My JL Audio sub is dead. What exactly happened?

So at my wife's request, I hooked up a Roku to my main system. Roku is a device for internet streaming movies and tv. The connection between the Roku and my preamp, a Meridian G68, was a 12 foot optical cable.

The first night, I hook up the Roku and it works perfectly.

The next night, I move some cables around, then I hook up the Roku again, exactly the same way as the previous evening. I get picture but no sound. Weird. I pondering what I might have done wrong when out of the speakers... POP. POP! POP!!!

Uh oh.

I dive for the amps, switch them off. The POPs stop immediately. But...

Now there's a TERRIFYING HIGH PITCHED PULSATING NOISE coming from somewhere in the room. I finally realize it's coming from the sub, a JL Audio Fathom 113. I dart across the room, switch it off.

I stand frozen, savoring the final moments of the fantasy that maybe things aren't that bad.

Here are some questions in no particular order...

1. I suspect the amp in the sub is fried. Does that sound right?

2. Where did those POPs come from? Could a damaged optical cable do it? Or maybe the optical cable wasn't fully seated?

3. Do I really have to ship this 150 pound sub to Florida? Or do you think there's any chance of finding someone local to fix it? (I'm in L.A.) The sub is out of warranty, btw.

4. I tried to take the panel off the rear of the amp (I know, lethal voltages inside) with the thought that maybe I would just bring the amp portion of the sub to someone local to fix. I removed about 12 screws from the rear panel and still it doesn't budge. Why can't I open this thing?

If you have any suggestions, I'm all ears. If not, thanks for reading.


P.S. The rest of the system appears to be fine.

Sorry for your loss.

I would say if its the sub that has died, it is most likely to be the amp section. The woofer would be very hard to destroy.

Normally the amp in a sub is sealed with a gasket. So it will take a fair amount of leverage to release the amp section. Especially considering the weight of the amp section.

Give JL a call. They will give you guidance.

As to a cause, without looking myself it would be impossible to say. Unlikely to be the optical cable. If it came lose the clock would stop and you may get a brief bit of white noise.
I heard a similar story and the individual just changed the fuse in the sub and had it work again, not sure how its done or if that could be your problem but its something to know, I also have a f113.
good luck!
Hi Chad and Tesseract - Thanks for your condolences. :-)

Chad - I agree that it's hard to see how the optical cable could do this damage.

I talked with the folks at JL. They agree that the amp is blown. As to the cause, they don't know. They speculated that it could have been a major voltage swing on my power lines. But I don't think that's it. My power is pretty stable here.

I did read in another forum about a guy whose F113 did the same thing (high pitched noise, no obvious cause), except his system was off at the time, which is even stranger.

I'm currently investigating the possibility of getting the sub fixed locally. Getting the back panel off might be tricky, because of the gasket you mentioned. The JL people said that, over time, the gasket fuses with the paint, in effect glueing the rear panel to the cabinet.

I'll let you know how things turn out.

Hi Bryon,

My sympathies on this also. Hopefully it will just turn out to be a fuse, as Tesseract suggested.

Is there any sign of life from the sub, such as LEDs illuminating? Or is it totally inert, as if an AC line fuse is blown?

Do you use the sub in master or slave mode? If you are using it in slave mode, with the Meridian processor implementing the level and crossover functions, it would presumably have been more sensitive to an input that went berserk for some reason.

Can you test the Roku's optical output, and the optical cable, on something other than your main system, that is inexpensive? I wouldn't rule out the possibility that one of those things was the root cause of the problem, especially given that symptoms were present in the signal path to the main speakers as well as to the sub. Also, can you test the optical input of the processor using some other optical source and cable?

