How long do speakers last?

admin_exported

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This question was prompted because I was watching some Mordaunt Short MS 817 speakers on an auction site. These are a bigger version of my own 815's. An extra bass driver means they go deeper. They looked great value but nobody bid and they failed to sell at £200.( I couldn't afford them). They have elliptical shaped drivers that look a bit odd these days but I think mine sound fantastic. People on here tend to have very recent speakers but elsewhere you see afficiendoes extolling the virtues of ancient Rogers, Harbeths, Tannoys, Lowthers etc. I know there has been a trend towards smaller speakers, maybe because houses are smaller or the need to fit six or seven speakers in a living room perhaps. But are there technical or technological reasons for why a modern speaker may be better?
 

CnoEvil

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It very much depends on how well they were made, and looked after.

I still have Celestion SL6 (early 80s) and Monitor Audio R852 (late 80s) on the go. Keep an eye out for "dozed" rubber surrounds on the drive units and loose screws holding the tweeter/woofer in place.

Older speakers were usually "voiced" differently (often warmer and darker) so you need to see if this suits your palate.

The construction was often sealed, and had bigger cabinets and drive units - mostly well made, with wood being used more extensively than now.

Cno
 

busb

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Ditto re: SL6s - recently retired. They sounded OK but whether or not they sounded like they did when new, I can't say. I've had CDPs, amplifiers & headphones fail but not speakers. I'm sure they do fail or deteriorate depending on the materials used &/or if they have been over-driven or not.
 

CnoEvil

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busb said:
Ditto re: SL6s - recently retired. They sounded OK but whether or not they sounded like they did when new, I can't say. I've had CDPs, amplifiers & headphones fail but not speakers. I'm sure they do fail or deteriorate depending on the materials used &/or if they have been over-driven or not.

Hi Busb I bought the SL6 when they were first introduced, and they were a landmark speaker (first metal dome tweeter and innovative design of woofer). They need shed loads of power/current to shine.

Driven properly, they have holographic imaging, and with the right type of music sound great (classical, acoustic etc). On the other hand, they can seem a bit smooth and lifeless with music that needs "energy". There is a lot of bass for their size and constrution (infinite baffle) but that can sound loose unless the amp has vice-like grip.

Edit: Just taken a look at your other hobby - very impressive.

Cno
 
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Anonymous

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Provided they're cared for and not overdriven or underdriven I'd say a lifetime. I'd say before buying on an auction site carefully inspect the photos for cabinet damage, its usually a good indication of how much care and respect the owner has given them. If the cosmetics don't at least reflect some pride of ownership then avoid them. Personally I love the sound of older Rogers, Harbeths, and Spendors heaving had a spell in BBC radio and wouldn't hesitate to acquire a decent pair. Older speakers are likely to sound a little warmer than newer versions of the same speaker (Harbeth HL-P3 - Harbeth HL-P3ESR for instance) as both materials/ manufacture and the designers strive to improve their products, whether this means their better is a matter of personal taste.
 

chelstondave

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Bought a pair of castle severn 2s on the well-known auction site for £80 a while back which are quite a few years old and am very pleased with them. I think it depends on how well they are looked after - children seem fascinated by pushing in tweeters for example!
 

lindsayt

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I have a pair of Bozak Symphony speakers. These are completely original - including the rather old fashioned looking capacitors in the crossover. They are 46 years old. They have rubber surrounds on the twin bass cones that should be good for another 46 years, as long as I keep them out of direct sunlight.

I also have a pair of EV Sentry III's. These have had a hard life as they were installed in the National Theatre when it was built in 1972. When I bought them last year (for £415) they had a non-working tweeter plus perished foam surrounds on the bass cones. The tweeter was a really easy fix with a new diaphragm (for about £25 plus 20 minutes of my time). The bass cones needed a bit more care to fix to avoid voice coil rubbing and took 3 or 4 hours plus about £50 to fix. They should now be good for another 10 to 20 years without further maintenance.

I recently had the chance to hear some new £3500 speakers driven actively by £4000 in power amplification and a £15000 source. These sounded quite easily noticeably worse than either of my vintage speakers when used with my £2250 vintage source and £2000 of 2nd hand amplification.

There are good technical reasons why the modern speakers sounded worse: smaller bass cones, lower efficiency, less amplifier friendly impedance curve, and (I suspect) lower quality drivers.

