How long do speakers last?

I ask because I have an opportunity to buy a pair of Von Schweikert VR-33's for an insanely good price. I get it: "it depends how hard they have been driven", but judging by the condition they were very nicely taken care of. My only concern is that will need repairs in the future whereas I could just spend that money on new speakers. On the other hand they sound fantastic. Just curious about the lifespan. They'd be a nice upgrade from my Klipsch bookshelves / sub combo.


Speakers can last for many years...even decades! Don't worry.

Match the speaker(s) impedance to your amplifier and don't over-drive them.  

Post removed 

This question has been asked before. You’ll find plenty of opinions here:

Audiogon Discussion Forum - How long do speakers last?

If the speakers haven't been abused, ie. driven to distortion, the there shouldn't be any reason for them to last for a couple of decades, if not more.

Why not call Von Schweikert and see how much repairs/upgrades are- just in case.

I know my Vandersteen's can either be shipped back whole or by removing the damaged driver and having it repaired.



If the drivers have foam surrounds, there's a chance the foam will deteriorate and fall apart in 15-20 years.  They can sometimes be refoamed depending on availability of appropriate replacement foam surrounds.

I don't know if the VR33s have drivers with foam surrounds.  If the drivers are rubber not foam, then they could last much longer.

Beyond 20 years, the capacitors in the crossover may require replacement.

nice review here


My speaker's drivers were made in 1958.

I have re-coned the 15" woofers 3 times over the years

The tweeter horns and mid horn are both impregnated linen, essentially indestructable, the voice coils do not burn out

The crossover is elements buried in a tar filled can. I found someone who makes modern crossovers for many speakers, he knew mine, and said if working, don't replace them.

I have had to replace my L-Pads, 2 each side, I neeeded to find 16 ohm.

I also have a set of spare drivers, for the next generation.

I moved my innards to new enclosures, but yours are special with sand filled cavities, rear tweeter, ... The grille cloth may be weak from age, is not normally removable, but there must be info on the web.

If the speakers, both or one, was located near a heat outlet, that side drivers, especially the woofer lower near heat vents.

I would contact the maker and perhaps buy spare drivers now.

Upgrade ideas must be out there, perhaps you will be modifying the crossover

Gee, let's see.  My Tympani I-C speakers have been sounding better than any other speaker since 1974, so that would be 49 years for mine with no repairs, etc.

Now, I am sure their new ones sound even better, so if you want a "forever" speaker, at least TRY a pair IN YOUR ROOM with good hardware.


This comes up from time to time.  Capacitors go over time; 15-25 years.  The other important thing is consistent humidity.  Too wet and stuff rots, rusts and shorts.  Too dry and the enclosures can warp and come unglued, and the driver cones can deteriorate more rapidly, based on their composition.

A lifetime and then you can ship the drivers to Bill Legal at Miller Sound in PA to fix them.

My Spica TC-50 are 40 this year. Re-capped with all polypropylene matched to original cap values in 2018.

See  ieLogical Audiophilia Redux


I enjoyed a wonderful pair of Von Schweikert 

VR4.5 for 30y without apparent probkems

The surrounds are all rubber on those drivers.  Clarity Cap on the tweeter.  I would worry more about my hearing going bad before the speakers do.

Unabused speakers last a long-time. As has been said above, speakers with linen or butyl rubber / neoprene surrounds will last many decades. Foam surround speakers less time, but still a couple of decades.

Older speakers had issues with surrounds, but you can get them refoamed. On rare occasions, you might have the paper dry rot and then you might be screwed.

Thank you all for your replies. There is some great wisdom here. 


Considering how little I am paying for them, the worst case is I can just sell them without a loss if I don't like them. But from all accounts they should be great speakers that I will enjoy for many years.

Thanks again for the insight and replies.

I just re foamed my pair of Bose 301’s that were bought in 1977 and they still run great. I use them for my front surrounds in a second tv room. This also includes having them in a garage setting in northern Wisconsin for 16 years as well.

Insanely good  price and they sound fantastic? -- I can see why your are worried.

Another vote for Bill Legall at Millersound. A wonderful man with a lifetime's experience repairing speakers. Not just surrounds, either, but spiders, voice coils, everything. Very reasonable prices, too.

I have a pair of Polk Audio Monitor 10's that I bought brand new in 1987 that are in mint condition and sound like they did the day I first hooked them up.  Never been opened up or worked on and all original components.  They have always been in a non-smoking house, and in a room that is always used (so well ventilated and climate controlled), which I believe is more important to speaker longevity than the occasional "cranking them".

I have a pair of Mirage M760s I purchased as demos in 1986. They are still in pristine condition and sound fantastic. 

