Different Types Of Earphone Drivers That You Should Know About!!
Every audio transducer whether it be in-ear monitors, headphones, or even speakers consists of different types of driver units. These drivers are actually the core of the transducer and are responsible for producing the sound. There are five types of audio drivers that are used in today’s market. Today we are going to discuss all these five types of audio drivers and their working mechanism. So let’s begin.
Different Types Of Drivers:-
1. Dynamic Driver(DD).
2. Balanced Armature Driver(BA).
3. Planar Magnetic Driver.
4. Electrostatic Drivers.
5. Bone Conduction Drivers.
Apart from these, there are also Hybrid driver configurations that are usually found in IEMs. They bring different types of drivers in a single pair like BA drivers paired with DD in a dual driver IEM. We will discuss these too. First, let’s start with the Dynamic Drivers!!
Dynamic drivers also known as moving coil drivers, are the most widely used type of drivers in the industry. They are most widely used because of the fact that they are the most affordable among all the driver types. The benefit of using dynamic drivers is the fact that a single DD unit can provide a smooth frequency response throughout a wide frequency range, which reduces the chance of multi-driver distortion. The latest products with DD are Dunu Zen, Shozy Black Hole, FiiO FD5, and many more.
For producing sound, dynamic drivers consist of three main parts, a neodymium magnet, a voice coil, and a diaphragm unit that is connected to the voice coil. The voice coil is a thin membrane that moves in the magnetic field produced by the neodymium magnet inside the driver unit, hence producing the sound. In today’s market brands are opting for premium components such as beryllium as their diaphragm material. They provide better rigidity while maintaining a thin membrane allowing for the swift movement of the coil inside the magnetic field. The drivers gain a magnetic field once the input signal is passed throw it. The movement of the voice coil produces airwaves is taken by our ears as sound.
Pros Of Dynamic Drivers:-
Dynamic drivers are very cost-effective. A single driver can be tuned to provide wide frequency response. With a moving membrane, a DD unit is capable of providing a tremendous bass response.
Cons Of Dynamic Drivers:-
Dynamic drivers produce respectable lower end with deep, quick, punchy bass but they are susceptible to harmonic distortion at louder volumes. Another flaw to note here is that the voice coil membrane is very thin that makes these drivers susceptible to driver flex(a stretching sound that comes while pushing the IEM’s into the ears). To control this driver flex issue brands usually make a vent in the IEM’s shell.
Balanced Armature Drivers:-
Also known as moving iron drivers, Balanced Armature drivers are very small and are found in IEMs only. Balanced Armature drivers are very responsive, they can be tuned for a specific frequency range and allows for multiple driver setup inside small ear shells. They are capable of producing ultimate clarity in the output throughout a wide frequency range with different drivers tuned for different frequencies in a single unit. Famous products with BA drivers are DUNU SA6, Campfire Audio Andromeda, 64 Audio U12t, and many more.
Balanced Armature drivers consist of a miniature arm with a coil of wire surrounded by two magnets that creates a magnetic field when the current is flown through the driver. The moving part is balanced between both the magnets that’s why these drivers are known as Balanced Armature drivers. The magnetic flux allows the miniature arm to move slightly within the magnetic field. This movement brings changes to the air above the driver diaphragm producing the sound output. They have very little movement compared to the Dynamic Driver units making them capable of producing ultra-low distortion in the output.
Pros Of BA Drivers:-
With their small size and frequency-specific tuning, there can be multiple BA drivers inside a single pair of IEM. Give that a brilliant acoustic architecture within the ear shell and one can have detailed, distortion-free output. They can be tuned for better extensions at the high-end and are very easy to power.
Cons Of BA Drivers:-
Balanced armature drivers are a bit costlier than DD units. On top of that, they are usually put in higher numbers of units for wide frequency response. Their bass response is usually slower and less punchy than DD units.
Electro-Static is not a new technology in the audio industry. Headphones have been using this for quite a long time, Recently IEM’s have also started using this for a superb high-end response. Usually, full-sized cans with EST drivers required separate energizers to power them properly, but the recently developed small-sized EST drivers for IEMs don’t have any such requirements. The latest products with EST drivers include Shozy Tape Pro, Kinera Nanna, Kinera Baldr, and many more.
