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Are there any negatives to Planar Magnetics such as the HE500?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

A friend of mine just listened to my HE500s and really liked them. She wanted to know what the "downsides" to Planar Magnetics are versus Dynamic drivers. Can anyone articulate that for me?  I know they sound very different, but I'm not sure how to describe the differences.

 

What do you get from a Planar you don't get from a Dynamic and vice versa? Why would someone pick a Dynamic driver over a Planar Magnetic? 


Edited by bareyb - 3/20/13 at 2:46pm
post #2 of 18

Planars are known for their mids.

 

Cheers

post #3 of 18

And probably different types of bass. 

post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfetan44 View Post

Planars are known for their mids.

 

Cheers

Yeah. That's a huge negative. biggrin.gif

 

J/K. Are you saying they are known for their mids to the detriment of other frequencies? I would say if I had to pick a nit with my HE500s it's that they don't create much sound pressure like a normal driver does. It was a little weird at first. It was kind of like the music was just "appearing" in the speakers rather than being pushed out of them. So that took a bit of getting used to. I miss the Bass impact from time to time, but that's why I always have a Basshead 'phone in my stable, for nights like that. wink.gif

post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by bareyb View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfetan44 View Post

Planars are known for their mids.

 

Cheers

Yeah. That's a huge negative. biggrin.gif

 

J/K. Are you saying they are known for their mids to the detriment of other frequencies? I would say if I had to pick a nit with my HE500s it's that they don't create much sound pressure like a normal driver does. It was a little weird at first. It was kind of like the music was just "appearing" in the speakers rather than being pushed out of them. So that took a bit of getting used to. I miss the Bass impact from time to time, but that's why I always have a Basshead 'phone in my stable, for nights like that. wink.gif

It wasn't an answer to your topic question, I was answering this one, "What do you get from a Planar you don't get from a Dynamic and vice versa?"

post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfetan44 View Post

It wasn't an answer to your topic question, I was answering this one, "What do you get from a Planar you don't get from a Dynamic and vice versa?"

Ah. Okay. Thanks. I'm guessing there probably aren't a lot of negatives. You are either a "Planar Person" or not. They definitely have their own sound. I like mine. I was just trying to answer a question for a perspective buyer. She seemed to feel there was "something off" but she couldn't put it into words. She probably just wasn't used to them. 

post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by bareyb View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfetan44 View Post

It wasn't an answer to your topic question, I was answering this one, "What do you get from a Planar you don't get from a Dynamic and vice versa?"

Ah. Okay. Thanks. I'm guessing there probably aren't a lot of negatives. You are either a "Planar Person" or not. They definitely have their own sound. I like mine. I was just trying to answer a question for a perspective buyer. She seemed to feel there was "something off" but she couldn't put it into words. She probably just wasn't used to them. 

I wouldn't say they can reproduce music better than a dynamic, just happens to be planars, for mid range buyers, are dominating the market. Maybe she was used to low quality headphones/IEMs and has now listened to a nicer pair. Just assuming, maybe I'm wrong about her.

post #8 of 18
I don't have the HE500 but the LCD-3 and would say that it lacks a little bit the spaciousness/airiness that you can get with some dynamic headphones. But I don't know if u can say this is a general downside of planars (as I said I only have the Audez'e).
post #9 of 18

They are heavy? That is one of the problems people constantly talk about. Even though, to be honest, I find it does not bug me much. I honestly find my HE-500 about just as comfortable as my HD650's. Maybe I am crazy, though!

post #10 of 18

Price.

 

The technology's been around for decades, yet we still don't have a modern $50 ortho. Or $20 - kinda like the KSC of orthos.

post #11 of 18

Very general:

 

Planars

- often use larger drivers > larger headphones (if that is negative)

- often use heavy magnets and sturdy structures to hold the magnets in place > heavy headphones

 

It's just a different way of producing sound.

 

It's not a new technology although you could say it's been "rediscovered" relatively recently so there are not that many manufacturers to chose from (may or may not be negative). The currently available planar magnetic headphones are generally said to produce very good bass and mids and generally less known for their highs. I would guess that this has more to do with how the manufacturer has chosen to tune the sound rather than what technology is used to produce the sound. It should be possible for a manufacturer to produce any kind of "coloration" or frequency emphasis regardless of technology used - dynamic, electrostatic or planar magnetic.

 

Should your friend pick one or the other? It doesn't matter. Just pick any headphones that sound good to him/her and are comfortable, regardless of the driver type.

post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bhuttan View Post

Very general:

 

Planars

- often use larger drivers > larger headphones (if that is negative)

- often use heavy magnets and sturdy structures to hold the magnets in place > heavy headphones

 

It's just a different way of producing sound.

 

It's not a new technology although you could say it's been "rediscovered" relatively recently so there are not that many manufacturers to chose from (may or may not be negative). The currently available planar magnetic headphones are generally said to produce very good bass and mids and generally less known for their highs. I would guess that this has more to do with how the manufacturer has chosen to tune the sound rather than what technology is used to produce the sound. It should be possible for a manufacturer to produce any kind of "coloration" or frequency emphasis regardless of technology used - dynamic, electrostatic or planar magnetic.

 

Should your friend pick one or the other? It doesn't matter. Just pick any headphones that sound good to him/her and are comfortable, regardless of the driver type.

I'm wondering if she's ever heard an open back headphone before? That may be it. It was just an odd reaction compared to what I'm used to hearing. 

post #13 of 18

Not having heard any planar headphone before; I heard people mention the soundstage is smaller, is this true?

post #14 of 18

1:  Comfort.  Planar Magnetic headphones utilize huge magnetic arrays on either side of their diaphragm.  The benefits are huge, including forceful bass and even articulation for low distortion, but the big downsize is comfort. 

 

2:  Sound Leakage.  Unlike a conventional dynamic open headphone, which is open, but the diaphragm itself only projects sound one way--towards your ear, the sound leakage is minimal.  With a planar magnetic, the diaphragm projects sound equally in both directions, meaning they're projecting the full brunt of their sound both towards your ear as well as out of the backs of the cans.  Sound leakage is very apparent.

 

 

Outside of that, they don't really have much weaknesses.  Being power hungry used to be a problem, but almost all of the recent planar magnetics are relatively efficient.

post #15 of 18

You have less options with planars and the good ones start at $300 and you cannot just use it with any portable device or plug it on your tv. What i didn't like about both my previously owned planars(LCD2 and HE500) was that I couldn't lean back on my chair or lie down while listening due to the size of the headphone.  Also reading books was impossible with the LCD-2 and HE500 cause it tends to slip off when  looking  down or lying on your stomach while reading.  Sound leakage is high, if you leave with someone who is sensitive to noise you are in trouble. I always felt like my planars where fragile due to its weight and clunkyness.  Positives is that it sounds amazing!!!! If you only use it for critical listening and not want to multitask then it is very usable.  

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