I've noticed if I have my bass guitar's volume and bass EQ knobs turned all the way up, it sounds like the speaker is clipping. If I then turn the volume and bass down on the guitar while turning the volume and bass on the amplifier up to the same volume, I get no speaker clipping/distortion.
Would the problem be in the pickups, or the knobs? It's a cheap bass with active electronics, so I could see either one being the culprit.
My short-term fix has been to leave the controls dialed down a little on the guitar, but I'd like to know I'm not gonna kill my speakers if I accidentally turn a knob a too far.