guide to speaker drivers

Types Of Speaker Drivers In Earphones (2023): Noobs Guide!

As part of our daily lives, we tend to use headphones and earphones frequently.

No matter what kind of headphones/earphones you use – wireless or wired – they both have a small speaker inside that you can use to listen to music.

The type of speaker driver we use in our headphones and earphones, and their advantages and disadvantages, are discussed in this article.

Hopefully, this information will help you select headphones or earphones that provide a better sound quality in the future.

For those of you who are new to the tech world and are concerned that this may be a bit daunting, don’t worry.

Our article has been written in layman’s terms to make it easier for everyone to understand.

So let’s get started right away. 

Speaker Drivers

Most of us have heard of speakers, but we rarely hear about drivers.

In a technical sense, the speaker and driver together are responsible for producing the audible sound.

Drivers are the parts of speakers that convert electrical signals into sound.

In general, a speaker with a larger diameter can output more sound.

Driver sizes for earphones can range from 7mm to 15mm, while headphones have drivers which range from 30mm to 50mm.

The size of the speaker does not always determine the sound quality; also consider the type of driver inside the speaker enclosure.

Many earphones come with multiple drivers that reproduce musical notes at various frequencies.

Three main components are usually built into drivers, which together produce the sound from electrical audio signals.

The magnet, voice coil, and diaphragm are these components.

Magnet: The magnet is part of the driver that generates a magnetic field that produces sound.

Magnets used inside the speaker drivers affect the sound quality. Magnetic circuits can be made to sound better by improving their magnet performance.

Magnets such as cobalt and ferrite are commonly used to make Bluetooth earphone drivers. Sometimes manufacturers use magnets in rare materials as well.

Voice coils: An apex is made by winding a copper wire that is referred to as a voice coil. 

When a current passes through a sound coil, the diaphragm moves, and an audible sound is produced. 

Vocal coils convert electrical signals to sound and play a crucial role in drivers. 

Instead of copper wire, companies are using oxygen-free copper and Pure Copper By Ohno Continuous Casting for better sound reproduction.

The Diaphragm (cone): Diaphragm (cone) is a device that converts‌ ‌mechanical‌ ‌

vibrations‌ ‌into‌ ‌sound‌ ‌waves.

Most companies that manufacture diaphragms use a thin membrane or sheet of a particular material that is suspended at its edges. 

It generates sound waves when the electrically vibrating diaphragm hits the air.

How Does A Speaker Driver Produce Sound?

Diaphragms (cones) are attached to the voice coil when a current travels through it from the host device. Magnetic fields are generated around coils in this way.

Accordingly, changes in current flow through the speaker cause the speaker’s diaphragm to move when they interact with the driver’s magnetic field. 

As a result, the driver creates airwaves that are similar to the original signal coming from the host device. By this process, audible sounds are produced.

There are six types of drivers in headphones/earphones which are available in the Indian market:

  1. Dynamic Driver Unit
  2. Planar Magnetic Drivers
  3. Electrostatic Driver Unit
  4. Balanced Armature Unit
  5. Magnetostriction or Bone Conduction Drivers
  6. Hybrid Drivers

1. Dynamic Driver Unit

Dynamic Driver Unit is the most commonly used driver type in headphones and earphones

It consists of three main components: a magnet, a voice coil, and a diaphragm.

A neodymium strip is usually used, which is one of the strongest rare earth magnets available.

In headphones and earphones, we also find ferrites, but they aren’t as efficient as neodymium magnets.

Voice coils are made up of a coil of conductive material, as the name suggests.

Diaphragms are cone-shaped papers that cover the inner parts of speakers.

Working Of A Dynamic Driver Unit

The voice coil transforms into an electromagnet when signals reach it.

In this way, the static magnet and the voice coil create alternating attractive and repelling forces.

Sound is produced when the diaphragm vibrates back and forth.

Advantages Of A Dynamic Driver Unit

  • An affordable technology
  • Exceptional bass response
  • Loud sounds do not require much power

Disadvantages Of A Dynamic Driver Unit

  • Distorts sound when the volume is high

2. Planar Magnetic Drivers

A planar magnetic driver also utilizes electromagnetism, very similar to dynamic driver units.

Planar Magnetic Drivers are usually found in high-end earphones which are more expensive than Dynamic Drivers.

How Planar Magnetic Drivers Work?

In a planar magnetic driver, there are voice coils inside a diaphragm and a static magnet in the vicinity. 

The diaphragm moves back and forth when an electric current runs through it, creating sound waves.

Advantages Of Planar Magnetic Drivers

  • Great bass response
  • Sound distortion is minimal

Disadvantages Of Planar Magnetic Drivers

  • Due to the larger magnets, the headphones will look bulky and hefty.

