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  1. #1
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    How long should speakers last?

    I saw this post in another web-forum and I thought it was an interesting question. Let's not talk about the basic entry level speakers you can buy at Sears. How long should/does a set of speakers last before their performance starts to deteriorate? Is there anything you can do to extend speaker life?

  2. #2
    JSE
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    My father has some Heil speakers that he bought back in the mid to late 70's. About 5 years ago he had to have the foam in the woofers replaced but other than that they have held up great. They sound incredible. I have often thought about trying to find some for myself but they are not what the wife would call pretty. They are big and ugly, but man they sound good.

    JSE

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    butyl surround lasts longer

    My son listens to a 35 year old pair of Bose 901's every day and they seem to do as well as when they were new. It's hard to tell for sure if they've lost anything without some sort of test equipment.
    My AR9's have foam surrounds on the woofers and midbass speakers and they had to be repaired a couple of years ago. I believe that they were made around 1978 to 1980. I'm not a big fan of faom surrounds but they are capable of sounding very good.
    The AMT's have the same foam problem with the woofers but again, can sound quite good. Personally, I think they should have included a midrange speaker but that's another subject.
    So, it appears that without foam surrounds, 35 or 40 years might be reasonable (maybe longer). With foam, some have been known to begin falling apart in less than 10 years and probably inevitably within 20 years. Foam surrounds can be replaced fairly easily.
    Bill

  4. #4
    DIY Dude Registered Member poneal's Avatar
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    I have a pair of older Bose 10.2 series II that are 15 years old. They still play the same as they did the day I bought them.

  5. #5
    RGA
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    Depends on the material used. When something physically needs replacing and when it should(for sound purposes) need replacing are not the same. Tubes in tube amplifiers and needles in turntables slowly degrade over time and while they still work don't sound as good as the first few hundred hours. But because they degrade slowly over time it is less noticable a porblem. So when you replace the tube or needle you're blown off your chair at how great the new unit sounds.

    i have not owned very old speakers, but what I can gether is that foam surrounds should be replaced every 6-10 years though they can certainly last a lot longer. Foam is still preferred by many speaker makers as are paper woofers. While polypropolyne and rubber surrounds can be found on very inexpensive speakers and they probably last longer while sounding not degrading as quickly. But then they also tend to sound well...will leave that to one's own opinion.

    B&W uses Kevlar but I understand their life is not what one would expect either.

    Luckily most of the fixes are pretty cheap, unless the speaker maker makes their own. When they change models they may no longer make that driver so your SOL.

    Even speaker companies like my Audio Note that buy their drivers from VIFA - You would think would be a better option but if the tweeter blows I can't just order another TD 19 or whatever tweeter. I could but Audio Note changes the tweeter in house starting with removing all of the ferro-fluid cooling.

    Many companies buy drivers like you or I could but modify them to suit their needs.

    The speakers you buy at sears however don't necessarily last any less a time than high end speakers. In moderate temperatures and treated well, a speaker can last 30 years. I would look at em at about the 10 year mark. My Wharfedales need the rubber surrounds look at as they are stating to fray a little. (But then the cat sprayed em about 6 years ago so that probably didn't help)

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    Depends on the material used. When something physically needs replacing and when it should(for sound purposes) need replacing are not the same. Tubes in tube amplifiers and needles in turntables slowly degrade over time and while they still work don't sound as good as the first few hundred hours. But because they degrade slowly over time it is less noticable a porblem. So when you replace the tube or needle you're blown off your chair at how great the new unit sounds.

    i have not owned very old speakers, but what I can gether is that foam surrounds should be replaced every 6-10 years though they can certainly last a lot longer. Foam is still preferred by many speaker makers as are paper woofers. While polypropolyne and rubber surrounds can be found on very inexpensive speakers and they probably last longer while sounding not degrading as quickly. But then they also tend to sound well...will leave that to one's own opinion.

    B&W uses Kevlar but I understand their life is not what one would expect either.

    Luckily most of the fixes are pretty cheap, unless the speaker maker makes their own. When they change models they may no longer make that driver so your SOL.

    Even speaker companies like my Audio Note that buy their drivers from VIFA - You would think would be a better option but if the tweeter blows I can't just order another TD 19 or whatever tweeter. I could but Audio Note changes the tweeter in house starting with removing all of the ferro-fluid cooling.

    Many companies buy drivers like you or I could but modify them to suit their needs.

    The speakers you buy at sears however don't necessarily last any less a time than high end speakers. In moderate temperatures and treated well, a speaker can last 30 years. I would look at em at about the 10 year mark. My Wharfedales need the rubber surrounds look at as they are stating to fray a little. (But then the cat sprayed em about 6 years ago so that probably didn't help)
    LOL sorry.... the comment about your cat.....I had cheap toshibas that I bought back in the 80s they lasted 13 yrs.

  7. #7
    RGA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Willow
    LOL sorry.... the comment about your cat.....I had cheap toshibas that I bought back in the 80s they lasted 13 yrs.
    hey at least the Wharfedales still work till this day just fine. My dealer had a set of Quad electrostats in for repair. The family dog peed on them, and being an electric speaker the panels arced and blew. Cannot be repaired. The dog was not electrocuted.

