Time, Wear, and Technological Evolution

Hi, all. I only recently got into high fidelity audio more seriously, and have gotten my system to a place where I am fairly happy with it. The configuration:

SMSL DO100 DAC, balanced XLR to

PS Audio GCC-100 integrated, "control," amp output to

SVS SB-3000 subwoofer from the sub outs and

80Hz in-line high-pass filters and then JM Lab Electra 926 floorstanding loudspeakers


Long story short the high-pass filters and subwoofer are a room compensation configuration because I do not have a dedicated listening space, just have everything set up in the family room/home office, and the Electra 926s produce a massive room gain between 40-50Hz which I was able to overcome by filtering everything out in that range from the floorstanders and using my EQ'd sub to fill in the bottom end in their place. If I adjust the loudspeakers' placement at all, I will be giving up something in the uppers and mids, both in terms of tonality and imaging.

Anyhow, the speakers are house-warming hand-downs from my dad (who, in turn, had purchased them second hand from a friend of his many years ago) from when we bought this house back in 2012. They were not used extensively until very recently when my dad handed down his control amp to me, and concurrently I had begun to dabble with portable high fidelity audio (a separate topic all together). All that being said, the point is that the speakers are almost two decades old, as well as the amp.

So here's my question: do I just leave well enough alone because I am happy with the sound now, or do I consider replacing the aging loudspeakers with something more modern like, say, KEF's LS50 Metas (and continue to use them in conjunction with my subwoofer)? How far has speaker technology come in the nearly two decades between those speakers' releases? My primary concern being longevity of my current loudspeakers (will they wear out in short order due to materials aging?)  or are loudspeakers fairly durable?

What would you do, if you were in my listening seat, so to speak?



If you can, go to some hifi shops,and have a listen to what’s out there. You may want to give some details,like room size. What kind of listening do you do? 110 db rock concert levels,or low level listening. In a large room,and concert levels, LS50’s might not cut it. 

@rocray Yes, I have begun looking around for shops with demo spaces. Room is around 250 sq ft. I listen to a mix of stuff, primarily pop and rock, some jazz and metal, but almost no rap/hip-hop, or country music. I do not tend to listen super loud, under 85db for sure.


Well Ed, our tastes and listening levels are about the same. If the wife is out of the house, listening levels are probably around 85db,maybe a tick more. Usually I’m at around 70 db.  My dedicated listening room is small, 9x13x8. Stand mounts and two subs work excellent.  You have a decent size room, and may like the added impact of floor stand speakers.  You’re definitely doing the right thing by auditioning speakers.  Do the shops you have been visiting allow a home audition? If so, then this will give you a great idea about “upgrading”.  


@rocray as it turns out, I was able to get in touch with a local KEF dealer, and while he does not have LS50 Metas on hand/demo, he has a pair of LSX IIs that he is able to let me audition in my home to get some idea of how it may sound right in my own listening space. Will test them out and see how it goes. He's actually on his way over right now to drop them off.


IMO your really nice Focals would walk all over the Ls50s for rock and metal especially. If you make a change I would definitely keep them till you try out the new stuff. 20 years on speakers in my experience is not a big deal at all. I’ve had speakers up to 40 years old that have no repairs or recap and sounded great. I had some B&W 801 Matrix V2 for a while. They were damn good speakers, just super power hungry and were all original. Old Snells same thing. Maybe I’ve been lucky but have never one time had an issue with a speaker regardless of age. And I play em pretty loud. Current upstairs vinyl speaks are over 30 years old and they just flat out jam with my 50 year old Sansui! 

If you like the sound of the speakers I’d play with speaker placement first. Just as an exercise, try pulling the speakers out another foot into the room and drop the crossover to the sub to around 40-45Hz and see what happens. My guess is that 40-50Hz room gain may be greatly reduced and the sub will blend much more seamlessly with your speakers. And you shouldn’t give up anything in the mids/treble, and if anything your imaging should improve and soundstage should become deeper and more 3D. But that’s just a semi-educated guess, but hey, it’s free to try so why not? FWIW.

Great thoughts from Soix and Mofojo. Even moving them 6in further from the wall may solve the 50hz boost. 

If the cones are showing age or dried out surrounds those can be repaired cheaply anyway.

I'd focus on power cords and conditioning first (if you haven't already) to be sure you're getting the best sound from your existing equipment. 

Have fun!

@soix I’ve already put quite a lot of time into speaker placement, unfortunately. This is already as far away from the wall I can go before it messes up the highs and mids. Thank you for the advice, though.


As a follow-up, the dealer didn’t have LS50s of any type on hand, so he loaned me a pair of LSX IIs to demo. CONSIDERING THEIR SIZE, I am actually quite impressed with this sound, but I’ve only managed to get some preliminary listening in. My current system is still set up, so I will try to spend some time doing A/B comparisons later tonight.


@OP Regarding your query about the longevity of the speakers, generally if the speakers have no audible defects then they could work happily for a good number of years. One caveat, I don't know the particular model of speaker but around that time Focal did produce a number of speakers/drive units with foam rubber surrounds rather than the usual nitrile rubber. Those speakers can be prone to the surrounds breaking down over time. But if yours are, you will see it as well as hear it. I'm a little surprised a frequency response problem being in the 40-050Hz region given the speakers specs say its -3db point is 38Hz. Before giving you could try blocking the ports with foam and or moving the speakers closer to the rear wall. Stating the obvious, but just to be comprehensive, all placement experimentation should be done with the sub out of circuit.

