I will define each group later on this article; but, in this post, I’ll focus more on dynamic drivers and why they should be your choice for your earphones.
What Is a Driver Unit?
Before anything else, let’s understand first what a driver unit is and how it works.
The component found inside an earphone that transforms an electric response into sound is called a driver unit. You can imagine it as a miniature loudspeaker in your earphones.
It consists of a magnet, diaphragm, and voice coils. You might wonder how one measures a driver. Is it by its diameter, radius, or circumference?
The answer: the diameter is the confirmed spec, which is measured in millimeters. The unit size of the driver is handy to gauge the capacities of creating sound.
How Does It Affect Sound?
It may appear that the larger the unit, the more powerful the sound it creates. However, that is not entirely true. For every design, be it large headphones or small-sized earphones, while the size of the driver differs, the loudest sound at which you will hear them remains the same.
Take note though, the sounds you hear from headphones are not as loud compared to headsets. Headphones are a bit far from your eardrums compared to earphones, which are almost hugging your eardrums.
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Why Is a Driver Beneficial?
The output becomes powerful when the driver unit and the speakers are huge. However, this doesn’t mean the production will improve. The quality of your driver unit is what influences to produce better sound.
The driver unit’s size for earphones is between 8 millimeters and 15 millimeters.
The Balanced Armature (BA) Driver Units
These driver units are ideal for in-ear monitors (IEM) due to their size. They are tiny, which means you can have more driver units installed. Many IEMs have one to four BA drivers for each earpiece. For customized IEMs, they can have up to 20 driver units!
BA receivers don’t displace air for them to produce sound. Due to this, they are known to give better isolation than other drivers, as they no longer require a vent.
However, they lack the premium bass frequency representation given by dynamic drivers.
The Electrostatic Drivers
Many headphones utilize the dynamic driver or the moving coil, as many prefer to call it. This type of driver unit is uncommon since it’s costly.
It uses a thin electrically-charged diaphragm. It is positioned between two electrodes or conductive plates. You’re going to need a special amplifier to turn up the sounds.
The primary advantage of electrostatic drivers is that they provide the best sounds compared to the other headphones. The sound quality is life-like. It’s no wonder that this driver unit is pricey. Also, they provide sounds that are free from distortion.
The Planar Magnetic Drivers
Also known as the orthodynamic driver, the planar magnetic driver is extremely thin and is usually situated in high-end headphones.
The driver units are based on the same concept to that of dynamic drivers – it uses magnetic fields to create sounds.
Instead of affecting the voice coil like the dynamic designs, the diaphragm, which is a thin film, is directly conditioned by magnetic fields to create sound.
The entire diaphragm needs to be equally vibrated, which means it requires more magnets that are bigger. This setup adds more weight to the headphones, resulting in needing more power.
Therefore, they are not as handy compared to the other driver units. They are mainly bought for home use and are also more expensive compared to dynamic drivers.
The Hybrid Drivers
The hybrid driver units are recent technology, which is a BA receiver and dynamic driver combination. This design signifies that audiophiles can finally take advantage of a balance of bright treble and deep dynamic bass.
Also referred to as the ‘Resonate,’ the hybrid driver is the most superior of headphones. It uses various drivers to provide detailed and high-quality sounds.
Of course, this type of driver unit is ideal. It is truly attractive. Unfortunately, it’s costly, and if your funds are limited, it isn’t practical to purchase this type.
What Is a Dynamic Driver?
This is the most common driver unit type used that comes with large diaphragms. Many people prefer this instrument since it exhibits better performance at developing powerful bass and pull off the exact volume of sound pressure. It can achieve this without requiring too much power. Unfortunately, the principle of better bass from a larger driver unit does not apply with this driver type.
How Does a Dynamic Driver Work?
Dynamic driver unit technology is used in different types of products, which includes in-ear monitors or IEMs, headphones, and loudspeakers. In contrast to the balanced armature driver, the dynamic model is developed to cover the full frequency range.
Often, this results in fewer features from a scientific angle, a lot of people see the dynamic driver be more natural since there is no crossover transmitting particular frequency bands to various drivers.
In this layout, the diaphragm is connected to the voice coil directly. When a current is used, the voice coil will be in motion between the permanent magnets, enabling the diaphragm to vibrate and create sound.
There are several materials used for diaphragms; but for all dynamic drivers, they have pistonic motion, circular magnetic gaps, and voice coils on cones or diaphragms.
Frequently, the dynamic receiver is referred to as the ‘moving coil drivers.’
The dynamic receiver is often vented, and it moves air by composition, which results in an enhanced presentation of bass frequencies, in contrast to the BA designs.
Drummers and bassists often prefer dynamic receiver in-ear monitors due to their premium bass response.
What Are the Pros of Using This Driver Unit?
- It provides better bass performance: The method they use to move air tends to provide dynamic drivers with more productive and deeper bass efficiency.
- It is cheaper compared to other driver units.
- It is more durable than the BA driver units.
- The sound signature can be easily understood.
- It is less vulnerable to hiss.
The BA designs are vulnerable to resonance as they have a better response to high-frequency.
- The design is simple.
- It is cost-effective, which makes it ideal for those tight on a budget.
It’s basically a wire coil connected to a diaphragm made of plastic, which is then positioned into a magnet. If you to make electrostatic or planar drivers on a really tight budget, there’s a considerable chance that it will end up flat and broken.
With the dynamic drivers, you can make them from cheap materials, and they will still be as effective.
- Single-driver designs are better compared to BA receivers.
- It produces more natural sounding, due to the lack of crossovers.
- It can provide the exact amount of sound pressure.
Are There Any Cons?
Unfortunately, there are still disadvantages when using dynamic drivers. However, they are minimal, and they do not outweigh the advantages.
- They are not as popular compared to the BA designs.
- They are larger, which makes the BA drivers more convenient to use.
- They are also not as detailed.
A dynamic receiver unit has a tiny motor that utilizes a permanent magnet that has a ring gap and a voice coil attached to the gap. This configuration provides a back and forth linear motion when prompted by an electronic audio signal. Lastly, the diaphragm is connected to the voice coil. It pressures the air with the drive movement producing the sound that you hear.
The sound is released at the rear of the diaphragm, too, which is suspended in different amounts by the motor component. This configuration can cause problems with the acoustic resonances.
Dynamic driver units are developed with many tiny vents that often contains foam materials, as well as porous paper to adjust and damp the acoustics of the suspended air volumes of the unit.
The Bottom Line
Dynamic drivers aren’t perfect. As mentioned, they have their downsides, and in many aspects, the other driver units are better.
A well-designed and executed balanced armature setup will obviously outperform a low-quality single dynamic driver layout.
For a lot of people, they don’t have that many funds to invest in an expensive driver unit. Also, if you check reviews on the internet, you will discover that many people prefer to use the dynamic drivers due to its simplicity and cost-effectiveness.
It’s best that you’re able to try out different driver units, that is if you have the time and resources. If you don’t have the luxury of time and endless resources, then your best chance is by checking product reviews and third-party assessments of the different performance parameters.
A word of caution, don’t be swayed into the idea that having multiple drivers should mean enhanced audio quality.