Electrostatic drivers work on the principle of static electricity. They have an ultra-thin diaphragm membrane between two electrodes. The diaphragm moves swiftly between the electrodes producing a superbly detailed output. These drivers are known for their brilliant high-frequency response producing minute details with utmost precision. They require more power when compared to BA and DD IEM’s and hence are usually capable of scaling with better sources(Hi-res players, Amp’s).
Pros Of EST Drivers:-
EST drivers are very small in size and can be fitted inside small IEMs with ease. They are usually found in a hybrid configuration with other driver types such as Balanced Armatures and Dynamic Drivers. An EST driver is capable of producing superb detailing in high-frequencies.
Cons Of EST Drivers:-
EST drivers are costly as compared to other driver types. They are harder to implement, also they are hungry for power. They shine best with better sources such as a hi-res player or an amplifier.
Planar Magnetic Drivers:-
Planar Magnetic Drivers are capable of providing ultimate clarity throughout a wide frequency response range with ultra-low distortion, thanks to the evenly-suspended diaphragm material in-between a strong magnetic field. They are also capable of providing extremely fast response time with little to no transient errors in the output.
A planar magnetic driver’s working mechanism is a mixture of EST and DD’s mechanism. The driver unit consists of an ultra-thin flexible membrane suspended between two strong permanent magnets. Sound is produced by the swift movement of this ultra-thin membrane inside the active magnetic field. They are capable of producing natural sound responses with ultra-low electronic and harmonic distortion. Though they require extra power as compared to DD and BA drivers, and are also bigger so harder to implement in hybrid driver setups. Latest products with Planar Magnetic Drivers include Tin HiFi P2 and more.
Pros Of Planar Magnetic Drivers:-
The main benefit of a Planar Magnetic driver is its extremely low distortion across a wide frequency band. Users can experience a super-clean natural sound response with high-clarity vocals.
Cons Of Planar Magnetic Drivers:-
Planar Magnetic Drivers are usually costly as compared to BA and Dynamic Drivers. They are also bigger in size and require power to shine properly.
Bone Conduction Driver:-
Bone Conduction is the latest technology currently in development. In this, the earphone driver is not directly pushed inside your ear canal, allows the users to enjoy music by vibrating on the bones of your face. These are pressed against the bones on your face, about an inch in front of the ears. The latest earphone that utilizes this driver is Unique Melody Mest featuring a bone conduction driver attached directly to the faceplate of the ear shells. It produces sound by vibrating the faceplates.
Bone conduction drivers produce sound using vibrations. It converts sound waves into vibrations and when it is placed on the bone near to our ear, vibrations transfer directly to the ear where it enters the cochlea and we can hear the sound. It is still a technology in development and we hope to see more products using this tech.
Pros Of Bone Conduction Driver:-
Bone conduction technology helps people with damaged eardrums listen to sounds. It is a very fascinating technology and we are having good hopes to see how HiFi brands utilize this technology.
Cons Of Bone Conduction Driver:-
The main con with a bone conduction driver will be no noise-cancellation. Since the driver is not at the eardrum there is no seal at the ears and hence no blockage of environmental noises.
When two or more different types of drivers are arranged in a single pair of in-ear monitors, they are known as hybrid drivers. Many of the latest IEMs feature a combination of dynamic and balanced armature drivers to give the best of both worlds. High-tier IEMs such as Kinera Nanna, Kinera Baldr also feature EST drivers in their configuration.
Pros Of Hybrid Drivers:-
In hybrid configuration, people get to experience the best possible performance, like we know BA produces slower bass but smooth mids and trebles, so it can be paired with Dynamic drivers for punchy bass.
Cons Of Hybrid Drivers:-
Actually not a con for a hybrid but for multiple driver units inside a single ear shell. They need to have properly designed acoustic architecture and multiple frequency separation technologies to avoid any kind of multi-driver distortion in the output.
These are the different types of drivers currently being utilized by different brands to bring us high-quality earphones and headphones. We hope we were able to answer all your questions regarding the different driver types. For any more queries feel free to contact us at our Facebook page here, or write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.