New Speakers

Just wondering if there is anything to be gained by buying “new” speakers. It seems most speakers haven’t developed during the last twenty or so years, they are all still basically the same.
I have a Naim Nova driving a pair of Naim Allaes which I am very happy with, I have tried Ovators 400, SBLs, Arivas previously owned Monitor Audio, Ruark, Heybrook etc and they are all basically the same although what works with your room seems to be the main problem.
What do new speakers offer that old ones don’t, when you see some of the bargains in the used market why do we spend thousands on new?
What price point/equivalent would my Allaes be at now?
Just thinking out loud really.

The only thing to be gained by buying ‘new’ speakers is if you prefer them to your ‘old’ speakers. The newer components, such as drive units and crossover, won’t have suffered the wear and tear of 10 or 20 year old speakers.

Do speakers physically wear out and at what point does that impact on sound quality as I suppose it happens very slowly?

Generally speaking after 17,5 years


Certainly a good number of people have written of the benefits gained from new crossovers, tweeters and occasionally bass units on their SBLs. As you say, it’s a slow and gradual process.

Even if your Allaes were amongst the earliest Naim made, I don’t think you would have any worries on that score. Nice speakers.

1 Like

They are not even grown up by then, need to be at least 18 years.

I have Dynaco A25s - from the 70s I believe - and when I listen to new speakers I have yet to find one that matches it for sound. It does need an overhaul of a new crossover and tweeters, and possibly the woofer. I’m either thinking a diy fix-up or PMC Twent5 23/24.

But back to the original question I’m always surprised that I have yet to find anything that matches it so it does make me think about how design and technology have progressed in speakers. But again, development is always an iterative process rather than taking great big sudden leaps in technological innovation. Perhaps the audiophile market, and the company’s limited R&D budgets, impact on the progress somewhat.

On some speakers the driver surround can perish. DBL bass drivers spring to mind but the bass drivers in allae, SBL, NBL SL2 and IBL (if you can call it a bass driver) don’t seem to suffer from this. Polyurethane foam deteriorates over the years eventually turning to powder, latex takes a bit longer but I’ve never seen it in a speaker, polystyrene seems to last. I do wonder about ported speakers with wool filling (Trenner and Freidl) having lost a fair bit of carpet to beetle lava in the room with my allaes, I hope the fibre in them is artificial.
I have 3 sets of working speakers, use one set and find it very hard to sell the others for the pittance they would fetch, foam deterioration not withstanding.

PMC give a 20 year warranty so if they start to deteriorate sonically, I’ll be on the phone.

Arguably speaker design is the area where there has been most improvement over the last 20 years (maybe excepting DACs).

  1. Improved cabinet designs to reduce refraction inside the cabinets - so we see cabinets with curves etc.

  2. Materials technology has also improved considerably. So we now have drivers made from carbon fibre, beryllium etc. Cabinets are also made from less resonant materials.



This, and digital modeling has probably made more of an impact than anywhere


You just don’t know the history a lot of the time. Have they been in a loft for 15 years or the drive units subjected to strong sunlight year upon year?

Buying from a trusted dealer can help cos they can sometimes confirm they are one owner, smoke free environment, not thashed, etc.

These days I’m more interested in what each component might have been developed with. For example, what models did Naim use when developed their XS3. Similarly, if it’s a vintage system then what worked well back in the day. I know some folks successfully mix eras but I’ve not had great success with that approach.

Suedkiez - yes very good point they can do simulations before wasting time on R&D models.

I am trying to understand what you are asking, and why you are asking it. Yo are currently happy with your current speakers, so why change? Are you missing out - well, you’ve tried some others and not found them better, so probably not.

There have certainly been changes - think Dutch & Dutch 8c’s with detailed room equalisation, or improvements in other actives, or materials and suspension units in standard cabinets - all of which are immaterial if you can’t hear a decent difference. And speakers of all kit lose most from new to used. And of all kit, they are the parts that really just be home auditioned to see how they work in the room, and so this means the only deciding factor is your ears…

So - have their been changes? yes. Will new speakers sound far, far better than older ones - at the same price point, unlikely. Will they sound different - depends what you choose, but yes, mostly. Will there be a big cost to change? Yes. Will you prefer it - only you can tell.

(sound to me like you’ve got lockdown fever and want to spend money - get Qobuz or Roon or a Fraim and you’ll probably find it better bang for your buck!)


unfortunately, auditioning speakers is difficult at the best of times and home demoes, depending on country may be near impossibility. I (personally) would be interested in hearing some of the models that do incorporate some of the decidedly advanced technologies that are truly different (from aluminium cabinets - yga,magico) to some advanced driver compositions - probably not aluminium , but diamond dust or some other advances or even some of the more advanced dynaudio. Not sure if any change is warranted, but I do think that high end speakers MAY have the ability to have made substantial gains in clarity/musicality beyond variable wooden cabinets, multiple drivers and x-overs. Certainly, the upper echelon (price wise) has differing levels of technology than ever before.

Do you mean they all sound the same when you mentioned they are all basically the same.

No I mean physically similar, treble, bass midrange unit etc. similar MDF cabinet.They all seem to be the same basic principle which hasn’t changed over decades.
I’m happy with my Allaes and have no interest in changing them, as I said originally I’m just thinking out loud, that’s what forums are for aren’t they. I’m not constantly chasing the next upgrade like most people.

I suppose another small development are ‘point source’ arrays such as the KEF Uni-Q driver in their LS50 speaker where the treble is intergrated in the centre of the woofer.

Not heard them so don’t know how effective it is.

I changed my Allaes out at the end of last year. Mine had some damage to one of the tweeters, which in the end I managed to replace. However whilst I was arranging the repair I demo’d several different speakers and found a new set I liked. The presentation is quite different to the Allaes and I now find myself about to distinguish differences between components which I was unable to determine with the Allaes.

I purchased my new speakers as exdem. Retail price wise, I was finding I needed to spend circa 4k+ (which was over budget) to make the change in performance worthwhile.

Of course others may have different thoughts on this.