I have a track of audio (speech) that has some instances of clipping. For example, the software program Audacity can be configured to mark clipped regions in red:


I understand that clipped audio is distrorted -- it is "chopped off" with loss of information, hence the term clipping -- and will not sound "good."

But, in general, will playing back this audio damage a typical device speaker, such as a built-in laptop speaker or a built-in tablet speaker?

The audio at the positions marked in red sound fine (or at least acceptable) to my ears, so as far as audio quality is concerned, I'm not going to worry about the clipping. But, in general, do I need to worry that I could damage speakers if I play back this audio on my laptop or tablet?

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    In general, it's probably very difficult or impossible to damage built-in speakers because they should have been rated to match the built-in amplifiers in such a way that the amplifiers can't hurt the speakers. Mar 13, 2018 at 18:02

1 Answer 1


Clipping creates high energy spikes across all frequencies. This will not typically faze a broadband speaker like commonly used in guitar amps (for which distortion is a standard part of the sound) if the signal levels before clipping are still in its comfort zone. Now if you use multi-way speakers like in typical home entertainment systems, the amount of high-frequency content in clipping is quite higher than usually anticipated and may take out tweeters not built for it. This is more an issue with home HiFi sets than PAs which are usually built for a lot more abuse.

Laptop speakers will not likely produce enough volume to take damage and aren't multiway anyway. Piezo and ribbon tweeters might be most problematic, but I don't think they are used in typical portable devices (most certainly not ribbon tweeters).

So I consider it unlikely you'll see damage on the mentioned devices. Sound bars for PC use and similar systems one level up might be more problematic.

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