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Do speakers deteriorate with age?  

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

I've been lurking and searching and so far I haven't found anything on this subject yet. I'm hoping someone can answer my speaker questions. Apologies if this is in a FAQ somewhere.

Do speakers deteriorate with age? Do they markedly sound different when "old"? How long can I expect my "investment" to last?

I'm a bit hesitant to spend lots of money if there is a short, finite life.

Thoughts or experiences? Thanks.
post #2 of 27
Originally posted by pdubyu
How long can I expect my "investment" to last?
my dad bought his pair of B&W (might be 801s) back in the early 80's and they're still going strong. usage is approximately 10 hours weekly (5 movies a week)
post #3 of 27
Speakers can last a very long time (20 years). However, speakers with foam surrounds on the cones can slowly deteriorate. I'm sure your speakers will outlast your urge to upgrade.

post #4 of 27
I passed my DCM Time Windows off to one of my sons when he left for college a number of years ago and they are still going strong. I told him he should replace the grill cloth foam but other than that they still sound good after 30 years. I wouldn't recommend skimping on your speakers. Buy what sounds good to you and make sure you are buying something you will be happy with for a long time or at least until you can cash in some Google stock options. :)

post #5 of 27
I bought a pair of AR-5s in 1970. In 2000, one of the woofers stopped working. Can you imagine that. I only got 30 years out of 'em. What a ripoff! ;)
post #6 of 27
There are a number of things which can happen to speakers:
Surround Material Rot
Cap's and other XO components leak or lose their values
Cabinets can warp or loosen ,best way I could put it.

If you take care of them they will outlive their owners just like parrots.L

Certain Metal Tech speakers are the best to use if you want longevity in drivers because they hold their form better than other materials.

post #7 of 27
Speaker life depends on several factors, including:
• Quality of speakers
• How often they are used
• How loud they are played
• How well they are maintained
post #8 of 27
There could also be the magnet strength decay for electrodynamic types. It gets worse when it's driven at higher temperature(sustained high-power driving). I think there are some tools to restore the stength of the magnet of drivers. I heard that ferrite type magnets may need remagnetizing every 10 years.
post #9 of 27
Yeah, my old Pioneer towers (from the early 80's) fell apart....foam is gone, paper ripped.....ozone did it! Nice heavy cabinet, may re-speaker them someday.....
post #10 of 27
My old Ohm C bookshelfs did the same thing JET, I only got close to 20 years out of them. Considering they cost me like $350, I expected longer. ;)
post #11 of 27
I have a pair of B&O speakers from the 70s. They still beat the pants off most speakers I audition.
post #12 of 27
I've got a pair of Radio Shack "Realistic" speakers, they're still awesome speakers and can really crank out some good stereo sound. I wouldn't use them for HT, but if you want something "old school" or "ghetto" then there you go!

I've also got some cheaper speakers where the foam is gone right off, but hell they still work, and all four were free :D


Old receiver, Old end table, Old Radio Shack speaker...... with one of my new M60's sitting out (just cause I couldn't wait to unpack them...even thougH i didn't have wires or anything yet.... :D
post #13 of 27
I have a pair of ARs from the early 70s. Is 30+ years long enough?

30 years in the future we'll probably have direct cortical stimulation so they'll be obsolete. Bears consideration...

Guard your software at all costs. Everything else is just meat.
-- Rudy Rucker
post #14 of 27
Originally posted by DMF

30 years in the future we'll probably have direct cortical stimulation -------------------
I've got a feeling you already have this. :p

"ZZ-ZZ-Z-TT! Why is my left leg flopping?"

