Why Is My Speaker Wailing, Popping, Quiet, or Dead?

Problem reported by: [BC], [DS], [DWG] , [JCJ], [BAW], [DL], [LLU], [JM], [MCA], [KZ], [AT], [TSI – 99/5/12], [RCA – 99/04/02] , [JC – 98/11/21] [sonyle@HOTMAIL.COM – 99/8/12], [SA – 99/7/29], [plum2@email.msn.com – 2000/7/26], [BPA – 2000/8], [teilers@hotmail.com – 2000/8], [EC – 2000/8/17]

What Causes The Problem?

Usually it is failed components on the amplifier board, although there have also been reports of problems with the wiring. The NSX (and all BOSE car stereos) use integrated amplifier/speaker boxes for each speaker. These amplifiers are not the best design in the world, and they are set up to drive very low resistance loads. This leads to failure.

This seems to be a common failure with all BOSE car stereo systems. The NSX uses an Alpine head unit and CD player with BOSE integrated amp/speaker modules. It is not at all uncommon to have problems with the amps after several years. Usually at first the speakers give one of the following symptoms:

  • One or more speakers make a popping noise like very loud static or a loud wailing noise like a siren
  • One or more speakers will suddenly have much less volume than the others
  • One or more speakers cut in and out intermittently

Any of these are typically followed by total failure of the amp, at which point you just don’t hear anything from a given speaker.

[SA – 99/7/29] I wrote last week about the ear piercing sound that came from my sound system when I used it in hot weather. A few people wrote to say that it would soon die. It did (know-it-alls!).

How Can I Avoid It?

The less time the stereo spends at high volume the longer things are likely to last. However, even if you don’t "crank" the stereo often there’s a chance you’ll have problems after 5-7 years anyway because that’s just how these amps are.

How Can I Fix It?

Obviously you can simply replace the amp/speaker box unit. Unfortunately these units cost around $800 each from Acura.

The other option is to have the bad unit repaired. Unfortunately not too many places work on these BOSE systems because BOSE offers no tech support for third party shops. No parts, no schematics, etc. You can ship the unit to BOSE and they will fix it. Turn-around time from BOSE is 4-6 weeks and they will not commit to a price up front.

The good news is that a few places have taken the time to figure out how to fix them on their own. Some vendors and reviews are listed below and there is a very good  Do It Yourself write-up for removing/installing the amps as well as more technical information on the failure itself and how those handy with a solder iron can even fix it failed components themselves provided in the OEM Bose Speaker Removal, Repair and Replacement section of the FAQ.

Willman’s Electronics

Daryl Willman

 Willman's Electronics
 9618 Chartwell Dr.
 Dallas, TX 75243



He says he can fix them for about $100 and offers 3-5 day turn-around. I doubt BOSE would be any cheaper and certainly not nearly as fast.

Daryl has a few recommendations: "Troubleshooting tip: Open the right door and make sure it is the door speaker and not the bass unit that is above the passenger floorboard. The bass unit has a speaker also that is only about a foot from the right door speaker – sometimes hard to tell which one pops but easier with the door open unless it quits playing altogether. The bass unit powers the speaker between the seats also so it (not the speaker) needs to be repaired for that to stop. There’s 3 of these amp/speaker housings in the NSX – Left door, right door, and bass unit on floorboard. If you’re going to keep the car, rebuild all three and the sound will be back to like new, even though it may not be popping, if one is then the others are close and the sound is great when all are brought back to like new.

Regarding removing the door panel to get at the speaker/amp box: "Just go slow because the door panel will pull off the door seal. As you remove the screws around the panel, once they are removed, and the door handle is out, then carefully pull each tab (where each screw was) to the outside of the seal."

He guarantees the repaired units for 6 months.

[MCA] I used Willman Electronics. Darryl Willman seemed to be a good guy — it cost me $135 + shipping

[DWG – 98/12/13] Regarding Daryl Willman and Willman Electronics, I can confirm that all is as advertised. I sent him my speaker and a check for $145 ($135 for the repair and $10 for S&H) and about a week later the speaker was returned. I installed it yesterday, and it works. Can’t ask for anything more than that.

[CSK – 99/9/19] I got the panel off, mailed the amp to Daryl Willman for repair, and everything’s A-OK now. Thanks again…

[BPA – 2000/9/6] I recently went the Daryl Willman route. My drivers door speaker went bad as per the FAQ description. I pulled all three (doors + underfloor) speakers as they all apparently go bad around the same time, opened them up, detatched the PCB’s within and couriered them to Mr Willman. Now I live in New Zealand, way down-under, and Daryl had my speaker PCB’s repaired and back on my doorstep within a week. The Sound System is now back where it should be, and the price was around US$300 + postage. I can recommend this approach, and the door/floor disassembly was relatively straight forward.

