19 Ways To Make Old Speakers Sound Better

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19 Ways To Make Old Speakers Sound Better

19 Ways To Make Old Speakers Sound Better


As great as home theater is, the problem is that over time, equipment can degrade, worsen, and even fail with age.

Worse still, is that often times there’s things that we unknowingly do that potentially speed up this process.

While speakers typically last for decades, their audio quality may not, and might leave a lot to be desired.

No worries though because in this guide we’re not only going to show you how to make your older speakers sound better, but offer some tips on how you can properly maintain the life of your equipment for many years to come.

Let’s take a look!

(After feel free to check out this comparison between older and newer speakers detailing which is better)




1). Bi-Wiring/Bi-Amping

The first improvement you can implement if your speaker supports it is Bi-Wiring it.

Simply put, Bi-Wiring separates the treble and the bass components of a speaker into separate entities.

By using 2 sets of wires for each that is then connected to the same amplifier, the idea here is that in theory it should provide better sound quality.

There’s lots of contention on whether this is actually true but personally I’ve noticed a difference so it’s possible you might too.

Bi-Amping takes this a step further by giving the high frequency and low frequency their own amplification channels.

This has multiple benefits.

When there’s more demanding scenes that require a lot of power, using separate amplifiers could technically allow you to get a cleaner less constrained sound.

Then there’s also the benefit that when actually looking for an amplifier, you won’t be limited by power since each would be separate.

You can tell if your speaker supports this by looking on the back and seeing how many binding posts it has.

If it has 2 sets of binding posts, then it supports bi-wiring/amping.


2). Upgrade Your Wires

Speaking of contention, there’s also the hypothesis that upgrading your older wires may have a direct influence on the sound you experience.

Now admittedly I’m undecided on this as on one hand I’m of the opinion that a cable is a cable and shouldn’t make that much of a difference.

While on the other hand having personally played around with a bunch of different wires and noticing a slight difference (admittedly much more premium ones) it’s not definitive.

Long story short, it’s something you’d have to try for yourself, but it may make a difference.

Try to opt for copper wires rather than those made of aluminum as they’ll be immune to things like oxidation which do have an effect.

Using wires that are too thin may also affect audio levels, as the signal may not be as strong.


3). Don’t Put Your Cables On The Ground

One thing that is definitive however is that messy speaker wires can make for an unsightly looking home theater.

But did you also know it could be having an effect on your sound too?

To put it simply sound creates vibrations and by them being on the ground, those vibrations inevitably travel through the wires.

This could then in turn negatively impact the sound you hear.

Now there’s multiple ways to ditch the wires, be it making your speakers Bluetooth or even hiding them, but just be aware that unruly wiring (obviously making sure they aren’t tangled too) could be having an indirect effect on how everything sounds to your ears.

4). Proper Room Placement/Stands

A picture showing how to make surround speakers wireless

Proper room placement as well as the use of speaker stands can have one of the biggest impacts with regard to audio quality.

As a general rule, you ideally want to place your speakers the same distance away from each other as you are seated.

For example if you’re seated 6 feet away, then your speakers should be located 6 feet apart.

This is known as the golden triangle, as it ensures you’re in the sweet spot for the best sound quality and spatial imaging while avoiding any delay or overlap in incoming sound waves.

You also want them ideally 18 inches from the wall as from my experience it tends to help reduce unwanted resonances and room nodes that may color the sound, especially in rear ported speakers.

I’ll caveat that by saying that is, unless you’re specifically looking to influence the bass of your speakers particularly, in which case you may prefer moving it closer to the wall.

Also making sure that your speakers are properly timbre matched may be helpful to your audio experience as well.

Another helpful tip is to turn your speakers slightly inwards towards the middle of the room.

Keeping in mind that speakers are directional devices, regardless of the sound waves that radiate outward, their cleanest audio will still come from the waves aimed directly at you.

So by using what’s known as toe in, meaning angling the speaker inwards or outwards, you can get better auditory imaging for a more immersive experience.

It’s definitely worth a try, just keep in mind you don’t need to over do it — just enough to where the grille clothe is pointed towards your seating without actually seeing the sides of the speaker cabinet.

That’s a general idea of how they should be angled but you can play around with this further — that’s just a good rule of thumb to start with.

For better sound, make sure your speakers are also at ear level when seated.

