Ever wondered what makes a pair of headphones better than another? Well, the headphone drivers!
Headphone drivers are critical to the functioning of the headphones. However, there are different types of headphone drivers on the market.
In this post, we will talk about the most important feature of headphones, i.e., headphone drivers. It is vital to look up all the specifications of the driver before buying a pair of headphones or earphones as it will determine the quality of the sound. So, without further ado, let’s learn about headphone drivers in detail.
What Are Headphone Drivers?
Just like a car needs a driver to be operational, headphones need drivers to produce sound. Therefore, simply put, headphone drivers convert electrical signals into sound waves.
Are headphones of any use if they are not able to produce good quality sound? No, right? That is why headphones drivers are the most important components of headphones. They are also called “transducers” or “motors,” and serve the purpose of loudspeakers in headphones.
3 Critical Components of Headphone Drivers
Headphone drivers typically comprise 3 essential components: magnets, voice coils, and a diaphragm. All these components are critical to the functioning of headphone drivers.
The magnets are responsible for the quality of the sound. The stronger the magnetic field, the better the quality of the sound. They create a strong magnetic field to attract the electric current towards them.
Generally, the magnets of Bluetooth headphones are made of cobalt or ferrite. However, to create stronger magnetic fields, sometimes rare materials are also used.
Voice coils are responsible for creating the sound you hear. They play an important role in converting electronic signals to sound waves by moving the diaphragm for generating sound. They are usually made of copper wires and other high-quality materials to improve sound quality.
The key function of the diaphragm is to convert the mechanical vibrations into sound waves using its thin membranes. When electricity passes through the diaphragm, it vibrates against the air and produces sound.
What is a Dynamic Driver?
The most common type and the most widely used headphone driver on the market is a dynamic driver. It uses the physics of electromagnetism and magnetism using a neodymium magnet, that causes movement, which in turn produces the sound.
A dynamic driver is excellent for producing bass response and available at relatively lower prices Though this driver can distort the sound at high volumes, it is highly effective and doesn’t require a huge amount of power to reach that level of volume.
What is the Main Function of a Dynamic Driver in Headphones?
In simple words, a dynamic driver is used to create movement that produces sound. As already mentioned in the previous section, this driver mainly has three main parts: a voice coil, a diaphragm, and a neodymium magnet.
Here’s how it works:
The magnet present in the driver turns the voice coil into an electromagnet, by magnetizing it. The voice coil now creates a magnetic field upon receiving the current. The magnetic field then starts flowing in the direction of the current.
After the magnetic field starts flowing in the same direction as the current, the it starts vibrating the voice coils in a to and fro motion. As the voice coil moves, it displaces the air around and produces sound. When the voice coil displaces a large amount of air, the sound is produced at a higher volume.
What is a 10 mm Dynamic Driver?
By now, you know how useful dynamic drivers are and how easy it is to understand how they work. But there are different types of dynamic drivers depending on their size.
By looking at the mere size of a 10 mm dynamic driver, one can predict it will produce pretty loud sound. However, it’s also important to acknowledge that loud sound is not always the best sound.
Usually, 10 mm drivers deliver clear mids, extended highs, and rich bass. Also, as mentioned above, dynamic drivers are easily affordable. Therefore, many headphones and earbuds brands use these drivers.
Are 6 mm Drivers Good?
According to the basic concept of the size of headphone drivers, the larger the size of the driver, the louder the sound and more powerful the bass.
A 6 mm driver is quite small when compared to the measurement of a standard driver. But a good quality 6 mm driver can also serve your needs. Nevertheless, if you are a bass fan, we recommend purchasing headphones or earphones with larger drivers. A 6 mm headphone driver won’t fulfil your requirements.
Which Is Better, a 40 mm or 50 mm Headphone Driver?
By now you’ve probably understood that sound is a very subjective topic. Therefore, type of sound you enjoy may not suit others around you. Both 40 mm and 50 mm headphone drivers lie in the “loud sound” and “powerful bass” category.
Both 40 mm and 50 mm headphone drivers are large. Therefore, they make the headphones or earbuds sound more powerful and rich in bass. In conclusion, if you are looking for more bass and power in the sound output, a pair of headphones or earbuds with 50 mm drivers an be a great choice.
What is a Planar Magnetic Driver?
A planar magnetic driver also functions like a dynamic driver. It uses magnetic fields to produce sound.
However, what makes this driver different from a dynamic driver is that it doesn’t use voice coils to help the diaphragm produce the sound. Instead, the diaphragm is placed between two magnets. Therefore, the diaphragm gets directly affected by the magnetic fields of both the magnets.
As the diaphragm is thin yet large, more magnets are used to create even vibration on the diaphragm. Therefore, headphones comprising planar magnetic drivers are typically expensive and bulky. They are not suitable for travel purposes.
Even though this driver uses more power, the quality of sound it produces is of great quality. They are an excellent choice for you if you are a bass lover as they comprise a thin diaphragm present. The stronger electromagnetic force helps in displacing a huge amount of air, resulting in better bass response, without any distortion.
Some of the best audiophile headphones on the market comprise planar magnetic drivers.
What is the Best Driver for Headphones – Dynamic or Planar Magnetic?