The only possible technical advantages that I can think of for modern speakers is the use of modern materials such as carbon fibre, plus the ease of producing complex shapes with modern CAD systems and CNC production. Far too often any such advantages are negated by modern designs prioritising WAF / marketability / low production costs over outright sound quality.

Also, in these modern World Wide Web days, it's relatively easy to cherry-pick the very best vintage speakers to buy at reasonable cost whilst avoiding the dross that would have made up 95% of the market when they were new.
 

bretty

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Spectre said:
Provided they're cared for and not overdriven or underdriven I'd say a lifetime.

Personally I love the sound of older Rogers, Harbeths, and Spendors heaving had a spell in BBC radio and wouldn't hesitate to acquire a decent pair. Older speakers are likely to sound a little warmer than newer versions of the same speaker (Harbeth HL-P3 - Harbeth HL-P3ESR for instance) as both materials/ manufacture and the designers strive to improve their products, whether this means their better is a matter of personal taste.

I agree. As long as they're not given a rough life, speakers should go on and on.

Also agree with you about Rogers. My Studio 1a's are blinding. They're certainly not inobtrusive (as shown in the piccie below, with the Rogers next to one of my Tannoy Eyris AV speakers) and they're not going to win any style awards for their looks, but for sound quality you can't get any better for under £3000.

47929_1522661979236_1015178106_1481857_6144172_n.jpg
 

busb

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CnoEvil said:
busb said:
Ditto re: SL6s - recently retired. They sounded OK but whether or not they sounded like they did when new, I can't say. I've had CDPs, amplifiers & headphones fail but not speakers. I'm sure they do fail or deteriorate depending on the materials used &/or if they have been over-driven or not.

Hi Busb I bought the SL6 when they were first introduced, and they were a landmark speaker (first metal dome tweeter and innovative design of woofer). They need shed loads of power/current to shine. Driven properly, they have holographic imaging, and with the right type of music sound great (classical, acoustic etc). On the other hand, they can seem a bit smooth and lifeless with music that needs "energy". There is a lot of bass for their size and constrution (infinite baffle) but that can sound loose unless the amp has vice-like grip. Edit: Just taken a look at your other hobby - very impressive. Cno

Hi Cno

I returned my SL6s with overheated tweeters to Celestion to have them replaced - had the Xovers mod'd for bi-wiring at the same time. I was quite sceptical regarding bi-wiring until I tried it. Their imaging was very good indeed when the grills were removed. The mid range was a bit special! They needed good stands (I used Something Solid) & decent amplification (Lynx Quasar). When I replaced them with my current Arros, I did wonder what I'd miss - very little! The arros have some bass & top end as well as even better imaging. I'm a firm believer that stereo equipment has got better & not worse as some people maintain. I also think recording quality has improved - especially with pop. Glad you like my pics!

Apologies to the OP for going off-topic.
 

CnoEvil

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bretty said:
Spectre said:
Provided they're cared for and not overdriven or underdriven I'd say a lifetime.

Personally I love the sound of older Rogers, Harbeths, and Spendors heaving had a spell in BBC radio and wouldn't hesitate to acquire a decent pair. Older speakers are likely to sound a little warmer than newer versions of the same speaker (Harbeth HL-P3 - Harbeth HL-P3ESR for instance) as both materials/ manufacture and the designers strive to improve their products, whether this means their better is a matter of personal taste.

I agree. As long as they're not given a rough life, speakers should go on and on.

Also agree with you about Rogers. My Studio 1a's are blinding. They're certainly not inobtrusive (as shown in the piccie below, with the Rogers next to one of my Tannoy Eyris AV speakers) and they're not going to win any style awards for their looks, but for sound quality you can't get any better for under £3000.

47929_1522661979236_1015178106_1481857_6144172_n.jpg

Cor, that takes me back. Very nice. They look a bit like my MA 852 (only bigger), which are in black Ash. Interestingly, the tweeter in the Rogers was made by Celestion, and looks very similar to the one in the SL6.

Also, I believe the design engineer who came up with the SL6, was also responsible for the MA R852s (similar woofer design). Good speakers back then often had a lot of shared DNA.
 

matthewpiano

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Speakers should last well. Mordaunt-Short have always had good build quality so you shouldn't have any issues really. I once sent a 902i Avant flying off a speaker stand and on to a concrete floor. A couple of small marks aside, there remained in-tact and worked perfectly - still do now.

