Perhaps you’re on the lookout for a second speaker on sale at a fantastic price, or you simply want to know if your set of speakers still sounds as good as the day you purchased them.
For years, many audiophiles and music lovers have been intrigued about the degradation or deterioration of speakers.
As one of those individuals, I took it upon myself to research and answer this issue definitively. Thus, here is what I discovered.
Do speakers degrade over time? In a word, yeah. Over time, speakers do degrade. Over time, component speakers such as the surround, cone, crossover capacitor, and ferrofluid in certain tweeters deteriorate, lowering the overall sound quality of the speakers.
Certain component speakers are more prone to decay than others. And as these components fail, the entire sound quality of the speakers degrades. Thus, in the ensuing sections, we’ll examine the components of a speaker that deteriorate with time and then discuss the elements that lead to a speaker’s degradation.
We will discuss where to obtain replacement parts for the worn-out speaker’s components later in the text. I’ll also offer you suggestions on properly maintaining your speakers, so they last for years. Let us begin.
How long do speaker crossovers last?
Wearing Speaker Components
The majority of the component of a speaker deteriorate quite slowly. Even after several years of use, you are unlikely to detect any substantial changes to them. However, certain components degrade with time. Although they are limited in number, they have a noticeable effect on the speaker’s performance. Let’s take a closer look at these worn-out component speakers.
The term “surround” refers to the area around the speaker’s cone. It is the substance that secures the speaker’s cone to the chassis. The surround of the speaker dictates how far the speaker cones go. Additionally, when the cone’s limit is reached, it absorbs the remaining energy in the cone.
If this all sounds like nonsense, you may refer to my quick description of how a speaker works.
Surrounds are typically the first component of a speaker to fail. It is because they are exposed to the elements more than any other component on this list. Foam and butyl rubber are the two primary materials utilized to create surrounds.
Over time, foam surrounds are the most prone to deterioration. They tend to harden with time. And when they stiffen, they become brittle and crack.
Due to the qualities of butyl rubber, speaker surrounds built of it endure far longer than foam. First, it is significantly more flexible than foam, has a wide temperature range, and is resistant to sun rays, water, and various chemical reactions.
Regardless of its many advantages, butyl rubber surrounds erode with time. They begin to dry out and harden after years of use.
When the speaker’s surroundings begin to deteriorate, you will notice a difference in the speakers’ sound quality. The first thing you’ll notice is how distorted the speaker sounds. Additionally, the frequency response of the speaker will alter.
Occasionally, the shift in sound quality will be dramatic, and you will immediately notice it. In other cases, the difference in sound will be subtle and will go unnoticed until compared to new speakers of the same model.
Crossover Capacitor divides the audio signal into two or more frequency ranges to send it to the speaker driver optimized for those frequencies. For example, the crossover will filter out audio frequencies below 200Hz before sending them to the subwoofers and frequencies over 2kHz before sending them to the tweeters.
Crossovers do this by utilizing resistors, inductors, and, most significantly, capacitors. Capacitors, on the other hand, degrade with time.
Capacitors in a crossover may decay for various causes, including age, material wear, and mechanical damage. There is no way to prevent this because it will occur eventually.
When a crossover capacitor deteriorates, the speaker’s frequency response changes. Additionally, it might result in phasing complications.
Fortunately, when a crossover capacitor fails, it does not mean the end of the line for your speaker. That is because you may get replacement crossover capacitor kits to replace your worn-out capacitor.
Tweeters with ferrofluid
Ferrofluid was utilized in practically every tweeter in the early 1990s. Although they are not as common as they once were, a few manufacturers continue to employ them. If you’re unfamiliar with the term “ferrofluid,” it’s simply a fluid that contains colloidally dispersed magnetic particles.
In tweeter, ferrofluid is utilized to attenuate the resonance and cool the voice coil. In general, it contributes to sound quality improvement and avoids the voice coil from overheating.
The downside of ferrofluid is that it dries up after a time. After around ten to twenty years, the ferrofluid in a tweeter will evaporate, leaving behind the tweeter’s magnetic particles.
It can result in a slew of complications. The most common is that the remaining magnetic particles can clog the tweeter’s voice coil after the fluid dries and prevent it from moving. Effectively implies that the tweeter will cease to function, at which time your speakers will begin to sound dull. It is because it will be unable to reproduce all those high frequencies.
Speaker Cones are often constructed of paper, plastic, aramid fiber, and occasionally metal. While these are durable materials, some environmental conditions might lead them to deteriorate over time.
Aramid fiber cones, for example, do not perform well in humid situations. It is because they collect moisture from the surrounding air. They grow feeble and then degenerate with time. Paper cones behave similarly.
Additionally, prolonged exposure to UV radiation from sunlight has the potential to harm the speaker cones.
Factors Contributing to Speaker Degradation
When it comes to how speakers wear out, two major factors come into play. And you must be aware of them. Let us begin.
1. Materials used in the construction of component speakers
Not every speaker is constructed the same. Each speaker maker determines which materials should be used to construct the speaker’s components. The majority of material selection options are determined by the budget and ultimate pricing of the speakers.
There is no disputing that certain materials are more durable than others. For example, as I previously stated, butyl rubber is a far superior material for speaker surrounds than foam. That is because it will take a considerably longer length of time for it to deteriorate.
