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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.