    The speakers were worth about $8,000.00. I'd be a little peeved.

    One reason to add to the list for not buying electrostatic speakers.

  8. #8
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    5 years, 7 mos, 21 days....but

    ...according to some people here the average break in period is 5 years, giving you a useful speaker life of 7 mos 21 days.So the secret is to buy 5 year old speakers at a huge discount and use them for about 7 mos and then discard them.

  9. #9
    The Collector Registered Member
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    I work for a reconing station and we are also a pro audio shop. I have seen drivers that have lasted a good 30 or 40 years and only need small repairs done like tinsel leads or surround replacement. There have been others that come in and the cones are rotted out and the VC's are falling apart. A big problem with cloth and foam surrounds is that people don't clean the dust off them and that shortens the life greatly. I personally am a huge fan of cloth or foam surrounds and horns for tweets

  10. #10
    What, me worry? Registered Member piece-it pete's Avatar
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    Now THAT'S funny!! nt

    Quote Originally Posted by Debbi
    ...according to some people here the average break in period is 5 years, giving you a useful speaker life of 7 mos 21 days.So the secret is to buy 5 year old speakers at a huge discount and use them for about 7 mos and then discard them.
    12345 characters:).
    I fear explanations explanatory of things explained.
    Abraham Lincoln

  11. #11
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    Hm

    Quote Originally Posted by piece-it pete
    12345 characters.
    You counted the characters? Or am I missing a joke?

  12. #12
    Forum Regular thepogue's Avatar
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    junk in junk out...

    I'll say....1 month for every 10 bucks you spend.. spend 200 buck just over 2 years 2K = 20 plus years...



    disclaimer** the above is based on the "8" ball used in a former post which should be disregarded when wrong.
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  13. #13
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    My old man has a pair of 30 year old JBL s109 aquarius IV's and they sound pristine after all these years. So I guess a lot has to due with that including how you take care of them and the build quality. These speakers weigh a good 50lbs each and they sound awesome when you rack your nuckles on the maple so Im waiting to get my hands on them.

  14. #14
    Forum Regular thepogue's Avatar
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    you'd better hope your pop stays healthy...

    Quote Originally Posted by edutainment23
    My old man has a pair of 30 year old JBL s109 aquarius IV's and they sound pristine after all these years. So I guess a lot has to due with that including how you take care of them and the build quality. These speakers weigh a good 50lbs each and they sound awesome when you rack your nuckles on the maple so Im waiting to get my hands on them.

    or you'll have SCI over yer house
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  15. #15
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    Depends

    Old cloth surrounds can last for years...out of the sunlight. Expose them to sunlight, and things change rapidly.

    The real problems come from early generation foam. When foam was first introduced, some companies had problems 5-10 years out. They got stiff, cracked, fell apart. UV exposure shortened that even more.

    Later generation foam will probably go for 25-30 years or more, butyl and butyl blends could last for 50 years or more. Keep in mind, when you start going this far into the future, adhesives on the voice coil, former, spider, and other parts may fail too. But, surrounds will always be the biggie. This far down the road, your electrolytics will have probably dried up as well, meaning your crossover will probably have "crossed over".

    How long? Remember the ad about "how many licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?" "The world may never know" There are some 50 year old JBL D130s out there still running and commanding silly prices from the vintage crowd. Many of these newer generation drivers won't suffer the same problems as them, and may last a couple of decades beyond that.

    Speaker life in normal use isn't really a factor unless you like to buy old speakers.
    Space

    The preceding comments have not been subjected to double blind testing, and so must just be taken as casual observations and not given the weight of actual scientific data to be used to prove a case in a court of law or scientific journal. The comments represent my humble opinion which will range in the readers perspective to vary from Gospel to heresy. So let it be.

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    Talking Life expectancy

    I always said that if the rest of the world made products like the audio equip
    manufacturers make audio gear what would the world be like, think about it.
    Audio products companies just seem to have a certain passion for product that cannot be matched.
    Receivers,speakers etc last 15-20 years in most cases and could you just
    imagine a car lasting that long or anything else for that matter.

  17. #17
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    I saw this post in another web-forum and I thought it was an interesting question. Let's not talk about the basic entry level speakers you can buy at Sears. How long should/does a set of speakers last before their performance starts to deteriorate? Is there anything you can do to extend speaker life?
    At least 100 years. No kidding! If you look at the degradation of the magnet structure, the only thing that degrades and cannot be replaced like foam surrounds, or paper cones. Of course this would also depend on you not overheating the voice coils by extended high SPL playing.

    Actually there are some vintage speakers that use Field Coils, instead of ceramic magnets that technically could last hundreds of years. They used to be used in old theater sound systems. I've seen some of these sell for incredibly high prices, and I don't have a clue how they sound!
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  18. #18
    The Collector Registered Member
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    when a magnet loses strength you can always remagnatize it. i have seen up to a 4db increase in output when you remagnatize an old alnaco magnet.

