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Why dynamic drivers have better bass than BA drivers?

post #1 of 73
Thread Starter 

Everyone agrees in this. I don't understand. Something about air? Why is air so important?  Is that necessary?

post #2 of 73

I think dynamic drivers are larger, they simply can move more air, BA drivers are small in comparison and do not work the same way, they simply cannot move the same amount of air, of coarse i could be wrong and many will give you a even better explanation.

post #3 of 73

If the frequency response is the same, they move the same amount of air. It's more of how they do it. Transient response, damping factor and/or other factors may be causing the differences mentioned. When you measure bass response, you are measuring how much air can be moved.

 

Dynamics tend to be able to more easily make bass due to their size but it's not the given many make it out to be.


Edited by goodvibes - 7/8/12 at 1:58pm
post #4 of 73

Well i could be mistaken, but i believe dynamic drivers can produce sub-bass in quantities that BA drivers cannot.

post #5 of 73

In the highest end BA IEMs can match or even exceed dynamic drivers in bass handling.

But then, we're going into special bottom end ones...

 

The main problem is that a compact BA cannot move lots of air - there are designs meant for low frequency reproduction (e.g. Knowles has some specialist ones), but they're pretty much expensive.

 

A good dynamic driver is typically as versatile as 2 or 3 BA. Armatures tend to shine in larger numbers, but then there are tricky issues with amplification and crossovers.


Edited by AstralStorm - 7/8/12 at 4:18pm
post #6 of 73

This is not true. Dynamic drivers don't necessarily have better bass than balanced armature drivers - just different. Both have their strengths and weaknesses - whereas the low end on good quality dynamics tends to have a more realistic weight and punch to it, good balanced armatures tend to reproduce bass frequencies with more authority and definition. This is not always the case of course and sometimes dynamics can also produce similar quality bass to balanced armatures with comparable definition and control, as is the case with such dynamic IEMs as RE0, RE262 and RE272. These are exceptions however, and most dynamics are clearly inferior to BAs like Phonak Audeo PFE or Etymotic ER4 in bass precision. Multi driver balanced armatures tend to have bigger impact in the lows than single driver ones, but usually at the cost of some precision compare to the very best single driver BAs like ER4, PFE or HF5. Yet, most multi driver BAs I tried still can't quite muster the impact that many dynamic IEMs can pull off. I don't believe that any BA can ever have the rich bass of JVC FX700 or Atrio M5. Likewise, I have yet to hear a dynamic that has the bass precision of Etymotic ER4. The Hifiman dynamics come close, but are still not there IMO.

 

To sum it up, I believe that generally IEMs with the best impact and power in the low end are those with dynamic drivers, while IEMs with the most precise, best defined lows are those based on balanced armature drivers (specifically single BAs IMO like ER4 and PFE). However, I believe that both types of drivers are capable of outputting bass that is both sufficiently full and punchy, yet also precise. It also depends greatly on one's source, music, as well as personal preferences and individual hearing abilities. For example, to my ears and for my tastes, the Etymotic ER4 packs sufficient punch, but many people like to hear bigger bass in their music, which is fine too. For them a dynamic driver based FXT90 will be a much more satisfying IEM as it has a much more powerful low end than ER4, while also maintaining very decent accuracy. And I would have to agree that FXT90 is in a way more realistic sounding than the thinner ER4. However, precision is still better with the latter, and for me that makes up for the weaker impact. So to each their own.

post #7 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by some1 View Post

I think dynamic drivers are larger, they simply can move more air, BA drivers are small in comparison and do not work the same way, they simply cannot move the same amount of air, of coarse i could be wrong and many will give you a even better explanation.

 

This is misconception number one...  They both can move the same amount of air.  The amount of air moved is referenced in the pressure the driver can produce for a given frequency.  A BA driver is well capable of producing x dB at 20 Hz just like a dynamic driver can produce x dB and 20 Hz...  I'll say the same about 30, 40, 50...  100...  And even lower than 20 if it can go that low.  BA drivers can produce the same dB as a dynamic can.  Why am I talking about dB?  Simple, dB is a logarithmic measure of Pascals.  Pascals are a unit for air pressure.  dB is a measure of air pressure.  A dB is a dB, whether it comes from a floor speaker or a BA driver. 