They can last a lifetime, but you may need to replace a driver or components over the years. Some plastics, foams, glues, etc degrade over time regardless of the conditions they are kept in, so not uncommon for things to fail over decades. I still have my Polk SDAs bought new in 1987 and have only had to replace a few drivers. I've gone through a number of other speakers over the decades as well and rarely any issues, and they have always been kept in an air conditioned house as well. As long as you are not obsessed with getting a perfect OEM original replacement part when needed, you'll be happy. That said, replacing components sometimes provides an even better performing component compared to the OEM part from decades ago.

My brother has a pair of Von Schweikert speakers that are 30 some odd years old.

The VR 33s are an excellent design intelligently made to keep the costs down. The sock instead of a veneer is an example of this. The sock can easily be replaced by any thin elastic fabric available at any fabric store. They are reasonably efficient. Any good 100 watt/channel amp will drive them to ridiculous volumes without any clipping.  The surrounds are butyl rubber and will last forever. The crossover caps may need to be replaced eventually but that is no big deal. Learn how to use a solder iron.

If you like the sound and the price is right go for it. Getting better speakers new would cost a lot more money.

@secretguy , Only until you work your way up to the right speaker and there is a "right" one for everybody..... if you can afford them.

2 years ago I sold my Clearfeield Continentals, which were Von Schweikerts when he worked for Counterpoint. They still sounded fantastic.

As for the question regarding how long speakers can last, I have a pair of 40 + year old KEF Reference Series Model 101 British monitors, as well as a pair of original Linn Kans from 1987 that are still going strong. I also have a 50 year old pair of FMI 80’s (Bob Fulton) from the early 1970s that still sound great.

for others considering very old speakers:

Many very old woofers, like my electro voice 15W (16 ohm), (and the Klipschorn variation of that woofer) had pleated fabric edges as the flexible material to allow movement of the cone.

Replacement cone must be that pleated fabric edge type: a complete surround/cone/coil/dust cap kit (very rare these days); or a replacement woofer ready to go.

I suggest checking the woofer details and availability of replacement parts/drivers before you buy a speaker with no parts/drivers available. Replacing woofer cones, or drivers, you want to replace both sides, so consider that when finding/buying replacements.

Yes, you can substitute a modern available driver of similar specs, so it’s not a dead end, just know first.

I just checked min on hifishark, no surround kits or 15w woofers available world wide.

Substitute woofer, 16 ohm ideally, but 8 ohm can be used, a slight change to frequency response  will occur from the crossover(not really critical compared to giving up)

@oscar44 That's funny!

@gdnrbob I'll reach out to see if parts are available, Good advice!

@mijostyn As it turns out, I can solder, so I'll look into in when Cap replacement time comes. Not that I'd do it (I am more of a traditionalist), but I could theoretically find a new color/tone/sheen material for a fresh look. Interesting.

I have a pair of Polk Audio Monitor 10's that I bought brand new in 1987 that are in mint condition and sound like they did the day I first hooked them up.

Possible, but not probable. If there are electrolytics in them, they need to be recapped. Replacing mylar caps will increase transparency.

Plus, NO speaker I ever bought sounded like the day I bought them after a play in.

Post removed 

@allenf1963 I had those years ago. There were great speakers for the time. They killed Advent and ARs and the like, Just don't let them sit for long periods of time. The mid drivers tend to freeze up.

I think in depends on the condition, restoring, parts availability, and bang for your buck. My last project refurbished late model IRS Betas, was time consuming and certainly not cheap. The all in cost has me smiling as that I’m sure is a fraction of the outlay for ‘comparable’ new. 

There are far too many variable involved that there is no meaningful answer to how long to expect speakers to last.  I've heard drivers that are really old that have held up well, even without a re-coning.  That is particularly the case with woofers with the pleated fabric or paper surrounds.  It is far more common to see crumbling on soft rubber surrounds.  Many modern speakers with such surrounds go bad in 10-15 years, while I've hear old pleated paper drivers that are 70 or more years in age. 

The midrange in my system (compression driver feeding a horn) is at least 80 years old and it works fine.

I have a pair of JSE .8 Infinite Slope speakers that I purchased in 1988 that still sound so great. I ended up giving them to my son in Philly last year when I no longer needed them in my secondary system and he loves them. They have had no reconditioning and have just been treated with some good old fashioned TLC. I heard them last month when visiting him and they still sound terrific.

@mucker , The sky is the limit with fabric just please do not do the paisley.  You will need a person competent with a sowing machine. The sock has to be made undersized so it will stretch tight putting it on. Think of putting a girdle on an elephant. 