3. Electrostatic Driver Units

Electrostatic headphones are extremely rare in the market because of their high prices and special application scenarios.

An electrostatic driver uses an ultra-thin diaphragm between the two metal plates.

How Electrostatic Drivers Work?

In order to produce an electric field, electrostatic drivers take advantage of static electricity. 

When these electric fields oscillate, they move the diaphragm back and forth against the conductive plates (electrodes). 

Sound waves are created from these actions and the continually changing electrical signals that the ear perceives.

Advantages Of Electrostatic Driver Units

  • Sound output with zero distortion
  • Perfect for audio professionals
  • The frequency response range is wide

Disadvantages Of Electrostatic Driver Units

  • Extremely Expensive
  • Devices without an amplifier perform poorly

4. Balanced Armature Drivers

Balanced armature drivers are found on In-Ear monitor earphones.

It consists of a coil wound around an armature with two magnets sandwiched in between.

How Does Balanced Armature Work?

Permanent magnets, balanced armature, coils, pivots, and diaphragms are part of the balanced armature driver. 

There are two magnets inside the driver that are wrapped around a coil. 

When an electric signal or current does not pass through the coil, the armature moves depending on the top and bottom magnets.

However, it is also visible that the diaphragm is joined to the armature.

As an electric current passes through the coil, the armature magnetizes and oscillates back and forth in order to generate sound waves.

Advantages Of Balanced Armature Drivers

  • For better performance, it can be factory tuned
  • Dynamic drivers produce better sound
  • Excellent high-frequency sound quality

Disadvantages Of Balanced Armature Drivers

  • It is comparably expensive
  • Depending on the frequency range covered, multiple drivers may be required.

5. Magnetostriction Or Bone Conduction Drivers

Bone conduction drivers work differently from other earphone drivers and are a relatively new technology. Bone conduction drivers, also known as Magnetostriction drivers.

However, these types of earpieces do transmit audio signals through the bone into the skull. They do not have to be worn inside the ear canals.

How Does A Magnetostriction Or Bone Conduction Driver Work?

Magnetostriction Driver or Bone Conduction Driver produces vibration (as shown above). 

Through this vibration driver, audio signals are converted into physical vibrations, which are passed through our face bones to our inner ear.

Market conduction drivers are available in two types: magnetostriction and mechanical. The principles of both drivers are the same. 

Advantages Of Magnetostriction Or Bone Conduction

  • While enjoying music, you can hear external noises
  • Especially useful for those who lost their eardrums

Disadvantages Of Magnetostriction Or Bone Conduction

  • Sound quality is not as good as other drivers 
  • Pricey

6. Hybrid Drivers

Hybrid drivers include many different types of drivers, including Dynamic drivers and balanced armature drivers, which are combined to provide a pleasant sound output. 

Low-middle and low frequencies are generated by the dynamic driver. While Mid-mid and high-mid frequencies are provided by balanced armament.

This type of earphone driver is used by the manufacturers to satisfy the audiophile’s demand in the market. 

You will receive a powerful, wide, and powerful bass outcome from this type of driver.

Advantages Of Hybrid Drivers

  • Sound output with high frequencies
  • Enhance clarify frequency and bass response

Disadvantages Of Hybrid Drivers

  • Wireless headphones rarely come with this driver.


How Much MM Driver Is Best For Earphones?

In headphones/Earphones, the quality of the sound depends largely on the size of the diaphragm, indicated by the driver diameter. 

The greater the diameter, the better the sound quality will be. Generally, earbuds have drivers whose diameter ranges from 13.5 to 15.4 mm, while canalphones have 8.8 to 12.5 mm.

Does Driver Size Matter In Earphones?

No, the size of the drivers in headphones doesn’t matter because other factors affect the sound quality more profoundly. 

What matters more is the strength of the magnet, the material of the driver, as well as the engineering involved in its construction.

Conclusion | Types Of Speaker Drivers In Earphones

While purchasing a headphone/earphone, even knowledgeable people look only at the size of the speaker driver.

The fact is that even a larger driver might not be able to produce better quality sound, and now you understand why.

Our recommendation to sound engineering professionals is to invest in an expensive, electrostatic driver-powered headphone.

Those looking for the best sound quality in premium earphones can choose a balanced armature driver powered one with multiple drivers.

The best option for those living on a shoestring budget would be to purchase a regular dynamic driver-driven headphone/earphone.

As long as you choose headphones in the premium budget category, planar magnetic drivers provide excellent sound quality.

Thank you for checking out our website, and we wish you an enjoyable purchase experience.

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