I’ve got guns in my car and they won’t go; spirits in my car and they won’t go.
I’ve had my car for about 7 years. That’s a pretty good run. Very soon after I bought it, I swapped out the stereo and speakers with aftermarket ones. Then I upgraded to a dedicated amplifier for the front speakers. This setup has given me a lot of enjoyment over the years.
Recently though, when the temperature gets high, as it does often around here, I get this small issue. What happens is a rapid popping comes through my speakers at full volume. It typically scares the shit out of me, but I’ve never been so scared as to be unsafe on the road. Still, having a machine gun open fire in your car is not the most pleasant experience.
When this happens, I have to turn the stereo off completely. Muting the speakers doesn’t help. Moving the fader doesn’t help. So my diagnostic conclusion is that the problem is with the amplifier I have in my trunk. The heat must finally be killing it.
Yesterday, I finally had enough of this nonsense, so I went to the trunk and unfastened the amp from the wall. I waited for the machine gun to start, then I started banging the amp around. I figured if it was a loose connection, something would change. Nothing changed. I then removed and retightened the power lines, in case they were loose. No change. Some more banging. I assume parents can understand this method of troubleshooting. If something’s not acting right, knock it around a bit and see if it gets better.
I finally give up and disconnect the amp fully. I go inside and immediately order a replacement. Not bad, $60 on sale – that’s probably more than half off what I paid originally. Then I go out to buy groceries for dinner.
POP-POP-POP-POP-POP-POP-POP-POP-POP-POP-POP – WHAT THE FUCK!!! Why are my speakers machine gunning again? There is nothing connected to them anymore. You can imagine my complete confusion in this scenario. It’s like a corpse screaming after you’ve done the autopsy. (That imagery is courtesy of a death metal CD over the weekend.) So, I’m driving and the speakers are blasting at me. I want to find out how this is happening while I’m still driving, but I can’t take too long because it’s destroying my ears. My brain runs through any impossible situation. Could the speaker wires be frayed out and touching a power source anywhere along their path? Why would that stop when the stereo was off? No, the speaker wires are dead-ended.
Covering each speaker in turn with my hand, I found the source. The noise is coming from my center channel speaker and the tweeters in my doors. But how? I didn’t connect those speakers. Ohhhh! Those speakers are still connected to the original factory amplifier. That amp doesn’t get an input signal anymore, but apparently, that is the amp that is failing. After 7 years of (non-)use.
So now, I have an order for an amp that will be arriving Wednesday that I don’t need and I have an amp that deserves profuse apologies. Today, I’ll be able to disassemble the car and unplug that factory amp and reinstall the aftermarket amp. While I’m at it, I might as well remove all the Zune integration. Its time has come as well.