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How Long Do Speakers Last?

It doesn’t matter if you just listen to the audio or record or produce sound, speakers are the most important part of the sound system. Nothing lasts forever so it is the same with electronic devices. It will come the time when you simply need to replace them. However, the question is – How long do speakers last?

There are different opinions on the life span of speakers. Some last for years, others last a lifetime. Today’s market varies a lot when it comes to durability, quality and components they include. 

Table of Contents

If you want to understand better how long do speakers last you need to know causes that wear them out faster.

Before you invest your money the first thing you need to be introduced to, is the quality of sound and next should be durability. You can consider a good bargain if you don’t spend a lot of money but get both the quality and duration.

There are also examples where ancient speakers still provide an excellent sound, but we must say it is rare nowadays. 

Do Speakers Lose Quality Over Time?

There is a short answer to this question and that is yes. Speakers that are used for long do wear out. Some components wear out faster than others and in general it can affect the sound quality. You will no longer be satisfied with what you hear and will certainly think of replacing them. But don’t rush with it just, there are easier solutions if you come to this point and that is replacing parts. Later you will learn about the components and what you can do to improve the sound without buying a new speaker and spending a lot of money. We will tell you a bit about things that help speakers degrade faster and we will give you tips on better maintenance. 

What Makes a Speaker Go Bad?

There is no reason to worry because all things you use wear out after some time. The only thing you should worry about is how soon it will happen. With proper maintenance, it will hopefully not be soon. For some components, even after years, you could barely notice any change but there are a few that after being worn out will affect the performance and you will notice something is wrong. What mostly deteriorates after time and makes a speaker go bad can be connected to a specific part of a speaker and external factors which we will talk about more. 

The components that influence a speaker to go bad are in the majority of cases: cone, surround and crossover capacitor. To prolong the life span of some speakers you can simply, if possible, change parts that are worn out at a low price. 

In most cases, the first thing that goes bad is surround, since they are more exposed than any other part from our list. In most cases, they are made of foam that over time stiffens and breaks. The other material used for surrounds is butyl rubber and it is more durable because of its flexibility. It also has a higher resistance to sun, water and some chemical reactions. But the case with butyl rubber is that in time it begins to dry and hardens. After years it will most certainly affect the sound quality which in some cases can be slight but in others drastic when compared to a sound that comes out from new speakers.

The other very important part is crossover. Its function is to split the audio in frequencies, two or more that are sent to drives, in charge of playing them. Crossovers work with the assistance of inductors, resistors and capacitors. Capacitors wear out in most cases first due to different reasons and the most common ones are old age, poor material or mechanical damage. There is also a cheap solution to this problem that will affect the sound too. You can replace it easily at low cost. 

Another part that can go bad is the speaker cone. In most cases, it is made of paper, plastic, aramid fiber and rarely out of metal. Wrong environmental conditions can influence these materials to wear out over time. When it comes to paper and aramid fiber, they are not resistant to moisture and deteriorate in time if they are exposed to moisture from the air. Sunlight can bring significant damage no matter the material it is made of. 

Another, not so often issue, is connected to ferrofluid in tweeters. The purpose of it is to stop the heating of the voice coil and to dampen the resonance. Since over time it dries and even evaporates it can cause problems especially by leaving magnetic particles that will choke the coil, stop moving and produce a dull sound. 

External factors that influence the speaker to go bad are something you can influence on. They will wear out sooner if exposed directly to sun rays. The heat will also damage them and could cause overheating too. Humid air and moisture in the room will harm the speakers causing a short circuit. If you keep the speaker near the radiators the heat will damage them.

The visual role of the speaker is of certain significance to many people.  A speaker can also look bad due to some external damage or it can be connected to materials that do not affect the sound but the appearance which can bother you too.  

The price of the speaker in most cases depends on the materials they are made of and you cannot deny the fact that some materials last longer. As we have already mentioned, butyl rubber will last longer than foam. Cheap capacitors will work OK, but last shorter. Those built of better materials will be more expensive but last longer. So, this concept applies to all the components used for speakers. 

So, How Long Do Speakers Last?

No one can tell with certainty how long speakers last. It mostly depends on the construction materials they are built and of course environmental conditions. If speakers are made of cheap materials, you cannot expect them to last long. Also, if maintaining and handling are done with no care you will most certainly damage the speaker sooner. The materials are in essence a basic factor that determines the lifespan of a speaker. 

When Should You Replace Your Old Speakers?

Once you notice that the sound of your speaker has changed it doesn’t mean that it has come to an end. You don’t have to throw it away and buy a new one. Fortunately, you can find a replacement part for each and every component of a speaker at the market. Check the model of your speaker and find a suitable kit for it. You can easily find and change the most common components that go down first such as surround, cone and crossover. 

Some speakers can last for twenty years, others much shorter. Not until the sound changes or you notice something went wrong with the sound you should change a thing. If you purchase cheap speakers, you cannot expect longevity. 

How To Make Your Speakers Last a Long Time

The most important thing about making a lifespan of speakers long is using it correctly and maintaining it appropriately. Most importantly you should know what influences the life of your speaker the most. These enemies are dust, heat, poor ventilation of the speakers, power surges and static electricity. If you provide proper protection from these five mortal enemies, you can expect your speakers to serve you for a lifetime. 

There are several tips we can offer if you want to keep your speakers to last for a long time:

  • Never expose your speaker to a direct sun
  • Keep away a speaker from a source of heat
  • Do not keep a speaker in a humid room
  • Keep the area around a speaker dust-free
  • Provide good ventilation for your speaker

Final Thoughts

After everything said above, we can conclude that speakers can last for decades but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will. Depending on the quality of the components and the way they are built, proper handling and maintaining the life of your speaker may vary. They will eventually degrade but even then, you do not need to replace them instantly with new ones. You could save money by investing in replacement parts that can be found easily and still have a good sound.