The main reason for writing about dynamic vs balanced armature drivers is to raise awareness of small units hidden inside attractive earbud and headphone enclosures. We’ve noticed that an increasing number of people base their purchasing decisions on the design of a device.
Of course, we don’t want to imply that those buyers don’t pay attention to the device’s specifications, but if they aren’t familiar with all those abbreviations, numbers, and units of measurement, they are much more likely to base their decisions on looks and price tags.
Headphones and speakers, as well as all audio equipment and hearing aids, are made up of many small parts that work together to produce the best possible sound and meet the needs of their users.
We don’t want to say that performance quality isn’t affected by design because it is, but there are many aspects of our devices that are more important and that we rarely consider.
The drivers are the most important components of any pair of earbuds/headphones.
WHAT ARE DRIVERS?
Drivers are small speaker units comprised of magnets, voice coils, and cone-shaped diaphragms that have a single purpose: to convert an electrical signal into sound waves that human ears recognize as sound. Drivers differ depending on the type of headphones, in-ear monitors, hearing aids, or speakers used, as well as the sound signature desired by the manufacturers.
They can be installed as single drivers, which means that only one driver is installed in a single earpiece, or as multiple drivers, which means that they are smaller and have enough space to install several drivers in a single earpiece.
When it comes to driver size, we have earbuds with 8-15mm drivers and headphones with 20-50mm drivers. Of course, speaker drivers can be much larger, depending on the size and purpose of the speaker. All drivers, regardless of size or purpose, follow the same operating principle.
Every sound we hear is actually compressed air in the form of a sound wave. They are caused by the vibrations produced by every object or living creature on Earth. All of the drivers on the market generate sound as a result of such vibrations, and this is what they all have in common.
WHAT TYPES OF DRIVERS ARE THERE?
Currently, there are five basic types of drivers on the market, and their names correspond to the type of headphones they are installed in, as you will see. Dynamic (moving-coil) drivers, balanced armature, planar magnetic, electrostatic, and magnetostriction (bone conduction) drivers are the results. They all have advantages and disadvantages, but let us now concentrate on the two most common types.
Dynamic or moving-coil drivers are unquestionably the most common and popular among both manufacturers and buyers. They are the most basic and least expensive type of driver. Their work is based on electromagnetism and magnetism principles.
The entire sound production movement is based on these principles as well. A dynamic driver is made up of a magnet (usually neodymium), a voice coil, and a diaphragm. The diaphragm is attached to the voice coil, which is located next to the magnet, making it magnetic.
This is how an electromagnet is made. When the device is connected to a power source, current flows through the coil, creating a magnetic field. As a result, the coil is attracted and repelled by the magnetic field, causing the coil to move.
Because the coil is attached to the diaphragm, the coil’s movements are transmitted to the diaphragm, causing it to move/vibrate. The diaphragm displaces air and generates sound waves that our ears perceive as sound when it moves. The more air that is displaced, the louder the sound produced.
As you can see, dynamic drivers are quite simple, and understanding how they work is quite simple. They don’t have a lot of parts, and the manufacturers don’t have to spend a lot of time and money to make them. As a result, dynamic drivers are inexpensive and widely used.
Aside from that, dynamic drivers can produce excellent sound. They are larger than balanced armature drivers, and each earpiece usually has a single dynamic driver.
The interesting part is that a single driver can cover the entire frequency range, resulting in detail loss, but it also produces a lot of bass because they usually have vents. The vents increase air movement, which enhances the bass response.
ADVANTAGES AND DISTANTAGES OF DYNAMIC DRIVERS
To summarize, dynamic drivers are very inexpensive, which reduces the cost of your earbuds/headphones. They are long-lasting and do not require a lot of power to produce a very loud sound. Their sound signature is typically described as warm with strong bass, making them extremely popular among musicians such as drummers and bassists. They can, however, be tuned in a variety of ways, and some high-end models can deliver an audiophile-grade sound with incredible balance and clarity.
On the downside, these drivers don’t produce very detailed sound and are prone to distortion at higher volumes. Although this is only true for the most basic models, we believe it is worth mentioning. Furthermore, dynamic drivers can be very large, increasing the device dimensions.
