Ideally, any earpiece is incomplete without a driver. This is because the driver forms the main part of the earphone, that is the speaker. It drives air movement to allow sound into the ears. The users of various earphones are well aware of the different drivers. But it might bother us when we want to find the right one suitable for our purpose. We need to know what makes the difference among various drivers.
While the size range is from 6mm up to 30mm, typically, drivers are of four major types.
- Dynamic Drivers – Larger diaphragm, higher bass, and lower energy loss.
- Balanced Armature Drivers – Smallest size, may work as part of multiple drivers and offers various tone ranges.
- Planar Magnetic Drivers – Diaphragm resides between two magnets to form a plane, clean sound without distortion, and the largest one.
- Electrostatic Drivers – Rare, uses static electricity, zero distortion, and responds to the smallest sound changes for accuracy.
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Usually, drivers from 8mm to 15mm size are found in earphones, while larger ones work in headphones. So, both 10mm and 13mm are used in different types of earphones. They provide higher bass with crisp sound and also active noise cancellation. But due to a larger size, users may feel that the 13mm driver earbud provides louder sound.
|In-Ear Earphones||Over-the-Ear Headphones|
|Loud and clear audio||Louder sound than earphones|
|Background Noise Isolation||Active and more effective noise cancelation|
|8-15mm range drivers||More larger drivers from 20-30mm|
|Not very comfortable for long wear||Comfortable for long wear|
|Suitable for music, communication||Suitable for heavy music, gaming, and communication|
Larger drivers offer clear sounds for listening to music with higher bass. So, the air movement is more and doesn’t cause any discomfort in hearing within the ears. The frequency range of the bass is also wide and clean. Besides, they offer this bass with minimal power consumption. So, for longer battery life in the case of wireless earbuds, larger drivers are a great choice. So, any earpiece from the range of 8mm to 15mm is an ideal choice for any use. This means that both 10mm and 13mm drivers will allow larger bass and clearer audio.
On the other hand, smaller drivers are used for the treble rather than the bass. We can set the frequency from a limited range, and experience lesser bass. Besides, there is even less energy loss due to the smaller size. So, these kinds of drivers are useful for regular communication via wireless earbuds. While the 10mm driver belongs to the smaller size, we can name the 13mm driver as a medium size rather than a large driver.
So, it isn’t the driver size only, several other factors like materials, fine-tuning, pads and other parts all affect the audio quality. The size only matters for the type of frequency range that we require for different uses, like listening to music, gaming, or communication. The best method to choose the right earbud would be to check the specification and do some sound checks before finally deciding on one.