Do Speakers Wear Out? How Long Should They Last?

Used HiFi Shelf Speakers

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Maybe you have your heart set on a second speaker on sale for a great price, or maybe you want to find out if your existing speakers have the same great sound they did when you first bought them.

Many music lovers and audiophiles have pondered whether speakers wear out or get old for a long time. I researched and came up with a conclusive response to this question because I am one of those people.

Here is what my research revealed. 

Like everything else around us, speakers gradually deteriorate with time and use. A speaker’s surround is typically the first component to wear out, especially if it is foam. The good thing is that even foam surrounds can continue functioning properly for ten years.

There are a lot of variations in terms of quality, toughness, and longevity because there are so many different speaker models available.

I will have to investigate what makes some speakers wear out more quickly and why some speakers last for many years before they stop functioning to understand whether they wear out and how long they last.

Read on if you recently purchased new speakers and are unsure if they will wear out and how long it will be before you have to replace them.

What Are The Speaker Components Most Likely To Wear Out?

Most speaker parts hardly ever degrade. Even after several years of use, you probably won’t notice any substantial changes to them. There are some parts, however, that degrade over time, and this has an impact on the speaker’s performance. Let’s examine these deteriorating speaker parts in more detail.

Q Acoustics HiFi-Bookshelf Speaker
Q Acoustics HiFi Speaker | Make Life Click

1. Surround

The ring that joins the rotating cone to the stationary basket is known as the surround. If you take off the speaker’s grille, you can view it.

Naturally, the surround must be adaptable enough to permit the cone to rotate. To avoid sound distortion and undesirable peaks and troughs in the response, it should also return the cone to its initial position.

The continual mobility will deteriorate the environment, and the fact that it is immediately exposed to the outdoors may hasten this deterioration even further.

The worst kind in that regard is foam. Before starting to decompose and degrade, foam typically lasts for ten years. Rubber surrounds are far more resilient and likely last 30 to 40 years.

Fortunately, you can repair rotting surroundings, often for less than $50. The replacement surrounds should be made of the same substance as the old ones. Not that a different substance won’t function, but the sound quality might not be as good.

2. Crossover Capacitor

Every speaker needs to perform a crossover. To send the audio to the speaker driver built to play specific frequencies, it divides the audio into two or more frequency ranges.

For example, the crossover will block out audio frequencies lower than 200Hz and send them to the subwoofers while filtering out frequencies higher than 2 kHz and sending them to the tweeters.

With the aid of inductors, capacitors, and, most significantly, resistors, crossovers may do this. Capacitors, however, deteriorate over time.

A crossover’s capacitors may deteriorate for several causes, such as aging, material degradation, or mechanical damage. Since this will eventually occur, there is no way to halt it.

The frequency response of the speaker will alter when a crossover capacitor deteriorates. Additionally, phasing problems may result.

Luckily, your speaker’s life is not ended when a crossover capacitor fails. It is because you may buy aftermarket crossover capacitor kits to update your worn-out capacitor.

3. Spider

The component that encircles the voice coil and secures it to the basket is called the spider.

The spider must vibrate at a specific pace, just like the surround, to ensure the voice coil is centered above the permanent magnet and maintain proper voice reproduction.

The spider will ultimately stretch more than it should if you frequently overdrive your speakers; at that point, your speakers will begin to sound off.

Q Acoustics Concept 40 with front grill off - speakers wear off
Q Acoustics Concept 40 | Make Life Click

Gravity may induce the spider to sag over time if you’ve left your speakers in the same spot for an extended period. Wearing spiders cannot be changed separately, unlike surroundings.

The cone, voice coil, spider, and surrounds need replacing when you recone the speakers.

4. Speaker Cone

Speaker cones are generally manufactured using aramid fiber, plastic, paper, and occasionally metal. Although these materials don’t typically deteriorate with time, some environmental factors can make them do so.

Cones made of aramid fiber, for example, suffer in humid conditions. They do so because they take in moisture from the air.

They weaken and then decay with time. Cones made of paper react similarly. Also, prolonged exposure to sunlight’s UV rays can harm speaker cones.

With it clear that some speaker components wear out over time, which impacts the sound and performance of the overall speaker system, let’s look at how long you can expect your speakers to last.

How Long Should Your Speakers Last?

A good pair of speakers can endure for decades, but their longevity depends on several things. If properly maintained, speakers can last up to two decades or even a lifetime.

I will advise you to check the reliability of a product before buying new speakers.

Your speakers will likely last longer if you utilize them as designed. Sound quality and durability are two of the most crucial aspects to consider.

Finding good speakers at a fair fee would be a plus. You may be interested in learning how long old speakers can last and the best ways to take care of them.

Speakers are among the audio gadgets that survive the longest, according to research, because they are made to resist long periods.

There are a few exceptions, though. If your speakers begin to malfunction or degrade, you might consider re-foaming them or determining whether they have blown.

Q Acoustics Concept 40 Up Close Grill Off - Speaker wear out
Q Acoustics Concept 40 Up Close | Make Life Click

In some cases, if manufacturers discontinue providing software upgrades, aging speakers may have problems. Or, if maintained for exceptionally long periods, the material used to make these speakers might start to degrade.

Fortunately, technology has progressed enough to allow more modern materials such as Kevlar and carbon fiber to increase speaker longevity.

Additionally, speakers and audio systems can update themselves automatically using an internet connection and a smartphone.

Always remember that your speakers’ quality will affect how long they last. The quality of each manufacturer varies, and these variations impact how dependable your speakers are.

Design, material, positioning, a favorable environment, connecting amplifiers, and usage frequency are additional elements that affect longevity. The speakers’ lifespan will increase with responsible use.

Final Thoughts

Since speakers have numerous moving parts; they do eventually wear out. However, if you buy high-quality speakers and take good care of them, they can last longer than the other components that make up your sound system.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

A passion for writing and ongoing research projects gives Catherine an incredibly broad knowledge of all things. She has authored an incredible number of articles and can be found in the wilderness when not attached to technology or listening to podcasts.

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3 thoughts on “Do Speakers Wear Out? How Long Should They Last?”

  1. I am still enjoying my DCM Timeframe 500’s that I purchased circa 1986. People still sing their praises when they hear them. Still running a 1975 Connoisseur BD1 turntable with a Grace 707 tonearm. All sound great though I have had to have some motor suspension work done on the turntable as well as new cartridges and stylii (turntables that old do need maintenance). Amp is a Nakamichi Amplifier 1 and that still sounds smooth as! CD player is Cambridge Audio and is only about 20 years old and still runs like new. Good gear should last and does.

    1. That’s fantastic. Two brands I really respect through the years – Nakamichi and Cambridge Audio. My Cambridge Audio amp went for years before I had to sell it to move country. A lot of respect for how RS bought and then built that brand up. The DCM Timeframe 500 had a thin frame and pressed paper cones, yes?

  2. My speakers did sound amazing…… and now it seems like some of the bass is missing. I wonder whether its the capacitors altering the frequency response. The speakers were from a DIY kit about 25years ago. SO, yeah maybe its time to upgrade the capacitors or entire crossover boards.

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