 

@OP: with that said, what you said is actually false.  Dynamics aren't better than BAs at bass.  BAs aren't better than dynamics at bass.  So why do some dynamics sound better than some BAs?  The same reason headphones sound different.  Tuning.  They are simply tuned to better show low-end frequencies.  Many BAs are tuned to the low end as well.  Look at the Phonak PFE232 for example or even the Phonak PFE022.  Weston 3s...  Even things like the MEE A151 have a nice warm signature.  It all depends on the tuning. 

post #8 of 73

The main reason is that most single armatures are geared towards hearing aids and legible speech reproduction, not high fidelity audio and certain manufacturers quietly ignore this fact.

 

There's a tricky part where it's relatively hard to produce a well dampened (mechanically) low end balanced armature, but that's not insurmountable. A typical BA will have quite a few resonant peaks in comparison with a dynamic driver. That's why multiple drivers are used - to linearize the response. However, case resonances are typically not an important factor, unlike the dynamic drivers.

 

It's also quite hard to make a dynamic driver that can reproduce low and high frequencies well, thus the rise of dual dynamic driver monitors.

 

More is indeed better in a good implementation.

post #9 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by AstralStorm View Post

The main reason is that most single armatures are geared towards hearing aids and legible speech reproduction, not high fidelity audio and certain manufacturers quietly ignore this fact.

 

There's a tricky part where it's relatively hard to produce a well dampened (mechanically) low end balanced armature, but that's not insurmountable. A typical BA will have quite a few resonant peaks in comparison with a dynamic driver. That's why multiple drivers are used - to linearize the response. However, case resonances are typically not an important factor, unlike the dynamic drivers.

 

It's also quite hard to make a dynamic driver that can reproduce low and high frequencies well, thus the rise of dual dynamic driver monitors.

 

More is indeed better in a good implementation.

 

Personally, I've yet to hear a multi driver BA that I would prefer to a good single driver BAs like ER4, HF5, PFE and great dynamics like Hifiman RE0 and newer models or JVC FXT90 and FX700. I also prefer the moving armature driver Ortofon and Grado IEMs to any multi driver BAs I owned so far. My single biggest issue with multi BAs is a noticeable lack of coherency to the sound. But even the multi BAs without crossovers like Q-jays were not technically as good as the best single BAs like ER4 and PFE or the great dynamics like RE0 or RE262. Specifically, my other issues with multi BAs is that they tend to compress the dynamic range for some reason, tend to make bass more loose and less accurate compared to what a single BA can do, and often have a strange frequency balance with excessive peaks and/or dips. But to each their own of course. I personally gave up on the multi BAs for good now I think.

post #10 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pianist View Post

I also prefer the moving armature driver Ortofon and Grado IEMs to any multi driver BAs I owned so far. My single biggest issue with multi BAs is a noticeable lack of coherency to the sound. But even the multi BAs without crossovers like Q-jays were not technically as good as the best single BAs like ER4 and PFE or the great dynamics like RE0 or RE262. Specifically, my other issues with multi BAs is that they tend to compress the dynamic range for some reason, tend to make bass more loose and less accurate compared to what a single BA can do, and often have a strange frequency balance with excessive peaks and/or dips. But to each their own of course. I personally gave up on the multi BAs for good now I think.

More specifics please about the multi-BA you've tried and make sure to specify the output impedance or the model of the amplifier used.
I'll most likely have a field day *again* explaining why you cannot drive multi-BA IEMs out of high impendance output.

 

Many of the models you've mentioned have lacking low bass and subbass. It might be an acceptable trade for you, but for me it's a thing to equalize out if possible, and it's typically not possible with balanced armatures - they tend to clip with relatively minor amount of boost.

 

Compare ER-4P with e.g. TWFK-based Fischer Audio DBA-02 mkII, you'll note the difference while the general sound signature remains similar.

