Ever wondered what is the difference between Electrostatic, dynamic, and planar magnetic headphones and speakers?
In this guide, I will help you with that!
There is no doubt in the fact the modern world is a technologically inclined one. Technological devices lie in the center of modern society.
Not only are these tech devices an essential component of professional and industrial settings, but they also play a very significant role in our day to day lives.
Think about it- when was the last time you went an entire day or two without looking at your phone, laptop, or some kind of screen? It has probably been several years!
There is no harm in that considering just how much benefit and use we extract from these technological wonders. To make your experience with these devices even more facilitative, you have a myriad of accessories to go along with them.
For example, you most likely use your headphones or speakers every day in conjunction with either your smartphone, laptop, or PC. Thanks to technological development, you have an incredible range of variety when it comes to these accessories as well.
If you start to look into it, you will discover just how elaborate the world of audio devices is. You have so many options- each with its own strengths and weaknesses.
Today, I will be helping you venture into this territory as a beginner. We shall begin with a very basic differentiation- how do electrostatic and planar magnetic headphones compare to each other.
Hopefully, this will give you a better idea about how your audio devices work and which one you would prefer to purchase the next time you are looking for new headphones or new speakers.
Table of Contents
Electrostatic vs. Planar Magnetic Speakers
If you were to divide audio devices into some of the most major types, then you would divide them into the following categories: dynamic, planar magnetic, and electrostatic.
This depends on the type of driver that is being used by the audio device.
Each of the types of headphones or speakers works on a different principle which is why each kind has its own properties, strengths, and weaknesses.
I will help you understand how each of these types of headphones works.
What are Dynamic Headphones and Speakers?
Dynamic headphones are far away the most common type of headphones.
If you are not sure what kind of driver your headphones are using or if it is not mentioned on your speakers, then the device most likely has dynamic drivers.
Also known as moving coil drivers, these kinds of audio devices work on the principle of electromagnetism.
A magnetic field is created as current passes through a wire and this field interacts with an actual magnet in the device.
As a result, the coil moves to and fro rapidly, simultaneously moving the diaphragm of the speaker with its motion. This produces sound waves which you hear as audio coming out of the speakers.
What are Planar Magnetic Headphones and Speakers?
Planar magnetic headphones and speakers also operate on the principle of electromagnetism.
The difference between dynamic and planar magnetic audio devices is that where the former attempts to move a thin voice coil, the latter utilizes a flat film for this purpose.
This film is flat and spread out across the diaphragm which enables a more even and distributed spread of the force generated by the magnets. Compared to dynamic headphones, these tend to be much bulkier.
That is because planar magnetic speakers utilize two sets of larger magnets, one placed on each side of the diaphragm.
What are Electrostatic Headphones and Speakers?
Electrostatic headphones and speakers are the least commonly found type of audio devices.
As you already know, the driver array in the dynamic and planar magnetic moves a conductor which in turn moves the diaphragm to produce sound from the speakers.
What differentiates electrostatic headphones from the rest is that they move the diaphragm directly.
Typically, in an electrostatic headphone system, you have a thin sheet of mylar placed between two conductive plates. Each plate carries the opposite charge. The film moves towards the plates to produce vibrations that result in sound.
How Do Electrostatic vs. Planar Magnetic Headphones and Speakers Compare?
Electrostatic headphones and speakers are generally considered to be pretty high end. That is why in comparison, planar magnetic headphones are relatively lower.
But the latter still provides very great sound quality. The design of the driver array in planar magnetic headphones produces low distortion sound with great transient response which enhances bass notes and lower frequencies.
Planar magnetic headphones are known to provide very crisp and clear audio.
Electrostatic headphones, however, go even beyond that quality and offer impeccable detail in the sounds they deliver. The great sound quality comes as a result of a high frequency response.
Considering the performance of the device, it is understandable that electrostatic speakers are just as expensive as well. The hardware is also pretty heavy duty, even more so than planar magnetic headphones.
These require potentials between 100 to 1000 volts to amplify the signal using a special amplifying instrument.
HiFiMAN, Audeze, and Oppo are some of the most important names when it comes to planar magnetic headphones or speakers. When talking about electrostatic headphones, you will want to consider the likes of Sennheiser, Beyerdynamic, Fostex, and HiFiMAN.
Which Type of Headphones Should I Select?
The kind of headphones you ultimately go with completely depends on your individual requirements.
If you are looking for high quality, portable speakers or headphones that offer good bass notes, then planar magnetic headphones are the way to go.
If you are extremely serious about the quality and the clarity of your sound and have space in your budget, then you can absolutely go for a pair of electrostatic headphones.