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I just bought a used pair of Yamaha HS80M studio monitors for super cheap. They look like heck but I didn't see anything that worried me. I did test them briefly before purchasing and didn't hear anything worrying either.

When I got them home and started cleaning them up, I realized that what I had thought was a scuff on one of the cones was actually a tear/crack. (See picture below.) It starts right at the edge of the white and goes in for about 2cm (3/4in). It's just a hairline and is completely invisible from many angles so I'm not surprised I missed it. It's plausible the seller didn't even know it was there.

How would this affect the sound quality? I know it must be affecting it somehow, even if I can't consciously perceive it, but I don't know how. My hunch is that it would produce distortion, especially at louder volumes. Can the aural effect of such damage be predicted at least in broad terms? Is there a way for me to sus out its impact through some sort of testing? How likely is it to be colouring the sound such that it would systematically impact my mixes (presumably for the worse)?

Is the crack likely to spread and get longer, eventually rendering the speaker useless? Can it be repaired? If so, how? Is there a DIY solution (crazy glue???) or would I need to take it somewhere? Who would you even take this to?

close-up of a tear in a speaker cone

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    It can affect the speaker in various ways I'd say... The speaker is not working at its 100% capacity, now whether there are audible artifacts, you only know that... These are Yamaha monitor speakers created for semi-professional work, Yamaha is a very big corporation and of course, provides parts for a lot of their products. Just buy a new driver, a quick search shows a price of around 130$. If you can't change it on your own (I don't remember whether it has soldered connections) you can give it to your local technician (guy who repairs e.g.: Hi-Fi amplifiers) to do the job, it's not hard :)
    – frcake
    Commented Mar 5 at 14:40

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It's not practical to try to predict the effects of a tear, but a tear in the cone - especially one that's poly - is likely to sound raspy at higher volumes, but unlikely to affect tonal response. But it may have no audible effect with normal levels. That said, what is practical and what matters are one and the same: Can you hear a difference? (If you don't trust your ears, can you measure a difference using a good mic and acoustical measurement instrumentation, post a new question if you want to get into that - it's complicated.) Since you have an identical speaker that is undamaged, you can do an A-B comparison. The process is this:

  1. set up the speakers side by side and feed one and then the other identical test signals at a moderate level. Listen. If you detect a difference, make sure it's not due to placement by swapping their locations.
  2. use a variety of test signals: frequency sweeps are especially good for finding this kind of problem - listen for a buzz or rattle at distinct frequencies. increase the level (no more than is safe for the speakers per spec). You may use earplugs; don't worry, they won't mask the problem. Play some music of the sort you are most likely to work with, and listen for distortion. It will probably be worse at higher levels if it's due to the tear.
  3. You could evaluate the sound using an instrumentation mic and spectral analysis software, but that's not easy to get right. (If you want to pursue that, please post again - it's a real rabbit hole all on its own!)
  4. There are cements made for cone repair. You can search for them at reputable suppliers websites. The problem is that they will alter the characteristics, perhaps more or in a worse way than the tear. The cure may be worse than the disease, and not possible to undo if you don't like it. Use as little as you can to stop the buzz. A tiny drop at the end of the crack should ensure against further spread.

Replacing the driver would not solve the cone problem.

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