stereo or multichannel systems tend to crash in a predictable way, so it makes sense to take a consistent approach to troubleshooting. The steps below will help you isolate operational problems in the specific component or area where the problem begins.

Speaker channel troubleshooter
Lifewire / Emily Dunphy

Troubleshooting channel dynamics

  1. Check if the speaker channel works with all sources.

    If one speaker channel will not play regardless of the input, you can more confidently narrow down the source of the problem to a speaker problem.

    Stereo speaker next to the sofa
    IvanWuPI / iStock

    For example, if the problem only exists with DVDs and not with any other sources such as the radio or CD player, it is possible that the DVD player or the cable connecting it to receiver or amplifier faulty. Replace this cable new or replace it cable known to be good quality to see if it works.

    Make sure the balance control is centered and the volume is high enough to be heard.

  2. Work backwards to check for breaks or broken connections.

    Starting from the speaker and moving towards the receiver or amplifier, carefully check the entire length of the wire for breaks or broken connections. It doesn’t take much effort to permanently damage most cables.

    If you encounter connections, make sure the connection supports a secure, proper connection. If something looks questionable or you are unsure, replace speaker wire and check the whole system again. Make sure all wires are securely connected to the terminals on the back of the receiver/amplifier and speaker. Make sure that no frayed ends come into contact with metal parts — even one stray thread can cause problems.

    If the speaker wire is in good condition, but the channel in question will still not work, then the problem most likely exists within the receiver itself or amplifier. This may be malfunctioning so contact the product manufacturer for warranty or repair options.

  3. Swap right and left columns

    This is a quick and easy way to check if one speaker is really bad or not.

    For example, suppose the right channel does not work when connected to the right speaker, but the left channel works fine when connected to the left speaker. After switching them, placing the left speaker on the right channel and vice versa, if the left channel unexpectedly does not work when connected to the right speaker, then you know that the problem is with the right speaker itself.

    If, after replacement, the left channel works with the speaker of the right channel, then the problem is not in the speaker. It’s related to something else stereo system — speaker wires, receiver or amplifier.

    Klipsch 7.1 channel speaker setup example

    An example setup diagram for a Klipsch 7.1 channel speaker.
    Image courtesy of Klipsch Group
  4. Make sure the equipment is not defective

    Electronics can fail or go out at any time, often with little or no warning. If replacing the cable in the previous step did not help, then the problem may be with the source itself.

    Replace the original product with another of the same type by connecting it to the original receiver or amplifier and speakers. If new testing shows that all speaker channels are now playing properly, then you know it’s not a speaker, but a device — it’s time to buy a new device.

  5. View the instruction manual for each device

Some devices may require non-standard, non-intuitive configurations, or may contain «hidden» issues such as fuses or jumpers that require replacement or reconfiguration.

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