? about Smoking Power Amp

I made an error in connecting my amps last night, and one of them started smoking. It now appears to be working fine, as do my other stereo components. But I am trying to assess whether there is likely to be any lasting damage to the amp that should give me pause before using it again, or damage to other components. If someone with more technical knowledge than me could please help me understand what took place to cause the smoke, I would appreciate it.

Let me explain in more detail the setup that caused the problem. I have two power amps being fed by two sets of line-level outputs from a single preamp. One of the amps then powers stereo speakers, while the other powers a passive subwoofer. Last night, I placed a passive low pass filter (100 Hz) into the signal path going from the preamp to the amp that powers the subwoofer. This passive filter is female on one end, which is supposed to receive the input, and male on the other, which is supposed to provide the output. I instead plugged the male (output) end of the filter into the output jack of the preamp, and then I plugged a cable leading to my power amp into the filter's input jack.

With this erroneous setup, I turned on all of my components in the normal fashion. Very soon after (before I played any music) white smoke, smelling of burning plastic, started to come out of the power amp connected to the stereo speakers (which produced a moderately-loud buzzing sound). An orange tinge was visible through the grates of the amp producing the smoke. I turned off and disconnected everything and realized my error in the setup. The smoke stopped right away when I powered down the amp.

As I said above, I tested everything, and all components now appear to work as they should. I tested the smoking amp by connecting it to some budget speakers, just in case it had an issue that could cause damage further downstream. Even this amp appears to be working normally.

So I am not sure, in any precise way, what caused this. To the best of my layman's understanding, the reversed low pass filter blocked the signal coming out of the preamp output, probably causing something such as voltage to get messed up in the signal that was coming out of the other set of preamp outputs. This "messed up" signal was then transmitted to the power amp that started smoking.

I feel certain the speakers are fine. I am wondering if there is any reason to be concerned about latent damage to the preamp, which is a valuable unit. I am less concerned about the amp that was smoking, which is an inexpensive older unit (market value <$150), which I had been using for convenience. But I am still wondering if I can safely use that amp in the future, and if it is possible that something extraneous (such as a plastic coating or paint) was smoking and nothing more than that. I am not too worried if that amp burns out from continued use, but I don't want to: 1) start a housefire; or 2) cause damage to my speakers.

Any guidance you could offer would be appreciated. I already know I need to be more careful when setting up my components, needless to say. Thanks and have a great day.


Yeah...always leave the nail in the tire as pulling it out could cause some air loss. Right? Ever see a house fire? Ever see an amp blow up? Is a fire hazard worth it? I say keep using the amp but tell everybody else in the house to move out with their belongings and make sure your will is in order.

I’d take the amp ’off-line’, open it up, and just take a critical look-see at the components, if only for an educational tour...

If something got hot enough to light up the grille, smoke, and stink....it ought to be obvious.

Go shopping for a ’new’ old amp, too.... no sense in finding out how much further you can depend on luck to keep out of trouble of a more serious sort:

"Honey? I torched the house...."

That’ll be popular...NOT.

It takes no knowledge to say "that doesn't sound right, I wouldn't do that."

An amp that nearly started a fire when operated incorrectly that did not blow a fuse or trip any other kind of protection (if it had any) would not be something I would want to replace with the same thing.