World of Sound

Peter Cinicolo, World Of Sound, Orlando, FL – (561) 691-4434

[Anonymous] Bose used some really crappy components during the early to mid 90’s. I had my Bose amp rebuilt by World Of Sound in Orlando. They are familiar with the problem (very common). The dealer wanted $650 for my speaker/amp assembly on my ’91 Allante. I got all of them rebuilt by WOS for $80 each. They sound great! I just can’t believe how common this problem is and Bose hasn’t addressed it.

[DHA – 2000/6/8] Used World of Sound, 3579 Northlake Blvd, Lake Park FL 33403. Contact is Peter. He did repairs on both left & right and turned repair around in one day!!

The right was just starting to fail, and I was doing the Dali window "fix it thingies" over the winter. So, I had both doors apart and decided to get both Bose door speaker/amps taken care of … as they will fail some time.

The total bill, including shipping was ~ $200.00. I shipped the speakers for Monday FedEx delivery. Peter called about noon on Monday and had them fixed. Per my request, he sent the speaker 2 day UPS for return shipment. They replaced the capacitors in both amp units and a driver (amp … not speak cone) on the right side unit. Depending on how long you try to use the Bose system once the failure starts, you can experience more damage (voice coils and the like).

I definitely would use World of Sound again.


917 S. E. Lincoln Ave., Stuart, Flofida 34994 – Tel. 561-220-2211

[AL – 99/5/25] For $85.00 Suntronics in Stuart, Florida will repair your amplifier to be new again. I just had it done recently. Guarantee: Parts & Labor 1 Year

M&R Electronics

http://mnrelectronics.com/ampoprepbost.html , 517.790.2949. Spoke with Tom since Michael wasn’t available. He said that of the three Bose replacement amps on their site, only the first one listed ($125) was suitable for the NSX application, and that that one is for the doors only, not the subwoofer. I pointed out that we had listed the price at $70 in our FAQ. He replied that that must have been a long time ago.


[AK – 98/11/9] Contact Bose directly. The last time I checked (a few years ago), Bose was exchanging bad speakers for $100 each.

[JFKIceman@aol.com – 2000/3/13] I pulled the speaker out of the door, sent it to BOSE, and got it back three weeks later. The cost of repair is $100, and that covers anything that may be inop in the speaker system. You’ll need to >send them the entire speaker/enclousure assembly. The following numbers were accurate as of 1998 when I had my speaker repaired: BOSE 800.231.2673 Send speaker to (along with a $100 money order): 

Attn: John Villa – OEM QA

 Bose Corporation
 125 Fisher Street
 Westboro, MA 01581 

FOLLOW UP: 2000/10/1: My Sub amp and other door speaker went south. This time I used World Of Sound. This was a Very positive experience! Unlike BOSE, at WOS you get to talk to the Tech who’ll work on your amps. In my case turnaround was one day. The cost for fixing both amps & 5 day UPS was $210. If you have an amp problem; Start with WOS!!!

How Can I Prevent This From Happening Again?

The down-side is that all three of these options (replace the unit, have it repaired at BOSE, have it repaired by a third party) do not fix the root of the problem – poor design. This means that the new or repaired unit may suffer the same failure at some point several years down the road.

This has caused some owners to simply replace/upgrade their entire stereo with quality aftermarket equipment.

What is error CDE-02?

[DG] My unit did this after the battery was disconnected for about a week and the CD magazine was filled with CDs and left in the unit. Upon power-up, I got the same message you did. Turns out that the unit "forgets" that one CD is already INSIDE the unit (i.e., NOT in the magazine) and then tries to load in a SECOND CD. Needless to say, the unit doesn’t like trying to play two CDs at once: it gets all jammed up.

The solution was to remove the unit, remove the case, and fiddle with some bits to remedy the situation. Oh, yeah, my mechanic did the fix — that explains my aforementioned, highly technical description of the fix 😉

[JM] I had the same problem recently with the stock player, prior to replacing it with a 600 series Alpine unit. Don suggests removing the unit and manually extracting the disk. Try an easy fix first:

Remove ALL disks from carrier and fire it up. I think the changer may forget which slot in the caddy it’s supposed to load from and tries to replace the disk into an already filled slot. This saved me from having to remove the unit.

[DL] Well, I remove the CD caddy, replaced with an empty caddy, and lo and behold: a 7th disk suddenly popped in.

[CL] I’ve found this to work when the blank caddy trick doesn’t work: Eject the caddy (it isn’t necessary, but if you look carefully with enough light, you’ll be able to see a CD in the player mechanism). Look where the caddy inserts, you’ll see a metal tab coming up from the bottom 3/4ths of the way back. Push that tab “in” so the player thinks the caddy is inserted. It will start cycling as if it were trying to eject/retrieve CDs from the caddy’s slots. During this the stuck CD will pop out into the caddy area far enough that you should be able to snag it with your fingers before it is sucked back in. Once you have it, push the eject button so the changer ejects the non-existent caddy and is ready for the real one. You can then insert a caddy with CDs and be back in business. On my caddy the felt on the bottom of slot #1 has started to peel off the plastic…and I’m thinking it might sometimes get in the way of a CD being put back into that slot and cause this problem.

