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How Long Do Monitors Last?

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How Long Do Monitors Last?

Postby ManFromGlass » Tue Jan 19, 2021 11:58 pm

My main mixing powered near fields with sub are over 20 years old. There are no crackles when turning the volume pots on them and they still sound good to me. But I also have high frequency hearing loss so am wondering how would I tell if there was an issue with them. (Aside from a major part failure which should be quite obvious)
Before someone says - as long as a piece of string :D I was curious if certain speaker components have a shelf life. I’ve heard stories of parts of speakers eventually rotting out.
Can’t say I’ve ever come across anyone posting here how their monitors died due to deterioration or wear and tear.
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Re: How Long Do Monitors Last?

Postby James Perrett » Wed Jan 20, 2021 12:38 am

The main monitors in the studio are over 40 years old. There is a known issue with the foam surrounds on this series of drivers which need replacing every 20 years or so but otherwise they're still fine. The foam surrounds are easily available and the speaker drivers can be serviced in the field.

The speakers in my living room - which I recently discovered were basically a Wharfedale Unit 5 kit in Dynatron made cabinets still seem fine after a similar length of time.

I think my newest monitors are now 23 years old and seem just as good as ever (although the audiophiles would say that the older version was better).

As well as the foam rot issue with my main monitors I've also had surrounds that had hardened in an ancient pair of Wharfedale Meltons so speakers can deteriorate but generally the causes are known and they're often repairable.
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Re: How Long Do Monitors Last?

Postby Martin Walker » Wed Jan 20, 2021 12:44 am

There can of course be components that 'wear out' or just 'conk out', both in the crossover network, and in mechanical parts of the drivers themselves. However, I don't think there's any inherent lifetime to decently designed and built loudspeakers.

I've had my current tiny ATC SMC10 Pro monitors now for 23 years (pauses to double check his maths this time :oops: ), as I originally bought them in December 1997, and during that period only two unexpected things have happened to them:

1. One of the two loudspeakers in my previous house was placed in direct sun, and its woofer surround has faded to brown, while the other one is still the original black.

2. For some years the other one had an occasional 'acoustic buzz' with some loud bass notes, and I assumed that I'd literally pushed it too far with volume. However, one day I unbolted the woofer from the front of the cabinet to ensure its electrical connections were tight. There seemed to be fine, but after I pushed the woofer back into the cabinet and tightened up the bolt again, I haven't heard a single buzz since, so I assume it must have simply been the woofer cables vibrating against the woofer chassis.

I still have a perfectly working pair of Rogers LS2a2 monitors in my summerhouse that I had been using for several years before I bought the ATCs (so they are at least 25 years old), and the AVI Biggatron Red Spots in my sitting room have been used on a daily basis for about 19 years.

Your mileage may vary of course ;)


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Re: How Long Do Monitors Last?

Postby CS70 » Wed Jan 20, 2021 9:52 am

ManFromGlass wrote:My main mixing powered near fields with sub are over 20 years old. There are no crackles when turning the volume pots on them and they still sound good to me. But I also have high frequency hearing loss so am wondering how would I tell if there was an issue with them. (Aside from a major part failure which should be quite obvious)
Before someone says - as long as a piece of string :D I was curious if certain speaker components have a shelf life. I’ve heard stories of parts of speakers eventually rotting out.
Can’t say I’ve ever come across anyone posting here how their monitors died due to deterioration or wear and tear.

Interesting question! There was a thread here once with someone who had cones made of some special material that started cracking after some years..

Passive speakers, I would expected them to last a very long time if there are no materials problems like the above and they are not mechanically abused. I suppose quality has its say as well, with higher quality speakers may be overspecced in terms of mechanical properties and better resist the passage of time. But not necessarily so - my Auratone Super Cube 5C wasn't top quality at the time, I understand, but it's over 40 years old and it seems to be doing its job just fine. The paper greasing seems to be drying out a little lately so I'll have to have a look.

With powered speakers, I guess it'll depend on the electronics and the specific design and components? There's an amplifier inside there, so if it is built with some component whose performance slowly degrades over time, the amp (and hence the speaker) performance overall may change and suffer as well... stuff like electrolytic capacitors for example.
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Re: How Long Do Monitors Last?

Postby ef37a » Wed Jan 20, 2021 10:29 am

ManFromGlass wrote:My main mixing powered near fields with sub are over 20 years old. There are no crackles when turning the volume pots on them and they still sound good to me. But I also have high frequency hearing loss so am wondering how would I tell if there was an issue with them. (Aside from a major part failure which should be quite obvious)
Before someone says - as long as a piece of string :D I was curious if certain speaker components have a shelf life. I’ve heard stories of parts of speakers eventually rotting out.
Can’t say I’ve ever come across anyone posting here how their monitors died due to deterioration or wear and tear.

Ha! You beat me to the "String Thing" Man! If you are worried that you are not getting HF and not noticing the lack, point a mic at the monitors (an SDC for preff' or a budget Behringer test mic?) and run some Pink noise. Right Mark's analyser will tell you if the HF is still there or not (ok, yes not nearly a scientific as Mr Ward's tests but good enough for jazz? even R&R? )

I would disagree that passive monitors would be less likely to be over stressed? Very rarely will an external amplifier be an EXACT match to a speakers power handling capacity* whereas a decent active monitor should have sophisticated driver protection built in, easier because the parameters of speaker and amplifier can be more precisely specified. High level crossover caps HAVE been know to short!

So yes, I too believe that good quality speakers, active or passive can last a very long time and IMHO puts to bed the 'burning in' philosophy? I.e. they don't 'burn out' in the sense of the performance falling off. It would however be interesting for someone like Phil Ward to run his tests on an elderly but good set of speakers and see how they compare to today's models? (but, where's the time eh? Where's the time!)

