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  1. #1
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    Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Some companies with SOTA-aspirational speakers strongly promote the unusual (exotic) materials technology of many of their drivers, others don't. Magico, YG, TAD, Estalon, Evolution Acoustics come to mind in the first camp, Wilson most notably in the second, and then there are ribbons, planars (electrostats and not) and horns to consider as well. Almost all manufacturers using cone speakers make note of attention paid to enclosure materials, design and construction (NOLA may be an exception here).

    Thoughts?
    Rob
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  2. #2

    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    New materials are always important in the engineering quest for the development of new products or for the improvement of existing ones.

    In the case of speakers, I have seen lots of discussion about using graphene drivers. But in order to fully benefit from the use of new materials there needs to be a lot of time spent on R&D plus good engineering.

  3. #3
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    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Not really to what I am referring, although certainly true
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  4. #4

    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Those touting the new materials for marketing purposes are using it as a differentiator from other manufacturers that do not. Whether the new material results in a better sounding speaker or more durable drivers depends on R&D and engineering.

  5. #5
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    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    I think Wilson proves it is not necessary. One listen to the Chronosonic XVX with it's paper and silk drivers and you'll become a believer!
    --Marc

  6. #6
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    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    I think there is more than one way to skin a cat, and the examples given prove the point.

  7. #7

    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Joseph Audio uses non modified SEAS drivers in their speakers and sound very musical. Have also received a large number of positive reviews if one believes that's relevant.
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  8. #8
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    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker? If you take the classic definition of SOTA then your answer is yes. But are exotic materials necessary for a driver's diaphragm to reproduce the input signal accurately; or suspend our disbelief in ways that blur the lines between sounding real vs reproduced? then no, IME.
    "Listening to Analogue music is an act of rebellion in a digital gulag" - Simon Yorke

  9. #9

    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    By definition, yes... Then again one also has to take the absolute limits into account. What is the limit of the recorded music? How much resolution depth is there really from an acoustic wave (bubble actually) hitting the microphone (dynamic/condenser/ribbon/tube/ss, etc) and all the wires, resistors, caps and a whole bunch of A to D conversions before it winds up on a CD or a digital file or is cut into the vinyl groove?

    How much better does it get really? So I enjoyed a pair of Focal Utopia headphones. Pure beryllium driver. One single driver per ear. No multiple drivers, no crossovers, not nearly as much as the typical speaker has to compromise. Just one driver in each ear linear out to 50Khz supposedly. Frequency response for the most part so linear that it would put serious envy into just about every speaker to room response reality.

    So what did I hear above and beyond all the various speakers in my various rooms over the years? Well, one would think it should be fairly easy to hear that one little gnat that farted sitting on the windowsill of the recording studio... Nope, that wasn't the case... Detail set of headphones? Sure. Impressive. Some subtle details did in fact "grow" in clarity just a bit. But perhaps the absolute depth of resolution and my hearing was already tapped out so there was not much to appreciate above the usual and less exotic construction speakers and headphones that I used before.

    Technological progress is necessary and it is what propels progress forward. The reality of things is that it is not just the speaker and its exotic driver reproducing music. There is also a whole chain of events that needed to unfold before that sound reached the listener's ear. Some of those components, such as the recorded music itself, was not quite as ADVANCED and that exotic driver capable of the last ounce of linearity and precision is just not reaching its potential. Just like the 600+ hp cars locked away in the garages to be taken out for a drive around the neighborhood where the speed limit is 35...
    Serge

  10. #10

    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by rbbert View Post
    Wilson most notably in the second...
    Can you tell me what is the X-Material?


    Quote Originally Posted by TheOctopus View Post
    Technological progress is necessary and it is what propels progress forward.
    Progress is not always based on what is necessary, but on what is possible. If possible, someone will try.

  11. #11
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    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by Spock View Post
    Can you tell me what is the X-Material?
    X-Material is a proprietary composite Wilson uses in certain parts of its speaker cabinets. They won't say what it is made of.

    But the OP was talking about drivers, not cabinets.
    --Marc

  12. #12

    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by Spock View Post



    Progress is not always based on what is necessary, but on what is possible. If possible, someone will try.
    Well, if you put it that way, it wasn't necessary to get out and away from the nice and cozy fire in a cave. Instead we find ourselves threatening with nuclear anhelation because it was possible. Now the possible becomes the necessary?
    Serge

  13. #13

    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by 2fastdriving View Post
    X-Material is a proprietary composite Wilson uses in certain parts of its speaker cabinets. They won't say what it is made of.