[MBA – 99/8/16] You can sometimes get the player to spit out a stuck CD by inserting an empty mag, then doing a power up power down by unplugging the DIN plug for the cd, which is usually stuck quite unceremoniously right behind the gray trunk liner right behind the player. Just follow the small navy blue cord out the back. Leave the plug undone for at least 15 seconds, and make sure when you plug it back in that the ignition is off.

If the unit ever needs to be repaired, Acura has an outstanding out-of-warranty repair program. It applies to ALL Acura models of cars, and all radio, cd, tape drives etc. The charge for that model, 91 to 95 6 pack player, is 125.00 For that you will the problem fixed, all new isolation bags, (the little silicone filled bags that act as mounts for the drive), all updates, cleaned etc. It is literally better than new and the price is amazing. You cannot find a stereo shop that can do the work as well and for that price. They always seem to have parts problems and they can’t know every make and model as well as the guys who made it. Downside is it takes close to three weeks. The dealer will have a charge for r and r separate, and probably rip your lips off. A very fair charge would be one half hour. If you’re the least bit handy, DIY. Be SURE and take off the two side brackets of it will probably come back with out them. Carry the player straight into parts and bypass service all together.

How Can I Stop The CD Player From Skipping?

[GM] Mark wrote of replacing the factory CD player and reducing skipping (as well as improving sound quality). When my factory CD was first installed it skipped constantly. I mean every 5 seconds. I returned to the dealer and they said it was installed correctly. When it skipped twice leaving the dealer’s lot I thought I’d get another opinion.

The second Acura dealer I went to found the problem immediately – the NSX uses a vertical mount and all other Acuras use a horizontal mount. After adjusting the internal springs for vertical mounting the unit stopped skipping. And I mean STOPPED – I drove from Chicago to Cleveland shortly after without even one skip.

So if your factory CD skips excessively check the mounting springs inside the unit.

Adjusting The CD Player

[DJS] Unlike the more "tool friendly" industrial components of your car, the CD changer does not take well to manipulation. It can be done, however, it must be done with considerable care. These things can bust rather easily! 🙂

Your factory CD changer in your car is an Alpine OEM unit from the 5900 family. It is for all intense purpose damn near mechanically identical to the Alpine 5960 with only minor cosmetic changes to the case and the obvious difference in DIN interconnect cable.

These units have on either side of the case across the long axis an arch with I think (I’m in a hotel room in NY at the moment and I’m trying to visualize this) 6 notches Each notch is a step used to adjust the tension of the CD-changer’s spring rate. The head mechanism sits on 4 rubberized cushions which act as dampening springs for shock. The rubber  cushions are designed to absorb shock along multiple axis of movement. By sliding the position switch on each arch to the point most parallel to the short axis of the CD case you will increase the range of motion on the cushions, this is a desired position for the problem your having.

Moving the position switch to the point most perpendicular will decrease the range of motion and make the unit more sensitive to shock and movement. The default position is obviously, the midpoint. The reason you have to adjust it is that over time, those rubber pads become less and less effective. Rubber in electrical components does not age well.

Now, the reason I talked about how intolerant these guys are to being worked on is because by moving this switches on either side of the case, you run the risk of having one of the internal levers attached to them come loose and slip inside the case which will force you to open it up and reset the device. I’ve had to do it before. Its no fun. Be careful. I recommend moving the switches with a needle nosed pliers.. you can get a pretty good grip with them.

Other things to consider.. those rubber cushions could be finished.. if so… you may want to have Alpine service them. Go to an Alpine dealer.. not the Acura dealer. And get the job done there. An alternative new changer for you would be anything from Alpine’s 600 family.

How Can I Tighten A Loose Stereo Knob?

[DNG] What you have to do is take apart the console cover. Then take out the radio. There’s some phillips screws you would need to unscrew the front plate. This gives you access to the nut which you can tighten. Works great now.

BTW. If I recall, the front plate is joined by pins. You have male and a female connectors.

Orange Tint In Display Window Coming Loose

[WSC – 2000/7/9] The orange tint that comes from the radio is produced by a sheet of orange plastic that is behind the clear plastic on the display. Mine is starting to fall down and leave an oblique slit of non-orange (actually bright blue-green) display when I use the CD.  It’s very irritating at night

[BZA – 2000/7/9] One of our local NSXers had the same problem. He had to replace the head unit. Luckily for him his extended warranty paid for it.


[DB92-2010/12/28] It is possible to take the radio apart to cement the orange lens back on. You will need a soldering iron and de-soldering wick, a couple of philips screw drivers and about 2 hours time. The only thing that gets de-soldered is some philips screws, the antenna wire and some ground points. Difficulty is maybe 6/10