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Dynamic sound vs Planar Magnetic sound

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by lord voldemort, Dec 20, 2012.
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  1. ultrabike
    That is probably another way to look at it.
    An impulse response is the output of a system (say a headphone or an amplifier) when excited by an impulse signal.  An ideal impulse is an infinitely sudden signal, which would make a snare drum hit seem like it took forever.
    In practice no such signal exist. Alternative methods are used to get equivalent results.
  2. JohnSantana
    Yes, I'd love to know what makes planar magnetic driver better than the other ?
    what is best used for ?
  3. ultrabike
    Some planar magnetic headphones are better at reproducing bass relative to other technologies (dynamic and electrostatic headphones.)
    Some also exhibit low non-linear distortion numbers relative to dynamic headphones (electrostatic headphones however may have an edge here.)
    Planar magnetic headphones usually behave as resisitve loads to the amplifier which may have some benefits. However, many planar magnetic headphones tend to have low sensitivity values and may require quite a bit of current to drive, relative to more mainstream dynamic headphones.
    Planar magnetic cans tend to be a bit on the heavy side (weight) compared to other technologies.
    LFF and JohnSantana like this.
  4. JohnSantana
    Cool, many thanks for the explanation, now I know that by using Planar Magnetic head phone, it would means that I will also need to buy decent DAC and AMP as well with copper cable to get the maximum benefits of my iphone and PC listening experience.
    (I do not have any decent source apart from those mobile device and MP3 320 kbps or FLAC at best).
  5. leadbythemelody
    Why are planar magnetics' harder to drive? I just don't get it...
  6. xnor
    You mean harder to drive as in lower sensitivity?
    Well there are a couple of points I can think of..
    The diaphragms sits between the magnets, so if you want a higher excursion limit you have to increase the distance between the magnets reducing the magnetic flux density. In a dynamic headphone the air gap can be very tight, just wide enough so that the coil doesn't touch anything since it's moving up and down in the gap, not back and forth.
    Also, the voice coils in dynamic headphone drivers use magnetic cores which increase the magnetic flux density a lot.
    And then there's the problem of the number of magnets you need with planar magnetic drivers. You cannot use a couple of the same heavy, big neodymium magnets found in dynamic drivers, but smaller and lighter (and weaker) ones since you need to cover an area on both sides of the diaphragm and create a uniform magnetic field.
    The diaphragms in dynamic drivers are rigid, but in planar magnetic drivers they are thin foils. This foil needs to be stretched which naturally resists back and forth movement.
    Greenleaf7 likes this.
  7. leadbythemelody
    Okay, I think I get it thanks!
  8. White Lotus
    Sorry to bring this old chestnut up again.
    Are planar magnetic drivers fairly FOTM at the moment?
    Or is it genuinely that much "better"?
    If the latter is true, why are most "high end" headphones dynamic, instead of planar?
    (Yes, yes, obvious exceptions are the Audeze and a few others)
  9. TMRaven
    I don't know about 'most being dynamic,' at least not as far as head-fi talk goes.
  10. Muinarc
    I wouldn't say better, just different.
  11. White Lotus
    Sorry if I was misleading.
    The sentiment (and the question I raised) remains the same.
    Allow me to rephrase: 
    "High end" headphones - why aren't they ALL planar magnetic? 
    For example - the Sennheiser HD800 is highly regarded, yet it is dynamic. Do dynamic drivers in this size have advantages over planar magnetic?
  12. xnor
    Yeah, just take a look at the shape of the HD800 driver or the weight of the entire headphone.
  13. MrMateoHead

    Without knowing the actual area and excursion of the HD-800 ring radiator drivers versus popular planars, I can't make a guess as to which is superior in terms of surface area - which I think is a critical determinant of any speakers performance. As with automotive engines, I tend to believe that 'there is no replacement for displacement'. If you can move more air, you can make more sound, simple as that. You can either accomplish that with a large stroke (excursion), or a larger bore (cone diameter). Going to one large concert helps illustrate what I mean: you usually see more, bigger, not less / higher quality.
    I would tend to believe that most driver decisions are a function of efficiency, performance, and cost. I don't see planar's ruling the audio landscape because I don't think they have as long a development history as dynamics, and may tend to be inferior in terms of efficiency and cost. The HiFimans I currently enjoy are 'inexpensive' supposedly because of simplified design and low cost production (which is in part do to production occurring in China). But they are still bulky, and the overall sound is not 'perfect' (a tad too hot). Furthermore, amplification is needed despite their relatively efficient design. While I think part of their 'effortless sound' is a function of driver area vs. my other dynamics, many people still prefer other phones which I would think are technically inferior.
    So, to answer your question, I will defer to economics. Most 'high end' headphones are NOT planars because headphone manufacturers will tend to a) be technologically committed to dynamic technologies (i.e. they have 'sunk costs', or past investments in the technology which make them less likely to switch to a whole new approach to drivers / headphone design) b) Perceive planar as less efficient / higher cost technology c) are unwilling to do the R&D necessary to develop alternative driver technologies. Planars are having a renaissance because newer companies have sprung up to develop them and target a 'niche' market (or because advances have made planars more economically attractive). Although, my own logic wouldn't explain why HifiMan is willing to develop dynamic and planar headphones. But do notice that their lower-cost phones are all using dynamic drivers. Perhaps their sticking with planars at the high end is partly an admission that they could not do a high end dynamic on the caliber of Sennhesier that could compete on terms of performance and cost. But they can produce extremely awesome planars at prices that compete with the best dynamics.
    The top reason I might pass on planars in my living room is that it seems that placement is more difficult because of the flat front and back waves they generate. Oddly, they may also still benefit from a regular dynamic subwoofer since they do not reach into extremely low bass.
    I would pass on electrostatic speakers because they need a constant charge to work - meaning they might use more energy over time than comparable speakers (and I care about the
    environment so efficiency matters to me).
    Here is also a link to some marketing / information about planars:
    I would think the flat impedance curves, tendency for greater 'speed', and large surface area are important factors in making planars a good starting point for high quality sound.
    dhruvmeena96 likes this.
  14. husthn

    What did you mean by a wall of sound?
  15. MrMateoHead
    ^^^^^ I wonder what "wall of sound" references as well. One thing that seems noted online is that a lot of planars have resonance or "ringing" in the 2 Khz area. That is in the critical midrange, so it may be a negative overall, or need to be 'tuned' out somehow as through damping.
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