Loudspeakers - how best to prolong their lifetime?


Another thread, regarding obtaining speakers "for life" got me thinking about the lifetime of our speakers. Let's assume, for the sake of the argument, that we have a set that we really don't want to lose (just what I own right now). Is there anything that one can do to prolong their lifetime? We'll assume that we look after them regarding the power that we throw at them and that we don't play them excessively loud and blow the cones.

I recall my first "real" speakers, which were Castle Kendals. After a few years in storage, following an upgrade, I went back to them to use in my third system. They sounded terrible when I connected them up and the removal of the grill showed just why - the cone's foam surrounds had disintegrated! I pulled the two sets of spares out, ones that I had obtained from Castle as backups, and they had also gone belly-up. My current speakers have glass-fibre reinforcement so I expect some longevity.

Is there anything to do or do we just have to take what we are dealt?
niacin
For the last couple of years, my Apogee Duetta Signature (1993 build) are used with a pair of subwoofers (even though they do 28hz....and sound great doing it!)

I would rather not put them into the "dreaded" Apogee bass buzz mode any sooner than I have to (although I know the "BUZZ" will strike someday regardless).

Dave
keep them out of direct sunlight. uva deteriorates many things.
Don't let them be found without the grill with small kids around. Otherwise, these kids will not be able to resist putting their fingers to the drivers and test the impact of their little fingers on the tweeter or other drivers...:-)
i keep my Meadowlark Blue herron 2's covered with blankets when not in use to keep the light off of them and curious hands at bay as well.
Besides sunlight, smoke is something to best avoid. As is high humidity and moisture. Many speakers which have foam surrounds can easily have the surrounds replaced, it's not automatically a death sentence. And depending on the brand, it's probably best to replace the caps in the crossover every couple of decades or so. Large woofers should be rotated 180 degrees every couple of decades as well, if possible, to prevent stresses on the suspension.

Among my loudspeakers is a stock pair of 1977 Klipsch Cornwalls that sound excellent thirty-three years down the road. I have a pair of Pioneer CS-99A, with the cambric surrounds, from the same era in great condition. I also have some raw drivers from the 1950s that seem to work very well and friends that use Altecs from the early 1960s that sound pretty good.

Heck, there are guys using Western Electric and Klangfilm speakers from the silent motion picture era between the wars, and loving the hell out of them. I would not sweat it.

http://www.audioanthology.com/audio1.html
Materials do age and heavy use will cause wear and tear also. However, some speaker manufacturers have been supporting their original products for over thirty years. Meanwhile other speaker manufacturers role out new models and obsolete old ones every two or three years. There are countless numbers of flash in the pan speaker manufacturers that come and go each year.

Simply choose the right speaker company (the non disposable kind) and you won't have to worry for the next 30 years.

If you expect something to last more than thirty years without maintenance/repair then I think you are unrealistic.
Large woofers should be rotated 180 degrees every couple of decades as well, if possible, to prevent stresses on the suspension.

There are a lot of vintage speakers like Viridian mentioned that have doped surrounds.50s through 70s,and probably a lot of other years,I'm missing.These have a syrup looking type of coating on the surrounds to protect them,and keep them flexible.When that liquid sags toward the bottom,I was told to rotate them 180 degrees also.I'm not sure how often this needs to be done.Maybe going by looks,if it's sagging.Keep out of the sun like mentioned above.A lot of hard driving may age the glue holding the voice coil quicker. The foam surrounds could be changed like mentioned above also.With the foam surrounds,if you see the break/hole in them,don't use them.If you use them this way,you could damage the rest of the driver.If you catch it quick enough,they may just need new foam surrounds.The non-foam surrounds seem to keep on going,as long as they're not abused.
I was told to rotate them 180 degrees also.I'm not sure how often this needs to be done.Maybe going by looks,if it's sagging.Keep out of the sun like mentioned above.

It theory yes, but what if your wife refuses to go through with this?
I'm not touching that one.
Who changes the foam surrounds? I mean, do the original manufacturers offer that service or are there third party companies that can do it?
I've had a local dealer do mine in the past. They did ok,but weren't expensive speakers.If I had some that were of higher quality,I may use a company that does specialize in it.One that comes to mind is Millersound.They seem to have a good reputation.There may be other ones,that people will recommend too.Link for them.[http://www.millersound.net/indexfl.htm]
Anyone know of a company in the UK that would do it - just in case :)
Hopefully,someone will have a place for you.If not,maybe start a new thread."Speaker Surrounds in the UK".Or something on that order,to get the attention.If your good at doing it yourself,some people do their own.They sell kits for it,but never done one myself.I'm always worried I won't get the cone centered just right,and ruin it.
I don't know anything about this place,as far as buying from them.I'm just putting it on for the last resort,to give you an idea,for doing it yourself parts.Link.[http://www.speakerworks.com/speaker_repair_kits_s/65.htm]
As a past R&D Engineer in the polymer field I can tell you sun light, moisture, and heat will shorten the lifespan greatly.

Keep them in a dry, dark and cool (not cold) place.
As a past R&D Engineer in the polymer field I can tell you sun light, moisture, and heat will shorten the lifespan greatly.

Exactly. This is why I recommend going with a speaker manufacturer that is not a "flash in the pan" or "new latest and greatest models every year". (if you care at all about getting a really long life out of your product)

The drivers can be repaired by replacing the diaphragms - the "serious" speaker manufacturer should be able to supply you with replacement diaphragms (re-coning). The magnet and steel parts will last at least 100 years.
I have confidence in my own work, so I replace foam surrounds myself. It is not particularly hard if you are handy. Kits can be purchased from various vendors, such as Parts Express. DIY is fun and, when you are done, you know that the job is done right. Errr.......or that you screwed up totally and the driver is ready for the dust bin as you say on the other side of the pond.

I would never mess with rare Altec or WE drivers, those would go to Great Northern Sound. Likewise, if I owned very expensive modern speakers, they would go back to the manufacturer. But for your Kendal drivers, I think that DIY is a great opportunity. While you have them apart you can replace the caps in the crossover and maybe some wire as well. Good luck.