Every headset or speaker has a driver.
It is the part in the headset that converts the electrical signal into audio, thereby letting you hear the music.
But every headset sounds different, doesn’t it?
That’s because there are different types of drivers, which result in different components of the audio being emphasized.
In-ear headphone’s driver choices are usually limited to two types: balanced armature vs dynamic driver.
It is important to know how they are different from each other so that you can choose the perfect headset for you.
To know more, read on.
This is the most common type of driver that in-ear headphones use. There are three components to this driver:
- A permanent magnet
- A voice coil
- A diaphragm
When the source device (say, your smartphone) sends audio to the headphone, it is in the form of an electrical current. This current passes through the voice coil. The coil, which is wrapped around the magnet, is magnetized by the electric current passing through it.
The permanent magnet interacts with this magnetic field. As a result, the voice coil moves up and down. This vibration is captured by the diaphragm attached to the coil.
As the diaphragm vibrates, the air above it also vibrates, reproducing the transmitted audio. This is how you hear sound with the help of a dynamic driver.
- Better bass response
- Cohesive, more natural sound
- Spans the entire frequency range
- Less expensive than the other type
- Less detailed audio.
In a balanced armature driver, the coil is wrapped around an arm, instead of around the magnet.
Indeed, instead of one magnet, there are two in a balanced armature driver. They are placed on both sides of the armature.
Thus, when the electric current produces the magnetic field around the coil, both the magnets interact with it.
The armature vibrates at about a thousand times per second, and the diaphragm attached to it gives the sound.
Since both magnets exert equal and opposite forces on the armature, the net force experienced by it is considered zero. That’s why these drivers are called “balanced armature”.
- Targets specific frequency levels to give detailed, crisper audio
- May have more than one BA driver in a headset, offering a range of sound
- Better at isolating sound frequencies
- Smaller than dynamic drivers, resulting in smaller in-ear headsets
- More expensive than dynamic drivers due to the increased number of components
- Bass response is not that great.
There is a third option for in-ear headsets. These are called Resonates, which pair both dynamic and balanced armatures in them to maximize the features of both.
The pros and cons of such hybrid drivers should be evident from looking at the two drivers that are its components.
On the one hand, the hybrid drivers offer better frequency and bass response than either driver separately. On the other, they cost even higher than the BA drivers.
So, if you are given a choice between balanced armature vs dynamic driver, which one would you choose?
From our post, we hope it is clear that you should not be forced to choose either/or, since hybrid versions are also available.
But for our part, we love dynamic drivers, because they give affordable headsets with a decent sound range. That’s enough for day-to-day headphone use, is what we think.
But every person’s definition of better audio quality is different. We hope that our comparison made your choice easier for you!