Planar Magnetic Drivers: A Comprehensive Guide
If you’re a seasoned audiophile or even just a budding one, you’ve likely come across the term “planar magnetic drivers”. But what exactly are they? How do they differ from other types of drivers? And why are they so highly regarded by audiophiles?
Let's take a closer look at the technology behind planar magnetic drivers, their unique features and benefits, and why they’re considered a top choice for many audiophiles.
Introduction to Planar Magnetic Drivers:
Most headphones and IEMs utilize a type of driver called a dynamic driver. These drivers use a cone that moves back and forth to produce sound waves. However, the planar magnetic driver takes a different approach to audio engineering altogether by employing a flat diaphragm that uses magnetic fields to produce sound waves.
Planar magnetic drivers typically comprise a thin diaphragm with a conductive layer that sits between two rows of magnets. When an electric current flows through the conductive material, it interacts with the magnetic field, causing the diaphragm to move and produce sound waves.
What Makes Planar Magnetic Drivers Different?
One of the most significant differences between planar magnetic drivers and traditional dynamic drivers is the way they produce sound waves. While dynamic drivers utilize a cone-shaped diaphragm that moves back and forth, planar magnetic drivers use a flat, thin diaphragm that moves in a more controlled and uniform manner. This translates to more accurate sound reproduction, wider frequency response, and less distortion.
Another key benefit of planar magnetic drivers is their superior transient response, which refers to how quickly a driver can respond to changes in sound. Because planar magnetic drivers have a lower mass and can move more freely than traditional dynamic drivers, they can produce sharper and more accurate audio.
The even distribution of magnetic force across the surface of the driver, the absence of a coil sitting behind any diaphragm, and the uniform movement of the entire diaphragm result in distortion-free music reproduction. Similarly, planar magnetic drivers produce a sound that is entirely faithful to the recording.
Advantages of Planar Magnetic Drivers
- Accurate & Detailed Sound
One of the key benefits of planar magnetic drivers is their ability to produce detailed, accurate sound across a wide range of frequencies. Because the thin diaphragm can move faster than a conventional dynamic driver, it can accurately produce high-frequency sounds while maintaining tight control over the low frequencies.
The flat, uniform diaphragm of planar magnetic drivers can produce even and highly accurate sound, which is why they are a popular choice for audiophiles who want headphones with natural and faithful audio reproduction.
- Excellent Transient Response
Planar magnetic drivers react quickly to audio signals. They are snappier than other drivers, ensuring that music is precise and has tight bass, resulting in excellent sounds through both the lowest and highest frequency ranges.
- Low Distortion
Though most drivers tend to cause distortion owing to their intrinsic flaws, planar magnetic drivers rule the market because they move differently when compared to conventional drivers. The dual rows of magnets generate equal magnetic forces on the diaphragm, allowing it to vibrate in a wave-like motion without any undesirable and unnecessary distortion. This results in smoother and more natural sound reproduction, with fewer unwanted resonances.
- Wider Frequency Range
Planar magnetic drivers can produce sounds with a wider range—from the lowest lows to the highest highs therefore, it’s no surprise that many audio professionals use Planar Magnetic drivers for their broader frequency range covering the vocal and music range alike.
- Expensive: Planar magnetic drivers are relatively expensive to manufacture, making IEMs that use them more expensive than those with traditional dynamic drivers. Lately, in IEMs, we have seen multiple outstanding and affordable offerings like Rinko by Seeaudio, and S12 / Z12 by LETSHUOER.
- Size & Weight:Due to their complex design, planar magnetic drivers are relatively heavier and bulkier than other drivers, affecting the portability of the IEMs and headphones.
- Power requirement: Planar drivers require much more power than other drivers. This is because a lot of power is required to uniformly move the heavy drivers. Balanced outputs on DAPs and dongles provide that extra power when required.
- Limited availability: Planar magnetic drivers are not as widely available as traditional dynamic drivers, meaning there are fewer options to choose from.
Can Planar Magnetic drivers be used in IEMs?
Yes, planar magnetic drivers can be used in smaller form factors such as in-ear monitors. However, due to their larger size and heavier weight compared to traditional dynamic drivers, they may require more advanced engineering and design to fit into smaller housings without compromising the overall sound quality or comfort of the IEMs. Many companies have already successfully implemented planar magnetic technology in their IEMs and delivered excellent sound quality in a smaller form factor.
Some popular IEMs and headphones that use planar magnetic drivers include:
- LETSHOUER Z12: This IEM is known for its detailed and accurate sound reproduction, smooth treble, and tight bass.
- Seeaudio Rinko: This IEM is known for its powerful bass and detailed midrange, with a slightly warm and smooth sound signature.
- HiFiMAN Sundara: This headphone has a detailed and enjoyable sound, with a vast soundstage and tight bass.
- HiFiMAN Edition XS: This headphone has a natural and coherent sound, with exceptional detail retrieval and a holographic soundstage.
Planar magnetic drivers are the result of decades of development in the audio industry. They have unique features that make them stand out from the competition as an ideal choice for anyone who needs top-quality headphones or IEM. With their superior sound quality, excellent transient response characteristics, low distortion, and ability to reproduce a wider range of frequencies with precision, it’s no wonder that audiophiles consider them the pinnacle of audio engineering and technology. Whether you are a music enthusiast or a sound professional, do not miss the outstanding experience that the Planar Magnetic driver delivers.