How long do high quality speakers "last"

I am the original owner of a pair of ProAc Response 2 speakers. They are almost 7 years old, but have never been driven excessively hard. How long (i.e. useful lifespan in years) can I expect these speakers to "last" (i.e. no significant sonic degradation) if I care for them carefully? When they do start to degrade, what mechanical failures and sonic degradations can I expect to occur? Thanks in advance!!!
Loudspeaker degradation takes on various forms. Almost all speaker designs fall victim to some kind of change with age. In the case of the ProAc Response 2's, look for the following: 1).- The Scan-Speak silk-dome tweeters could eventually lose their stiffness as they are exposed to humidity. As these become softer, their response could change. 2).- The ATC drivers (woofer-mid), if they have a foam surrounds, they will eventually get dry-rot and disintegrate. If the surrounds are of buytl rubber, this material increases in stiffness over time, which changes the response, and eventually will tear under excursion. Buytl surrounds, being difficult to attach to polymer/plastic cones, sometimes detach from the cone as the glue, much like contact cement, dries out. Some manufacturers prevent this by sewing their buytl surrounds to the cones. Lifespan? It could be easily twenty years. However, loudspeaker technology is not one of quantum leaps but of small refinements, which with the passing years means much better loudspeakers in general. The trick is to keep listening to what's available and judge whether it is "better or worse" than what you have. After nine years with the same speakers, this listener recently went looking for something "better" and found it. Nontheless, although better, the new speakers were not strikingly different from the old, just more "refined".
Depending on your budget and changing tastes,there is a great alternative to expensive future replacement of your component speakers.There is a process called reconing as where you remove your old speakers from the cabinet and send them to a reputable company.Proper reconing will make component speakers sound brand new again ,will have the life of any top level speaker,is the same exact speaker that came with your cabinet,and will be alot less expensive than a manufacturers'replacement.Try this site more info.
If you have foam surrounds on the cones, expect them to rot away eventually. Check periodically. It can be repaired. If you drive them hard with amp clipping, expect to cook a voice coil or have the coil former start to rub and buzz. A balance between amp power and speaker rating can reduce that chance. Read the instructions for your speakers. Quality speakers last for decades if used within their comfort zone. Maybe you should consider some kind of high output/efficiency speakers for just rock.
I have had one reconed. Have had some 20 years.  "Quality speakers last for decades if used within their comfort zone." I sold one pair which failed but a guy who was there told me that they were on the floor and they were bouncing up and down before they went.

7 years is just barely broken in!  Seriously, unless your drivers have foam surrounds, speakers should last a long, long time.  My Spendors have 15 years and should continue for many more.  The vintage drivers in my high-efficiency speakers date from the 1960s and 1970s, and they still sound great.  The woofers from the '60's were reconed a few years ago with NOS paper cones, but other than that everything is stock.
I am greatly enjoying a pair of Acoustic Research 2ax (circa 1969, made in Cambridge, MA) that I bought at a local used electronics/audio shop here in Eugene, OR. I refurbished the cloth woofer surrounds with new doping compound, and replaced the crossover capacitors and L-pads. I also had to replace one of the super tweeters and replaced both after finding an original used pair. So far so good.  They sound absolutely wonderful in my small, hopefully temporary, living space.  Not bad for about 47 years of solid audio service.
If one treasures cabinetry this is also an area to be aware of, as veneers, if not properly glued/pressed, can detach from the particle board (or the more rarely used plywood) over the gears, as can joints, and solid wood, if not properly dried, can "work" itself to create cracks or otherwise bend out of shape. Cross-over parts such as electrolytic capacitors dry out after some years. As already mentioned different surround materials deteriorate over years, some more rapidly than others, also depending on atmospheric conditions such as humidity and shift in temperatures, and direct sunlight is never a friend of most any driver. It seems treated cloth surrounds lasts for decades, and where used in horns and hidden away are often regarded as mint-condition young drivers even after 25 years. True heirloom speakers that combine excellent cabinetry and overall craftsmanship with quality drivers and cross-over components, and that are used carefully under "normal" conditions,   should last many decades without sound degradation, as I'm sure quality speakers that do not aspire to "heirloom"-status should easily last 25 years or more, if properly treated. 

Quality speakers are made to quality standards and can last for decades.

I have a pristine pair of ADS L-520's that I bought new in 1980.  They are currently used in a secondary system.  They have been well taken care of, not exposed to temperatures extremes, driven with only quality electronics and their woofers use butyl rubber surrounds that will last forever.  So I see no reason that I can't get another 36 years out of them.
Wondering if the OP will see this and chime in on the condition of his Response 2's now that they are roughly 22 years old.  
I have a pair of Kef C55 that were purchase about 1990 that still sound fantastic. They have taken quite a beating, too.
I expect my Silverline Preludes to really last as they have magnesium/aluminum drivers and rubber surrounds. The crossover caps may die before the drivers, but I’ll likely get bored and replace the speakers with something else due to boredom or curiosity well before any of that. Note that I use my trusty old Boston Acoustics A60IIs in my TV system and have replaced the woofers once (foam degradation). years ago…they still kick a--, so to speak (from 1988 or something?). I assume the ferrofluid will dry up eventually in the tweeters but so far they work fine.
The question responders should ask of the OP is, physically or technologically.