@yoyoyaya Yes, I’ve left the sub completely off any time I experimented with placement of the main loudspeakers. I did the vast majority (and a LOT of it) of the speaker placement testing before resorting to buying the woofer, actually.


@OP, then a smaller speaker might be the solution. The LS 50s port is tuned to 50Hz, which might not be ideal, but its in room response does fall off quite a bit from 40 to 100Hz. You could also try a non ported speaker like the ProAc Tablette 10, which has less pronounced bass than the LS 50 could work well in your room and in interfacing with a sub.

@soix ​​​​@yoyoyaya I did more experimentation with placement today, like dramatically pulling them away from the back wall, and still no dice. Then on a whim, I also tried something new. The Electra 926 are designed for biwire, with the lower posts driving the woofers and the upper posts driving the tweeters and mids. I tried removing the in-line, high-pass filters between the speakers and the amp, and then the jumpers at the back of the speakers, and only driving the upper posts, then disabling the low-pass filter entirely on the subwoofer to fill the gap left by the unpowered woofers in the main loudspeakers. I managed to get response flat through the crossover band, but the quality of the upper bass in the 200Hz range coming out of my sub is complete poo compared to the woofers in the Electras (yeah, no surprise, right?), so I've once against reverted it back. I felt an improvement in soundstage without those high-pass filters in place, so either the filters are creating a bit of a veil, and/or the amp only driving the mids and tweeters gives it less work, enhancing quality there, but the completely muddy upper bass in that configuration just kind of killed the entire vibe.

The experiment continues...


If you're happy stay put. I got into the higher end of audio 24+ years ago. I went through so many speakers until I came across Dynaudio Audience (back then it was their entry line but even that was stretching my budget). Soon as I heard them I was done. Once I had them I was as content as I have ever been even to this day so many years later. I had to sell off my Danes after my divorce. Ony within the last few years have I gotten back to a point where I could afford to get back in the game. I started right where I left off - Dynaudio, Emit entry level. stepped up to Excite, then Evoke. Now while the Evokes were closest to what I remember from Audience, I have yet to hear any speaker than makes me feel like those Audience 82's did. I am currently running Revel Be (and they are magnificent), but they aren't "magical" like those Audience speakers were 24 years ago...nothing I've auditioned is....


Point is newer technology and updates, etc does not mean better...Just my opinion...

@OP - good experiment but the results are what you would expect.

Do try blocking the ports and moving the speakers closer to the wall and let us know how you get on with that.


@yoyoyaya i was able to source a pair of LS50 Metas just an hour North of my home, picking them up Tuesday night. Let’s see how it goes! Sort of a birthday gift to myself (turning 42 tomorrow). Ordered a pair of 26” stands as well, arriving Tuesday via Amazon.


@OP Ed. Excellent. I would start with them 2ft from the wall and gradually move them out until you find the best balance of soundstaging and bass response. Let us know how it goes. And happy birthday!

@rocray @yoyoyaya @kingbr @soix @mofojo Got the LS50 Metas in. Haven’t even broken them in yet, but this did the trick, especially once I installed the included foam port plugs. I removed the in-line high-pass filters and am running the LS50 Metas full range straight from the GCC-100, and have already achieved a flat total response curve with minimal time spent tuning the subwoofer through the phone app. Initial speaker placement is based on the guidelines set in the included manual, although they don’t think the bass port plugs are needed when placed with far from surrounding walls, I ended up needing the port plugs to cut down the room gain at ~45hz. Curiously, the floorstanders were more sensitive than the new bookshelfs. Actual volume level when listening to the new speakers set to 30 on the GCC-100 sounds more like 23 or 25 with the Electras combined with the high-pass filters.

Answering the broader question, it seems time and technological evolution have not been so kind to my Electras. The new setup provides better resolve in the bass and sub-bass, and superior imaging with basically no experimentation with placement yet (waiting for break-in to progress more before doing so). The sound is also smoother/easier to listen to on the top-end and also overall more neutral across the spectrum, which, from a subjective point, fits my listening tastes more (I’m not a V-shape kind of guy, plus vocals were a little too forward compared to the rest of the ensemble with the Electras for me taste). I am finding that complex metal and classical/orchestral pieces maintain better integrity from the new speakers than the Electras. It’s a hands-down winner, especially once I plugged the bass ports on the Metas. I wonder if the Electras are just too much speaker for my room (approximately 250 sq ft, lowish ceiling) or if they really are degraded in performance due to age. I can’t take a time machine back 20 years to tell for sure.

Most critical of all, however, the system has reached end-game sound for me. I think, at the end of the day, this is something for which a price tag cannot be put. To have the sound where it is good enough that I no longer have any desire to change anything, and just enjoy the music, well, can’t beat that, right?


Ed, that is awesome!  So glad to hear that you’ve hit it out of the park!  It’s remarkable how are ears somewhat adjust to deteriorating crossover parts over the years. We may think our 20 year old equipment sounds as great as the day we brought them home, until the new kid shows up,and tells our ears something different. It’s such a slow, incremental deterioration we don’t really even notice. 


Congrats Ed!  Usually takes many more tries to reach this level of satisfaction, so it’s great that you seem to have nailed it on the first try.  Enjoy!

@OP  Ed - very glad the speakers LS 50s worked out well. The manual is correct in that theoretically you shouldn't need the port plugs if the speakers are well away from the walls. However every room is different so if your ears tell you you need them then you do. Regarding your old speakers, all of the JM Lab / early Focal speakers were too bright for my taste. The KEFs are much more neutrally balanced. Enjoy your listening.