Also worth noting is that by using speaker stands, you can improve your sound quality further as it’ll decouple the speaker and prevent it from buzzing or distorting when at those higher volumes.


5). Replace Your Connectors

A speaker binding post

Over time, the sound you experience can be affected by oxidation that affects your plugs.

By replacing them, it just might breathe new life into those old speakers.

Just make sure your speakers are actually wired correctly — meaning the positive connections are wired to the positive terminals and the negatives are connected to the negative.

If they aren’t their polarity could be reversed causing them to play out of phase with each other.

Also another interesting tidbit, you can reduce wire hum you might experience from the old connectors to your speaker wires by gently rubbing the pins on the plug with wire-wool.


6). Replace The Clothe/Foam Around The Driver

Over time, the foam in a speaker can actually go bad (usually in conditions with lots of moisture and heat and things like that), causing it to become brittle or fall apart while drivers with a clothe surround can become abraded.

Replacing this material can allow your speakers to perform like they use to.


7). Calibrate Your Speakers Using A Digital Room Equalization Software

Most modern receivers have some form of room EQ calibration that optimizes your speakers’ sound for your particular room by utilizing a small mic.

Calibrating your speakers this way should provide for a better experience all around and may even help with the bass from your speakers that you experience as well.


8). Upgrade Your Receiver

However not all receivers have this calibration software, and so if you find that you have one that doesn’t, it might be time to upgrade your receiver.

Another reason to upgrade your AVR is it might be underpowered for the speakers you’re using it with.

But yet another, almost speculatory reason is that some believe that disregarding DSP modes, the receiver actually has a direct influence on the sound quality itself though whether it’s noticeable depends on a number of factors.


9). Place Tennis Balls Under Your Equipment For Stability

Here’s a little bit of an unusual method to help with the sound quality of older speakers and equipment; using tennis balls!

So the way to do this would be by first cutting them in half. The amount of these that you’ll need will depend on the amount of speakers/tables, etc. that you’re using.

But when cut in half, place them under the feet of your entertainment equipment, tables, etc.

The reason for this is because of the fact they’re made of rubber, it’s effective at eliminating extraneous vibrations making it a great way to easily fix the sound quality in a room without having to do things like acoustically treating a room (though that does actually help too)

Speaking of which..


10). Room Treatment/Deadening

Sony HT-S350 Soundbar Review

Room treatment, and in this case, room deadening is another route you can take that’ll have a massive effect on your home theater experience and is directly related to your speaker’s performance.

To put it simply, the more reflective surfaces in a room, the more your sound is going to be all over the place, figuratively and literally.

Doing what’s known as a clap test can be a helpful way to figure this out.

Clap once and note any echoes. Now try to add as much soft and plush material to the room as possible, do that same test and you’ll notice the difference.

Without being too long winded, basically the more soft materials in the room, the more it’ll absorb unwanted echoes which should improve your sound.

Sound proof curtains, acoustic panels, and even carpets help in that regard, but the idea is that you want to minimize the amount of reflective surfaces in the room.

Using a specialized AV rack with your speakers is also a great way to improve audio since they’re specifically designed to reduce sound coloration.

There’s a bunch more things you can do to improve room treatment specifically so here’s some tips on that.




11). Cabinet Bracing

On the more advanced side of things, should your older speakers begin to leave more to be desired, you can always add internal bracing to them to improve their audio quality.

Internal bracing basically involves adding additional pieces of wood inside the cabinet to improve sound quality.

It’s typically more geared towards something like a floorstander since it’s a bigger cabinet.

Even subwoofers are often internally braced to reduce resonance, and the larger the cabinet volume, the more this becomes necessary for a better bass and audio quality in general in my opinion.


12). Replace The Damping Materials Inside

Something else to keep in mind, especially if your speakers are on the older side, is the material inside may need to be replaced.

There’s a few things to consider in that regard, whatever the speaker happens to be on the inside of the speaker and the material in the area where the woofer is.

The wall behind the driver of the speaker is important to treat acoustically since any reflections from the driver will likely be present there as well.

To remedy this, a few handfuls of thick wool placed loosely behind the driver can help improve audio quality to some degree.

The amount of stuffing you use matters too since if you under-damp the speaker (meaning not using enough soft materials inside the cabinet) the sound can seem somewhat muddy.