An important issue for me,as I'm retired and can't really afford to replace myDaedalus Audio DA-RMAs, which I love. I am reassured by remembering my first ever speakers bought in 1966, second hand, were still in use by my late lamented Mother, when she passed in 2012. Now that is'nt to bad.

The RMa's don't use foam surrounds, so I would investigate using a high quality rubber preservative on the butyl every 2 or 3 yrs or so to keep the butyl from drying out (micro cracking) and will help keep them pliable...there won't be any change in sound or performance when you apply it or anything, but it's a worthwhile investment for what little it costs. Be sure to keep your speakers out of the sunlight, even through glass. Not only will it begin to mar the finish over a decade or two, but if you leave your grills off it will slowly degrade driver materials and surrounds as well, IME.

If you're worried or just want to know what your fall-back options might be, give Lou Hinkley a shout and see what he offers in the way of refurbishment (or what drivers or materials he'd likely be able to send you, if you can do that sort of thing yourself) might be well cheaper than replacement if push came to shove.
Ivan, Thanks, that's helpful. Unfortunately my speakers are the wrong side of the pond, in the UK. Transport there and back is pretty costly. Lou has been anxious to get my speakers the V2 upgrade, or switch to Athenas. I would need to sell mine first and have had no interest in trying to sell in Europe. The name is'nt known here, much to Europe's loss.
How long do B&W 805 Nautilus last?If I take good care of and not playing them loud?
Post removed 
mshan  How long do high quality speakers "last"
First off you have, one of the nicest sounding semi bookshelf's in the Response 2. And they still demand good money even today.
Foam roll surrounds are the best, but do rot and should only be replaced with exact same ones. As the "compliance" of the roll surround is part of the Thiel & Small parameters that has dictated your box and port size to that base driver.

I would also every 5 or so years, rotate the bass driver 180 degrees, as the cone/roll surround will sag unevenly and could eventually cause what's called "polling", this is where the voice coil is no longer in exact center of the magnet gap and starts to touch/scrape it.

Cheers George       

One should be in a position to get 20+ years out of reference speakers.

Much will depend upon the company staying in business and providing both service/parts/drivers. Happy Listening!

One nice thing about my ZU's is that you can purchase upgraded drivers. I purchased my Omen Defs in 2012 (update B) and they have the updated tweeter. Since, ZU has released upgraded larger drivers as well. Outside a light dusting every now and then, the drivers look and feel as good as new with no deterioration (at least from what I see or hear).
mshan, it is extraordinarily variable. Foam surrounds are always a bad sign and these hardly ever make it past 25 years. Voice coils can burn out or unravel and the driver starts making strange noises. On the other hand I have two pairs of Mirage speakers in my workshop in the worse of conditions. They are 30 years old and sound fine although they don't look so hot. A good ESL like a Sound Labs speaker will last indefinitely.  
I bought a pair of Series 1 Bose 901s (closed box, rubber surrounds) I bought in 1972.  My son still has them.  They look and play fine in his basement party room.
Recently I saw a pair of Duntech Sovereign 2001's with all of the bass drivers worn due to age. The cone surrounds crumbled into dust in my hands! Now whether this was caused by sheer age, or due to excessive sun exposure I don't know...but the result is the same. Someone can probably replace the drivers...but it is going to be a project.
44 year old pair of EPI 70’s still running strong; all original including the surrounds. Pretty sure the Pioneer receiver they run on is just as old and with original lamps and no LED crap lights either... still original caps too. Original owner. My teenage son now has this in his room.
Recently I saw a pair of Duntech Sovereign 2001's with all of the bass drivers worn due to age. The cone surrounds crumbled into dust in my hands! Now whether this was caused by sheer age, or due to excessive sun exposure I don't know...but the result is the same. Someone can probably replace the drivers...but it is going to be a project.

Not a big deal. I'll take them for cheap.......

I purchased a pair of B&W DM1400's new in 1985 and have since used them almost daily. They have traveled across the continent with me and now reside in a smallish Mexican town. Since my hearing cannot possibly be as good as it was when I was a young whippersnapper I would love to be able to compare them to newer speakers of similar quality. To me they sound great with no discernible degradation in sound and have never required any repair. When buying them I auditioned, in person, many speakers at many audio shops over several weeks. At that time , in every major city there were real audio stores where you could do this. I was looking for a "natural" sound with the smallest amount of coloration. 
Since I cannot audition speakers here now, I have no way to compare the latest technology to know if my vintage(?) B&W's still remain valid as a true natural sounding set of speakers although they are 35 years old. Can a good set of old speakers be as good as current good ones? 