-- Al
Is there any sign of life from the sub, such as LEDs illuminating? Or is it totally inert, as if an AC line fuse is blown?
When you turn the sub on, you get the same high pitched screech that I heard when it blew. This is true even with just the power cable attached (i.e. no signal cable attached). So it's not the fuse. And it's not the signal input.
Do you use the sub in master or slave mode? If you are using it in slave mode, with the Meridian processor implementing the level and crossover functions, it would presumably have been more sensitive to an input that went berserk for some reason.
I use the sub in master mode, but I don't use the crossover. Instead I use the digital crossover in the Meridian. Come to think of it, I don't recall whether there is a way to actually defeat the sub's crossover or if I just turned the sub's low pass to the highest available frequency.
Can you test the Roku's optical output, and the optical cable, on something other than your main system, that is inexpensive? I wouldn't rule out the possibility that one of those things was the root cause of the problem, especially given that symptoms were present in the signal path to the main speakers as well as to the sub. Also, can you test the optical input of the processor using some other optical source and cable?
As you can guess, I'm totally paranoid about plugging ANYTHING into the Meridian's optical input at this point. If that's the source of the problem, I don't want to damage something else. I don't ordinarily use the Meridian's optical input. I use the coaxial inputs. I just used the optical with the Roku because that is the only S/PDIF output the Roku has.

I've abandoned the idea of using the Roku on my main system. Yesterday I ordered the just released Oppo BDP-103 to replace my first generation Pioneer Elite blu ray player. The Oppo has streaming capability, so I'll be able to make the wife happy without taking another chance on that **** Roku.

That is assuming that I decide to keep the Oppo. Everybody raves about the picture quality, but I recently bought and returned a high end Panasonic that everybody raved about also. I returned it because its picture quality wasn't as good as my Pioneer Elite, even though my Pioneer is roughly 5 years old. Everybody says the Oppo is the cat's pajamas. We'll see.

Hopefully, whatever the problem is is isolated to one device but I wonder why there was NO sound including from the speakers?

Might the sub have been mainly a victim of something else upstream? If you jostled wires in the process the second time, I would say speaker wire connections are most exposed and vulnerable and the first suspect usually. That would most likely effect speakers and/or sub and/or amp. Amp might have a blown fuse. Check those if you have not already.

HArd to outrule anything for me at this point until isolated via regression tests piece by piece somehow.

I hate when these things happen so I empathize with you.
Hi Mapman - Thanks for your empathy. I agree it's a puzzle. I don't think it was a speaker wire mishap, but I can see why you would speculate that. It's a little strange that the only thing that got damaged was the sub.

Now that the JL people have told me that the gasket for the rear panel is probably fused to the paint, I'm going to make another attempt to open the sub. First I'm going to drill holes in the external heat sinks and thread a wire or a bolt through, to create improvised handles so I can get some leverage.

I'll let you guys know if I manage to get it open, and if so, what I see.

Careful drilling holes in heat sinks. I suspect that metal is brittle.

Is there not a way to slide out the front panel then use a long lever to push back plate off?

Or even remove the woofer to do same idea?
Hey Chad - I was careful drilling and nothing broke. I threaded bolts through the holes, which gave me enough leverage to pull the back panel free from the gasket.

I removed the entire back panel from the sub, which includes the amp and the transformer. Nothing is obviously fried. I guess I was hoping to see something burnt to a crisp so I could simply replace it myself. I know that's silly.

The folks at JL are graciously trying to help me find a local repairman who can diagnose and fix the problem.

I'll update when I know more.

Same problem here. I purchased a Fathom F113 subwoofer from Cherry Creek Audio in Denver Colorado. The subwoofer made this noise as soon as plugged in and turned on. No input cables attached.

Cherry Creek audio said that it was a blown amplifier in the subwoofer and they offered to fix it - FOR A FEE! And I would have to pack up the 130lbs. sub and bring it back to the shop for repairs. Shouldn't it be covered by warranty? I returned the subwoofer to Cherry Creek Audio and picked up a F112 instead. Never got to hear the F113 in my system but am happy with the F112.

I do not recommend purchasing anything from Cherry Creek Audio in Denver - terrible customer service.

Here is a recording of the sound that the broken sub made:
Sorry to hear about your experience, Rob. Like you, I now have a new JL Audio sub. I replaced my F113 with a F110. Hopefully this one won't blow up.

I've been given a quote to repair my F113 by JL's factory approved Los Angeles technicians... $1000. Ouch. It's still sitting at their shop, as I haven't made a decision about whether to repair.

