I have discovered many facts about IEMs, as well as different types of sound devices in my endeavors. However, I used to be a bit confused regarding the good and bad stuff of a balanced armature driver in contrast to the classic dynamic driver.
Plus, I’m aware that I am not alone on this one.
So, written below are the essential facts that we should know when it comes to the IEM world.
What Is a Balanced Armature Driver?
- Initially created for crucial listening apps such as hearing aids, it provides enhanced detail, accuracy, and loyalty against the classic dynamic drivers. It is conveniently small and light, and it offers greater output that requires minimal power.
- Surprisingly, these devices already existed in the 1920s. They were mainly in headphones utilized with crystal radios. However, they were bigger and different compared to the present BA devices.
- Balanced armature technology provides more output per mm3, which is an advantage in small instruments, such as hearing aids, or in tools wherein you want to combine different receivers in a small space.
- It is efficient in converting energy into sound, which is a considerable benefit wherein the battery lifespan is limited.
- It only works if the output is conveyed directly in the ear canal. If not, the bass or low frequency will disappear. In many earphones and hearing aids, it’s crucial that the BA receiver is utilized in a protected ear canal for better performance.
Written below are the reasons why a balanced armature is essential to your in-ear monitor or IEM.
It is efficient.
One of the primary reasons why it’s excellent for your IEM is its efficiency. The armature, which is the movable part, is unstable yet balanced between the two magnets, and can easily move far and get stranded on the magnet, if not for the other components of the device’s mechanism.
This uncertainty enables easy and fast motion with an electronic signal providing excellent efficiency.
Sadly, it also makes the balanced armature (BA) driver present strong resonant features, and absorbing techniques must be done to get rid of resonance peaks in BA drivers’ frequency response.
Today, the balanced armature driver in hearing aids and IEMs are different compared to the traditional headphones. The most significant distinction is that the current BA doesn’t have the ‘seesaw’ turning armature. The newer versions utilize armatures that act as a diving platform mechanically.
How it works:
- The audio signal will go through a coil that binds with the armature.
- The electronic signal triggers a magnetic flux, which also causes the armature’s end to be lured into one of the magnets’ poles. As the electronic signal bounces up and down, so will the armature.
- A drive pin found at the armature’s end will transfer the motion to the diaphragm.
- When the diaphragm goes up and down, it changes the air wrapped at the top of the diaphragm.
- This will then produce a sound that finds its way out of the front spout.
If you check the BA drivers from well-known manufacturers, you’ll notice right away that they come in a variety of internal configurations, shapes, and sizes.
The durability, tonal character, bandwidth, and efficiency are all affected by the different design varieties among various devices.
Some of the vital components that are utilized to manage the effectiveness of a balanced armature driver:
Armature Varieties – The armature is the nucleus to the BA driver’s performance, which significantly distinguishes the stiffness and the mass of the acoustic system, which are the resonant features and resulting effectiveness of the BA system.
Generally speaking, if you opt for low-frequency efficacy, you must suit the armature’s stiffness to the back membrane and volume.
If you wish to maximize the low-frequency product, you must up the armature’s mass to promote better magnetic flux’s carrying abilities.
Lastly, if you opt for the widest bandwidth, you reduce the mass and increase the stiffness.
Internal Volume – The internal volume size of a balanced armature driver can strongly affect the max output level. If the BA device is large, so is the diaphragm.
When the diaphragm is large, it can expel more air, enabling it to be louder compared to the smaller designs.
Moreover, when the internal volume is small, it becomes a sound battle at the diaphragm’s rear, which diminishes the diaphragm’s expedition.
Some BA drivers have tiny vents in the case found behind the diaphragm’s rear, so the internal volume becomes more substantial, which will then provide better volumes.
Armature Damping – Most BA drivers are delicate to mechanical shock. If a BA IEM is dropped on the solid ground, the momentary shock will force the armature to go beyond its elastic capabilities and will deform in a specific direction, which results in a significant progression in loss and distortion of volume level.
Frequently, manufacturers will place tiny bumpers within the magnets to limit the armature’s travel and to prevent this from happening. However, this will also control the maximum output levels of volume.
Diaphragm Variables – The diaphragm also has resonant features and stiffness that are adjustable, just like the armature.
Usually, diaphragms are little metal pieces or shaped like diving platforms. A thin layer fills the spaces between the paddle (diaphragm) and the surrounding areas to separate the front and rear volumes audibly.
Fine Tuning Mechanism – Before a balanced armature driver is set up, there’s one final probability of making variations of that specific model. An audible filter can be positioned in the nozzle. This configuration can usually diminish the dimension of the initial peak.
Tiny punctures can be made into the diaphragm suspension membrane by using a laser, which diminishes the bass response and second peak.
Its size is ideal.
The main benefit of a balanced armature driver is its size. In a typical headphone, multiple BA receivers can fit in it since they’re small. It goes the same with the home tower speakers, more beautiful sound is produced with different speakers for the lows, mids, and highs.
There’s wide tuning latitude as well, which is excellent, even with the single-driver earphones to reach the sound the creator wishes.
The paddle mass is lightweight, providing more accurate responses.
It is initially designed for hearing aids.
The BA devices were mainly created for hearing aids. They are still being utilized for the same function until now, but they are widely used for earphones as well. The BA receivers’ tuning flexibility to adjust to different hearing disabilities, size and effective drive make this possible.
It has better output compared to the low dynamic speakers.
Balanced armatures are based on the principle of utilizing a magnetic field to make an object move. They use a plate, which is connected to a tiny rod that is attached to the diaphragm.
As already discussed, the small size of BA drivers makes them efficient. They require less electric energy to provide higher output. Unfortunately, they are vulnerable to resonance, which pressures manufacturers to smooth out or ‘dampen’ the frequency response of these devices.
In contrast to dynamic speakers, they are less efficient. However, they’re also less vulnerable to hiss. Their technique of air motion gives them a better bass response. For BA drivers, they provide better reciprocation to high frequencies.
It is deal for health enthusiasts.
- Having wearable computing gadgets make it convenient for people to keep track of their progress.
- The BA device is comfortable to wear for long periods of time, which is important especially for people who require hearing aids.
- Less power consumption leads to extended battery capacity. Also, you will only require to use a small battery, which is important for those who need to use the device most of the time.
- They are almost weightless, which is an essential feature for fitness wearable, or any circumstance wherein time and comfort are a concern.
Related Topic: 10 Reasons Why You Need a Wireless Headset When You Work Out
It provides more room for multiple drivers.
Again, the size of a balanced armature driver plays a primary role in this one. Due to its small size, there is still more space for multiple units that can be combined inside the earphone for better sound and enhanced performance. Also, multiple drivers can be installed to achieve premium sound and performance.
The Hybrid Earphone
ABA receiver can be combined with an occurring dynamic speaker, which is known to many as the ‘hybrid earphone.’ In this layout, the BA driver focuses on the crucial high-end part of the audio range, which promotes a different level of realism and clarity to earphones.
A balanced armature driver isn’t mainly an audibly flat instrument, and it suffers from resonant behaviors. However, because of its convenient size and high efficiency, it is an alluring transducer for IEM and hearing aid developers.
Fortunately, numerous mechanisms for acoustical damping and frequency response control are available to manufacturers and designers for IEMs and hearing aids.
Furthermore, multiple drivers that come with crossovers enable creators to model the sound from in-ear monitors.
Lastly, you must be cautious with your balanced armature IEMs. If you drop them on hard grounds, it will significantly reduce the performance permanently.