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Are Planar Headphones Better? (Everything You Should Know)


If you have a pair of full-size headphones, chances are they have standard dynamic drivers, as this is a traditional and widely used technology that has been used for many years.

One of the reasons planar headphones are so popular is that they are simple and cheap to make. A voice coil with a cone-shaped diaphragm and a magnet can be found inside their cups.

We can’t say they’re bad, but their main issue is inconsistency in sound production across different frequencies, which causes the sound they deliver to be inaccurate.

 

Furthermore, because they are cheaply made, the parts inside the cups are glued together, and the glue wears off over time, causing the headphones to fall apart. Along with the hardware, the sound deteriorates. So, are planar headphones better?

Are Planar Headphones Better?
Are Planar Headphones Better?

WHAT IS A PLANAR MAGNETIC HEADPHONE?

A planar magnetic headphone or driver moves a diaphragm with very thin and flat electrical conductors by creating a magnetic field around a conductor with electrical current flowing through it. A planar magnetic driver is the result of the combination of two headphone driver technologies: dynamic and electrostatic.

 

The diaphragm of a planar magnetic driver, like that of an electrostatic driver, is a thin sheet of flexible transparent film, and unlike dynamic drivers, planar magnetic drivers use the magnetic field around a conductor with current flowing through it to drive the diaphragm.

There are other different terms you might come across in various forums or websites to describe planar magnetic headphones. Some people might refer to them as isodynamic, Magneplanar, magnetostatic or Orthodynamic headphones.

PLANAR MAGNETIC HEADPHONE WORKING PRINCIPLE

Planar magnetic technology was originally developed for NASA and is a relatively new technology used in the production of headphones. Planar magnetic drivers are more of a driver crossbreed, combining the best features of electrostatic and dynamic drivers.

Planar magnetic drivers have a magnetic field that surrounds a conductor on one side. The diaphragm moves as an electrical current passes through the magnetic field. The same is true for dynamic drivers.

Planar magnetic drivers, on the other hand, have an extremely thin diaphragm that is 1/10 the width of our hair. The width of the diaphragm is what makes planar magnetic drivers similar to electrostatic drivers, but what distinguishes them is that the planar magnetic diaphragm contains extremely thin electrical wires (conductors).

In fact, planar magnetic headphones are made up primarily of two large and powerful magnets and a thin diaphragm between them. The conductors are buried deep within the isodynamic magnetic field created by these two massive magnets.

When an electric current flows through wires, it generates its own magnetic field, which interacts with the isodynamic field. This interaction causes the wires to move, which also causes the diaphragm to move because the wires are a part of the diaphragm.

HOW PLANAR MAGNETIC HEADPHONES WORK?

The diaphragm of a planar magnetic headphone is suspended between two magnets with equal magnetic force. When current is applied, it passes through the diaphragm’s conductors and creates a magnetic field.

The magnetic field causes the conductors in the diaphragm to move, which causes the diaphragm to move and thus produce sound.

The importance of equal force magnets is to ensure that the magnetic force applied to the diaphragm remains constant regardless of the position of the conductor as it moves through the magnetic field.

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How Does Planar Magnetic Headphones Work?
How Does Planar Magnetic Headphones Work?

PLANAR MAGNETIC VS ELECTROSTATIC VS DYNAMIC HEADPHONES – WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

Dynamic and electrostatic drivers are more commonly or traditionally used methods whereas planar magnetic drivers have come into the limelight more recently. It is important to know the difference between these headphones before deciding which one to buy for yourselves.

Let us study about each in some detail.

DYNAMIC HEADPHONES

Dynamic driver headphones are among the most widely produced and used types of headphones. The majority of headphones on the market today are dynamic. Dynamic driver headphones are also known as’moving coil headphones.’ So, how do they function?

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Working Method

Dynamic drivers are similar to planar magnetic drivers in that they both use a magnet to generate sound. An electrical signal is routed through a coil, which generates an electromagnetic field.

This field produces vibrations when it interacts with a single magnet. The coil moves back and forth, which causes the diaphragm to move, resulting in the sound from your headphones.

Pros and Cons

Dynamic driver headphones are generally less expensive because they are also less expensive to manufacture. The concept is also somewhat simpler because the magnet only needs to move the coil, which then moves the portion of the diaphragm attached to the coil.

Dynamic driver headphones are well-known for their bass-heavy sound signatures. One significant disadvantage of dynamic driver headphones is that they are easily prone to distortion issues.

This is due to the diaphragm being pulled and pushed by a single coil, which at higher volumes can easily distort the diaphragm’s shape.

ELECTROSTATIC HEADPHONES

Electrostatic headphones are the more classic type of headphones. Some of the earliest high end headphones were electrostatic ones. In recent times they have seen a dip in demand but are still used by many users.

Method of Working

Electrostatic earphones, unlike dynamic and planar magnetic earphones, do not use magnets or a middle-wire/coil to produce sound. On either side of an electrically charged driver diaphragm is a negatively and positively charged perforated metal plate.

