Speakers have the power to amp up any joyous occasion. From a nightclub to a church, you want to make sure the music is loud, clear, and heard by all.
But how long do speakers last? Are they an appliance you only need to buy once during a lifetime or do they begin to wear out after a few years of use?
Is there a way to make your speakers last longer?
Keep reading to find out!
- Do Speakers Wear Out?
- Can Speakers Last a Lifetime?
- How Often Should You Replace Your Speakers?
- How Can You Make Your Speakers Last Longer?
- Wrapping Things Up
Do Speakers Wear Out?
Yes, speakers wear out over time.
The old adage that speakers get better with age is far from true.
Speakers’ sound quality and loudness will decrease over time, especially if they’re frequently used.
This is because some parts of the speaker’s internal hardware (e.g. the capacitor, cone ferrofluid, etc.,) deteriorate with use.
Additionally, a speaker’s foam surround also breaks down, as it’s not protected by a plastic barrier like the other components. It also tends to go through more wear and tear, especially if the speaker is regularly transported.
You may find that the sound is fuzzy and you can’t quite make out the words of a song or that the volume is lower than it used to be.
Although this could be caused by misplaced wires, it’s often an indicator that the speaker is dying.
Can Speakers Last a Lifetime?
Yes, some high-quality speakers can last a lifetime.
Speakers could potentially last a lifetime, but it’s unlikely they’ll make it past middle age (50 years). This depends on how often you use your speakers and how high you set the volume.
Other factors that affect a speaker’s lifetime are the type and quality of materials they’re made of, humidity, and how well you care for them.
You can certainly service a speaker by replacing some of the old internal hardware, but this will only get you so far. Even the best quality speakers will eventually stop working after five or, if you’re lucky, six decades.
However, these are just general guidelines, so it’s completely possible that your speakers could last longer.
How Often Should You Replace Your Speakers?
You should usually replace your speakers every 10 to 20 years.
Although speakers could still be in good condition after several decades of constant use, they generally must be replaced after 10 to 20 years. You may begin to notice that they’re not powering on, connecting, or sounding the same as they once did.
It’s also possible to see physical signs of degradation, like the surround, cone, or dust cone looking worn or falling apart.
But it’s important to remember that every speaker will be different, so inspecting the speaker’s parts and sound is a more reliable way to tell if a speaker must be replaced.
How Can You Make Your Speakers Last Longer?
Follow our tips below to make your speakers last longer.
We’ve gone over how various factors can impact a speaker’s longevity, but there are ways that you can make your speaker last longer.
Remember that every appliance will completely stop working eventually, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to squeeze another decade or so of life out of it.
Let’s get started!
Buy Speakers with a Butyl Rubber Surround
If you’re currently speaker shopping and prioritize durability, make sure to get a speaker with a butyl rubber surround.
A speaker’s surround is, as the name implies, the circular piece of soft material surrounding the cone.
While many cheaper speakers will have a foam surround, it’s better to spend the extra cash and invest in a rubber surround.
This is because foam generally only lasts about five years and has the tendency to flake and deteriorate. Your speaker is also more likely to look worn in after a few years since you can see when the foam chips and falls apart, even if it’s still working properly.
On the other hand, rubber lasts up to thirty years, and won’t shed tiny bits of foam around your living room whenever it’s moved. Rubber is also heavier, which makes it more durable.
However, it’s important to consider that foam and rubber surrounds impact the speaker’s sound. So it’s up to you to decide which one is right for you based on your preferences.
If you already own a speaker and see that its foam surround is decaying, have no fear! You can switch out the foam surround for a rubber one.
It’s advised to consult a speaker technician about which rubber surround is best for you since it’s important that it fits the cone correctly.
If you’re interested in replacing your speaker’s surround at home, watch the video below demonstrating the whole process from start to finish!
Consider Your Environment
A speaker’s voice coil already heats up while the speaker is on, so placing the speaker in a warm, sunny spot could result in it overheating. Though it is possible to replace the voice coil, it can be expensive, so ensure you keep your speaker in a cool environment.
Humidity can also corrode your speakers’ internal hardware. It’s best to avoid placing your speaker in humid areas of your home, such as your basement.
However, if you live in a humid environment, like next to a beach, this could be difficult to control. Try running a dehumidifier and service your speaker regularly.
Replace the Speaker’s Capacitor
Most electronics have a capacitor and speakers are no exception. Their primary jobs are to regulate electrical flow and act as a power supply.
So, if you find that your speaker is not turning on or is emitting a low buzzing sound, it’s a good idea to check the capacitor.
Capacitors can also leak or burn. If you ever detect a smoky smell from your speaker, unplug it immediately and consider taking it to a technician.
Because capacitors carry an electrical voltage, it is extremely dangerous to touch them when they’re charged. The electrocution can instantly kill or gravely injure you, so make sure you do your research or consider taking your speaker to a professional.
If you do decide to replace your speaker’s capacitors yourself, it’s crucial that you discharge them before proceeding with the repairs.
You also need to ensure that you install the correct voltage of capacitors, so consult your unit’s manual or call the manufacturer’s customer support for additional information.
If you are up to the task of replacing a speaker’s capacitor yourself, watch this informative video below for a step-by-step tutorial.
Replace or Repair the Speaker’s Cone
A speaker’s cone is the concave, funnel-shaped part of the speaker where the sound plays from.
Commonly made out of paper pulp, cones do best in cool, dry environments. Humidity and direct sunlight can degrade the paper, which may even affect the way your speaker sounds.
Because of their fragility, cones are especially prone to damage, but they can also be replaced or repaired.
When replacing your speaker’s cone, you must ensure the replacement fits the speaker’s dimension exactly. We recommend going to a speaker store to ensure the best fit and material.
If you see small holes in the speaker cone, consider repairing it at home! This is a budget-friendly option that uses materials you probably already have.
If the speaker cone is torn, try using diluted white glue or PVA adhesive to reattach the fragments. If the cone has holes in it, consider patching it up using an adhesive and tissue paper.
Watch the video below demonstrating how to repair a speaker’s cone at home.
Note that repairing the cone at home may slightly change the speaker’s acoustics.
Check the Speaker’s Ventilation
The speaker’s internal hardware could overheat if they’re not sufficiently ventilated. Try not to place your speakers near furniture or on a crowded shelf.
If the speakers must be in a warm environment, consider pointing a fan at them to generate airflow.
Control Your Speaker Usage
Using your speakers for hours on end on a daily basis will radically decrease their lifespan. Not only will they be at a greater risk of overheating, but the internal hardware may also be overworked.
The volume you play music at could also affect how long your speaker lasts. Do not play music loudly for long periods.
Decreasing the room’s background noise can help your speaker’s longevity as it will allow you to play music at a lower volume to the same effect.
Strategically positioning your speakers to increase the flow of sound is also a good idea. Consider putting your speakers in the corner or mounting them to the wall or ceiling.
Wrapping Things Up
Speakers are a staple of any party, so it’s important to make sure their sound quality doesn’t disappoint.
Ensuring your speakers are in a dry environment, in good condition, and well-ventilated will help keep them sounding loud and clear for decades to come. If you do find that certain speaker components are malfunctioning or broken, consider replacing or repairing them.
With proper care, and a little bit of luck, your speakers could last decades!
What’s your experience with speakers’ longevity? Let us know in the comments below!
Yesenia Achlim is a technical copywriter and editor with a focus on AV equipment. She aims to break down complicated topics and make technology accessible, no matter your technical expertise. When she’s not teaching you how to replace a projector lamp, you can find her reading and baking.