  19. #19
    Forum Regular Colin^'s Avatar
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    Hi,

    LOudspeakers can and do last if well made for a very long time. Let me tell a little story, One day I was at a second hand store looking for a pair of loudspeakers to go with a NAD 3240PE amp I had scored cheap second hand. Any way, at the back of a pile of old stereo garbage, I saw a pair of AWA Studio Monitors, they were made early about 1972-75 and retailed then for $800.00 new. That was a LOT of cash in those days. Anyway, I bought them for US$45 a pair, and connected them up and WOW they sounded amazing. 12 " 'woofers bass was great, and yes, no fancy cone material, these babies had paper cones and rubber surrounds. I was pleased with the purchase!

    One Day I visited my brother in Napier, my old home town and went into his stereo room. He had the same speakers!!! I asked him where and when he got them and he said he bought them in 1972, and they have been going strong ever since. Hre siad, I have 3 mates who also have them and they have had them as long as me. He also ran them with 1970's vintage gear, a Sansui Au something amp, an old sansui Turntable. He has 1000's of LPs. He said why buy new speakers, these sound great!

    I decided to upgrade, to a NAD C370 bridged with a Nad C270. These old AWA Speakers were rated at only 45 watts, but they sounded amazing. But I thought what would new speakers sound like and I bought a pair of Wharfedale Pacific Pi 40's. I have had them 2 years and the woofer blew in one 4 weeks ago and was replaced under warrentee, but 3 days later the other woofer went, and guess what, I can't get a replacement woofer until mid January. I would go back to my AWA Studio Monitors, but, hey its Christmas, and my daughter had coverted the Nad 3240 and Awa speakers for 3 years, so she got them and loves them.

    My son wants them when she is finished with them, my 15 year old daughter just wants everything I own whilst my 9 year old boy already wants Dad to buy him a Proper stereo, all my children love music.

    So how long do speakers last, the old AWA Studio Monitors are 30 years old and going strong, my Wharfedales after just two years of use, both woofers went within 2 weeks of each other. Moral of the story, buy quality speakers that use top quality components.

    The old AWA's had Peerless woofers who in the early 70's were renowned for there quality.

    Happy Holidays all.

    Colin from Middle earth

  20. #20
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    Hi Colin,

    Yes, I agree. Vintage speakers, especially top quality ones are a wonderful buy in audio. Perhaps the best bargain in audio out there.

    Sounds like your raising a family of music lovers. Be careful or you might wind up with a house full of competing sound systems like I got here. Of course mine is by far the best, and LOUDEST, so they all have to deal with me first!

    I'm sorry to hear about your Wharfdales. It's unusual to hear about multiple driver failures without an overdriven condition. Perhaps they just can't take it. Maybe it's time to go back and do a little rummaging in the second hand store again?
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  21. #21
    F1
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    Quote Originally Posted by Debbi
    ...according to some people here the average break in period is 5 years, giving you a useful speaker life of 7 mos 21 days.So the secret is to buy 5 year old speakers at a huge discount and use them for about 7 mos and then discard them.
    Well, my wife said I can get rid of the speakers for new ones after five years. So I think I will never get broken in speakers and I would keep on upgrading not knowing this fact... Anyway my oldest speaker that is still on duty is Polk Audio Mini Monitor that I bought back in 1992 or so.
    Happy Holidays!!

  22. #22
    Forum Regular Colin^'s Avatar
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    Wink

    Hi Geoffcin,

    Great to see another music lover who has children who love it too. I have had 3 of my children at 13 rubbish my Pink Floyd collection, now they borrow my cds!!

    BTW, I have the loudest and best stereo in home. )

    Yeah, I am very very dissapointed with the Wharfedale Pacific Pi 40's too. Both woofers stopping working within 3 weeks of each other points to a design or manufacture fault. I bi-wire them and the midrange/bass driver and bass driver are driven togther, and the tweeter has its own wires.

    What is worse is the place I got them from messed up in getting me a relacement woofer. It has to come from China, I hope its not a slow boat.


    Colin^

  23. #23
    Forum Regular stereophonicfan's Avatar
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    Old Wharfedales

    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    I saw this post in another web-forum and I thought it was an interesting question. Let's not talk about the basic entry level speakers you can buy at Sears. How long should/does a set of speakers last before their performance starts to deteriorate? Is there anything you can do to extend speaker life?

    I have a pair of 37year old Dovedale 3, Wharfedales. Still playing smoothly without deterioration. Their fed by a 34 year old Marantz pm700, that one also still plays without any deterioration.

    The Dovedales only have cosmetic scratches as does the Marantz pm700. I'd say their pretty much die-hard stuff!

    What to do to keep you stuff for a long time in mint condition?
    Speakers: don't fool around with em'! Don't underpower them or overpower them. Check the drivers every year for cracks in any fabric, the suspension-ring, the conus or the rest,...
    Make sure the impedances match for starters!

    Amp: Same, don't fool around. Give it time to cool of after heavy duty.
    Also, open up the amp every year to check it and clean it. Use a slightly damp cloth. After cleaning, put in a dry place with little dust and open to let the moist sections dry up. For the button use a proper contact oil, with moderation!!

    Any other questions ask!
    Last edited by stereophonicfan; 12-29-2003 at 01:05 AM.
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