In layman’s terms, the sound is generated in headphones by causing vibration to a thin, lightweight sheet of foil known as the “diaphragm” inside their respective drivers. The vibration is done by using magnetic fields that help the diaphragm to move around in tandem with the driver. Dynamic drivers being the relatively common configuration for speakers and headphones, Planar Magnetic drivers often tend to provide sound quality that’s above average but while costing more power and taking up more space. In our video today, we’ll try to figure out which one of these drivers you should go for.
Planar Magnetic Drivers vs Dynamic Drivers
Differing in terms of design, specs, soundstage, and imaging, here’s the comparison between Planar Magnetic Drivers and Dynamic Drivers.
Dynamic drivers have the most basic and simple design configuration out of all the driver archetypes. By making use of a small current from the audio source, the drivers generate a magnetic field in the voice coil. Since the coil is attached to the diaphragm, it is attracted to the permanent magnet when charged up. This current causes the diaphragm to vibrate, and in the process, produce sound waves.
Planar Magnetic Drivers on the other hand, share some similarities with dynamic drivers since they also send electrical current to a dedicated conductive material known as “Windings”, which interferes with the magnetic fields that lie within the driver. But, since the windings are spread across the membranes of the diaphragm, it causes vibration when electrically charged. However, the unfortunate news is that in order for this to work properly, you gotta have comparatively larger magnets that are able to cover the surface of the conductive material properly, initially explaining why Planar Magnetic Headphones are comparatively bulkier, carry more weight, and cost more power in comparison.
Planar Magnetic drivers typically have the upper hand here since they come with more extensions, resulting in better low-end frequencies. They have comparatively lesser levels of roll-offs even when compared to high-end dynamic headphones of the same caliber. And, since the diaphragm of the Planar Magnetic drivers is comparatively thinner, it produces a tighter and faster-reacting, well-balanced bass response that keeps itself separated from the midrange.
Now, dynamic headphones have more variety in driver sizes and a plethora of frequency responses. Considering how they’re comparatively cheaper to produce, the drivers are often made in larger quantities, giving the listeners options to pick from separate bass profiles that suit them to most.
In general, planar magnetic drivers are superior. Thanks to larger drivers and how the whole diaphragm moves around to generate a sound wave from the get-go. Since said soundwave relies heavily on interactions with the air, a wavefront that’s focused somewhat alters how the sound enters our ear and produces an overall better soundstage. Another benefit of having a broader wavefront is how it gives off a better representation of the imaging since it feels a lot less like it’s coming from a generic direction and more like it’s originating from your environment.
Then again, if you go for the upper-echelon dynamic driver headphones such as the HD 800S from Sennheiser, you’ll notice the drivers are large enough to produce a comparatively better soundstage.
Planar Magnetic Drivers have a bi-directional movement mechanism along with zero damping material on the back of their drivers, resulting in the leak of quite a bit of noise in comparison to your regular open-back dynamic models. Not only does the sound push itself towards your ear canal, but due to having two opposing magnetic fields, a lot of that sound gets pushed outwards in the form of leaks. Then again, it’s really not that big of an issue if you’re going for a closed-back variation of the Planar Magnetic Headphones since they are designed to mitigate audio leakage as much as they can. Therefore, Dynamic Drivers get the ace in this sound leakage round.
Which One Should You Get?
Planar Magnetic Drivers vs Dynamic Drivers: Which One Should You Get?
- In short – The Planar Magnetic Drivers are built for those who consider themselves critical listeners since the drivers are a lot more complicated in terms of design and are often heavier and bulkier. And because of said design, the drivers draw more power but result in a bass that’s tighter and punchier and keeps close to the original audio signal. The design also produces less distortion when used at higher volumes and reproduces an overall better soundstage, though they can be rare to find.
- On the other hand, the dynamic drivers can be a great addition to casual AND critical listeners since the drivers are often mass manufactured, easy and affordable to access, and pretty customizable in terms of what kind of sound you prefer. But, due to the design, they do produce a significant amount of distortion at higher volumes and lack the overall quality of planar magnetic drivers.