Certain high-end vintage speakers deserve to be saved--no matter what the cost might be. There are companies that specialize in:
• reconing speakers
• rewinding burnt out voice coils
• re-energizing magnets
• diaphragm replacement
Most modern speaker owners consider these services cost prohibitive—they think it's easier just to buy new speakers. On the other hand, vintage speaker collectors will use these services to bring 70 year-old speakers back to life.
Most speakers today have a fabric grille cloth. If these grille clothes are ripped or damaged, don't throw the whole speaker away!
There are many suppliers of factory-correct speaker grille cloth online and via mail. With patience, and the right tools, you can replace the grille cloth yourself and the speaker will be as good as new. If the grille frame is broken, a similar thickness masonite or plywood frames can be cut to fit your speaker and, with new grille cloth, the repair will be invisible. You can even do 'custom' speaker grilles to match your decor.
Accidents happen. If you mistakenly put a tear in the surround of your speaker, it is possible to repair it (if the damage isn't too bad). If there is a small puncture wound or small tear, it can be fixed. Depending on the material of the surround, you can try the following repair methods:
• Paper surrounds can be repaired using the instructions provided in the 'Accidents Happen' tip
• Try repairing rubber surround tears with rubber cement
• If there's a puncture in your foam surrounds (and it's not dry-rotted) try applying a couple dabs of clear fingernail polish to each side
Woofer surrounds are that rings of material that connect the speaker cone to the frame of the woofer or speaker basket. Most woofers made before the late 60's either had paper or treated fabric surrounds which displayed amazing durability. After a time, however, manufacturers began using closed cell foam. This new material did a great job of supporting the woofer cone, but over time would deteriorate due to many factors 9such as UV light and humidity).
Over time, companies have changed the chemical makeup of surrounds so they are resistant to most of these effects. If you have an old pair of speakers with rotted surrounds, you can order a speaker surround repair kit designed exclusively for that model. Once the surround is replaced, the woofer is usually as good as new and you are saved from buying a whole new set of speakers.
*It usually takes a few hours to replace the surrounds on a pair of speakers, and they should be left to dry for 24 hours as the new adhesive cures.
If you have a pair of speakers that have a rip or small tear in the paper material of the speaker cone you can repair it with a little watered down Elmer's glue and some tissue paper:
• Cut or tear the tissue paper so into pieces a little bigger than the tear
• Soak the pieces in the diluted Elmer's glue
• Apply pieces, one at a time, over the tear
• Let each patch get tacky then, apply a second layer
• Repeat until you have applied three to five layers on each side of the cone
• Let dry overnight
You may have to play with the glue mixture and application to get it right, so experiment on a dead speaker, if possible, before going prime time.
* This trick only works on woofers with paper cones, but can save a pair of speakers.
Time, water, sunlight, humidity, pets, and children can all take a toll on speakers. Ideally, the original manufacturer will be concerned about the longevity of their speakers' performance quality and agree to repair or replace damaged speakers. How long a manufacturer supports his products gives you a good indication of their concern for quality.
If you are the least bit mechanically inclined, you can perform a little home surgery and do you own speaker repair. It's next to impossible to find a 'speaker repairman' but, with a little online exploration, you can learn how to:
• replace a blown tweeter or woofer
• repair rips in paper cone speakers
• replace rotten foam or rubber surrounds
• refinish or build your own speaker cabinets
*Many companies sell speaker repair kits to handle these types of jobs and even have online tutorials to help you along the way.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|