Subwoofer failings and their use-related reasons

Inspired by the current thread "My JL Audio sub is dead. What exactly happened?," I’d like to ask more generally (i.e.: not brand specific; but you are free to answer brand specific if you so desire) about any experience-based, typical correlation between the type of use of subwoofers (I’ll make no distinction here between home theater subs and hifi dittos) and their malfunctions. The weak link in particular appears to be the plate amps mounted in the subs and blown capacitors here, and this has a tendency to happen within a few years - irrespective of the type of use, it would seem. Please correct me if I’m wrong on this.

But what about the drivers? Much has been said (theorized?) about the strain put on these units with their excursion abilities in some cases approaching 4" and the significant mechanical and thermal "stress" that follows. However, in practical use - even among the most ardent of cinephile bass-freaks - what does actual experience tell you? Unless the drivers are "blown" thermally and/or mechanically damaged, does years of more or less heavy use eventually wear them out, so to speak? Please chime in.
Size matters. :)

A larger driver will have far better heat dissipation, and will be subject to far less linear excursion.  Sadly, my sub (15" Hsu VTF-15 Mk II) is the size of a small refrigerator!  I wish I had the same performance with a 4" driver I could under a stuffed teddy bear.

So, forgetting issues with room interaction and speaker integration (which also sadly, JL does very well), get a bigger sub.


@erik_squires --

Oh, we can agree on how size matters here, but as we both know even those who’ve equipped their listening space with dual 15"+ subs may be inclined to use them... how shall we say - frivolous! My main focus with this thread is not so much to come about ways to limit cone excursion (but thanks for bringing it up), but rather (also) from a more pragmatic viewpoint to assess the "data" of those who’re using their subs, regardless of size, occasionally close to the limits of their capabilities, and how this affects the drivers long-term - as well as the built-in amps, for that matter.

My own sub sports a 16" driver (SVS SB16-Ultra) btw, and had space permitted I’d have been tempted to use two of them. As is the single sub performs and blends in marvelously positioned between my main speakers. I even considered the Funk Audio 21.0L, but just one of those would’ve challenged the interiors of my listening space..

I've owned..

Yamaha yst something (~1997)
Polk 12"
Infinity HPS1000
Infinity Intermezzo 1.2
Velodyne DD18

None of them have ever broken while I owned them.  The Velodyne was a floor model at a closing tweeter that I bought in 2006 and it still works fine.  The Infinity Intermezzo 1.2 was a blowout sale from Audio Advisor I bought in 2003.  It still works fine. 

I was talking to a sales guy in a shop 15 years ago and he mentioned the reason the surround roll on the little 10" Velodyne had to be so thick was that the pressure in the box was so high that the surround would be sucked in and out opposite of the speaker cone if it wasn't extremely strong. 

I definitely think bigger is better with subs because the mechanical strain doesn't need to be nearly as significant.  My 18" velodyne doesn't need huge excursions to play at reasonable volumes.  A 10" driver that is flat at 20hz is heavily equalized and using a ton of power to do it.  It's taxing the amp and mechanical parts a lot more than a big driver in a big box. 
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Not all recordings are filtered. The sub is for the ones that aren't. you don't know what you're missing until you hear it finally. I listened to a big high-power Class A tube system recently that employed a 50 (count em) cubic feet subwoofer. Nothing like it, trust me.
+1 geoffkait

jon_5912 raises a great point. I went from a single 18 inch to dual 12 inch
subs. I am not unhappy with the 12's mind you, but I do miss the 18 for the very reasons jon_5912 pointed out, If I could do it again, I would have opted for a 15 or 18 inch pair. As brutal as a sub environment is,
I think generally speaking they are highly reliable.        

I've owned my pair of ACI Titan subs (12" driver; plate amp) for many years, continuously powered on, and have not had any issues (knock on wood). However: I am no bass freak, their freq. response are set with intent of being flat; I don't use them for HT, only 2-channel music; peak volume rarely exceeds 95 db; and while I play most all music genres I rarely spin any rap, electronica, or other bass-heavy type music. In other words, never abused or pushed to their limits.
All things fail most commercial offerings are designed for up to 10 years use. I design and work with many types of transducer including some of the largest and most powerful ones. Placing a amplifier and massive transducer in same cabinet is sub-optimal design and the main reason  is the vibration stress on electrical parts. Quality manufacturers address this issue to some degree but it is all about cost cutting subwoofers are hi profit items. We can sell you a MDF cube with one driver and cheap amp for a good amount of $.  The smaller the transducer and cube the more power and excursion required to produce low frequency thus more chance to fail..
I must be doing something wrong, I’ve never had a sub fail on me. Home audio, car audio, in almost 20 years of owning different models. I can see if subs are continually pushed close to their limits, or abused, then I’m sure the failure rate would go up. But that’s pretty much true of most consumer rated gear.

My strategy is typically to buy more sub(or amp, etc) than I need. Those that buy the lessor option and then overdrive it to compensate get what they deserve.
In a direct comparison the JL f113 appeared to be very nicely constructed and subjectively and very impressive close second to my DD-18 in its sonic presentation at that time. I think its important to point out JL Audio's almost instant periodical and boutique audio popularity may be responsible for a large population of the brand in our community along with an increased instance of failure discussions. The actual failure percentage may be nearer to many other brands. Your failure may have been addressed as an updated part or in JLs newer version. 

An observation I made when replacing my Velodyne DD-18 with two irregularly placed DD-12 Plus. I ran the Auto EQ program through all three units. The amount of cone travel between a single 12 appeared greater than the 18. After the Auto EQ procedure for the two 12s combined their cone travel was now less than the single 18. The amount of gain equalization was also much less with the two 12s. Most of the room nodes were eliminated giving a sense of improved room loading and an overall more enjoyable presentation. I would assume two 18s would decrease driver excursion further.

JohnK makes a huge point regarding internally mounted electronics, the idea simply flies in the face of fundamental audiophilia isolation.  
I have considered my B&W DB 1 sub to be indispensable for many moons used with several great speakers that shouldn’t need the boost but the need is dictated by the room. I have one unit between the two main speakers closer to the right channel speaker. Has worked seamlessly and without issue for several years. I personally would fear trying another brand since it’s worked so well for me. Typical B&W build quality.