Do speakers wear out?

I have a 15-year-old pair of B&W Matrix 803s that I bought two years ago. Do speakers wear out? If so, is it the drivers or the crossovers. My speakers sound good, but I have not heard a 2 - 3 year old pair to compare. Joel
Yes, speakers do "wear out". Electrical and mechanical components settle, shift or "change" with age. Since a speaker is a combination of those two aspects ( electrical and mechanical ), they are subject to frequency response abberations, loss of output, etc...

Much of this can be taken care of by updating / replacing the capacitors in the crossover and having the drivers reconed. Reconing a driver is VERY different than just "refoaming" one. Whereas refoaming simply replaces the old foam that might have rotted or been damaged somehow, reconing basically uses the original magnet and basket of the driver. This means that you have a new spider, voice coil, driven element, surround, etc... In effect, you've got a brand new driver so long as the original magnet was not damaged.

What you might want to check is linearity between the two speakers that you have. If you can put your system into mono mode and still swing your balance to one side at a time, place the speakers side by side and do some SPL measurements using test tones. Measure and chart one speaker and then do the same for the other. So long as the two speakers measure pretty close over the entire testing range, i would not worry about it too much. Sean

Not really. The only thing that usually wears out is the foam/rubber surrounds on them primarily! The voice coils could melt, if you clip the speakers, but you'd hear it for sure!...sound buzzy, or stop working! Basically, if the surrounds are fine, and your speaker drivers aren't blown, they'll sound about as good as is possible. Your compontents and cables can degrade over time. Actually, check your "connections" to see if they have oxidized or need cleaning!...wires, cables, etc. I've had preamps and wires that got soft sounding over time, so you could check your system! good luck.
However, one school of thought is that your speakers are getting pretty old, and you might consider selling for newer models, before the value drops even more...and thus upgrade to newer models. Other wise, no worries...
Personal experience:
I owned four AR-LST's (later called Cello Amati's) for over 20 years. Other than replacing the woofers due to surrounds and the grill cloth, they worked perfectly and sounded great.
I now own B&W800's that are about 10 years old and (since actively bi-amping) feel they produce the best sound that I have ever heard at any price.
You guys might be missing the point that i'm trying to make. While "old" speakers may function completely fine, subtle degradation over the years may be tough to notice. The only way to really notice this would be to play a "fresh" set of identical speakers that were "broke in" and do a direct comparison with the "oldies".

In terms of clarifying my statements, i was talking about individual drivers possibly "going soft" due to age, abuse, drying of ferrofluid, thinning of foam surround, softening of the spider or other suspension components, loss of magnetic strength, capacitors drying up or changing value, etc... These are all NORMAL signs of decay and aging that occur to speakers.

Any / all of these things can happen to any one individual driver / part of the crossover in the box or all of them within the system. That is why i mentioned comparing one speaker directly to the other in a side by side mono test. This way, you can make sure that both speakers have similar acoustic surroundings in terms of room loading, etc.. and receive identical signals for comparison. So long as they match relatively closely, that is the bottom line.

I have had friends do similar tests only to find out that the tweeter on one speaker was notably quieter than the other, one mid offered less output than another, etc... A shift of a db or two in ONE driver can alter tonal balance, imaging, soundstage, prat, etc.... The problem is that the damage / decline in performance may have come about so gradually that one would not really notice it under day to day use and conditions. This is not to mention that our ears typically do not get BETTER with age. That is why i recommended taking the time to do some specific testing just to make sure / verify proper operation and even channel balance. Hope this helps.... Sean