    But the OP was talking about drivers, not cabinets.
    Ok, but in my opinion the principle is the same. He talk about strongly promoting the unusual (exotic) materials and technology. So I think we can talk about the cabinets together with the drivers.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheOctopus View Post
    Now the possible becomes the necessary?
    Yes. It becomes necessary when a new level of quality is established and becames the reference that someone will try to overcome later.

  14. #14

    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by Spock View Post
    Yes. It becomes necessary when a new level of quality is established and becames the reference that someone will try to overcome later.
    The audiophile game reminds me of the Egyptians erecting super precise and way beyond the scope of knowledge of that civilization pyramids. Before the wheel was invented and while using soft copper tools to deal with granite which requires diamond tipped tools today!

    Audiophiles have invented six figure speakers in the time the music industry was still producing dynamic range compressed, loudness mastered material on digital that sounded worse than the poorly chiseled, prehistoric stone wheel screeching over a cobblestone road...
    Serge

  15. #15

    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheOctopus View Post
    Audiophiles have invented six figure speakers in the time the music industry was still producing dynamic range compressed, loudness mastered material on digital that sounded worse than the poorly chiseled, prehistoric stone wheel screeching over a cobblestone road...
    Yes but they were not made for these recordings. They exist for those who bring us closer to God, allowing us to hear his voice!


  16. #16
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    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Crappy music has and will continue to be available in every medium. If it a crap recording just choose another. Too much music is available for anyone to worry about compression or loudness.
    Jim

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  17. #17

    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by Spock View Post
    Yes but they were not made for these recordings. They exist for those who bring us closer to God, allowing us to hear his voice!

    Strangely I was forced to listen to those speakers with the new digital format that was often worse than getting a root canal. Vinyl was on its way out big time as the perfect sound forever was completely taking over. There was not a turntable in sight for a quite a few years at the dealers back then.

    Now streaming is king and vinyl has actually surpassed the CD and high res download numbers while being a tiny fraction of what the sales numbers were in the heyday of the music industry.

    Was it necessary or did it happen because we could? Do we think streaming is the end game or will there be more innovation? Where do we go from here?
    Serge

  18. #18

    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    If I myself had to guess where the end game would be as far as music, I can imagine one day in the not so distant future that the whole world music library is expressed/digitized in some new way that it would fit on a drive the size of a USB key or similar. Storage is getting cheap... 35 Terrabytes is 2.5 million songs. Tidal has 60 million songs. At some point the two will merge into a complete collection on one small drive. Pay to keep listening will probably be the model and since the end user will hold the library in full, no need for internet, streaming and servers on Tidal/Qobuz or other perhaps making the fees even cheaper and they are dirt cheap now considering the access to 60 million songs today.
    Serge

  19. #19

    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by rbbert View Post
    Some companies with SOTA-aspirational speakers strongly promote the unusual (exotic) materials technology of many of their drivers, others don't. Magico, YG, TAD, Estalon, Evolution Acoustics come to mind in the first camp, Wilson most notably in the second, and then there are ribbons, planars (electrostats and not) and horns to consider as well. Almost all manufacturers using cone speakers make note of attention paid to enclosure materials, design and construction (NOLA may be an exception here).

    Thoughts?
    I think the title of your thread is creating a false narrative when you ask are exotic material drivers "required" for a SOTA loudspeaker. Required by who? There are no "requirements" for how a company designs, markets, and ultimately sell their speakers into the market place. There are no rules for what defines a SOTA speaker so any speaker company can claim that moniker. The number of companies that can lay claim to using exotic materials for their drivers is small compared to the number of speaker companies that use off-the-shelf drivers or drivers they claim to be "modified" to their specifications.

