Wireless Earbuds: All About Headphone Drivers.
True wireless earbuds are all the rage in the market. While shopping for earbuds, you might come across terms such as "dynamic drivers", "balanced armature drivers", and "hybrid drivers". But what exactly do these terms mean? Amidst one-sided interpretations filled with biases on which drivers sound better, let's break it down so you can purchase the earbuds best suited for your listening needs.
Dynamic drivers are the most common type of driver found in headphones. They are the same technology used in speakers.
There are three main components to a dynamic driver – the magnet, the voice coil, and the diaphragm. When current passes through the magnet, it magnetises the voice coil. The resulting electromagnetic field created then moves the diaphragm. The more the diaphragm moves, the greater the displacement of the air and the louder the volume.
This technique allows good quality dynamic earbuds to produce a thumping bass your ears can tangibly feel. Earbuds like the AUKEY EP-N5 and EP-M1 feature a 10mm dynamic driver to deliver rich audio with powerful bass.
- Good bass response
- Might have distortion at high volume
- Less clarity at treble
Balanced Armature Drivers
An armature is the part of the electrical device that carries the current. It is placed between two magnets (balanced) which vibrates the armature to create sound.
As armature drivers are small and require very little physical movement, it is easier to control the sound waves more tightly, resulting in crisp and clear sound.
Some headphones dedicate a number of balanced armature drivers to produce sounds for a set of specific frequencies. Most balanced armature headphones have 1-4 such drivers in place.
- Better treble performance
- More detailed sound
- Requires little power
- Weaker bass
- Relatively more complex to engineer
As its name suggests, hybrid driver headphones incorporate both dynamic drivers and balanced armature drivers. A simple dynamic driver headphone might cause you to lose treble and clarity at high volumes while a simple balanced armature driver might cause you to miss out on the bass. In a hybrid driver setup, the balanced armature drivers presents high-quality mids and highs while the dynamic drivers supports with a thumping bass.
However, a hybrid driver is not an easy feat to accomplish as it involves harmonising different technologies to work together and produce a unified sound. Hybrid drivers are common in high-end high-end headphones popular among the audiophile community. The AUKEY EP-B80 utilises hybrid drivers to offer amazing value for money.
- Leverages on the strong bass from the dynamic drivers and the detailed sound of the balanced armature drivers
- Complex to engineer and tune