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View Full Version : Typical Speaker Life Span



jonfu@ymail.com
02-01-2009, 09:33 PM
What is the average life span of a decent speaker? I know many of you have either restored or at least repaired the surrounds of a speaker. I'm just wondering when in point do speakers require that sort of attention.

Thanks.

Edit: Just to add a few points to the discussion, I've had a pair of Bose 501 IV that still work to this day. I believe I bought these in the 90's, but don't quote me on that. They sounded just fine last time I used them. They're in my closet residing right now.

By the way, I hope I can stop the Bose bashing before it starts. I know their current stuff is controversial, but these pair of speakers sound pretty decent.

Steve Schell
02-02-2009, 10:50 AM
There really isn't a "typical" life span. In an individual case it depends on the materials used and the use the speaker was put to. Foam surrounds are the #1 failure mode, and his can occur in ten years or less depending on local smog conditions. On the other hand, loudspeakers built to a high standard can last many decades. My oldest Lansing Iconic, probably built in 1938, still works fine.

Mr. Widget
02-02-2009, 11:36 AM
By the way, I hope I can stop the Bose bashing before it starts. I know their current stuff is controversial, but these pair of speakers sound pretty decent.No, you're wrong. :D

Seriously, the 501 and some 301 variants are among their best speakers, but if you dust them off and compare them with most other speakers, I think you'll be surprised. Also if you dust them off, you might be surprised to find out the surrounds have failed. They will rot just sitting in storage.

As Steve said, it depends on the exact material used and atmospheric conditions. I have removed speaker grilles to find a pile of fine dust and no surround at all and I have found intact looking surrounds that have turned to soft goo. As soon as you power them up they fail. Then there is the JBL Lans-a-loy foam which turns to hard leather. The butyl rubber surrounds tend to be best for longevity. Some of the doped fabric surrounds seem to last forever and others end up with a puddle of resinous material at the bottom of the surround... possibly atmospheric/temperature related, perhaps dope formulation related... and finally there are the speaker's spiders. On heavy coned speakers these will sag with time. Periodic rotation is always a good idea.


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rdgrimes
02-02-2009, 12:54 PM
The butyl plastic surrounds that JBL used in the 80s on some woofers can look very good and work very bad. In fact it can look and feel fine right up to the day the cones rip loose. I think a lot of folks around here will re-foam as much on principal as on age.

Mr. Widget
02-02-2009, 01:47 PM
I have no experience with JBL's "rubber" surrounds. The butyl rubber surrounds on my 70's vintage Focals, B&Ws, and ADS woofers and mids are all still perfect. The foam that Dynaudio used has failed at about the same rate as JBL's.


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jonfu@ymail.com
02-02-2009, 03:57 PM
No, you're wrong. :D
Seriously, the 501 and some 301 variants are among their best speakers, but if you dust them off and compare them with most other speakers, I think you'll be surprised. Also if you dust them off, you might be surprised to find out the surrounds have failed. They will rot just sitting in storage.

I tested them a few weeks ago, and they sounded fine. I've never really played them that loud, just for casual (which is the key word) listening around the house. I still haven't looked under the grille, since I'm not exactly sure how to remove them.


The butyl rubber surrounds tend to be best for longevity.

That's good to hear. I guess that's why I went with the Control Contractor line. Most of them can be used outdoors, and I've seen them implemented in harsh conditions for years. Iím hoping they'll last just as long, if not longer in a home environment.

JBL 4645
02-02-2009, 04:08 PM
There really isn't a "typical" life span. In an individual case it depends on the materials used and the use the speaker was put to. Foam surrounds are the #1 failure mode, and his can occur in ten years or less depending on local smog conditions. On the other hand, loudspeakers built to a high standard can last many decades. My oldest Lansing Iconic, probably built in 1938, still works fine.

I heard that salt air is one of the critical factors of edge foam surround failure. 10 to 15 but 15 years, would be pushing it.

Voice-coil-burn-out due to excessive input power hold a second…

This link will explain why click on the individual white papers. I was reading this early this evening.
http://www.lansingheritage.org/html/jbl/reference/notes/power-req.htm (http://www.lansingheritage.org/html/jbl/reference/notes/power-req.htm)

louped garouv
02-02-2009, 04:18 PM
I tested them a few weeks ago, and they sounded fine. I've never really played them that loud, just for casual (which is the key word) listening around the house. I still haven't looked under the grille, since I'm not exactly sure how to remove them.



all you have to do is remove an inordinate amount of staples,
and not break the fiberboard that they are made of....

