should be covered with a thin patch to give it extra strength. In case of the largest damages or torn surrounding rings, it may be necessary to replace the whole ring with the new one.
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Tip: To protect surroundings from tearing too fast, you can cover them with lubricate, like INTERIOR RESTORER CREAM from ArmorAll.
The extra coating will prevent foam from dry too quickly and can add a few more years to your speakers’ lifetime.
In the article below I will show you how to fix a broken car speaker’s foam ring so you can later enjoy listening to your favorite music for much longer.
What Is A Speaker Foam Surrounding Ring, And What it Does?
The foam ring is part of the suspension of the speaker that works as a complete package with a cone and a spider. Both surround, and a spider at the bottom of the speaker keep a cone in a centered position that guarantees a free movement of the voice coil inside the magnet gap.
A voice coil must move only in an up and down direction without any side movements, that is why it is critical to keep a cone straight.
Damage to the surrounding on one side, especially when it is bigger than just a puncture, causes a cone to offset a little towards the stronger side. As an effect, because the voice coil in your speaker is not parallel to the inner of the magnet anymore, it starts to move with one side too close to the magnet, and you can hear a buzzing sound.
This position can cause even more damages to the voice coil. In the extreme, it can rub on the magnet and can be completely destroyed.
Also remember, do not play speakers with rotted surrounds.
Foam surroundings wear out relatively fast, it may take several years depending on the environment in your car before you may need to repair them. Higher quality speakers use rubber or fiber surrounds that can last much longer than foam or paper, but they also can be mechanically damaged.
How to Fix a Torn Speaker Surround?
There are not only speaker cones being damaged, often happen that speaker start to tear, or something has punched through a thin rubber on edge. If any of these will happen, you do not have to spend money on the new speakers, and similarly to the damaged cones, there are easy ways to fix surroundings.
It does not really matter which ring material your speakers have when it is damaged. You can hear the flapping sound, especially on the bass speakers that have large vibrations. Even a small cut or punctures can cause further damages to the speaker, so try to repair it as soon as you see it.
Speaker surround can be fixed within a few minutes if the damage is small, for example, you see a torn edge, or puncture through the foam or the rubber. For larger breaks, you may need to replace the whole surround.
Below you will find a step-by-step guide to both scenarios, let’s go ahead and start from simple repairs.
How to Repair Speaker Surround?
To fix damaged speaker foam or rubber rings, you do not need any special tools. Use a blade knife, scalpel, or a pair of scissors. As a glue, I recently used Parts Express Speaker Repair Glue, and the sealing was great.
If the ring has just scratch and it does not go through the material, you can leave the speaker on the magnet and just fill a scratch with the glue from the top side. This is the easiest repair you can make.
But if there is a puncture or bigger crack, you have made a few more steps to fix the speaker.
The first step to repair a foam or rubber ring is to clean this area. I use standard nail polish remover, and it cleans rubbers and foams perfectly.
When the foam is clean on both sides, flip the speaker over and let it sit on the surrounding. This position is excellent because the weight of the speaker helps to keep together both parts you want to glue.
If you are working on a bigger woofer that has big movements of the cone, it is good to cover this area with an extra patch. To make it just use a thin foam and cut a small piece that will cover the damage.
Take a little of the silicone and cover the entire damaged area, but do not put too much. Cover also the patch with the glue and stick it to the ring. Do not leave gaps on the edges, and if you notice any, add more glue to fill it thoroughly. Now you are finished on the bottom side, so flip a speaker over and lie it on the magnet.
Repeat the process on the top side of the speaker. Fill hole or crack with a thin layer of glue, and then stick the patch to the ring.
Apply a little pressure on the repaired area, you can rub a finger over the patch.
When you have finished, leave the speaker in a ventilated place overnight to let it dry completely. Sometimes it can take longer to dry, it depends on used glue. In rare cases, you may need to wait for 48 hours.
How to Replace Speaker Surround?
More complicated is to replace the whole surrounding disc, but do not worry, this is also straightforward if you are following steps in the right order.
- Cut off the ring from the cone edge. Make sure you do it gently to not damage the cone.
- Remove the foam from the edge and clean all debris where the surrounding area will be glued.
- Take a new surrounding ring and cover the inner part with a layer of glue. Do not put too little glue because the connection of the cone and surrounding must be solid and entirely sealed. Also, do not glue inside and outside of the ring at the same time. By doing so, you risk your voice coil to be out of the center, and that can kill your speaker.
- Flip over a surrounding and stick glued area to the edge of the cone. Make sure surrounding is centered over the cone. For better sticking to the cone, apply some pressure on the glued edges, you can gently tap it all around with a finger.
- This step is the most important in the whole replacement. You will have to glue the ring to the speaker surrounding making sure that the cone is centered against the magnet.
The video below shows the great and fast way how to center the voice coil and test a speaker at the same time.
- When the voice coil is centered, you can connect the foam ring to the speaker basket. Apply glue over the whole area and gently push a speaker ring down until it touches the basket. Rub fingers over the all surround, making sure it will stick to the basket with no gaps in between.
- After gluing, it is good to keep both parts together. You can use plastic clips and leave the speaker overnight. The next day when the glue is dry, push a cone a few times down, and if you do not feel any rubbing, the speaker is ready to be installed in the car.
How to Protect Speaker Foam Ring From Damages?
For mechanical damages, try to cover speakers with grills, and if not possible, try not to place any heavy sharp object in front of the speakers.
To prevent tears on the foam or rubber rings, do not keep speakers in a high humid condensation. It may be difficult during rainy days, but when you often use AC in a car, air should dry quickly.
Also, sunlight is a killer for soft foam. When you have speakers in the dashboard or in the rear deck, they are exposed to the sunlight for the whole day, and that does not increase their lifetime at all. Tinted windows may help but not on the dashboard.
To protect your surroundings from tearing too fast, you can cover them with lubricate, like INTERIOR RESTORER CREAM from ArmorAll. The extra coating will prevent foam from dry too quickly and can add a few more years to your speakers’ lifetime. For the best effect, try to cover both sides of the surrounding. It may not always be possible to access this area in the smallest speakers, but you can use thin ear sticks with a little cream at the end and rub it gently.
It is essential to check the speakers from time to time. If you notice any signs of damage to the surroundings, try to repair them as soon as you can. This way, you can prevent more complicated repairs in the future. I am checking my speakers twice per year before and after winter, and so far, they are in good condition. I am going to keep it that way also for the new speakers.