Why loudspeakers are the fuss-free, long-lasting heroes of any home cinema setup

Loudspeakers are the trusty stalwarts of your AV system. Your flatscreen TV may suffer from screenburn, your PJ lamp might blow, your disc-spinner might just decide it doesn't want to actually spin discs. Yet loudspeakers keep on rocking.

I was reminded of this in early January when the time came to put all the Craven household Christmas gubbins back into storage. Which meant shoving them on top of the rafters in the garage.

I think I've written about my garage before. It doesn't have a car in it, but does have shelves of old DVDs and console games, boxes of random cables, even a flight case for a Panasonic plasma TV that I recall going to silicon heaven some time around 2014. Plus, as I remembered when shoving a container of tangled fairylights into one of its corners, a set of Crystal Acoustics loudspeakers.

I haven't used these models in nearly a decade (although, oddly, I did move house with them in the meantime). The boxes are gone, and the cabinets are a bit worse for wear. But I decided to bring them into the house for a bit of a listen.

What was surprising – or perhaps not surprising at all – was that they worked perfectly and sounded great. One of the top-mounted tweeter units seemed a bit wobbly, but there was nothing to suggest they'd be unused for years.

As time goes by
This is what makes loudspeakers (passive ones) so wonderful. There really isn't much that can go wrong with them. Sure, over time, degradation of materials (rubber driver surrounds, the cones themselves, capacitors in the crossover) might be an issue. Yet these are fixable, if you have the knowledge and resources. Their constructional simplicity is a benefit, and means that AV hobbyists can even make their own models.

I've never met anyone who has made their own 4K projector.

In the past few years I've had a flatscreen TV rendered almost unusable in an instant by an errant firmware update. I've had Bluetooth headphones that can't seem to maintain a connection. I once owned a Blu-ray player that was impossible to use without its remote, and the remote broke when I accidentally dropped it on the floor.

At the same time, I've never experienced a speaker that didn't work faultlessly. Actually, that's a bit of a lie. A review model once arrived and refused to output anything from its tweeter, but this was something I fixed with the help of a screwdriver and a torch, a simple loose connection being to blame.

Loudspeakers don't suffer from the almost baked-in obsolescence of much consumer electronics, and no internet connection means no danger of network-delivered faults, or features being ripped away from you without notice. They can and do last for yonks.

This means we rarely find the need to upgrade them (wanting to is a different thing); an HCC reader recently shared images of his system in the mag, and revealed he'd upgraded pretty much his entire cinema in the last three years, but only chosen to replace two speakers, the front L/R models. And when it does come time to buy better, there's a chance of selling the outgoing speakers for a good price second-hand (unless you've left them unloved in a garage for years, perhaps).

Consider all of the above, and the build processes and research and development that goes into crafting a quality-sounding loudspeaker, and I feel they deserve to be championed. Even if, just sometimes, you do get a loose driver connection...