Bryon - did the JL repair shop in LA tell you what needs to be fixed and/or replaced?
Byroncunningham's adventure here illustrates one advantage of using a separate subwoofer amp that goes on a shelf like your other components: no scary surgery or huge shipping cost required if the amp has a problem.

Although JL Audio Subs are indeed GREAT subs, if you are inclined to purchase one, I would at the very least, buy the LONGEST warranty that you can find, as they CANNOT fix these subs!!! My F112 went out after 4 years, and I called Barry @ JL Audio and was told that they DO NOT fix these, but instead want to charge approx. $1200.00 for my F112 and I'm sure much more for the bigger ones because they can only replace the whole Amp section. I was in disbelief that they had no fixes for these subs. My advice would be to forget about buying a used one completely, and in my case, I would not even buy another JL Audio Sub, as in the end, you are going to spend way TOO much money when it dies. Look at other reliable companies, SVS, Paradigm, etc!!!
Just repaired one.
The manufacturer has apparently used very low quality capacitors from CapXon. They are also 85deg.C caps, lame.
Not sure if this is intentional by JLaudio, or if they just did not know how bad caps the Chinese manufacturer used.

Deadness is specifically due to a 100uF 35V cap at the standby power supply failing.

I replaced all CapXons with high quality caps, like 125deg.C ones, Panasonic FC, Rubycon ZL and some Sanyo ones too.

The Bipolar cap were still fine in the one I fixed, but I am thinking about replacing them at the same go.

Also getting the amp module out is a bit tricky.
You have to remove the driver (screws are under the surround of the woofer) and then carefully hammer out the sub module with a mallet and sturdy piece of wood as an extension. It is very heavy, do not let it fall.

I have lots of photos of how to do this, I cannot attach them here but maybe on DIYaudio.

85 deg C caps from Chinese CapXon. Wow this is pathetic. JL need to do a recall or owners need to do a class action to force them to do a recall. This is a faulty design that is bound to fail.
Yes, it is horrible.
If the 4000€ sub was 5€ more expensive it would work 3x longer.

It is else very sturdy and the PCBs are of excellent quality!
So there is potential.
If I find some suitable contact information I can try to talk to them.
My goal in life is not to complain, but rather try to make things better.

But those who spent big money on these I can understand that they are angry.

I want to help people who want to repair theirs. It takes a couple of hours, but good caps like the ones I used cost around 30€, so you are not ruined. Even the 105deg.C ones I mentioned will work for very long in this sub! The most critical ones I used 125deg.C though.

Funny is that some of the originals are also 105deg.C, but not the one at the standby power supply. Which is for certain the most critical one!

These subs have been in production for over 10 years and since nothing lasts forever and these use micro chips I would just say age related failure could be a factor. I have noticed many complaining about costly sub-woofers having amplifier issues. It is a hard environment for electronics and transducer a small box with massive power and a driver with massive excursions. Heat vibration mechanical movement  in abundance. Placing amplifier in cabinet with transducers kind of asking for it. I also would asume the driver was damaged by the massive excursions and heat to VC caused by the amp failing and owner replicating the failure.

The JL Audio are excellent subs, while they’re working. Not saying that they aren’t very good products.

But they are expensive new. And buying used is always a bit of a crap shoot. And, shipping on >100 pounds ends up being a couple of hundred dollar proposition nowadays as well.

Sub internals and structures do take a beating, and just goes with the territory of producing bass. Not to mention the enclosed amp heat as johnk and jlithen describe.

I have chosen the SVS 13" Ultras because of cost, good performance, and really the clincher of SVS’ unconditional 5 year warranty.

I had 2 E112s die after very little use, less than one year each and used infrequently.  The only reason I had two was JL replaced the first one (under warranty).  The new one then died.  In their favor, customer service was great.  But I will not be buying JL anymore.  Great performance though. 
This is a real shame as they have what I consider among the very best sounding auto-eq systems. Not becuase of high-tech necessarily but the choices it makes.