Similarly, some manufacturers utilize low-cost capacitors in their crossovers, which fail considerably more quickly than high-quality, pricey capacitors. Cheap capacitors will function great for a limited period. Expensive and high-quality capacitors have a significantly higher construction quality due to the materials employed, and they decay slowly.
This notion is not limited to the surroundings of the speakers and the crossover capacitor. It is true for all of the materials used to construct the various components of a speaker.
2. Speakers from the environment are retained
Where you store and utilize your speakers has a significant impact on how quickly the parts wear out.
As I previously stated, speakers typically do not perform well in direct sunlight. Over time, the sun’s UV rays cause damage to the speaker cones or grill cloth on speakers.
Additionally, intense sunlight can heat the speaker’s voice coil, causing it to overheat and burn while the speaker is operating. I believe you’ll find this article about how speakers overheat rather intriguing. Please feel free to peruse it.
I propose that you check to see whether your speakers are directly exposed to sunlight. Sunlight may strike your speakers or other A/V equipment through the windows, which you surely do not want. Additionally, if your speakers are stored in a humid location, this might accelerate their depreciation.
Moisture not only deteriorates the cones and surroundings over time; it can also corrode the speaker’s metallic components. Moisture can potentially short-circuit, resulting in damage to the power amplifier or speaker drivers. Read my post on how speakers are affected by cold temperatures and wetness.
Another factor that may deteriorate speakers over time is the use of heating radiators. Make no mistake; there is nothing wrong with employing speakers in a room with a radiator. As long as the radiator does not release an excessive amount of heat, they should be OK.
However, I discovered that many people position their speakers near heating radiators, which might cause some issues. The most prevalent issue is that the speaker cabinet, surround, or cones deform with time, which will undoubtedly damage the sound quality of the speakers.
How Long Do Typically Last Speakers?
Speakers often survive between ten and fifty years, or even longer, before showing symptoms of wear. The lifespan of a speaker is mostly determined by the material used in its construction, the environment in which it is used, and the power amp that powers it.
It’s common knowledge that certain speakers have a higher build quality and can survive a greater variety of external variables for an extended period than the speaker cabinet. Similarly, speakers built of low-quality materials will quickly fail to function when subjected to extreme conditions.
In essence, environmental variables have a significant impact on the duration of a speaker’s performance. However, the materials used to manufacture the speaker are critical in determining how long it will survive before deteriorating.
Worn-out Speaker Parts Replacement
When your speakers deteriorate, it does not mean they have reached the end of their useful life. Indeed, new parts are available for every component of the speaker that degrades over time. Therefore, if you discover your speaker sounds awful, do not immediately discard it.
The surround is one of the simplest speaker replacement components to locate. Naturally, this is because it is typically the speaker’s area that degrades the fastest and most frequently.
Additionally, you may purchase a new crossover capacitor to replace the deteriorating capacitor. The OCR Electrolytic Capacitor Kit is a high-quality capacitor ideal for any crossover.
Although you’ll receive an astounding amount of capacitors, you’ll eventually locate one that matches the rating of your deteriorated capacitor. Once you replace the old capacitor with the new one, you will notice a significant improvement in the sound quality of your speakers.
How to Take Care of Speakers
Here are some ideas for keeping your speakers in good condition for an extended period. If you follow these recommendations, you can keep your speakers sounding like new for an extended period before they begin to wear out.
- Keep speakers away from direct sunlight or heat.
- Maintain the speakers in a dry, non-humid environment.
- Maintain a dust-free environment for the speakers.
- Maintain adequate ventilation for the speakers.
How Do I Keep My Speakers Dust-Free?
As previously said, dust is the speakers’ number one adversary. Dust accumulates in the wire connections, interfering with the electrical impulses between the source and the speaker.
You must clean them regularly and with extreme caution. Dust pads, dry towels, and air canisters are all effective cleaning tools. However, the use of drinks is not recommended.
How Long Speakers: F.A.Q’s
Do crossovers for speakers degrade over time?
Yes, succinctly. Over an extended period of use, speakers will degrade. Over time, speakers component such as the surround, cone, crossover capacitor, and ferrofluid in certain tweeters deteriorate, reducing the speakers’ overall sound standard.
How should a crossover be troubleshot?
If you are experiencing difficulties and would want to contact us or troubleshoot your system on your own, please begin by launching CrossOver. After that, select System Information from the Help menu. This will instantly report on what CrossOver observes about your system, including any abnormalities found by our diagnostic tool.
Do cross-overs ever go wrong?
Capacitors are often the ones that fail, and you can usually tell when a cap has failed because it deforms the housing in some manner. Is it true that speakers improve with age?
The good news is that after the initial break-in time, your speakers will undoubtedly sound better. Indeed, you may wish to complete this step immediately in order to maximize your enjoyment of your speakers. Both types of music will be able to frequently push the speaker to its limits.
Long Do Speakers: The Bottom Line
In general, speakers deteriorate with age. Certain components of the speaker are not indestructible. And as they age, they affect the speaker’s sound quality. However, when a speaker declines, it does not mean that their life is over. Indeed, practically every worn-out component of the speaker has a replacement part.