Oh, and electrolytic capacitors last WAY longer than people think. Even in vlave amps that get way hotter than any active monitor's giblets, 20 years no sweat. The mad re cappers have a lot to answer for in my book!)

*And to add insult to injury the myth (IMHO) that you should buy an amp of twice or more the power rating of your speakers was around and still is. Probably ok in a 'domestic' setting where the owner is listening for their own pleasure but in the White Heat of a recording or mixing session that extra 3dB of juice can do damage. Even in the home you must be aware of the 'Day after the day after the Christmas party effect'.

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Re: How Long Do Monitors Last?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Jan 20, 2021 10:55 am

Assuming the speakers aren't abused, I think you can fairly confidently expect at least 20 years from good quality active monitor speakers -- and as James says, some will happily go on for twice that! My oldest speakers are around 20 years old and show no signs at all of any degradation.

Obviously, there are always going to be some early failures, and cheaper designs will be more prone to failure because of lower quality components.
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Re: How Long Do Monitors Last?

Postby BigRedX » Wed Jan 20, 2021 11:45 am

Used to own a pair of Tannoys from the 60s (IIRC) which were still going strong when I sold them a couple of years ago with minimal repairs during the 30 years I owned them.

On the other hand a pair of cheap HiFi speakers I bought in the mid 90s, when I came to sell them after several years of storage in the spare room of my house, I discovered that the "plastic" cones of both bass drivers had completely disintegrated.
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Re: How Long Do Monitors Last?

Postby ef37a » Wed Jan 20, 2021 11:51 am

BigRedX wrote:Used to own a pair of Tannoys from the 60s (IIRC) which were still going strong when I sold them a couple of years ago with minimal repairs during the 30 years I owned them.

On the other hand a pair of cheap HiFi speakers I bought in the mid 90s, when I came to sell them after several years of storage in the spare room of my house, I discovered that the "plastic" cones of both bass drivers had completely disintegrated.

They may not have "disintegrated" but been taken by mice for nesting material!

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Re: How Long Do Monitors Last?

Postby BigRedX » Wed Jan 20, 2021 11:58 am

ef37a wrote:They may not have "disintegrated" but been taken by mice for nesting material!

Dave.

I really hope not, as it would mean that I had mice in my house on the second floor!

However since none of the other stored equipment in the same room had suffered similar damage I hope I can rule out mice.
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Re: How Long Do Monitors Last?

Postby blinddrew » Wed Jan 20, 2021 1:28 pm

I eventually retired my mission hifi speakers after about 20-odd years when one of the drivers started rubbing in the coil slot. Spinning it round 180 degrees helped for a bit but then it started again - it would seem that the surround just wasn't providing enough support any more. I'd have just replaced the driver but neither Mission nor Audax make them now.
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Re: How Long Do Monitors Last?

Postby ef37a » Wed Jan 20, 2021 1:50 pm

blinddrew wrote:I eventually retired my mission hifi speakers after about 20-odd years when one of the drivers started rubbing in the coil slot. Spinning it round 180 degrees helped for a bit but then it started again - it would seem that the surround just wasn't providing enough support any more. I'd have just replaced the driver but neither Mission nor Audax make them now.

Oooo! Which Missions? I have a pair of 775s which were a gift along with an Arcam Alpha 6+ amplifier. They do sound great in my living room but bass is a bit overpowering from some sources.

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Re: How Long Do Monitors Last?

Postby ef37a » Wed Jan 20, 2021 1:55 pm

BigRedX wrote:
ef37a wrote:They may not have "disintegrated" but been taken by mice for nesting material!

Dave.

I really hope not, as it would mean that I had mice in my house on the second floor!

However since none of the other stored equipment in the same room had suffered similar damage I hope I can rule out mice.

"Second floor" Empire State penthouse? They will get there. They are also very sneaky and very fussy. You will not know you have them unless you put out traps and they tend to only go for certain foods and certain materials.
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Re: How Long Do Monitors Last?

Postby ManFromGlass » Wed Jan 20, 2021 2:33 pm

Somewhere in our house that I can’t find is a tiny sign that says - Free Food and Board for The Winter - Mice Only. All winter I have traps out. The bluejays usually take the dead ones I put outside right away. One year a baby weasel moved in under the sink and happily ate all the mice. The weasel was smarter than I and my live trap so we let it stay all winter. For 2 years after no mice would enter but now they are back.
My greatest fear is them eating through the sheathing on the electrical wires and starting a fire.
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Re: How Long Do Monitors Last?

Postby blinddrew » Wed Jan 20, 2021 2:46 pm

ef37a wrote:
blinddrew wrote:I eventually retired my mission hifi speakers after about 20-odd years when one of the drivers started rubbing in the coil slot. Spinning it round 180 degrees helped for a bit but then it started again - it would seem that the surround just wasn't providing enough support any more. I'd have just replaced the driver but neither Mission nor Audax make them now.

Oooo! Which Missions? I have a pair of 775s which were a gift along with an Arcam Alpha 6+ amplifier. They do sound great in my living room but bass is a bit overpowering from some sources.

Dave.
750LEs. They were very nice speakers in their day. One of them I am turning into a decorative lamp, the other one will become a grotbox/mono-check speaker. That's one of next year's projects.
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Re: How Long Do Monitors Last?

Postby tom winstanley » Fri Jan 22, 2021 8:53 am

Hello we have some dynaudio s , pmc , and ns10 s from 1992 all ok as are the caudio powered amps and crossover. As for the hearing loss , get it checked , you might have to pay as the nhs are too busy , good luck
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