Only thing I have known on an older pair of MS15 II was the rubber edge of the bass driver started to come away from the metal frame. Easily fixed and probably as much down to where they were positioned as much as any fault on M-S' part.

I've had MS15 II, MS25Ti (still got), MS902i (still got), MS914i, Mezzo 2, Aviano 1, and Aviano 2 (my current speakers) and never had any problems with Mordaunt-Short speakers, and for sound they are consistently hard to beat IMO.
 
T

the record spot

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Depending on how you treat them, a pair of speakers will last for decades, or about two minutes if you screw up and all points in-between!
 

Coll

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I had some Mission Cyrus 780s until recently which I purchased in 1991 ( 19 Years Old ) and they were still working fine when I sold them to a second hand shop. I only changed them because I felt some new Monitor Audios sounded much better. I also disposed of the rest of my system which I purchased in 1984 and was all still working, it was a Sony midi system.
The system was replced with a Marantz M-CR603
 

Coll

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Recently changed my 19 year old Mission Cyrus 780s for Monitor Audios, they still sounded fine but not sure if they were as good as when I purchased them, sold them to a shop that dealt in used Hi Fi gear etc for £20. My system was a Sony Midi which I purchased in 1984 and was still working ok but just purchased a Marantz M-CR603 to replace it
 

Shanka

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Hi, Was reading this and did a little test just now with a pair of Dean Alto's ( anyone remember them !) and they have not been used much in 20 years and a little cosmetically tatty but worked fine and quite enjoying the difference with my more modern equipment. I also have some Mission 720's which I have had to replace the drivers about 6 years ago as the rubber corroded and they sound fabulous, so I think speakers will last and retain character for many years but if buying s/hand you need to check condition of drivers but I wouldn't know how to check electronics apart from by listening.
 
Definitely not hi-fi, but we still use regularly an old ITT transistor radio in our bathroom, and I have had that over 40 years (a present as a kid). It still sounds very clear on FM.

I often wonder how it copes with the steam, but maybe the paper speaker cone is the secret. I'm sure if it had a rubber surround it would have perished by now.
 
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Anonymous

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That's a hard question to answer. It depends on the way owners use the loudspeakers along the time. I've seen 20 years old speakers running smoothly but I've seen many ones which didn't survive more than 5 years. I particularly avoid purchasing second hand loudspeakers from owners who have got teenagers. It's not a rule, but teens usually like listening music and moovies at higher volumes (sometimes over the acceptable power).

Anyway, purchase of second hand loudspeakers is never that easy ...
 
A

Anonymous

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Thanks for the replies. Amazing that people still rate speakers that are so old. It's like technology has not really moved on for speakers. I suppose there is less to work on because there are fewer parts but with the ability to mould plastics into complex shapes I am suprised there has not been more work on horns etc.
 

noogle

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I think speaker technology has moved on a lot. Domed tweeters have replaced cone tweeters, there are new technologies like NXT/BMR, new cone materials such as Kevlar, neodymium magnets, digital active speakers from companies like Meridian, and hugely improved computer design and simulation tools.
 

lindsayt

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If speaker technology has moved on a lot, how come this hasn't translated into better technical specifications or better sound quality?

Would you like me to give you an example of a 45 year old speaker with good technical specifications and good sound quality? Lets see if anyone can then come up with a modern speaker with better sound quality or technical specs.
 

lindsayt

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Finding ways to get an acceptable sound from speakers that cost them less to manufacture and transport? Finding ways to produce speakers that have more show-room appeal / better marketability / WAF, whilst having an acceptable sound.

How many speakers have they produced that have a frequency response from 15hz to 23khz, a nominal impedance of 16 ohms, efficiency of over 100db/2.83v/1m along with the good sound quality that you'd expect from such specifications?
 

bunglefish

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I recently gave the Vicar a pair of 36 year old Castle Richmond speakers and he loves them.

He tells me he has bass for the first time!

My brother in laws 30+ AR 7 speakers fell in a heap a couple of years ago but emergency surgery by Wilmslow Audio brought them back to life with new bass drive units.

My Rogers LS7ti are going strong after 28 years, fairing better than the Quad 33 /405 used to drive them, which is on its last legs
 

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