As for how long speakers last, I've got JBL L100 Centuries from 1970 that are still going strong. The grilles are shot and the cabinets show their age on the outside, but the speakers and electronics are still super. The speakers, in particluar, look nearly mint, even the surrounds.
post #15 of 27
I just sold a pair of 20 year old Bose 501 series 3 speakers in pristine condition. They sounded very good and were in perfect shape. I know, Bose, but these lasted!
post #16 of 27
I used to have 4 (for quad) of those brown speakers with the funny grills on them. They had the Kenwood name and just a bit bigger but boy that had one speaker in there that must have been a 15 incher. I bought them in 1974 and gave them away about 5 years ago. Part of me wishes I would have kept them and reconed them Boy stack one on another and you had loud concert like stereo. I had an old Sansui receiver that weighed in at just under 100 lbs. Had like 300 watts per. (sold it on ebay last year for what I paid for it in 1974. I probably should have just kept them in the attic where they had been for the last 10 years..... I do miss them at times... Just reminds me of all that good hard rock and roll in the 70's and 80's.... Crank it up and wow. My current set up with Rockets is great and fills the bill but boy did those old things have some memories....
post #17 of 27
While on this topic of longevity,
I still have a fantastic pair of ADS 1080 tower speakers. (remember that brand?) from the early 80s (20+ years)
They are now serving as bedroom speakers (fantastic ones at that!)

My dad still has some older JBLs from the 70s gowing strong!
post #18 of 27
Much depends on initial build quality. Serious speakers like old Altecs, JBLs, Stephens, EVs, WEs, RCAs, Tannoys and such are going strong after 50 or more years.

I own Altec 605A monitors from the late 50s-early 60s that work fine and IMO sound better than 99% of the speakers discussed here. I recently owned some Altec 803 woofers made in 1957; I just gave them to a guy whose using them in JBL 4560 cabinets.

I just acquired an Altec 604 "Hollywood" monitor from the late 1940s, it works fine.

I know fellas that use RCA and Western Electric speakers from the 1930s and 40s.

However foam surrounds, even those used in high quality JBL, Lowther and Altec drivers, do rot. But JBL and Altec used such surrounds on only a few of their models.

On the subject of demagnetization: ferrite magnets are VERY stable. Alnico magnets are prone to demagnetization from overpowering; the strong fields around the voice-coil during overpowering will generally weaken an Alnico magnet. You can figure that ANY Alnico magnet speaker that needs rediaphragming has a weakened magnet.

One of the fellas at the Lansing Heritage site who has rebuilt many JBL Alnico drivers has NEVER measured the magnetic strength of a blown driver that the strength wasn't weakened.

If you really want to hear from fellas who know what they're talking about on this magnet subject and other subjects of interest concerning vintage speakers check the forum at the Lansing Heritage site, www.audioheritage.org
post #19 of 27
Polk Monitor series from 72 still sounding good. no deterioration.Always kept indoors,never in a garage or storage.
post #20 of 27
Originally posted by DBryant
I just sold a pair of 20 year old Bose 501 series 3 speakers in pristine condition. They sounded very good and were in perfect shape. I know, Bose, but these lasted!
Bose! The Speaker that would't die!!!! :eek: :eek: :eek: :D

Just kidding....I got some old 201's I used for Rear Surrounds in the Dolby Pro Logic years.....now the Boys use them with their video games...
post #21 of 27
Bunch a' OLD guys in this thread, huh? :cool:;)
post #22 of 27
What about planar speakers e.g., Magnepans? Are these responses valid for these as well?
post #23 of 27
Purchased my Fried R II's and GAS amp and pre-amp in the mid-70's. All are still going strong.
post #24 of 27
Originally posted by Rijax
Bunch a' OLD guys in this thread, huh? :cool:;)
It's not how old you are. It's the condition of your equipment. Mine's still going strong.

My L100 centuries, that is... :D
post #25 of 27
Filecat----Hah! LOL

What young guys don't realize, in their innocent hubris, is that as the equipment gets older it works better, and for longer "listening" sessions too.
post #26 of 27
;) If you old dudes were referring to my comment, hubris was neither intended nor implied. I was talking about "us," not "you." I'm 58 and every wrinkle has been earned, thank you very much. And you guys are just bragging. :p
post #27 of 27
Rijax----Braggin's what i do best.

Why I can whip my weight in wildcats and shinny down a honey-locust without raisin' a scratch. I can wade the Mississippi and jump the Ohio, ride a lightnin' streak and put a rifle-ball through the moon. My father can whip any man in Kentucky and I can whip my father. I have the ugliest dog, the surest rifle, the fastest horse and the prettiest sister in the state of Illinois. I can hug a bear too close for comfort and eat alive any man opposed to Andy Jackson.
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