Many people wonder if speakers wear out over time. The truth is that they do, unfortunately. Speakers work hard to convert electrical impulses into sound waves using mechanical energy. If you have ever seen a speaker without a cover you will have some idea of how active they are. This eventually takes its toll and causes wear. This ultimately happens on even the most expensive speakers.
We look at a few questions you might have around speaker wear and how and why it happens.
Do stereo speakers wear out?
Sadly, stereo speakers can wear out. It depends on the quality of the materials and the build as well as how well they have been looked after. The number of hours they are used and the volume are also factors.
Inexpensive speakers will wear out faster as the components as well as the workmanship are not as good. Unfortunately, even the best speakers will wear out, especially if they are used hard and often. If you play often play your music or other audio loud and play for long periods you certainly can wear speakers out.
Do speakers wear out over time? They do indeed. Just like any other mechanical or electronic equipment they have a limited lifespan. Quality equipment and good care could extend this but sooner or later they will show or deliver audible signs of wear. Eventually, they will fail altogether.
Do computer speakers wear out?
Computer speakers work in the same way as any other speakers. They tend to be more compact but many are quite powerful. They might be exposed to a greater frequency range than the average speaker due to gaming and other electronic audio. If you use them often or at high volume their lifespan will be reduced.
Again, a lot of it comes down to the quality of the speaker and how they are treated. Good speakers that are used carefully should last for many years but eventually, they will deteriorate with age.
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Do speakers go bad with age?
Good speakers that are well made from quality material will last many years, several decades provided they are looked after. Cheaper speakers or those that are abused might only last a few years. You should expect a good 15 to 20 years from decent speakers before you notice any sign of deterioration.
It might start with a bit of a crackle or hiss, particularly at higher volumes or deep bass notes.
If you consider purchasing used speakers you might well wonder – do speakers lose quality over time? As we have explained, they can and eventually do.
One thing you will not know when investing in second-hand speakers is how they have been used or abused over the previous years. Excessive playing, using them at full volume for extended periods, or playing them on an amplifier that is too powerful could all cause them to deteriorate. They may work fine now but damage and wear could be immanent.
Other risk factors are moisture and physical damage. This might not always be viable but will have a big impact on the lifespan of the speakers.
That is not to say this is always the case and you can often find good bargains in the second-hand market. It is, however, safer to buy new speakers.
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Do speakers lose volume over time?
Theoretically, no. Speakers do deteriorate over time but this is normally a slow and gradual process that takes many years. It is unusual for speakers to lose volume over time. Some of the materials used in certain models might be vulnerable to environmental factors and wear which could result in reduced performance and lower volume over time.
Excessive humidity is one of the main factors that damage speakers, particularly those with paper cones. The foam plastics can also eventually break down as can the rubber.
The case is also critical to volume and sound quality. A speaker box that is damaged, worn, or warped could cause a loss of sound and quality.
How long do speakers usually last?
It is not unheard of for good speakers that are cared for to last more than 50 years and still perform well. The challenge is that most modern speakers have various electronics that are more prone to wear or failure over time. Speaker cross-overs and other components could suffer from fatigue caused by heat, moisture, physical damage, or simply age.
Older speakers were more basic in their design and often last longer. They often had a single driver so there is less that can go wrong.
On average, you should expect decent speakers to last at least 20 years. Often, if looked after, they will last much longer. Less expensive options could last a lot less and those that are abused or not looked after will not give you many years of good service.
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How do you know when a speaker is bad?
For most people, it is clear when a speaker is bad. Sometimes they “blow” completely while others times there is a tear, other damage, or a component failure. You will be able to hear either distortion or a crackle and hiss. This is more notable at higher volumes.
The technical way to test is to use a multimeter to check the resistance. This is normally not necessary for home systems. If your speaker is bad you will hear it.
There are a few fixes and patches you could try but these rarely work well or last very long. The best bet is to invest in quality speakers and make sure they are cared for. This should give you many more years of music and audio enjoyment.
It is not all bad news. While you now know that speakers do wear out, the good ones will last a good amount of time. If you invest in quality speakers and look after them you will not need to replace them any time soon.
However, if you have the budget, is great to upgrade every so often. New speakers have the latest technology and a few new features and benefits not found in older models. Either way, make sure your speakers are still performing their optimal ability and sounding good.
This article was last updated on October 25, 2021 .