Dynamic and Balanced Armature Drivers

When purchasing earphones, a lot of factors come into play… do I need in-line controls? Do I want replaceable or balanced cables? What accessories come with them?

One line of questioning we hear a lot is often people wondering what are dynamic drivers, what are balanced armature drivers, and why do some earphones have both? This article should hopefully clear this up a bit, and hopefully make future purchases a little more informed.

Dynamic Drivers

Also known as moving coil drivers, dynamic drivers are like the drivers you’d find in a loudspeaker, such as your Hi-Fi or TV’s soundbar. These drivers use diaphragms, similar to the cones in a Hi-Fi speaker, with a voice coil attached directly to them, a charge is applied to the voice coil and the diaphragm moves, moving air and in turn, creating sound.

Dynamic driver schematic

Dynamic driver schematic

Advantages:

-        More natural sounding

-        More powerful bass response

-        More durable and cost effective

Balanced Armature Drivers

Often seen in hearing aids, the driver consists of a miniature arm (armature) inside a coil of wire surrounded by two magnets. The top and bottom magnets determine the movement of the armature. When current flows through the coil, it magnetizes the armature, causing it to pivot towards either magnet. This pivoting movement will move the diaphragm and produce sound as a result. This movement can occur thousands of times a second.

Balanced Armature Driver Schematic

Balanced Armature Driver Schematic

Advantages:

-        Drivers can be tuned to specific frequency ranges

-        Much smaller than dynamic drivers

-        Better treble performance

-        Faster response and a more detailed sound, though not as “powerful” as a dynamic driver

Looking at the above information, it is easy to see that there are good reasons to choose either, and often earphones combine both. Due to the expense involved in using balanced armature drivers, this is often seen in more luxury earphones rather than cheaper models. However, the additional investment to get yourself a pair of earphones that use a combination of both types of drivers (known as a hybrid model) means that you will get the best of both worlds, resulting in a warm, natural sound with good bass response and a great deal of detail in the high end of the frequency spectrum. Additionally, the small size and tunability of balanced armature drivers means that brands often put multiple drivers in one pair of earphones to enrich the listening experience even further.

Hopefully this information will help clear up some of the questions you may have when looking to invest in a new pair of IEMs. If you feel like you need more information, we at Advanced MP3 Players are only a message or phone call away!