One of the safest bets in old speakers are Magnepans. No voice coils to burn out, no surrounds to dry up and disintegrate, no fancy cabinetry to get banged up. There is really very little to damage or go wrong in a Maggie but you do have to be careful around that ribbon tweeter. 

Can you define last?   Old speakers still play and sound good, but over time the sound quality, assuming no damage, will degrade slowly.  I had a 20 year old pair of SF and they sound good, but not as good as new.  Difficult to really compare with the passage of time.  I was told the caps (or other elements) in the cross overs can go out of spec after decades and the aging rubber or what ever it is can break down a bit.  

I have a pair of speakers that are 30 yo. Nothing has been done to them and they still sound outstanding. If they look good and sound good, I would take the chance. You can always resell for minimal loss. Some times you gotta take a chance! 


Note on Millersound, you should contact Bill directly first as I believe he does not work on all brands and is pretty emphatic about it.  I live in close proximity and have used his services a few times. Does really nice work and might be able to offer a tweak or two as well as the repair


158 posts


One of the safest bets in old speakers are Magnepans. No voice coils to burn out, no surrounds to dry up and disintegrate, no fancy cabinetry to get banged up. There is really very little to damage or go wrong in a Maggie but you do have to be careful around that ribbon tweeter. 

Delamination is common on these.

I’ve 14 years on a pair of Martin Logan’s, and they’re barely broken in as electrostats, I’d believe the VS will be worth the risk.

As others have said here, the big question is the bass driver surrounds.  Are they foam or rubber?  The foam surrounds can be counted on to hold up for 10 years and often longer.  But not that much longer.

Purchased the Altec Lansing A7-8 VOT speakers in 1974, outside of refreshing the cabinets the drivers, crossovers and horns have never been touched. Kept out of direct sunlight and never abused. 

My Acoustat Spectra 33's were built in 1988. 35 years old. I had the interfaces rebuilt last year, but the panels seem indestructible. I had the interfaces rebuilt as an upgrade, not because they weren't working . 

Enjoy the Music 

I have an RCA Photophone Shearer horn that has original drivers from 1938 it still sings and amazes even jaded audio designers. I have a lot of drivers and speakers from the 1940s to the early 1970s that are all matching specs. It depends on the build modern loudspeakers with their polymers and ferrofluids do not last that long figure 15-20 years most would need service before that time frame. Sure they may play but the fluids dried up in VC and the modern plastics break down capacitor values may also have shifted with age thus not meeting specs  

I bought my Kappa 7's off the sales floor (last pair in store) in 1990. 3 wives, 2 kids, 5 houses, 2 dogs, dozen cats, 4 integrated amps, 2 TT, 1/2 dozen tape decks, more cd players than I can count, 3 re foams later, and they are still my daily drivers. 

I'm so sorry @ieales, I guess you are a FAR BETTER expert on the freaking sound of the speakers in my house that I've listened to for 35 years and you've heard, um.....never.  Thanks for educating my ears.  As hard as it is to believe, some speakers that aren't used everyday or every month, are constantly cleaned and dusted even if not used, are kept in a 100% smoke-free environment and always kept in a climate controlled area, can have the internal components last WAY LONGER than expected.  Or, maybe I'm just lucky.


@secretguy -- I'm absolutely not letting them sit!  In the last two months I set up a 4th listening room in the house with the Polk Audio 10's.  I wanted to put together a simple system to play music with new gear I've bought over the last 4 years and never unboxed, so I hooked up a BlueNode Streamer and a Fluance RT-85 turntable with a Sutherland KC Vibe phono preamp to a Reisong A-10 tube integrated amp.  Perfect synergy with the old school Polk's.

One of the gradual degradation regimes most people don't think about is  demagnetization of the driver magnets. I have thirty year old Altec Lansing Voice of the Theater Speakers that I sent the woofers to Great Plains Audio for rebuild. They reconed, remagnetized the drivers, replaced the voice coil spiders and speaker suspensions. They are as new. 

The demagnetization occurs if you drive your speakers hard for long periods of time. The heat and vibration will disorient the magnet domains. This doesn't happen overnight, it's a gradual and accumulated process that can take years.

@secretguy I suppose this might be true as I have sent customer speakers back to be re-furbished.  FORTUNATELY, my T-1-C's from 1974 still sound as perfect as ever!

I could replace one "sock" (cover) where the cat got his claws into a little bit on the side, but I don't really see it, and they are still clean, so, no worries.  I have replaced the covers on these (customer wanted his own--had them made and I foolishly agreed to change them.)  NOT a fun thing to do, but it can be done if you are patient.