 

Or perhaps you like the non-neglible "forward" 3-4kHz coloration of all of the above. (PFE the least.) That's taste for you - I prefer to have high fidelity instead of colored glasses.

post #11 of 73

Case resonances? 1/2 wave of 10khz is 0.7". I've preferred the Etymotic HF2 and Phonak 112 to the GR07, etc overall. Granted, the bass isn't as big but better fine detail and the top is actually less peaky. I can accept an opposite view depending on preference but there's nothing wrong with single driver BAs. Way back when, I couldn't beat the UE3 for the price. Maybe I need hearing aids.;-) Final Audio seems to do OK with a single BA as well. ET has done a lot of research as to what sounds linear and I'm good with their take, sub bass not withstanding. BAs have been designed with audio in mind for a long time. Venting (which is a dynamics most common way to increase bass) and physically coupled dual drivers are not for 'hearing aids'. 

 

Using high output impedance amps for iems is never a good proposition if you plan on rotating earphones. Why would one do that with so many good options out there with a reasonable output impedance? It's as if we we're limited to only use single ended tube amps on Lowther speakers in home audio. Not what I'm looking to do. Like everything in this world that's system related, you do need to get it right for the best end result but it's not so hard to do, especially for this audience. On my rockboxed clip+ and my GR10s, if I add anything at 20hz, I actually don't like the very subtle change so they obviously do bass well enough. That said, MAs aren't exactly BAs but a phonak also does bass just fine. http://en.goldenears.net/2184 Black filter with silicone would have had the best graph technically but wasn't measured. And before someone points to BA peaks, here's past and current favorite extra bass dynamics. http://en.goldenears.net/index.php?mid=GR_Earphones&category=112&page=2&document_srl=6426 http://en.goldenears.net/index.php?mid=GR_Earphones&category=112&page=1&document_srl=8861

 

Q-Jays are not crossoverless and either are B2s etc. TWFK has a cap for high pass built in unless removed. It also has an available vent. A crossover is always more difficult to drive but it shouldn't be an issue for a modern amp/dap designed as more than an afterthought. Unfortunately, that's not always the case in this imperfect world but it shouldn't be a means to condemn some excellent listening devices.


Edited by goodvibes - 7/10/12 at 8:02am
post #12 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by AstralStorm View Post

 

 

Many of the models you've mentioned have lacking low bass and subbass.

This is BS. It's easy to plug one of those IEMs in and hear for oneself that it's BS here.

 

Not everybody likes artificially boosted bass.I personally (as a classical listener) do not find that it compensates for the lack of "felt" bass as it's supposedly intended to; it just muddies up the sound picture and nothing is gained. Give me as good an approximation as possible of flat response at the eardrum.

post #13 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by AstralStorm View Post
Many of the models you've mentioned have lacking low bass and subbass. It might be an acceptable trade for you, but for me it's a thing to equalize out if possible, and it's typically not possible with balanced armatures - they tend to clip with relatively minor amount of boost.

 

Compare ER-4P with e.g. TWFK-based Fischer Audio DBA-02 mkII, you'll note the difference while the general sound signature remains similar.

 

Or perhaps you like the non-neglible "forward" 3-4kHz coloration of all of the above. (PFE the least.) That's taste for you - I prefer to have high fidelity instead of colored glasses.

 

FWIW I was able to successfully bass boost equalize my PFEs by subtracting from the tremble and mids (no clipping issues.) It is preferable to subtract than add, in part because of clipping.
 


Edited by ultrabike - 7/10/12 at 5:45pm
post #14 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by ultrabike View Post

 

FWIW I was able to successfully bass boost equalize my PFEs by subtracting from the tremble and mids (no clipping issues.) It is preferable to subtract than add, in part because of clipping.
 

 

The problem is not in digital part, but with the end result of mV which will still be a boost. The armatures can handle only very low voltages, so you get either reduced dynamic range (compressed) bass or clipping bass if you add a sizable boost. (e.g. 3x gain @ 20 Hz = 18 dB to counter ER rolloff)

 

I'd agree if you said that PFE 122 with Comply T130 foam and gray filter (I've had a chance to audition it once a relatively long time ago ) have nearly correct balance (if a slight bit warm) - the foam takes some bit of highest end. TWFK have similar balance but better decay.

