The advancement of technology has given rise to the development and improvement of many sectors, including the diverse and exciting world of audio devices. Presently, the many brands and models of audio devices are touting some new invention or the other. One of the latest techs that seem to be populating the world of headphones and speakers is the planar magnetic technology.
Funny enough, the technology has been around for decades though it only just got adopted to produce headphones and speakers. Upon its adoption, it did not immediately become popular, but in recent years, many speakers and headphone manufacturers are changing the world of audiophilia with the invention. Is it really worth the hype, though? Let’s examine how the technology works in headphones and the differences between planar magnetic headphones and other types of headphones.
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What Mechanics Drive Dynamic and Electrostatic Headphones
A little information about the mechanics behind conventional dynamic headphones is important for a complete understanding of how planar magnetic headphones work. Magnets are responsible for the sound that headphone speakers bring out. In dynamic headphones, an electric current passes through a coil located just behind the cone-shaped diaphragm of the headphone. The coil, which is drawn tightly, is surrounded by a donut-shaped magnet.
When electric current hits the coil, it begins to move up and down in the magnet, pulling and pushing at the cone-shaped diaphragm to create sound waves. It is these waves that our brain interprets as music or other sounds. When the electric current that hits the coil is properly regulated, the sound is excellent, when it is not, it is not so great. This mechanism is basic.
In headphones that have more complex constructions, there is no cone-shaped diaphragm or tightly drawn coil. Instead, thin material is placed between a positive and a negative metal plate. When the outer plate is electrically charged, it drives the thin material between the plates and causes it to move around. Like in the dynamic models, this movement causes a form of vibration in air molecules, thereby creating sound waves. These types of drivers are called electrostatic drivers. Headphones that use electrostatic drivers are usually more expensive than ones that use coil and cone-shaped dynamic drivers.
How then do Planar Magnetic Drivers Work?
Now that you know all about electrostatic and dynamic drivers, it will be easier to understand all about planar magnetic headphones and the mechanism behind them. The most distinct quality of planar magnetic drivers is that they combine the technology of dynamic and electrostatic drivers. A planar magnetic driver uses a thin material like electrostatic drivers. Planar magnetic drivers also contain diaphragms that have tiny cords that are electrically charged, just like the dynamic drivers. The cords move around to create vibrations which in turn create sounds.
To complete the setup, magnets are placed on both sides of the thin material and diaphragm. The magnets, which are perfectly spaced, suspend the mix of electrically-charged material and diaphragm in a magnetic field due to the precision of their sizes and spacing. As a result of the flat plane structure of the mechanism, planar magnetic headphones are broad but flat.
The sound you will hear from planar magnetic headphones will be better than what is heard on dynamic headphones. This is because planar magnetic drivers generate sound waves through electrically charged cords placed in magnets, similar to dynamic drivers. But they also have tiny electrical materials that rattle, similar to electrostatic drivers. The result of the mix in technology is sounds that cut across a wide frequency range and accuracy.
As a result, planar magnetic headphones are less costly when compared to headphones with electrostatic drivers. Still, they are better in quality of sounds when compared to headphones with dynamic drivers.
Are Planar Magnetic Headphones Better than Other Ones?
Headphones that use planar magnetic drivers have some form of advantages over dynamic headphones. First, they are much more immune to outside interference because of the magnetic suspension of their cores. The suspension also reduces or completely eradicates temporary pauses as the drivers balance the frequency range of audio files.
That is why headphones that use this technology produce balanced and accurate sounds. You might not even need any amplifier when using planar magnetic headphones. However, planar magnetic headphones are not very big with bass sounds. The booming sound you get from dynamic headphones is missing on planar magnetic headphones. So if you are a bass enthusiast, they might not really be your thing. Also, headphones that use this technology often have more weight than headphones with dynamic drivers.
Other Things to Note about Planar Magnetic Headphones.
As stated in the introductory part of this article, the technology behind planar magnetic headphones has been around for a while. It was previously adapted in the production of speakers and headphones, but in recent times, it is becoming more and more popular amongst manufacturers and audiophiles.
Manufacturers refer to headphones using the technology in different ways. So if you see headphones that are marketed as “isodynamic” or “magneplanar,” they are still planar magnetic headphones. Most of the headphones that use this tech have broad but flat over-the-ear designs, but some manufacturers have planar magnetic headphones in on-ear and in-ear bud designs.
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Planar magnetic headphones combine the best of two worlds in terms of technology. They use similar techs to the ones used in dynamic and electrostatic headphones. Yet, headphones that use this tech are usually cheaper than electrostatic headphones. Stating that they are better or not is a matter of choice. Many audiophiles will like the accuracy and quality of sound they get from planar magnetic headphones.
Some bass enthusiasts might, however, decide to go for dynamic headphones, which are also cheap. Some audiophiles would rather go for electrostatic headphones because they are expensive, however funny, but true. Whatever your choice is, each type has its strong suit, but from this article, we can see that planar magnetic headphones have a lot to offer.
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