Friday 18 October 2013

Refoaming a pair of Snell E3 speakers (it's easier than you think)

When buying a second hand pair of speakers that are older than 10 - 20 years it is always a good idea to check them carefully for foam rot. Over time the foam surrounding the speaker cone can get perished and quite literally fall apart. The sound quality will be severely degraded when the foam is a gonner and especially the bass will be affected badly, and if left unattended you will eventually cause permanent damage to your drivers which will potentially be very expensive to replace.

Look at these examples of speaker rot I found online:


It's a very common problem but fortunately it is also very easy to remedy. For those who feel they cannot take on a DIY project like this most hi fi repair shops can do this repair fairly easily and at a reasonable cost. For those of us with some basic DIY skills repairing our own speakers is a piece of cake and much cheaper than having someone else doing the refoaming it for us.

I discovered that my 20 year old Snell E3's needed the foam to be replaced a few months ago and at first I tried to find someone to do it for me, but in searching for a local repair shop online via Google I accidently found out that I could do the foam replacement myself. (Viva Google!)

There are a few places that have the new foam surrounds available for the Snell E3, but I ended up ordering mine from Simply Speakers in the USA at a very reasonable price and they were delivered in super quick time to me in Sweden, arriving in good quality sturdy protective packaging. I love to tell others when I have had good service, so I heartily recommend Simply Speakers as a source for your foam. You can find the foam for Snell speakers here, and a more comprehensive list of other speaker brands by clicking here.

The foam repair kit comes with two foam surrounds, some special glue and short but clear instructions on a small leaflet. On their website there are excellent instructions complete with colour photographs on this page here, or you can download a pdf file with instructions here, and they even have a handy Youtube video available with simple and easy to understand instructions on refoaming your speakers.

I set aside an entire Saturday for my Snell E3 speaker foam replacement project and finished it completely in about 8 hours. The instructions say that the speaker drivers should be removed completely from the cabinet but I didn't want to unsolder the wires so I simply unscrewed them from the wood case and pulled them out as far as the attached wires allowed and then used a tray placed on top of the speaker (which was lying on it's back on a soft carpet) and placed the speaker on the tray. All the work was carried out this way and was easy as falling off a bicycle but without the pain and discomfort or a visit to the emergency ward.

Here is a pic of the repair as it was happening:

It is very important to get all the old foam and adhesive off the speaker's frame and cone completely to provide a nice clean and dry surface for the new cone and adhesive to stick to. It is a bit of a yucky job and requires a lot of patience and persistence, but if you follow the instructions you will eventually get all the gunk off and the new foam mounted correctly. I suggest you do as I did and have a vacuum cleaner at hand to regularly remove the sticky scrapings and prevent a big sticky messy situation from developing on your work surface.

NB: Take your time and make sure the foam is centered perfectly because once it is glued into place it is too late to change it. The video instructions show you exactly how to do this. Be warned, if you screw this up you will have to start over and reorder a second set of foam surrounds.

Here is one of my nicely refoamed Snell E3's which both sound as good as new again:

I hope this will help you towards restoring your old speakers and getting the best from them once again! Let me know how it went for you.

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