Originally Posted by wje
It might be hard to locate a pair of vintage speakers that don't need to have the surrounds on the drivers rebuilt. Most of the speakers from that era, have worn out drivers.
Older woofers that used foam surrounds often need them replaced. On the other hand those that used rubber or corrugated cloth surrounds are usually fine.
How does a driver "wear out"? I have two sets of Altec studio monitors from the early 1960s that will surpass in clarity, dynamics and imaging 99% of the speakers talked about on this forum. I know people that use RCA speaker systems from the 1940s and 50s that work fine and sound marvelous. Not to mention people that use WE systems from the 1930s.
Advances in speaker technology have mainly been in making small and/or cheap speakers better. You wrap a coil around a former, fix a diaphragm to it and immerse it in a magnetic gap. Old stuff. Note the "back to the future" guys who are rediscovering such virtues of old-school designs as underhung coils, Alnico magnets and field-coils.