Conversely, if you use too much, it can cause the speaker to sound less dynamic.

Speakers that may be older might include less optimal materials for sound quality for the lining of its cabinet which may not give as much clarity (though it depends)

Replacing this lining with a different material though can sometimes make a big difference.

It’ll depend with regards to your particular speaker in terms of sound of course, but those are a few things to keep in mind.


13). Change The Driver Unit

Another way to breathe new life into your speakers is to replace the drivers.

This is obviously a more extreme measure, but opting for a similar driver ensures your speakers will be able to perform like new.

Sometimes manufacturers offer the same exact driver separately, but if not, try to match the new driver as closely as possible with the old one.


14). Make Sure To Remove The Dust

Be sure to dust your older electronics & speakers from time to time as it not only has an effect on the look of your speaker, but its performance as well.

Dust can get in the wires and basically affect your sound.

A microfiber clothe should suffice, but if they’re really vintage, then you can use a gentle wood cleaner to help restore them.

Here’s one that I personally use.

Daily Wood Cleaner



15). Warm Up The Speakers/Equipment First

Another tip you can use is warming up your speakers and equipment for 30 minutes before you use them.

This helps for optimal performance, and gives the components adequate time to warm up.

There’s also what’s known as running in, and although it’s mostly applicable to newer speakers, should you replace the drivers, it’d be applicable here too.

Running in is basically the idea that over a period of a few days or more, the materials loosen up and allows your speakers deliver a better sound than right out of the box (this is also known as burn in)

Now whether this actually true or simply your ears becoming adjusted is up for debate, but it’s worth mentioning.


16). Use Pure Direct Mode/ Higher Quality Source Material

On most receivers is a mode known as pure direct mode, and this basically sheds any extraneous processing or subwoofer bass so that all your left with is the speakers’ pure capability.

This can be a way to guage what they’re capable of, and you may even prefer it.

Adding to that point, using source content with a higher quality bitrate is an easy way to make things sound better almost instantly.

This is because lower bitrate sources have issues accurately representing higher and lower frequencies since it trades those off for the size of the file itself being smaller.

However if there’s lossless encoding, that information is retained giving a better audio quality.

Examples of these often included on Blu ray discs include Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.


17). Use A Hi-Fi DAC Or External Amp

Should the processing in your receiver be insufficient, using an external amp & or Hi-Fi DAC can be a great way to add some additional power to your older speakers.

The one you use will depend on your particular setup since some are Bluetooth while others are optical, but implementing one into your system can be a great way to step things up.


18). Listen To Your Music With The TV Off

Now this one might sound a little out there, but something that may help with audio quality when listening to music for example, is turning off your display.

Displays can sometimes introduce some degree noise in the signal, and this can in turn effect what you hear depending on how sensitive your hearing is.

So by turning it off, what you might notice is a slightly better quality sound.

It’s an interesting thought for sure, and is certainly at least worth the try.


19). Forgoing Lights Entirely

Building on the previous point, listening to your content in the dark can actually make a potential difference in the sound quality you might hear.

As random as it might sound, when there’s a lack of visual stimuli, you tend to be more attentive to the finer details in the content (though it depends on the person to what degree of difference they notice)

Even former chief scientist of Dolby Laboratories, Dr. Poppy Crum in an interview from 2008 talked about how our brain compensates for the sounds we hear which may be different than how they actually which is pretty interesting in my opinion.


With that in mind, some companies like Pitchblack Playback even do music listening sessions without any light so the focus is on the audio which might make things sound better.

It’s also a reason why movie theaters dim the lights when it’s time for the actual movie to start (pretty interesting to think about)


Bonus: The Option Of Getting A New Speaker

If all else fails and you just simply can’t be asked, there’s always the option of getting a new speaker all together.

Sometimes, things can prove too difficult to repair and it’s better to go with something new.

It’s ultimately your call but if that’s the case, then here’s 2 articles to help with that.







Final Thoughts

As you can probably tell, there’s a bunch of different ways on how you can make your old speakers not only sound better, but ensure they last for decades to come.

Playing them too loud obviously has an effect on this, but you may not have been aware that something as simple as dust can be just as damaging over time.

So if you have an older pair of vintage speakers that you thought you’d never be able to use again, using these tips are great way to get them up and kicking again.

But that’s about wraps things up for now.

Until next time, make it easy, keep it simple!

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