:)

it's kinda a PITA


for the record, the foam on a pair of original issue 501s was long gone when i found a pair a few years ago...

and they had been in denver's semi-arid climate their whole lives...

JBL 4645
02-02-2009, 04:34 PM
I tested them a few weeks ago, and they sounded fine. I've never really played them that loud, just for casual (which is the key word) listening around the house. I still haven't looked under the grille, since I'm not exactly sure how to remove them.


Take small flathead screw driver and tuck it in-between the top of the grill and easy it forwards by lifting it upwards and it should come off without incident. Thatís how I removed the grills on the JBL control 5 19 years ago, easy its not rocket science. :D

jonfu@ymail.com
02-02-2009, 05:36 PM
Take small flathead screw driver and tuck it in-between the top of the grill and easy it forwards by lifting it upwards and it should come off without incident. Thatís how I removed the grills on the JBL control 5 19 years ago, easy its not rocket science. :D

These speakers are much larger than the Control 5, and aren't as user friendly. I'm just going to leave it as is. I don't use them, so I'll just keep them in the closet.

I just wonder how long the Control 28 and 29 will last until things start to go downhill. The surrounds on the Control 1 and Control 5 are the reason why I'm not looking at them for bookshelf speakers. Maybe the Control 25AV.

JBL 4645
02-02-2009, 05:41 PM
Well Iím off now to the bedroom with Sooty now. But thatís not important right now. :D Just use them with a little common sense and they should last donkey years.

robertbartsch
02-02-2009, 06:24 PM
I vacationed at a victorian bed and breakfast this summer and they had a pair of 901s with NO equalization module! Talk about poor sound!

Anyway, if the surrounds go bad on a pair 901s, you will be replacing 32 units which, I assume is a ton of labor.

Mr. Widget
02-02-2009, 06:42 PM
Anyway, if the surrounds go bad on a pair 901s, you will be replacing 32 units which, I assume is a ton of labor.901s aren't that bad... they only have 9 per channel. Hey, I though you were a numbers guy? :p


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JBL 4645
02-03-2009, 05:36 AM
901s aren't that bad... they only have 9 per channel. Hey, I though you were a numbers guy? :p

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I thought that number rang a bell! :barf:
http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/productImages/5/1/00000101451-Bose901SeriesVIstereospeakers-large.jpeg

Steve Schell
02-04-2009, 12:45 PM
I was just given a pair of circa 1990 Ohm 3XO two way speakers. These have a downward and outward 360 degree firing 10" polypropylene cone woofer and some sort of spitty sounding dome tweeter. On this pair the woofer surrounds have gone on to their reward and one tweeter has stopped working. The maddening part of the design is that the drivers are in a perforated metal, glued together "can" that is all but impossible to get apart. The drivers are fused, but the fuses are buried inside the cans. The factory's evil scheme seems to have been to prevent anyone but them from servicing these time bombs. Want an upgrade/repair for a pair of 3XOs? Ohm is still around, and will gladly accomodate you for $1,200.

robertbartsch
02-07-2009, 05:45 PM
I've always thought the 901s sounded like 100 miniturized nine volt transistor radios from the 1960s playing at full tilt.

jcrobso
02-10-2009, 01:53 PM
I still have my first JBL D140Fs and LE175 drivers.:D
They have never been abused and are now close to their 41st birthday;).
Good speakers can last you a life time! John

SEAWOLF97
02-10-2009, 02:05 PM
I was just given a pair of circa 1990 Ohm 3XO two way speakers. These have a downward and outward 360 degree firing 10" polypropylene cone woofer and some sort of spitty sounding dome tweeter. On this pair the woofer surrounds have gone on to their reward and one tweeter has stopped working. The maddening part of the design is that the drivers are in a perforated metal, glued together "can" that is all but impossible to get apart. The drivers are fused, but the fuses are buried inside the cans. The factory's evil scheme seems to have been to prevent anyone but them from servicing these time bombs. Want an upgrade/repair for a pair of 3XOs? Ohm is still around, and will gladly accomodate you for $1,200.

The newer ones are a b1tch...but it will be worth it...my older Ohm F's are open, huge and you can get to everything..I have 2xo's and they are quite nice.