BALANCED ARMATURE DRIVERS
Balanced armature (BA) drivers are less popular and less common than dynamic drivers, but not because they sound worse. These drivers are typically found in hearing aids and in-ear monitors. Because of their small size, manufacturers can fit multiple drivers into a single earpiece.
A single balanced armature driver consists of a small armature (arm) that is balanced between two magnets inside a voice coil. The magnets are used to hold the coil in place and control its movement. The armature is attached to the diaphragm’s center.
When current flows through the coil, it magnetizes the arm, causing it to vibrate and move from one magnet to the next. The arm can move several thousand times per second due to changes in the magnetic field created. Because the arm is attached to the diaphragm, its vibrations are transmitted to the diaphragm, resulting in the generation of sound waves.
Balanced armature drivers are designed to produce sound in a specific frequency range. This is accomplished by using crossovers to divide the incoming signal into multiple frequency bands, which are then sent to the appropriate drivers.
This means that the performance of these drivers is somewhat limited in comparison to the performance of the dynamic driver. Furthermore, because these drivers do not displace any air, they lack vents, which has a direct impact on the production of bass tones.
To compensate for the lack of bass, and because the driver size allows for the installation of multiple drivers in a single housing, the manufacturers install several balanced armature drivers in addition to one dynamic driver.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF BALANCED ARMATURE DRIVERS
Balanced armature drivers are extremely useful because they are smaller than dynamic drivers, making them ideal for use in smaller devices such as earbuds, in-ear monitors, and hearing aids. Because of their small size, multiple drivers can be installed in a single earpiece, adding more detail and clarity to the sound produced by these devices. Furthermore, these drivers are tuned to work at specific frequencies, which improves treble quality and ensures a better frequency response across the entire audible range.
As previously stated, balanced armature devices lack vents, resulting in better noise isolation. They also use less energy to generate loud sounds, which reduces power consumption or battery life depending on the device type.
Balanced armature drivers, on the other hand, have a more complex structure, which raises their price and, as a result, the price of headphones. They also have issues with bass production, which means that customers who enjoy bass-heavy music will be dissatisfied. As a result, some earbud and IEM manufacturers combine dynamic and BA drivers to create what are known as hybrid drivers. In a hybrid driver configuration, dynamic and BA drivers work together to compensate for each other’s flaws and deliver deeper bass and more detailed treble.
FINAL THOUGHTS About Dynamic vs Balanced Armature Drivers
To conclude this discussion, we must state that determining which of the two driver types is superior is not so simple. As always, your decision should be based on the type of device you want to purchase, as well as its intended use and your own needs and preferences.
For example, if you’re looking for a low-cost pair of headphones with good sound quality, especially in the bass, you should definitely go with dynamic drivers. They are common enough that they can be found in all sizes of headphones and earphones.
If on the other hand, you require a pair of headphones with excellent treble reproduction and detailed midrange, or a great pair of in-ear monitors or a hearing aid, we strongly advise you to purchase a device with BA drivers. You’ll have to pay more for them, but they’ll be worth it in the end.
There is no single driver feature that improves the sound of a particular device; it is the entire structure and all of the driver elements that work together.
Dynamic drivers have the best price-quality ratio, which is why they are so popular, but if you have the money to experiment with other driver types, we don’t see why you shouldn’t try BA drivers (or any other driver type).
FAQs about Dynamic vs Balanced Armature Drivers
Are dynamic drivers better than balanced armature?
In conclusion, balanced armature drivers produce a more detailed sound. Dynamic drivers produce a more coherent and powerful sound, and are frequently described as “warm-sounding.” Some manufacturers also offer hybrid models that combine the distinguishing characteristics of both balanced armature and dynamic drivers.
Are dynamic drivers better?
When a current is passed through the driver, the voice coil between two magnets vibrates, causing movement in the diaphragm and, voila, sound. The movement of air through the dynamic driver actually improves bass representation and creates a more natural and cohesive sound.
What is a balanced armature driver?
An electronic signal is used to vibrate a tiny reed that is balanced between two magnets inside a tiny enclosure by balanced armature drivers. The reed’s motion is transferred to a very stiff aluminum diaphragm. This diaphragm produces excellent clarity because it is free of unwanted resonances in the audio band.
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