So yes, a very expensive single armature can compete with multiple armatures. etysmile.gif Of course, it's not ER-4S with its flat bass and even less decay.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by supersleuth View Post

This is BS. It's easy to plug one of those IEMs in and hear for oneself that it's BS here.

 

Not everybody likes artificially boosted bass.I personally (as a classical listener) do not find that it compensates for the lack of "felt" bass as it's supposedly intended to; it just muddies up the sound picture and nothing is gained. Give me as good an approximation as possible of flat response at the eardrum.

 

What do you mean with the site? It's a tool for measuring absolute threshold of hearing (with equalized headphones). It can be used to note the frequency response of the headphone in question too.

 

Some sample result of mine follows.

I didn't bother fully silencing the environment. There's some audible high frequency noise outside that the SE-5 don't block - 16k result is actually quite a lot better if my audiometry is to be believed. I don't have an audiologist's chamber in my room and IEM isolation only goes so far.)

The reference for the equalization was -6 dB, 500 Hz, relatively quiet level est. 30 phon.

 

And yes, my audiologist did mention my ears are uncommonly sensitive to subbass (~15 dB more sensitive), but within normal.

ATH.png

 

 

I'm not talking about artificial boost. The difference of those -18 dB at 20 Hz (and more so, -12 dB at 40 Hz and -6 dB at 80 Hz) is quite noticeable with certain kinds of music.

Many dynamic driver IEMs do it wrong though by adding a mid and high bass boost (> 100 Hz). Now that is indeed mud and I agree. Even GR07 has some unnecessary emphasis.


The difference is actually mostly in decay - most BA IEMs cannot hold bass steady. On a graph, this would be visible in low frequency square wave response.

Compare single BA:

http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/EtymoticER4PT.pdf (lean)

(Comparable: http://en.goldenears.net/1512 - contains the curve of ER-4P )

http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/AudeoPFE121GrayFilter.pdf (less lean)

(Comparable: http://en.goldenears.net/2184 - PFE 112)

vs "flat" expensive dynamic driver

http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/HiFiMANRE272.pdf

vs multi-BA (1 bass + 1 wideband?)

http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/GradoGR8.pdf

(or Westone 4, 2+2, warmer: http://en.goldenears.net/12511)

vs lower end dynamic driver:

http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/BrainwavzM2.pdf

 

Note similarities in frequency response... and the fact that high end single armatures provide bass impact perhaps comparable with a $35 dynamic driver.


Edited by AstralStorm - 7/10/12 at 9:22pm
post #15 of 73

It's the purpose of the site but you can use it at highish yet still safe volumes to get what the other poster was getting at. Obviously we can all do it for ourselves but at higher volumes and with the phones I like, it tends to look pretty flat with just a just few DB variance up to 12k where I can still trust these old ears. ;-) . There was a thread here about that site earlier and I don't think any curves looked as radical as yours once at good volume though a lot did before hand. That looks a lot like the fletcher-munson low volume model. 3x voltage gain is actually closer to 10 db (twice the perceived volume) so your point is even stronger if you needed that much more V. For me, I've never approached anything remotely resembling that so I don't. This part isn't for you but anyone trying this should check their sound setting so that you're not compensating for the EQ of your laptop speakers etc.

 

GR8 is a single MA. Here's another single BA with a vent like the dynamics. http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/FinalAudioHeavenS.pdf The M2 is noted for full bass yet it's decay per your graphs is worse than the BAs. It flat lines sooner. Cheaper, yes but the sonics don't match the hypothesis and the Final disproves it. Here's another in the same price range as the 272. http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/ShureSE315.pdf so it doesn't need to be hi end either. Here's cheaper. http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/UltimateEarsUE600.pdf Just for fun, here's that same PFE with the green (more resistive) filter http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/AudeoPFE121GreenFilter.pdf . If you use inductive reasoning, you can find anything you want. You may want to take a look at the 300hz squares while your at it. Do you think that just maybe the tilt of the square may have more to do with the bass response than the decay, whatever that means in this context?


Edited by goodvibes - 7/10/12 at 10:14pm
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