Like any piece of active equipment, audio speakers, cabinets, mixers, cables, and microphones require some level of care in order to keep operating at the same level they did on the first day you brought them home. A home theater system that is poorly maintained will begin to show signs of wear and become more likely to experience failure as time goes on. That’s why it’s important to keep this equipment maintained. Here are five tips for maintaining audio equipment:
Don’t Wrap Cables Too Tightly
Cables may look, feel, and appear to be little more than rope that has a connector attached at either end. Because of this, it’s easy to forget how fragile the thin wires inside the cables really are. To save space, people often wrap these cables very tightly, or bend them at sharp angles to get them in tight spaces. This practice may help you solve aesthetic issues or reduce the amount of set up time required, but over time this can reduce the reliability of the cable, and may ruin a perfectly good system in the process. Wrap cables loosely, and avoid putting them in places where they are prone to being tripped over, snagged, or chewed on by a bored pet. With care, audio and video cables should last for many years.
Keep Electronics Clear of Dust and Debris
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked to look at someone’s broken DVD player or audio receiver only to discover that they have them covered in thick dust and/or various objects that block the air flow. Anything that is capable of keeping the flow of air from freely passing through an electronic device can impact the life span of that equipment. Overheating is a common problem with DVD players and audio receivers, as they can heat up quite a but during use. It’s also a bad idea to lock these devices away behind glass and in cabinets that restrict air flow from the room.
Take Time to Maintain Equipment Inside and Out
Speakers, receivers, and just about any other audio component requires some level of regular maintenance to last a very long time. Just as you would open up your computer and get the dust out of it on occasion, the same needs to be done for this equipment. If you use your equipment on a professional basis, you may want to take time out monthly (or even weekly) to maintain your gear. Home users can usually get away with a yearly check. A can of air and other electronics-friendly cleaning equipment can make a big difference in increasing the life span of your equipment.
Speaker cones made of a paper-based material are subject to softening over time, and there are some special sprays that can assist in restoring the original sound to aging speakers. In the video below, LockerGnome’s Brandon Wirtz discusses this technique in more detail.
When in Doubt, Consult a Professional
While we may live in a society that has grown accustomed to disposable technology, you’d be surprised how much good equipment is thrown away at the first sign of trouble. There are repair professionals out there who specialize in home theater and audio equipment, and you might be surprised at how reasonable their prices can be. Spending a lot of money on a home theater system doesn’t need to go to waste because a speaker has blown out. Repair or replacement of one component is possible, and in many cases much cheaper than buying a whole new set.
Don’t Overdo It
Yes, your amplifier is capable of breaking glass and shaking the ground beneath your feet. This is great, but if you have the dial set near maximum, you may very well be pushing it beyond its reasonable limits. In most situations, anything beyond the halfway point on an amplifier’s volume may actually reduce the lifespan of your speakers and equipment. If this point isn’t loud enough for you, you might want to consider purchasing a system that is better suited for your needs.
Also, make sure the speakers you are using match the amplifier’s requirements. If it doesn’t, you might find yourself facing a blowout quickly after purchase.
With a little care, your audio equipment should last for years. In the past, proper maintenance was an expected part of life. This is one of the main reasons so many antiques exist today that otherwise would have deteriorated. That tiny extra effort can pay off in several different ways, and the money you’ll save from having to replace your gear is just one of them.