    The real question to ask is whether or not people are make purchasing decisions on expensive SOTA speakers by the types of drivers used in the speakers. Again, there are no requirements imposed by anyone that only speakers that contain exotic drivers can be considered SOTA. If there was such a requirement, Wilson Audio would have gone out of business a long time ago. Obviously people vote with their wallets and Wilson Audio is considered one of the top speaker companies in the U.S. if not the world and they are still thriving.
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  20. #20
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    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Yes, my OP was referring to marketplace “requirements” rather than a true design imperative, and I am still curious to hear others’ thoughts. I should make it clear that I personally don’t think exotic or other materials are necessary or important in SOTA speaker design or implementation, but some high-end (and not so high-end) manufacturers would apparently like us to believe they are
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  21. #21

    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by rbbert View Post
    Yes, my OP was referring to marketplace “requirements” rather than a true design imperative, and I am still curious to hear others’ thoughts. I should make it clear that I personally don’t think exotic or other materials are necessary or important in SOTA speaker design or implementation, but some high-end (and not so high-end) manufacturers would apparently like us to believe they are
    It is no different than a Bugatti Veyron or a Lamborghini Veneno roadster. Why settle for $22k Honda when there is a $8M dollar car out there and one has the money to keep the EGO burning bright? The passion of the engineers making luxury products is met with the applause of those who are inspired by such marvels. How else is a speaker or a car or a yacht manufacturer supposed to separate those looking for absolute cutting edge of technological toys from their money when they are offering something less than cutting edge?
    Serge

  22. #22

    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by rbbert View Post
    Yes, my OP was referring to marketplace “requirements” rather than a true design imperative, and I am still curious to hear others’ thoughts. I should make it clear that I personally don’t think exotic or other materials are necessary or important in SOTA speaker design or implementation, but some high-end (and not so high-end) manufacturers would apparently like us to believe they are
    It’s called marketing Rob.
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  23. #23
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    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by mep View Post
    It’s called marketing Rob.
    And based on our country's current situation, a very large percentage of people base their actions and beliefs on just that.

    Just curious as to how swayed members are here and at other audiophile forums WRT to speaker design.
    Rob
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  24. #24
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    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    graphen!!

  25. #25
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    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    I respect the latest drivers and driver technology, but it’s the sound that counts at the end of the day. If it’s that new driver technology that delivers the great sound, than I’m all for it. I can assure you, putting fancy off the shelf drivers in a cabinet doesn’t make them a great speaker. There is so much more to it.


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  26. #26

    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by rbbert View Post
    And based on our country's current situation, a very large percentage of people base their actions and beliefs on just that.

    Just curious as to how swayed members are here and at other audiophile forums WRT to speaker design.
    Are you changing the focus away from exotic drivers to the actual design of speakers?
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  27. #27
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    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by mep View Post
    Are you changing the focus away from exotic drivers to the actual design of speakers?
    Sorry, I did not mean to imply that
    Rob
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  28. #28

    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by rbbert View Post
    Sorry, I did not mean to imply that
    OK. When I read this from you, I thought you switched gears:

    “Just curious as to how swayed members are here and at other audiophile forums WRT to speaker design.”
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  29. #29
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    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    I am thrilled beyond belief with my wood cabinet speakers with (basically) off-the-shelf drivers, so I definitely do not believe the premise I questioned in the OP, and I have spent a fair amount of time listening to speakers with "exotic" driver and/or enclosure materials (as have most members here, I suspect).
    Rob
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  30. #30
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    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    exotic material , its all about how the material is used in the complete product. I look at it like cars, sure I can drop a Dart block in my 66 vette, but will it be as good as say the block GM built for the car , I say it all depends, as there is more to it than one component. .
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  31. #31
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    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    I respect the latest drivers and driver technology, but it’s the sound that counts at the end of the day. If it’s that new driver technology that delivers the great sound, than I’m all for it. I can assure you, putting fancy off the shelf drivers in a cabinet doesn’t make them a great speaker. There is so much more to it.


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    I agree. after hearing tons of speakers over the past few years, can't say driver materials influenced the sound specifically. it's a sum of the parts imo.
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  32. #32
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    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Though slightly apples and oranges but.
    If you use SOTA materials to build a violin does that mean a Stradivarius can't be STOA with those old materials.
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  33. #33
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    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by brad225 View Post
    Though slightly apples and oranges but.
    If you use SOTA materials to build a violin does that mean a Stradivarius can't be STOA with those old materials.
    Must be right, that would also mean my 1950 Martin D28 is just sub-par
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  34. #34
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    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    In my opinion, a definitiv No.