Guess I'll stick to my Hsu + miniDSP!
My E112 did not respond when I was watching a movie tonight. I then stop the movie to see what's the problem until I bend over to the subwoofer and that when's I hear a soft knocking sound. I decided to switch off the power and waited for 10 mins later I switch it on the same dound could be heard. What could be the problem?
I woke up Saturday to a loud hum in my living room. I found the noise coming from my JL audio F112. Power off still hums. Changed outlets and still hums. I have a power conditioner and found no issues on my grid.  I had no idea that these things had these type of issues. I pray I can get it fixed over here on the West coast. I'm not shipping to Florida. Its 5 years old and for the price I paid should have lasted allot longer. Disappointed and interested to see what JL says. 
My F113 blew and was fixed on warranty.  Same thing happened (loud horrible noise when plugged in but switched off), now off warranty.  Suspect its due to those cheap caps having blown.  jlithen, did you post your photos of the fix anywhere?
Hi Guys,

I have a F112 that I bought used i 2012, last week it stopped working(completely dead, no lights or sound).

I suspect the same issue here, with blown caps. I have managed to get the amplifier out, but are unable to locate which caps that needs replacing or where to start to look, as there a no visible damage.

Any advice? I plan to try to resoldier the defective caps
Ok, so I dissembled the amplifier(loosened all the wood screws on the back of the subwoofer) and pulled the amplifier off.

It was 1 defective cap that needed to be replaced on my sub. I picked a new cap with slighty higher temp. rating. The value of the one I used is 35Volt 100μF, and 105°C

See attached picture, I highlighted the cap that needs replacement in the red circle in the upper left corner:

According to repair workshop this is usually the cap that breaks, but It might be the one on the right side aswell.

Thanks for reporting back. It's a shame when there are no answers in these threads, just questions. 

Did you get to replace the cap yet?
Yes, I did get this single cap (marked in the red circle) replaced and the subwoofer works as it should again! :)

3USD fix, if you DIY

So If your sub is not working I would definitely try to replace this capacitor! I’ve been told that in 9 out of 10 cases, this capacitor is the one creating the problems with the subwooferamplifier not turning on.

I have two E110 subs and both have taken a turn for the worse and were sent back at different times. JL Audio subs sound good but are not reliable in my experience.
Hello everyone, my name is Salvador.

I also have a Fathom F113 that has died. This is the second time that happens to me. The first I changed it for a new amplifier.

I have a friend who is trying to repair the second amplifier, but we have a problem, 3 resistors have been burned and the numbers that identify them have been erased to be able to replace them.

Could anyone have the amplifier in sight, give me the numeration of the R541, R542 and R544 resistance?

Thank you very much and sorry for my English, it's a Google translation.
Not sure if the resistance is what is printed on them, but it is as follows:

R541: IR50
R543: 2211
R544: 1500
Just removed the circuit board from my F113, and I can see that when I sent it in to JL for repair they had indeed replaced the 35v/100uf cap that netforceatg posted a picture of, in fact they had put in a 105°C unit. Until I replace it I won't know if the same cap went bad again, but will use a 125°C spec this time. Have to wonder if there's a design flaw.
Hello gammaman,

I am very grateful for your help and for the information.

If you still have the amplifier in view, could you tell me the numbering of the R542?

I will also consider the replacement of the 35v / 100uf cap.

Thank you very much.
To be fair to JL, I still have the same sub I mentioned in my March '17 post.  To recap, I am on my third one now.  This time my dealer replaced the amp with a new one sent by JL almost a year ago, and I have been using it a lot with no problems since then.  Perhaps they figured out what was wrong in their amp modules. 
My f112 started rumbling last week, audible from about 8’ away. The sub turns on and the rumbling sometimes goes away after I turn off the unit for a few hours. It was fine for a few days but the rumbling has returned again last night. Was told by JL Audio that the caps need replacing along with amp or power supply(not really sure about this) and that the sub will eventually not turn on in the very near future.

How easy is is it to replace the caps? Does replacing them solve the problem in most cases? Really trying to avoid shipping this thing and my warranty has expired. This is the second time I’ve had a problem, the first being in 2012 but it was still under warranty then.

