Types Of Headphone Drivers Explained

Headphone drivers are a type of component which is tasked with the creation of premium HD sound within your headset. Since each driver utilizes distinct techniques and materials to produce audio, they vary in quality with each having its pros and cons.

Electrostatic Drivers

Electrostatic drivers utilize static electricity. When electric audio signals pass within their electrodes, this creates an electrical based field which makes the membrane/diaphragm that is positioned among the 2 electrodes become attracted to 1 of them. Once the diaphragm moves, air displacement occurs within perforations. This process combined with an electrical signal that continually changes produces sound.

Dynamic Drivers

These drivers have become the standard within many headphones, and are prized by manufacturers due to their low cost. They come in varying sizes which range from IEMs (In-Ear Monitors) to the big ones which appear in home based speakers. They function by introducing a current which moves a voice coil which is held in place using a diaphragm and they then generate motion simultaneously which produces the sound.

Planar Magnetic Drivers

These are also called isodynamic, orthodynamic or magneplanar drivers and they usually function with dual components which include a diaphragm that uses a circuit and magnets.

They are similar to dynamic drivers in that they utilize magnetic fields for the creation of sound. However, the difference is that planar magnetic drivers use a diaphragm that is not connected to the coil, but instead stretches out and then moves within a diaphragm, which is positioned between dual magnets.

Bone Conduction Drivers

Bone conduction drivers have become prominent in recent years. Whereas other drivers pass the audio through a user’s ears, bone conduction enables you to listen to sound through the vibration of your facial bones like the temporal and jaw, hence the name. Bone conduction style drivers come in 2 variants, which are magnetostriction and mechanical drivers. 

Balanced Armature Drivers

These are one of the oldest types of sound drivers around, and are much bigger than their newer counterparts. They are most often used inside IEMs, but not all IEMs use them. They function by using an incoming sound signal which moves through a coil which wraps around the armature.

Because of magnetic flux which is induced inside the armature, its end will be drawn to a single magnetic pole. The electric signal will go down and up along with the armature. The driver pin that is situated near the armature’s end will transfer movements into a diaphragm and once it moves the enclosed air volume will change.

Hybrid Drivers

Hybrid drivers work by pairing balanced and dynamic armatures together. They use a minimum of 2 drivers which results in sound frequency that is represented well while producing a sound which is detailed and vibrant. These drivers are prized for their bass and warmth, and are sought after by audio professionals that are looking for the best quality.

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