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Type of Headphone drivers you should know

Type Of Headphone Drivers

Headphones, earphones, or speakers are one of the most frequently used gadgets that we use on a regular basis along with our smart devices. What makes a Headphone best among the lot is the type of Driver it uses for Sound reproduction. There are different types of Headphone designs available in the market that come equipped with different sets of drivers. 

Just looking out for the Specifications won’t help you understand the quality of Sound that you can expect from that Headphone or Earphone.

As we have listed out some of the Best Headphones, Speakers, Earbuds, and Earphones on this website. We would also like to extend our support to help you understand the types of drivers you should be aware of Before buying a new gadget. 

Here, we will discuss all types of Speaker drivers commonly found in Headphones, Earphones, etc. 

So without any further ado.

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What is a driver unit found in Headphones?

A driver unit is an electrical component present inside your headphone or earphone which basically converts Audio signals into real music that we hear. Depending upon the type of driver that is equipped on the Headphone the sound quality may vary. The Audio driver components are made up of three parts that work harmoniously to create the Best Sound Quality that they are capable of. It consists of;

Magnet, which is used to create a magnetic field which in turn improves the sound quality of the Headphone.

Voice Coil, is one of the most important pieces in some of the Driver units which does a crucial job of converting Audio Signals into actual audio. (not present in every driver)

The diaphragm is a transducer that is attached to the Voice coil. It vibrates with the help of Electricity to create sound waves. 

Hence, a driver unit is an important element present in Headphones or Speakers devices and it makes them functional. These drivers are sized between 6mm to 15mm in Earphones or earbuds and around 20mm to 50mm in Headphones. 

Does the Size of the Driver matter?

Many people consider the size of the driver as the benchmark of the Audio quality for that particular headphone. But that’s not the case, you can think by yourself that even small earbuds that have a 15mm driver are capable enough to outperform headphones with fairly larger drivers in terms of audio quality. 

We can say that the size of the driver can only determine the loudness of the Audio instead of the clearness. Also, the larger sized drivers do generate a thumping bass. 

Does the number of drivers make any difference?

Well-built headphones with properly aligned drivers can make a difference in overall sound quality when compared to a single driver headphone. The job of multiple drivers is to segregate the different frequencies so that every driver can work on handling particular frequencies. 

But having multiple drivers does not automatically make any Audio equipment a great one. 

6 Types of Drivers

We will be discussing 6 types of Headphones that work differently when compared with each other. Each of them has a significantly different way of reproducing sound. 

The 6 types of Headphones are:

  • Dynamic drivers
  • Balanced Armature drivers
  • Planar magnetic drivers
  • Electrostatic drivers
  • Bone conduction drivers
  • Hybrid Drivers

1. Dynamic Drivers

You might have heard this term when looking for a Headphone online as it is one of the most common drivers that you can get. Even the manufacturing costs of these drivers are relatively low. You can find different sizes of Dynamic drivers ranging from Earphones to large speakers.

Dynamic Drivers – Credit

How does a Dynamic Driver work?

The Dynamic drivers use a Neodymium magnet which turns the voice coil into an Electromagnet. Once you introduce current, the voice coil moves along with the attached diaphragm causing sound reproduction. Hence, Dynamic Headphones are also referred as Moving Coil drivers

Because of this simple mechanism of how it works, it does not consume much battery life at higher volume levels. 

These drivers have a great ability to disperse air which allows it to create a powerful bass

But before you start thinking highly of this driver, let me also inform you that at higher volume levels sound distortion may happen.  Yes, many of the Premium Headphones and speakers do use Dynamic drivers which are perfectly engineered to overcome this challenge. 

Advantages of Dynamic Driver

  • Inexpensive Technology
  • Great Bass Levels
  • Require only lightweight and compact enclosure

Disadvantages of Dynamic Driver

  • Creates distorted sound at higher volume levels


2. Balanced Armature drivers

The Balanced Armature drivers are comparatively much more expensive than Dynamic drivers. Balanced Armature drivers are much smaller as well as they are mainly used in in-ear headphones. These types of drivers are a bit outdated and you won’t find them in many products nowadays.

The Balanced Armature drivers are comparatively much more expensive than Dynamic drivers. Balanced Armature drivers are much smaller as well as they are mainly used in in-ear headphones. These types of drivers are a bit outdated and you won’t find them in many products nowadays.

How does Balanced Armature Driver work?

The Armature driver is attached to the centre of the diaphragm, so when the current flows through it, the Armature pivots towards the magnet. This process helps the diaphragm to move back and front which creates sound.

These drivers do not displace Air like the dynamic drivers do, so the bass reproduction is something that you won’t experience at the best quality.

However, when a Balanced Armature Driver is combined with a dynamic driver in an in-ear monitor you can experience more detailed sound along with Noise isolation.

