What Is A Good Driver Size For Headphones?

By Akshara Bala Jan 25, 2021

Odds are that in your research on headphones or earphones you’ve come to realise that the headphone driver is what’s responsible for audio quality. But let’s rewind, what really is a driver and what should be the right size of the driver for enhanced quality? Simply put, a headphone driver or an earphone driver is the element that is responsible for the conversion of audio signals into sound waves. The driver comes in a wide variety of sizes. A driver unit, in turn, is made up of 3 components:

  • Magnet – This is the component responsible for creating a magnetic field. 
  • Diaphragm – It is the component that vibrates to create sound waves.
  • Voice coils – This moves the diaphragm to create the sound when an electric current passes.

Generally, a driver’s size is what that determines the loudness of the headphones.

What is a Good Size for a Driver?

Typically the driver size in earphones is in the range of 8-15 mm while a headphone driver size lies between 20 to 50mm in diameter. 

Drivers also come in different types, such as:

1. Dynamic (Moving Coil) Drivers

These are normally found in headphones and are known for their large diaphragm sizes that deliver a thick bass punch. 

2. Planar Magnetic Drivers

Unlike a dynamic driver that makes use of a coil, here the diaphragm is sandwiched between magnets and is affected by the magnetic field and produces sound. These are commonly found in open-back, over-ear headphones and are preferred by audiophiles.

3. Balanced Armature Drivers

These are small drivers found largely in in-ear versions.  Often with multiple drivers in a single earpiece, different frequencies are reproduced.

4. Electrostatic Drivers

Vibrations in such drivers are produced as the diaphragm pushes and pulls against two electrodes. These require special amplifiers to perform to their full potential and are usually found in headphones with an open-back design.  

5. Bone Conduction Drivers

They can transfer vibrations directly to the listener’s inner ear via bone conduction and are especially helpful for people who suffer from hearing issues. 

Is Driver Size the Sole Determinant of Quality?

The simple answer to that is, no. Although it is true that the bigger the driver, the bass may be cleaner. However, there are many other factors that determine the audio quality. So there some tiny earbuds that produce high-quality sound that can give other brands with larger drivers, a run for their money. At World of Play, the PLAYGO T44, with 10mm Enhanced Bass and Extra Loud (EBEL) drivers, offers captivating sound quality. Essentially other than the size, it's the quality of the driver unit and the material that makes a huge difference. 

So, while the size affects the output and frequency range, size cannot be the sole factor on which you base your choice. For drivers with the same size, the impedance as well as the sensitivity can differ. So if the same audio signal is sent to both these drivers, the results will be vastly different. With a driver with higher impedance and lower sensitivity you will need greater voltage to move the diaphragm.

Will Multiple Drivers Result in Better Sound Quality?

Again, the answer to that is no. If the multi-driver unit is poorly produced, the audio quality will be worse than one with a single driver that is high-quality.

To sum up, it is a fact that the headphone driver impacts sound quality. However, it is more to do than with the driver size alone. Also besides looking at the driver size, you need to look at other factors such as whether the headphone offers you active noise cancellation technology, what kind of play time it offers and more in making your choice. Here’s to an immersive music experience!

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