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Number of drivers in IEM: Is more better?

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 

I notice that some phones have upward to 8 drivers if I'm not mistaken?  Theoritically, how is it benificial, and realistically, have people noticed the benefits to more drivers?  I really want to hear this out from people that have experience with multiple driver phones.  Also, I need to know if there are brands of drivers that are better than others that custom headphones use?  I'm curious because I'm trying to decide on 2,3, or 4 drivers for my customs.

post #2 of 44

This is one of my pet peeves in IEM design and (especially) marketing.

 

Ask any design engineer: More drivers does NOT imply better audio. In fact, the more drivers and crossovers there are in a system, the more difficult it is to avoid audio artifacts like phase cancellation and time smearing. Another seldom-considered fact is reliability. Adding complexity only increases the odds of failure -- because if just one of those 12 or 16 (or whatever) drivers fails, be it in operation or mounting, the entire design is compromised.

 

“Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler.” – Albert Einstein

post #3 of 44

More drivers does not automatically mean it will sound better. There are plenty of single driver IEMs such as the Klipsch Image X10 and the Etymotic ER4S which sound superior to dual driver offerings like the Apple Dual Driver IEM and UE700.

 

More drivers has the potential to sound better though, I would imagine, since you're able to tune one driver or multiple drivers to handle a specific frequency range (for instance, treble or bass) and tune the rest to handle another frequency range.

post #4 of 44

My theory: there's no room for inductors and no power (or room) for active components. So, you're stuck with RC filters for the crossovers. Additionally, the driver impedance it pretty small (not compared to drivers-- just small in general). Therefore, there are tight restrictions on the magnitude of resistors that can be used to prevent excessive loading. As a result, you're stuck with really crappy, low order filters. The more drivers involved, the smaller of a section of the spectrum each filter will need to cover. Since you can't increase the order of the filters much, they'll just interfere more.

End result-- a pretty crappy overall system. I would imagine going from one to two driver is beneficial. Two to three, maybe. Beyond that, you're probably just shooting yourself in the foot.

post #5 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by High_Q View Post

I notice that some phones have upward to 8 drivers if I'm not mistaken?  Theoritically, how is it benificial, and realistically, have people noticed the benefits to more drivers?  I really want to hear this out from people that have experience with multiple driver phones.  Also, I need to know if there are brands of drivers that are better than others that custom headphones use?  I'm curious because I'm trying to decide on 2,3, or 4 drivers for my customs.


IMPORTANT KEY POINT: We're only talking balanced armature transducers here. They may, or may not need more than one. Watch out for marketing hype here, as 3 driver customs are very successfully competing with 6 and more driver designs.

 

With dynamic drivers (moving coil transducers) or the "moving armature" (uni-pole armature transducers), you only need one.
 

post #6 of 44

This:
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by freealloc View Post

I would imagine going from one to two driver is beneficial. Two to three, maybe. Beyond that, you're probably just shooting yourself in the foot.

 

Well said.
 

post #7 of 44
Thread Starter 

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post #8 of 44


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kunlun View Post




IMPORTANT KEY POINT: We're only talking balanced armature transducers here. They may, or may not need more than one. Watch out for marketing hype here, as 3 driver customs are very successfully competing with 6 and more driver designs.

 

With dynamic drivers (moving coil transducers) or the "moving armature" (uni-pole armature transducers), you only need one.
 


Should take a look at the Dual Dynamic from Radius, pretty good but not my taste

 

post #9 of 44

I disagree with the general sentiment in this thread; I think it's safe to say that more drivers ARE better.  There's too much evidence to suggest otherwise. 

post #10 of 44
Thread Starter 

Feel free to backup your statement with evidence.L3000.gif  I'm all ears.

Quote:
Originally Posted by roy_jones View Post

I disagree with the general sentiment in this thread; I think it's safe to say that more drivers ARE better.  There's too much evidence to suggest otherwise. 



 

post #11 of 44
I think this debate is pretty pointless.. I don't think it's fair to judge just yet. I would be very interested in what happens after this driver cramming phase dies down. Presently the current designs probably put anything above 4 drivers on a more or less equal sonic plane. But what if new innovations in crossovers or circuitry find a unique way to integrate say 8 drivers? I'm pretty sure that since 3 or 4 drivers match up pretty well to 6 or 8 drivers, it's probable to say the 8 drivers could probably have some potential left in them.

But then again we could maximise every single driver and give it the most tricked out circuitry, but our ears won't hear much difference.

Everything is so theoretical. So pointless. It's like discussing whether Roger rabbit or bugs bunny would win in a fist fight.
post #12 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by High_Q View Post

Feel free to backup your statement with evidence.L3000.gif  I'm all ears.



 


I actually find it funny that people are seemingly trying to be contrarian by suggesting that there isn't a relationship between the number of drivers used and performance.  The evidence you ask for is so obvious as to make it absurd to even start trying to outline it.  If you're arguing against my point, you're in the position of having to justify your reasoning, not me. 

 

I am very curious to hear why we've seen a steady movement to more drivers if there isn't an associated improvement.  

 

 

 

post #13 of 44
Thread Starter 

I asked for evidence and what do I get? More BS. You are wasting the thread space. Why even post if you can't back up your statement and say bla bla bla...BS bla bla bla....?rolleyes.gif  And what do you know, you've wasted more space below!
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by roy_jones View Post




I actually find it funny that people are seemingly trying to be contrarian by suggesting that there isn't a relationship between the number of drivers used and performance.  The evidence you ask for is so obvious as to make it absurd to even start trying to outline it.  If you're arguing against my point, you're in the position of having to justify your reasoning, not me. 

 

I am very curious to hear why we've seen a steady movement to more drivers if there isn't an associated improvement.  

 

 

 



 


Edited by High_Q - 4/10/11 at 2:08pm
post #14 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by High_Q View Post

I asked for evidence and what do I get? More BS. You are wasting the thread space. Why even post if you can't back up your statement and say bla bla bla...BS bla bla bla....?rolleyes.gif
 



 

wink.gif  Didn't think so. 
 

 

post #15 of 44

I think more drivers use to be better as in the early days there was only one manufacture of armatures(knowles) to tune the sound to manufacture liking, but with advancements in armature driver technology such as the moving coil armatures in ortofones and grado gr10 the game is changing.

I also believe that dynamic drivers have been steadily improving which is reaching closer to armature detail levels. since dynamic driver are cheaper to make they may win out in the future.


Edited by Nagasaki_Kid - 4/10/11 at 5:16pm
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