Consider this a public service announcement. Computer Audiophile has a new blog entry that discusses the possibility of damaging your speakers if you are using a Windows-based PC as your music server. Several cases have come up where computers are generating intense blasts of distortion that can ultimately damage the tweeters in your speakers. While not all cases are exactly the same, there are two consistent factors.
1. In each case the user was making adjustments to the music data or settings. They may have been changing the name of a song, or managing how the system processed the music, but all adjustments seem to be through the software. Hardware alterations or changes were not mentioned.
2: Windows was the operating system. There are no known cases with Macintosh or Linux based systems.
The issue seems to be the computer losing synchronized clock speed. The clock is how computers keep all the ongoing processes aligned. When the alignment is lost, Windows can cause a blast of white noise to come ripping through your system, and your speakers. It does not seem to be another one of those Vista problems either; there are known cases when XP was the operating system. Nor can we point at one particular music player. Both MediaMonkey and Windows Media Player have been in the chain when this happened.
This is the kind of thing gives audiophiles the sweats. Better speakers are often more susceptible to damage. In order to wring out each nuance of the music, speakers, and particularly tweeters, are made to be very sensitive, and thus very fragile.
To make matter worse, traditionally speakers are the most expensive part a good system. They can make the greatest impact to the overall sound. This new issue is not the kind of bang for the buck most audiophiles envisioned.
I am not suggesting that we all disconnect our stereos right now, but this is a reminder that high-end audio from our computers is a brave new world, and it does not come with a warranty.