Advantages of Balanced Armature Drivers

  • Clear sound reproduction at High frequency
  • Better Sound output than Dynamic Drivers
  • Can be combined with Dynamic Drivers for improved performance

Disadvantages of Dynamic Drivers

  • Not much of Bass reproduction
  • Expensive 


3. Planar magnetic drivers

These drivers are usually found on open-back over the ear headphones and it mainly includes two components i.e. a diaphragm with a circuit and a magnet. They are also referred to as magneplanar isodynamic, or orthodynamic drivers. 

Planar magnetic drivers are quite expensive and are only used in premium devices.

Planar Magnetic Driver – Credit

How does Planar magnetic drivers work?

The functioning of the Planar Magnetic driver is somewhat similar to the Dynamic driver as they also produce sound by creating a magnetic field. But here, the diaphragm is not attached to the coil but when the current passes the electromagnetic waves makes the Diaphragm move and this is how the sound is reproduced. 

However, to ensure the diaphragm is evenly vibrated, large and more magnets are used which adds on to the weight and power consumption of the device.

These drivers deliver one of the best in class Audio quality which makes for a great music listening experience with no sound distortions. Even the Bass response is excellent because of the thin diaphragm. 

Advantages of Planar magnetic drivers

  • Minimal Sound Distortions
  • Excellent Bass response
  • Great Sound quality

Disadvantages of Planar magnetic drivers

  • Makes the Device bulky
  • Consumers more power
  • Expensive 


4. Electrostatic drivers

Electrostatic drivers are relatively uncommon and expensive drivers which use static electricity. This technology uses a complex mechanism which requires special amplifiers known as energizers. These drivers are mainly found in open-back over the ear headphones and it focuses to deliver flawless sound quality. 

How does Electrostatic drivers work?

These drivers use static electricity to produce electric fields. Once the electric field is created it generates a vibration which makes the diaphragm in the middle, to push and pull against the conductive plates (positively and negatively charged) or electrodes which allows the air to be pushed through the perforations.This mechanism leads to generation of sound which we can hear. 

Electrostatic drivers lack moving metal components because of which they end up reproducing distorting free sound. Undoubtedly these drivers can produce unmatched sound quality but its the affordability factor which keeps it away from the masses. Though, if the price is right for you, please go ahead without thinking much before buying a headphones equipped with this driver. 

Advantages of Electrostatic Driver

  • Unbeatable Sound Quality 
  • Distortion-Free Sound 

Disadvantage of Electrostatic Driver

  • Requires Amplifier
  • Expensive to Buy 


5. Bone conduction drivers

Bone conduction drivers are a perfect piece of technology which is gaining momentum in the Headphone industry. These drivers are completely different from all the existing Driver technologies as they let you enjoy music by vibrating on the bones of your face including both temporal bones and jaw bones. 

Similarly, unlike others there are two variations of bone conduction drivers i.e. mechanical and magnetostriction

How does the Bone conduction driver work?

The way these drivers function may sound weird at first but both kinds of Bone conduction driver works when they are pressed against the bones in your face in order to create vibration which can then result in sound reproduction directly in your ear. 

All the vibration created with the help of your bone is directly transferred to your cochlea so that you can hear sound with precision and clarity. 

Such drivers are more than useful for people with hearing disability as the sound bypasses the damaged eardrums. The headphones with Bone conduction driver are also used by Athletes while jogging so that they can be aware of their surroundings. 

Advantages of Bone conduction Driver

  • One can hear ambient sounds while listening to music. 
  • Help those with hearing loss

Disadvantages of Bone Conduction Drivers

  • Limited to their fidelity 


6. Hybrid Drivers

The reason why we are discussing these headphones at the bottom is because Hybrid drivers are nothing but a combination of Dynamic driver and balanced Armature driver. Such drivers can be used to create a high quality sound by taking advantage of both drivers. 

The balanced armature can reproduce mid, high mid, and high frequencies effectively while the dynamic driver can manage the low mid and low frequencies effectively. This step is taken by the manufacturer to ensure that the every frequency of sound is well represented. 

Advantages of Hybrid Drivers

  • Manage all frequencies 
  • Best Value to Money

Disadvantages of Hybrid Drivers

  • The cost of the product may go up 


Which is the Best Driver? Which one you should get?

After reading the Article you may understand that Electrostatic Drivers are one of the Best drivers capable of delivering flawless sound output. But considering the fact that most of us have to buy a product within a budget, these drivers may seem to be a Expensive option. 

Hence, those looking for an inexpensive headphone can rely on the performance of the Dynamic driver. 

Everything basically boils down to your personal preferences and usability. And yeah, don’t forget driver sizes do not matter! 

So I hope this will help you make the right decision. 

Thank you for reading! 

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