Do speakers ever just "get old"?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by riddlemay, Oct 4, 2009.

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  1. riddlemay

    riddlemay Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Chicago, IL
    I have a pair of Revel M20 speakers that must be at least seven years old now. Lately, and progressively, the sound from my system has begun to strike me as colorless, indistinct, lacking clarity, "blurry" for lack of a better word. Nothing you can quite put your finger on. No obvious distortions. Just not "there" in the same way it used to be.

    I'm aware this can be a psychological phenomenon. New speakers can enchant with you everything they're doing right, and only later does disenchantment with everything they're doing wrong begin to set in, and grow worse over time. So that might be at work. But I'm also wondering if it can be that the speakers just physically aren't what they once were. Do speakers deteriorate in subtle ways, so that you can't point to an obvious malfunction yet they are simply failing to convey music in the way they once did?
  2. darkmatter

    darkmatter Gort Astronomer Staff

    Yes speakers can and do deteriorate with age, the main problems I have encountered are that :-

    1/ foam surrounds tend to perish varying from 10 years onwards

    2/ Spiders inside the driver can settle and distort de-centering the coil in the magnet gap.

    3/ Crossover caps age and eventually may need replacing.

    Simon :)
  3. Dennis Metz

    Dennis Metz Born In A Motor City!

    Fonthill, Ontario
    What makes you think it's your speakers?:cheers:
  4. reb

    reb Long Live Rock

    Long Island
    7 years is not enough age imo for a revel speaker to deteriorate.
  5. ubsman

    ubsman Active Member

    Wouldn't spiders evacuate the premises as soon as the speakers were put into use? Even if they don't mind the sound, the vibrations would have to "bug" them.
  6. riddlemay

    riddlemay Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Chicago, IL
    This is a very good question, and one I don't really have an answer to, except that it seemed more likely to me that it was the speakers than the CD player or integrated amp (Ayre, both of them, from the same year as the speakers). I could be wrong about that, though.
  7. :laugh: I'm pissed at those darn driver dwelling spiders, I tell ya, and never leave cats unattended unless you know 'em really well.... ;)
  8. TimB

    TimB Tube be or not Tube be?

    Galion, Ohio USA
    I have speakers that are over 20 years old

    They have not been refoamed, and the caps are originals. I have a pair of Advents that I refoamed about 15 years ago. So, while things can go wrong, I think 7 years is a bit premature.
  9. reb

    reb Long Live Rock

    Long Island
    When was the last time you gave the speakers a "tune-up"?

    If applicable do the following:

    Tighten up all the screws that are securing the drivers to the cabinet.

    Open up the x-over cover (where binding posts exit), tighten down internal binding post nuts.

    Clean binding post contacts(speaker and amp) and speaker cable spades/banana plugs.
  10. Brother_Rael

    Brother_Rael Forum Resident

    Scottish Borders
    Bearing in mind ageing speakers do need looking over, don't let it put you off. Someone snagged a pair of rather elderly Sansui SP4500s on Ebay yesterday. £80-odd, but a nice looking box. Never mind some of the really desirable older models.

    As an aside, I picked up my Mission 752s for £80 last year. They're in fine condition and sound a treat. Given the logo on them says "Mission Electronics" (they dropped the "Electronics" bit on the grilles a while back now), I'd guess they are a good 14-15 years old.
  11. ROLO46

    ROLO46 Forum Resident

    Good quality speakers last for ages

    I have just refurbished a pair if Radford M180's from the 70's

    Rotated the bass driver to prevent sag,tightened all screws/terminals and cleaned surrounds and cones,restored cabs and resprayed .

    Restored logos

    Repacked DR Baileys longhair in the sealed bass enclosure

    They sound very contempary now and look right


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  12. JA Fant

    JA Fant Well-Known Member


    speakers do deteriorate w/ age....
  13. Mike from NYC

    Mike from NYC Forum Resident

    Surprise, AZ
    Don't we all :(
  14. floweringtoilet

    floweringtoilet Forum Resident

    I will just chime in and agree with the others who say that 7 years is not much time for speakers to age unless they have been stored in extreme conditions (high temps, etc.).

    I do think it is helpful to use something like Caig DeOxit to clean contact points every 6-12 months. Quite a lot of oxidation can accumulate in 7 years. I recommend cleaning all the contacts in your signal path (RCAs, binding posts, spades, etc.) and see if your system doesn't sound "fresher."

    But the drivers, caps, etc. in the speaker itself should be fine after 7 years if they have been used under normal operating conditions.
  15. Patrick

    Patrick Forum Resident

  16. tommy-thewho

    tommy-thewho Forum Resident

    detroit, mi
    My JBL's are 30 years old and going strong...

    Bought them used and I've never touched them...
  17. Any speaker for that matter.
  18. motorcitydave

    motorcitydave Enlightened Rogue In Memoriam

    Las Vegas, NV, USA
    That says a lot for JBL. :cool:

    Which model do you have?
  19. darkmatter

    darkmatter Gort Astronomer Staff

    :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
  20. audiodrome

    audiodrome Forum Resident

    North Of Boston
    About 5 years ago, I had to replace the woofers in my Boston Acoustics because the foam rims were starting to deteriorate and at that point they were almost 20 years old.
  21. Peacekeepr73

    Peacekeepr73 Digitally Remastered Member

    Wyoming, Michigan
    Sansui SP-2500x, thirty years and still going strong even tho I have only had them for a year I will keep them another 30 cant beat the sound for a 17 year old, gotta love DSOTM SACD
  22. Shakey

    Shakey New Member

    Chicago, Illinois
    I agree, 7 years is too soon for just about any speaker to go south.
    I'd suggest disconnecting and reconnecting your speaker cables and interconnects.
    I did this, for another reason, and was surprised what an improvement it made.
  23. Gang Twanger

    Gang Twanger New Member

    Canton, CT, USA
    I have a pair of Wharfedale W60E's. They're 40+ years old and sound great. But they have cloth surrounds which really makes a difference. They also have good-quality cast drivers and the sand-filled cabinets are well-built. Heavy, but very-solid, with no splits in the cabinets after 40 years of bangin' around.
  24. Rolf Erickson

    Rolf Erickson New Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    I have restored hundreds of different speakers, new foam is most of it.

    After 7 years most speakers are just exiting the early life period. Like teen age people, nothing is usually broken or hurting yet...

    Unless something odd is happening, these 7 year old's should be sounding just fine.

    I see foam deterioration as early as 10 years, but very seldom. About 5%.

    Usually speakers are good for 15 years and I have seen some going well with foam more than 20 years, but it's rare.

    It's dependent on conditions where they are used. Air quality, temperature, sunlight etc.

    But mostly, it's just time. Age.

    Most caps are fine after 20 years, but some go bad sooner, and some are still good 30 years later, hard to tell, just check them once in a while.

    Keep the contacts clean of oxide and also the pots can become dirty with oxides and residue after a while. If you have level controls, clean them with liquid about every 2 to 4 years..

    Happy listening.
  25. Fisico60

    Fisico60 New Member

    Pisa, Italy
    My JBL 4310 Control Monitors are now 35+ years old and their sound is still fresh, powerful and detailed. Their transducers are energized by the famed Alnico V magnets. The 12" woofer has a 3" voice coil operating in a 1T magnetic field, provided by a 6.5 lb magnet.


    They were intended for professional use and build to last: no foam but gummed fabric around the cones so that they never need refoaming and are virtually eternal.


    The L-pad attenuators are now a bit noisy and I am thinking about replacing them, but apart from that the 4310 operate as if they were brand new.
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