    Here are two examples of SOTA *for my ears... that are using good old paper pulp, silk etc... And there are many others out there.
    Stenheim Speakers and the Living voice Olympian.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  35. #35
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    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    To answer MEP’s question, yes, my speaker purchasing decision was based in part on the drivers using SOTA materials. I wanted speakers first, that sounded musical and could deliver clarity and timbral purity on my jazz recordings. Second, I wanted the drivers to be technologically advanced. My Vandersteen 7 Mk2’s employ a carbon/balsa/carbon sandwich in their speaker cones that are fused together by baking them in an oven. The sandwich design is used on the dome tweeter, the midrange and the woofer. It is extremely light, rigid and pistonic. Third, the cabinet uses a carbon fiber composite to reduce resonances. Lastly, the speakers are time and phase coherent, measure well and have lower distortion than many other designs.

    Certainly, great sounding speakers can and have been designed using traditional materials. But for me personally, I would not purchase speakers unless the company designed and manufactured its own drivers, and used advanced materials.

    Ken
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  36. #36
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    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Driver materials do matter – at least in this designer’s opinion. The video shows analysis for two mid range drivers, an ultra-rigid carbon-fiber/balsa core design vs. “a very expensive paper driver cone that is employed in some very high-end speaker designs.”


    Source: “The Truth About Pistonic Driver Cones”, The Truth About Pistonic Driver Cones | Vandersteen Audio Accessed 20 Dec 2020.
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  37. #37

    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alpinist View Post
    To answer MEP’s question, yes, my speaker purchasing decision was based in part on the drivers using SOTA materials. I wanted speakers first, that sounded musical and could deliver clarity and timbral purity on my jazz recordings. Second, I wanted the drivers to be technologically advanced. My Vandersteen 7 Mk2’s employ a carbon/balsa/carbon sandwich in their speaker cones that are fused together by baking them in an oven. The sandwich design is used on the dome tweeter, the midrange and the woofer. It is extremely light, rigid and pistonic. Third, the cabinet uses a carbon fiber composite to reduce resonances and is phase correct. Lastly, the speakers measure well and have lower distortion than many other designs.

    Certainly, great sounding speakers can and have been designed using traditional materials. But for me personally, I would not purchase speakers unless the company designed and manufactured its own drivers, and used advanced materials.

    Ken
    Hey Ken. Can you elaborate on what you mean when you say the cabinets are "phase corrected." I read all of the marketing materials on the Vandy website for your speakers and unless I missed it, I saw no mention of the cabinets being "phase corrected."
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  38. #38

    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi_1282001 View Post
    Driver materials do matter – at least in this designer’s opinion. The video shows analysis for two mid range drivers, an ultra-rigid carbon-fiber/balsa core design vs. “a very expensive paper driver cone that is employed in some very high-end speaker designs.”


    Source: “The Truth About Pistonic Driver Cones”, The Truth About Pistonic Driver Cones | Vandersteen Audio Accessed 20 Dec 2020.
    Wonder why he is driving a midrange cone to 14 kHz? I doubt most midrange drivers were designed to operate that high.
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  39. #39
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    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    personally i don't have an opinion about the technical aspect of driver materials. i've not sat down with 20 drivers with different materials and compared them head to head. but i have my experiences.

    i formed an opinion now 20 years ago when i went from the paper drivers in my Wilson WP6.0's to the the ceramic mid range of my Kharma Exquisite 1D's. it seemed like the ceramic mid range was much more life like. and i had not heard that from any other driver. when those Kharma's could not do enough bass in the new room i had built, i switched to the Von Schweikert VR9SE's with again paper drivers for the mids. no doubt i liked those VR9SE's alot, but i missed the magic of the ceramic mid range. during this time my friend Jonathan Tinn, who had heard my Kharma speakers and liked them enough to become a dealer, started working on designing his own speaker. and he choose the same Accuton ceramic mid range from the Kharma for that project. later when he created Evolution Acoustics he carried over that (now dual) ceramic mid-range, and i got the 2nd set of MM3's built.

