What’s the deal with multi-driver earphones?
There’s enough jargon in audio tech to make anybody’s head spin. However, when it comes to selecting new earphones – be it for music, gaming, leisure or sport – there are a few things worth knowing about.
Let’s look at the component most critical to producing the sound in your earphones – the driver.
What is a Driver?
A typical driver unit is composed of three components:
- The magnet – Creates a magnetic field
- Voice coils – Move the diaphragm to create the sound you hear when an electric current passes through them
- A diaphragm – Vibrates to create sound waves
The dynamic driver is the most common type used in earphones. Think of a miniature version of the big driver you’d see in a regular speaker, with a large round magnet and a flexible diaphragm. The dynamic driver converts an electrical signal into an acoustic signal. The signal to the earphones causes the diaphragm to move and creates the sound you hear in your earphones.
Dynamic drivers are often paired with balanced armature drivers for more efficient sound delivery. Armature drivers are more compact than dynamic drivers, using a signal to vibrate a small reed balanced between two magnets. The motion of the reed is transferred onto a stiff diaphragm, free of resonance, allowing it to deliver remarkable clarity.
Earphones can have one or more drivers in each earpiece. While one central dynamic driver usually does the job in covering the audible human frequency spectrum, having multiple drivers allows for less distortion and more efficient sound delivery.
Advanced filtering in multiple driver units separates sound frequencies from each other and then feeds the signal to each driver. This allows each individual driver to focus on a particular frequency range and gives you a much smoother and more precise sound frequency from low-end to high-end. Think of it as having that many speakers inside your earphones.
Needless to say, simply having more drivers is not a sole indicator of quality or clarity. Before making a purchase decision, it is wise to consider a few variables. The materials used are critically important, and the tuning of the driver and enclosure are vital to great sound reproduction. While softer flexible materials like PET drive the bass frequencies, stiffer diaphragms like those in armature drivers use rigid and light materials to deliver the best possible mid and high response.
Research teams around the world continue to experiment with newer materials in their quest for perfection, even using breakthrough materials like graphene – a material that is one atom thick and 200 times stronger than steel.