I would really appreciate any input and advice on the matter.
Wasn't this from JL Audio initially getting substandard parts from their suppliers? I had one control module replaced and have not had any further issues.
Sorry doro, the unit is back together so I can't tell you the number of R542. I replaced the 35v/100uf cap and it didn't help.  I spoke to JL, and they said in addition to the cap the output FETs are blown! Since this already happened once to me they are going to fix it again under warranty. As the unit failed both times while in standby mode, after I get it fixed again I am going to leave the sub off completely, ie not in standby, while not in use.
I am having a few minor issues (intermittent popping noise at high volumes and a scratchy/intermittent master volume / gain knob on the front panel. I called JL and they informed me they have a repair service where you ship the sub to them, they will repair or replace anything in the unit back to original specs, inlcuding upgrading components to be inline with their current models (or something like that), and pay the return shipping all for $300

I have a F112
I decided to ship my F112 for repairs last week instead of messing about repairs I know nothing about. Sucks that it’s out of warranty now and shipping is another $150. Hopefully turn around time won’t be long.

It’s too bad the f112 is only upgraded to the latest version of v1. I would’ve gladly paid the $300 or maybe even a bit extra for a v2 upgrade.
Post removed 
I am experiencing the same problems with one of my F113s.  I use the two in separate rooms with separate systems.

I’ve owned this particular one for about 7 years and it was starting to generate low rumbling/popping sounds about a year ago. The rumbling was not very loud but it was noticeable. I would shut off the sub and the next day power it back up and the problem would go away for about 3 months. 

Last night I noticed that the F113 wasn’t powered on. I checked the power cord and the outlet and they were fine. My F113 is now dead and won’t power on. 

I assume I may have the same problems with the caps that others are experiencing, but mine won’t turn on at all. 

I dont have the tine or the patience to open the sub up and try to implement the repairs myself and I am really interested in JL Audio’s deal for $300 to send the sub back to them for repairs. Can anyone shed more light on this?  What is the turnaround time?

Unfortunately I threw out both boxes for the subs a few years ago. They were taking up too much space and I have no plans to move, so I figured I wouldn’t need them anymore....ughh!  Does JL Audio sell boxes?  Do you think they can send me and empty box so I can pack up my sub and send it in for repair?  I’ve never dealt with their customer support, so any thoughts you can share on this would be appreciated. 

One more there a replaceable fuse on the F113?  I would love it if there was a simple fix for my problem....though I think it’s wishful thinking!

Thanks for your help. 
@polar993   I sent my 113 in five weeks ago, and they said it would be a three week turnaround. Apparently they are short on parts and are waiting for the right parts to come in. I don’t know how long that will take. I didn’t want to open it up and do the repair myself either. Seems like a reasonable deal, although it is entirely their fault. They cannot upgrade to v2 because if uses different bracing internally. 
Thanks peter_s. Hope you get yours back soon. 

Do you guys think I can purchase a box from JL Audio?  I no longer have my original box and it would be a total hassle and a small fortune to have a proper box made. 

My f112 exhibited the same issues as yours. Bad caps and power supply, from what I’ve read from multiple forums.

A box from JL audio will cost you $82+shipping. According to them, you must use their supplied box for shipping the sub back. For $300 plus one-way shipping cost, your f113 will be upgraded to most current version of the f113v1.

I sent mine in for repair 2/20 and it’s finally due to come back later this week. Turnaround time was suppose to be 3 weeks but as peter_s noted, they were waiting for parts to come in. Mine also supposedly needed a new woofer so that took an extra 10 days.

TBH, I’m still a little miffed about the whole situation. I previously had my f112 serviced Dec 2012 and 5 yrs later it goes back again. I’ve also come across some saying that bad quality parts were used previously, though I’m not sure how accurate this is. My sub was never pushed close to its limit and now the new warranty is just for one year.

Good luck...

I haven't sent mine in for the second time yet. Once I get it fixed, I will leave the power completely off at the surge protector so the unit won't be in standby mode when not in use, since both times it blew it did so while in standby. Not sure if this will help, but seems worth a try.