We have listed the specifications and benefits of both dynamic and planar magnetic drivers below to help you determine which headphone driver can be a good fit for you.
|Usage||They are the most widely used drivers that are low in cost and don’t add much weight to the headphones. Therefore, they are fit for daily use.||They are generally expensive and used in bulky headphones. Large or multiple magnets are used in these drivers, which adds weight to the headphones. Therefore, they are suitable for use at home.|
|Functionality||They function quite efficiently and do not use a lot of power to reach high volume.||The sound output of these drivers is excellent. However, they need an amplifier for power. Also at high volume, they may produce distorted sound.|
|How Sound in Produced||They use electromagnetism and magnetism to produce sound.||They also use electromagnetism and magnetism to produce sound.|
If you’re still confused, we can make the choice easy for you. Dynamic drivers are best for portable headphones or travel headphones as they are both lightweight and cheap. However, if you’re looking for premium-grade, solid headphones for home use, we recommend headphones with planar magnetic drivers.
4 Other Types of Headphone Drivers
Other than the two drivers we have already talked about there are four more types of headphone drivers on the market. They may not be as famous as dynamic and planar magnetic drivers; however, you must know about them as they’re also used in different types of headphones.
1. Electrostatic Drivers
Electrostatic drivers work quite differently as they use static electricity to product the electric field. They are mostly found in audiophile-grade open-back headphones.
These drivers function in a complex way and thus need special amplifiers to operate. They use static electricity to create the force which in turn makes the conducive plates move. This movement is caused by the diaphragm that is located between them by using a push and pull movement. This movement pushes the air through the perforations and when mixed with changing electric signal, this produces the sound.
2. Balanced Armature Drivers
These headphone drivers can only be found in in-ear headphones. They are much smaller in size than dynamic drivers, yet more expensive. These drivers have a miniature arm in a coil of wire, surrounded by two magnets.
These drivers are not that great to achieve excellent bass response as they do not work by displacing the air. Their functioning is quite easy to understand. The armature moves towards either magnet when electricity is passed through the coil. This causes the diaphragm to move and this, in turn, produces the sound.
3. Magnetostriction or Bone Conduction Drivers
The concept of bone conduction headphones is quite new. Unlike regular headphones, bone conduction headphones enable you to feel the sound through your cheekbones. Therefore, they function in a different way than other headphones.
There are two types of bone conduction drivers: mechanical drivers and magnetostriction. Interestingly, they both work in the same way. These drivers send vibrations directly to the inner ear and not through the eardrum. Upon entering the cochlea, they produce the sound that you hear. The best bone conduction headphones use these drivers to produce fantastic audio quality and clarity.
The functioning of these drivers is quite easy and unique. Also, they are safe for people with hearing issues.
4. Hybrid Drivers
The name says it all. Hybrid drivers are formed by combining dynamic drivers and balanced armature drivers. We find this combination interesting as the duo is poles apart from each other.
On one hand, we have dynamic drivers which are excellent for bass response, and on the other, we have balanced armature drivers that are not preferred for the same. Thus, it is quite clear that hybrid drivers are used for producing “specific” audio frequencies. These drivers produce a sound that is vibrant, had warmth, balanced bass response, and is more detailed.
Quick Comparison Between the 4 Other Types of Headphone Drivers
|Electrostatic Drivers||Balanced Armature Drivers||Bone Conduction Drivers||Hybrid Drivers|
|Usage||They are more expensive than dynamic drivers. They are found only in top-tier open-back headphones.||They are much smaller than dynamic drivers, yet more expensive. They are only found in in-ear monitors.||They don’t deliver sounds through the ear drum. Instead, the vibrations are passed through the cheeks.||They are a combination of dynamic and balanced armature drivers.|
|How Sound in Produced||They produce excellent quality sound and use static electricity to produce sound.||They do not deliver great bass response as they do not work by displacing air.||They use bone conduction technology to produce sound and are great for people with hearing aids.||As they are a mixture of two different types of drivers, they provide balanced audio with better sound quality|
What Is the Use of a Driver in Earphones?
Just like headphones, earphones also need drivers to produce sound. However, the quality of the driver unit is what makes a huge difference in the sound quality.
The difference between the drivers of headphones and earphones is their size. Headphones usually have drivers of size 20 mm to 50 mm, whereas the size of the drivers in earphones can vary from 8 mm to 15 mm.
What is the Earphone Driver Size?
If you are looking for an ideal earphone driver size then we would say it depends on the type of earphone. But in general, an earphone driver size can vary from 8 mm to 15 mm in diameter. The larger the size of the driver, the louder the sound it will produce.
Are Dual-Driver Earphones Better?
The innovation of dual-driver earphones is unique and useful. Having two drivers for separate purposes enhances the quality of the audio and this thus very thoughtful.
Each driver in the earphones has a different function. One is used to manage high and mid frequencies and the other to control the bass. This feature improve the overall quality of the sound and makes it richer.
Buying an ideal pair of headphones or earphones may seem like a task initially. However, choosing earphones or headphones based on their driver type and size is a really smart move.
In this article, we have got you started on the two most common drivers: the dynamic drivers and planar magnetic drivers. These two work using the same principle yet they are quite different from each other. The former being light-weight and affordable, is best suitable for daily use, whereas the latter is used in high-end headphones that are generally bulky in nature.
We have also shared how drivers are used in earphones and how dual-driver earphones are better.
If you have made till this far of the article, we hope that you have found this helpful. Share with us your thoughts on this in the comments and also let us know what you want to hear from us next.