My approx 40 year old Celestion SL6S speakers (a 2014 eBay purchase) are in great shape, and sound fantastic.  Given the shape of other Celestions I've seen on eBay, I think I got lucky there.  

My 25 year old Apogee Slant 6 speakers (purchased new in 1995) recently underwent ribbon tweeter replacement, primarily because I don't know how long yet Graz will be making the replacements, and I want to keep these speakers going as long as possible.

My 15 year old Realistic center channel speaker shocked me when I removed its grille after 10 years of non-use; there were no woofer surrounds, only a pile of powder!

There are so many factors that come into play that I don't think you can predict a lifespan.  Just look after them well, fix them when the break, and enjoy them while you have them, realizing that nothing is forever.
Post removed 
ACOUSTATS LIVES FOREVER!!!!!! and still playing since 1982. Had a friend over to hear them and he gave his maggie's away!!! now what does that say.
I've had my Thors 18 yrs,, no issues, except the foam diaphrams in the Millennium's diintergrtaed,, so replaced,, still my tech guy tested them, and suggested replacing at $300/each,, the speakers were not  is use but 8 of the 18,,and not loud, nor much R&R, mostly classical,, so lightly used. 
This gives you a idea of when to change mid wteeters,, midwoofers are perferfect,,except my cat long ago scratched 2 mids so recently i myself replaced the 2 surrounds, very easy to do.
just added  new high tech xovers,, so a   good speaker over say 10 yrs old, recommend replacing mid tweeters and also upgrading xovers.
Hope that helps. 

A lot of good advice given above; the rare thread that, so far, does not include crazy accusations about other comments/commentators. 

I have not heard any bad comments about ProAc speakers going bad, and I've seen a few older models that are in good working order, so I would guess that they are not particularly prone to early senility.

Speakers age at vastly different rates so there is no handy guide as to how long to expect any given speaker to last--it depends on design, materials, and environment.  I have a local dealer that makes custom speakers out of mostly vintage parts, some of which are extremely old.  Most of the woofers are from the 1940's through 1980's, and compression drivers can be much older than that.  In my own system, I run a compression mid-range driver that is just a bit over 80 years old.

"One should be in a position to get 20+ years out of reference speakers.

Much will depend upon the company staying in business and providing both service/parts/drivers."

Yes, this is very important. Unfortunately sometimes even the manufacturer won't keep the required parts in stock forever.

Currently I'm looking to find a bass driver for a friend's KEF floorstanders from 1997 and was told by KEF themselves that my best chance is to look on eBay. 

I'm still hoping to find a decent one with dust cap still intact but not with much luck so far. I'm guessing that if they had developed a crossover malfunction that would, in most cases, have been terminal. 

So, yeah 20 years seems like a good estimate. Then it can get tricky.


An excellent summing up post! 
Still enjoying my JBL L65s that I bought from Pacific Stereo in early 1978.  They had the surrounds redone and some other maintenance back in the mid 90s.  Sound good as ever to my ears!
I have a 5.2 system that comprises Gallo Reference 3.1s all around.  The speakers are now about 13 years old and I fully expect to get another couple of decades from them.  My reasoning is that they are *very* well constructed speakers: they have butyl rubber surrounds, they do not have cabinets so no possibility of veneer delamination, the midrange drivers are carbon fiber, and the tweets are made of Kynar - polyvinyl fluoride.   The speakers have always been kept in temperature and humidity controlled rooms, and have never been directly exposed to sunlight.
I am exceptionally pleased with the sound quality of this system and will probably make no changes for the rest of my life - I'm 65 yrs old today! The icing on the cake is that I purchased all of them, gently used, from fellow 'Goners.  And I didn't pay more than 35% of retail for any of them!  They're being controlled by an Integra 803.1 preprocessor that incorporates Audyssey XT32 room correction and I am simply over the moon with what the Audyssey has done to improve the sound quality in my room. Unfortunately, this was the last prepro that Integra produced using Audyssey, the next models all used their own, greatly inferior room correction system.
FYI, I have another NOS 803 processor that has never been used.  Anyone looking for a smokin' deal on an outstanding prepro, nudge, nudge, wink, wink??
The foam surrounds and electrolytics in the crossover are what will go first.

10 ish years on the first, 25 on the latter.  Keep them out of direct sunlight and excess moisture.
Won’t the wiring and other metal parts oxidize over time? Before I got Anticables, I was using Monster Cable. Every year I would cut off the ends and peal back the jacket to expose fresh (less oxidized) copper. It always provided a big jump in clarity.

My Wharfedale Opus 1 speakers are internally wired with Monster Cable. But there is no way for me to perform the same type of operation. And after 16 years, I wouldn’t be surprised if even the unexposed wire has some degree of oxidation since the jacket cannot perfectly seal around stranded wire. I have heard of people rewiring their speakers, which would solve the problem if there is one.