This diaphragm is typically made of a material called Mylar and is only a few microns thick. The entire diaphragm in electrostatic headphones moves towards one of these metal plates, causing vibrations that produce sound.

Pros and Cons

When it comes to sound quality and experience, electrostatic headphones are unrivaled. However, they are prohibitively expensive to purchase, making them impractical for use.

This is due to the fact that for very little difference in audio quality, you can get a much cheaper pair of dynamic driver headphones. Because electrostatic headphones are so expensive, only a few companies manufacture them. These are very heavy headphones that are also difficult to transport.

PLANAR MAGNETIC HEADPHONES

Planar magnetic drivers are not as uncommon as electrostatic ones and not as common as dynamic ones. True audiophiles love themselves a planar magnetic headphone. They are generally more expensive headphones but not as expensive electrostatic ones.

Method of Working

Planar Magnetic drivers operate in a manner similar to dynamic drivers. They also generate sound by triggering an electromagnetic reaction between the driver diaphragm and magnets.

The main distinction is that instead of a coil running down the middle, planar drivers have a flat film that covers the entire diaphragm.

Second, as the electrically charged area expands, stronger magnets or more magnets are required to pull the diaphragm. As a result, planar magnetic drivers have larger and/or more magnets on either side of the diaphragm than dynamic drivers.

Pros and Cons

Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of planar headphones. Planar headphones have some of the best transient response, allowing them to produce some of the most punchy bass.

You could say that planar is the way to go if you want to find a happy medium between electrostatic and dynamic. Planar headphones also have the advantage in terms of low distortion.

This is because the two magnets move the entire diaphragm surface area rather than just a portion of it. As a result, there is no shape distortion of the flat diaphragm, resulting in less distortion.

Alternative Video: Planar vs Dynamic Headphones: Which Is Better?

Planar vs Dynamic Headphones: Which Is Better?

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF PLANAR MAGNETIC HEADPHONES?

With the many benefits that come with this driver, I am not surprised it has been gaining ground in the last few years. I am sure in the years to come planar headphones will be more popular. So, let’s see what makes this driver good.

1. Low Distortion

Because of the electrical conductors in the diaphragm, the diaphragm itself is forced to move across its entire surface. This means that a planar magnetic headphone will not suffer from distortion at higher volumes and frequencies, as dynamic drivers do.

The diaphragm in dynamic drivers is typically driven from the center, where the voice coil is attached. When the cone surface is driven at a higher volume or frequency, it usually begins to wobble in unfavorable ways.

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2. Tight Bass Response

In the headphone world, orthodynamic headphones are seen as the best when it comes to the reproduction of the low-end frequencies. At the same caliber, planars will outdo most of their competitors in the dynamic and electrostatic world.

Why Is This The Case?

First, because the diaphragm of planar magnetic drivers is so thin, it can respond to changes in the audio signal much faster. The thinner diaphragm allows for the reproduction of a tighter, punchier, but not overpowering bass.

However, while electrostatic drivers, like planar headphones, have a thin diaphragm, there is something else that contributes to the great bass in planar headphones.

The diaphragm is moved by an electromagnetic force. The diaphragm in electrostatic drivers moves due to static force. Because static force is weak in comparison to electromagnetic force, electrostatic headphones have difficulty delivering the power required to hit the big bass notes.

The electromagnetic force combined with a thin and large diaphragm in planar magnetic headphones allows the diaphragm to move with great authority, resulting in the best bass output from a headphone.

3. Amplifier Friendly

Planar magnetic headphones, as opposed to dynamic drivers, use an S-shaped or Serpentine pattern for their voice coil. In contrast to the coiled windings of a dynamic driver, they have a lower impedance due to this pattern.

Though planar headphones require a small amount of voltage to operate, they are simple to drive with most amplifiers.

Most planar headphones have an impedance rating of less than 100 ohms. Top models with low impedance values include the Abyss Diana at 40 ohms, Mr Speakers ON Flow at 13 ohms, and the Advance Alpha at 34 ohms.

4. Better Soundstage

Because dynamic headphone drivers are mostly spherical and small, they produce a spherical wavefront. Planar magnetic drivers, on the other hand, are typically larger and produce a planar wavefront due to the movement of the entire diaphragm.

The soundstage of a headphone is heavily influenced by the driver’s design and how the sound reaches our ears. When a spherical wavefront hits the outer ear, it reflects differently than a planar wavefront.

A planar sound wavefront is typically superior, producing a better sense of imaging and a deeper soundstage effect.

A planar sound wave, on the other hand, may be associated with headphones such as the AKG K1000, Sennheiser HD 800, and Stax electrostatics. This is because the models are large enough.

The Oppo PM 3 orthodynamic headphone has a spherical driver and thus a spherical sound wavefront. Because of their large size, planar sound wavefronts are synonymous with planar magnetic and electrostatic headphones.

WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES OF PLANAR MAGNETIC HEADPHONES?

Like all the other products we use, planar magnetic headphones aren’t perfect and they have their disadvantages that we have to warn you about so you can get the true impression about them and decide whether you still want to buy them or not.

Disadvantages Of Planar Headphones
Disadvantages Of Planar Headphones

1. They Are Heavier And Larger

We’ve already mentioned that planar magnetic drivers are very large and very heavy. Because you can’t fit something so large into a small earcup, you have to expand the cup as well as the rest of the headphones.

Finally, you get very large and heavy headphones that can appear quite bulky on anyone’s head. No matter how good they sound, the size and weight of the headphones cannot be overlooked or overlooked because they affect the overall headphone comfort level, which is critical, especially in terms of health.

They are improving, but they are still not as comfortable or portable as traditional dynamic headphones.

2. They Are More Expensive

These headphones are still an innovation. They are rare on the market and only a few manufacturers make them. Whenever you have less choice, you get to pay higher prices and planar magnetic headphones aren’t an exception.

3. They Use More Power And Can Require An Amplifier

These headphones require more power than standard headphones (because of the large diaphragms). They are extremely difficult to drive in a normal manner simply by plugging them into your phone or tablet.

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Although manufacturers are making models that are easier to drive, the majority of planar magnetic headphones still require some extra power (an amplifier) to be driven without problems.

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT PLANAR MAGNETIC HEADPHONE MANUFACTURERS?

With all of the benefits that come with a magnetic planar driver, it’s no surprise that they’re gaining popularity in the headphone world.

Different manufacturers have also taken this into consideration and developed some of the best isodynamic drivers to meet the needs of consumers. The following are some well-known planar magnetic headphone manufacturers.

1. Audeze

Audeze, a once-small company, has taken the market by storm with its line of planar magnetic headphones.

The LCD series, which includes both expensive and budget-friendly headphones, is the most notable and popular of the Audeze orthodynamic headphones. Audeze is also known for developing the Audeze iSine, the first in-ear planar headphone.

2. HiFiMAN

HiFiMAN is unquestionably the king of low-cost planar magnetic headphones. HiFiMan, which was founded in 2007, has grown to become a well-known brand.

The HE series, the HIFIMAN SUNDARA, and the HiFiMan HE1000 are among the company’s best headphones. I’ve tried and tested some of their headphones, and you can see how they fare in our roundup of the best open back headphones.

3. Fostex

Fostex has outlived most headphone manufacturers in the market. The company’s history dates back before the 1970’s when the Fostex T50 came into the market.

The line of the company’s planar headphones has long been favored by headphone enthusiasts because of how well they respond to modifications. There are also a few companies that modify and produce some versions of Fostex planar headphones like, Mr Speakers, ZMF Headphones, and Enigmatic Audio.

4. OPPO

Oppo has been in the audio industry for over ten years. The company has created a variety of Hi-Fi products, including DVD players, planar headphones, and 4K UHD players.

The OPPO PM 1 and 3 are the company’s notable and flagship models. However, the company has exited the market and is no longer producing new products.

5. Speakers from MR

MRSpeaker has long been known for producing the best planar magnetic headphones. The tear-drop shaped AEON Flow, closed planar magnetic headphone is one of my favorites from their line. The business

6. RHA

When it comes to planar headphones, RHA is a relatively new company. RHA released the market’s first smallest planar magnetic in-ear headphones this year (2018). While planars are known for being large and bulky, compressing the technology into in-ear headphones is nothing short of a triumph for the company.

7. Monoprice

Monoprice is a well-known brand in the audio industry. The company has seen success in a variety of audio electronics categories.

Monolith has made a name for itself in a variety of electronic products ranging from subwoofers to headphones. The Monolith’s, the company’s line of planar headphones, have also grown in popularity among headphone enthusiasts.

8. Advanced Sound Group

In the world of headphones, the advanced group has faced a number of challenges. The company began on Kickstarter in 2015 and has since grown to become a leader in the production of audiophile grade products. The company’s audio products range from headphones to DACs and amplifiers to musical instruments.

Does Planar Magnetic Headphones Really Works?
Does Planar Magnetic Headphones Really Works?

FAQs About Planar Magnetic Headphones

Are planar headphones worth it?

Best answer: Planar magnetic headphones are more expensive than dynamic driver counterparts, but the improved sound quality is unquestionably worth it. If you don’t want to spend too much money, the HIFIMAN HE-400I are a good option.

Is planar superior to dynamic?

Planar magnetic drivers have a faster and more uniform motion than dynamic drivers, which results in a faster transient response and a different type of physical slam.

Are planar headphones superior to dynamic?

In conclusion, headphones with planar magnetic transducers typically sound tighter, more controlled, and have better extension capabilities with less distortion for bass than dynamic drivers.

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