At some point, every audiophile or stereo system owner faces replacing speaker components. Over time, equipment experiences wear and tear, things break, and items need to be replaced. Sometimes, equipment just becomes outdated and the owner wants to update and upgrade stereo components. Whatever the reason, there are a lot of options a buyer can choose when upgrading speaker components. Upgrading the entire system is expensive. It is usually more affordable to replace individual components as necessary. It is easier to replace individual components than those built into an all-in-one unit, but even some parts of all-in-one units are replaceable. Three main components that frequently need to be replaced are the speakers, the wiring, and the receiver.
Replacing components inside the speaker is also an option, so users should understand what those parts are. Speaker parts are available in electronic stores and online. eBay has a large selection of speaker and speaker components available at a variety of price points.
Internal Speaker Components
The first step to replacing speaker components is to learn what all the different pieces are and how they all fit together. Some pieces are more difficult to replace than others, and not all brands of speaker components fit into every speaker box.
The speaker box (or frame) is the casing that contains the components of the speaker. Speaker boxes range from simplistic rectangular designs to more complex cases, with mounts installed. A speaker box usually holds just one speaker component. All-in-one units contain multiple components. Speaker boxes range in size, and their size is determined by the size of the internal speaker components. Large speaker cones, for example, do not fit properly into a smaller speaker box.
Voice Coil and Magnet
As electricity passes through the voice coil, the magnetic field is altered. The altered magnetic field reacts to the magnets in the speaker and moves the voice coil back and forth. This movement causes the air to move, and thus creates sound.
The magnet is what makes the voice coil move, and its movement depends on the voice coil's magnetic field, which changes with electrical currents. The magnet more difficult to replace than the grill cloth, cone, or any other part of the speaker, so special care should be taken if the magnets need to be replaced.
Types of Speaker Cones
Speaker cones are designed to reproduce the voice coil waveform. They are made of a variety of different materials, but quality midrange and woofer speaker cones are usually built from one of the following: paper, paper composite, or plastics. The outer mould on the speaker cone is called the "surround". The surround can be made of resin treated cloth, polymeric foam, or thermoplastic elastomers moulded onto the cone's body.
Because different types of speaker tones create a different range of sounds, the tone of a speaker is altered if the original speaker cone is replaced with a different type. Midrange, tweeter, and subwoofer speaker cones work in any speaker box into which they can fit.
Midrange Speaker Cones
Midrange speaker cones produce the midrange tones. Midrange speaker cones replace tweeters to create a deeper, more balanced sound.
Tweeter Speaker Cones
Tweeter speaker cones produce high pitched tones. Speakers generally come in a set of two, and tweeters are often paired up a subwoofer or midrange speaker. For best sound, more than one type of speaker is required. If only one type (e.g. tweeters) are used, the range of sound disappears, rendering the speakers useless. Thus, when replacing speaker cones, it is important not to replace them with two tweeters.
Subwoofer Speaker Cones
Subwoofer speaker cones produce a deep, bass sound. Subwoofers are commonly found in a set of two speakers, and come paired with a tweeter. Subwoofers tend to be much larger than tweeters, and also require more power. Again, like tweeters, subwoofers are not considered standalone speakers.
Full range speakers have both a woofer and tweeter in one speaker compartment, in contrast to component speakers, which have a tweeter and woofer mounted in separate speaker compartments and utilises a crossover coaxial cable to join the two sounds. Different manufacturers' speaker cones can replace others in full range speakers, as long as they fit into the speaker box.
Foam Edge Kits
Foam edge kits supply the foam that goes around the speaker cones, protecting them from damage as they move inside the casing. It is important to replace these in order to keep the cones protected.
Grill Cloth and Fasteners
Grill cloth is a soft, stretchy, material that goes over the front of the speaker cones. It protects the speaker cones from dust and other objects that might damage the speaker cones. Grill cloth should be replaced when it rips or tears. It is typically glued onto the speaker casing.
Terminals and Wires
The wire carries the signal from the receiver to the speaker. Speaker wire comes in different diameters, or "gauges". The higher the gauge number, the thinner the wire is. The required gauge of speaker wire depends upon the length of the wire. This is because power is lost as the signal travels, so thicker wire is required to carry the power. The table below lists recommended wire gauges for different lengths of wire.
Maximum Wire Length
The above table covers up to 9.1 metres. This is the typical maximum wire length for homes. If longer wire is required, ten gauge is used, but a certain amount of power is lost during signal transmission.
The "terminal" is the connection point between the wire and the speaker. There are two terminals on each speaker, one for the negative wire and one for the positive wire. Negative and positive wires both transmit signals. When replacing wire, knowing which is negative and which is positive is required to get the speaker working properly. The negative wire terminal is typically smaller than the positive wire terminal.
When speaker wires fray or break, the sound quality may suffer or drop entirely. While no sound sometimes means that other components may need to be replaced, it could be something as simple as a frayed wire.
The receiver is the home base of a stereo system. The receiver receives signal from a CD player, auxiliary component, television, or other device, amplifies the sound, and sends it to the speakers. The receiver also changes different types of signals and outputs them into a signal the speakers can reproduce. For example, digital signals are very common. Since most speakers are not equipped to handle a digital signal, the receiver acts as the translator between digital signal and the speaker.
The number and type of inputs the receiver has can vary. The need for more inputs is one reason many users update their receiver. More inputs mean that more items can be plugged into the system at the same time.
The number of outputs is another factor. The number of speakers a system can support depends on the number of receiver outputs. The need for more speakers is another reason many users upgrade their receiver.
How to Buy on eBay
Speakers and speaker parts, wires, and receivers are all available online. eBay has a large selection of these items to choose from. Begin your search by typing the appropriate keywords into the search box. For example, if you are looking for speaker wire, type "speaker wire" into the search box. You can browse through the results to see if the correct wire, gauge, and lengths are available. If your search produces too many inappropriate results, try entering more descriptive or specific search terms. For instance, include wire length, gauge, or manufacturer.
Once you have found products that suit your needs, review the item description carefully to make sure the product meets your needs. Also, review the feedback left by previous buyers. Feedback lets you know how well the seller has satisfied others over the previous 12 months. Check other listings by the seller to see if they have multiple items that you may need.
Replacing speaker components is something that every speaker owner faces from time to time. Replacing one component at a time is sometimes more cost-effective than replacing the entire set. Wire, receivers, and speakers are components that are easily replaceable if they are not in an all-in-one set. Some components in all-in-one sets are replaceable, but should be replaced by items made by the same manufacturer, to ensure that they fit in the case.
Internal speaker components are also replaceable; just make sure that they fit inside the speaker box. Voice coils, magnets, foam edges, and grill cloths are all replaceable parts of the speaker. Never use only one type of speaker. For example, tweeters produce the highest pitched sounds, and require a subwoofer and/or midrange speaker to round out the audio spectrum. This is also true for subwoofers.
When replacing wire, make sure that the wire is the correct gauge to support its length. Otherwise, sound quality is negatively impacted.
The receiver is something that many users want to upgrade from time to time. The receiver takes signals from external sources and transmits those signals to the speakers. The number of inputs and output determines the number of devices the system can handle, and the number of output speakers, respectively. The need for more speakers or device inputs is why many individuals choose to upgrade.
There are a lot of options for replacing and upgrading speaker components. These items can be found conveniently, at reasonable prices, at online marketplaces like eBay.