    7 years later i upgraded to the newly designed, twin tower MM7, which not only carried over the Accuton ceramic mid-range, but doubled down with -4- per side Accuton Ceramic 11" woofers. so now i had ceramic drivers from 30hz to 3khz. wow and double wow. no dynamic driver speaker i have heard can do what the MM7's do in these frequencies. ceramic is inherently stiff and light, and retains linearity and lack of distortion.

    we might note that the new Ultra series from Von Schweikert switched to ceramic drivers. and the new super uber big $$$ Magico M9 uses the same 11" Accuton ceramic woofer (somewhat modified) used in my MM7's (but only 2 per side).

    there are plenty of great sounding speakers and drivers out there. and i'm in the camp that execution counts for much more than choice of bits. but i have observed that the presence of ceramic drivers does seem to corelate to my enjoyment mostly. there is just a sparkle and transparent component to the presentation that attracts my ear. yet no hardness or sense of mechanical type sound. i also feel that the ceramic drivers put demands on overall speaker design execution as they are not forgiving. crossovers and voicing must be spot on. and ceramic drivers if not properly treated can ring as they are so stiff. so it's not a trivial choice to use them.

    i am intrigued by the Bending Wave driver from the Gobel. although it's amplifier requirements are considerable.

  40. #40

    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi_1282001 View Post
    Driver materials do matter – at least in this designer’s opinion. The video shows analysis for two mid range drivers, an ultra-rigid carbon-fiber/balsa core design vs. “a very expensive paper driver cone that is employed in some very high-end speaker designs.”


    Source: “The Truth About Pistonic Driver Cones”, The Truth About Pistonic Driver Cones | Vandersteen Audio Accessed 20 Dec 2020.
    A picture is worth a thousand words.

  41. #41

    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by nicoff View Post
    A picture is worth a thousand words.
    Only if the picture is put into proper context. Nobody is driving a dedicated midrange driver to 14 kHz, let alone driving the midrange cone with a pure 14 kHz test tone.
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  42. #42
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    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by mep View Post
    Hey Ken. Can you elaborate on what you mean when you say the cabinets are "phase corrected." I read all of the marketing materials on the Vandy website for your speakers and unless I missed it, I saw no mention of the cabinets being "phase corrected."
    According to Richard, his speakers are time and phase coherent. I assume he would know. I adjusted my post to reflect this.

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  43. #43

    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alpinist View Post
    According to Richard, his speakers are time and phase coherent. I assume he would know. I adjusted my post to reflect this.

    Ken
    That is true Ken. What Richard said makes sense. Saying the cabinets are phase corrected didn’t make sense.
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  44. #44

    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by mep View Post
    Only if the picture is put into proper context. Nobody is driving a dedicated midrange driver to 14 kHz, let alone driving the midrange cone with a pure 14 kHz test tone.
    I stand corrected. The second tone is 1.4 kHz, not 14 kHz. Now the test makes sense. I missed the decimal point. Dre enlightened me that I was wrong.
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  45. #45

    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Many SOTA companies here that seem to have an objective approach; Magico , Vandersteen and YG tout the use of exotic materials to achieve a pistonic motion in their drivers.

    As a result, less distortion , can be measured and easily heard. As mentioned above.

    However, I do think that it is subjective hobby and many designers (Wilson) subjectively prefer and want to voice their speakers as such.

    The sum of all parts.

  46. #46
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    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by mdp632 View Post
    Many SOTA companies here that seem to have an objective approach; Magico , Wilson and YG tout the use of exotic materials to achieve a pistonic motion in their drivers.

    As a result, less distortion , can be measured and easily heard. As mentioned above.

    However, I do think that it is subjective hobby and many designers (Wilson) subjectively prefer and want to voice their speakers as such.

    The sum of all parts.
    Wilson uses exotic driver materials?


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  47. #47

    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    Wilson uses exotic driver materials?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Sorry, meant to type Vandersteen. Original post edited.

  48. #48
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    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Less distortion often at the expense of "efficiency", and perhaps dynamics or whatever term you use for the "jump" factor that characterizes most (or all?) high-efficiency speakers? In addition to the radiation pattern of live music (or at least most musical instruments), that property is frequently cited as important in quickly telling live from reproduced.
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  49. #49

    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by rbbert View Post
    Less distortion often at the expense of "efficiency", and perhaps dynamics or whatever term you use for the "jump" factor that characterizes most (or all?) high-efficiency speakers? In addition to the radiation pattern of live music (or at least most musical instruments), that property is frequently cited as important in quickly telling live from reproduced.
    For the here and now, I’m done with low sensitivity/low impedance speakers. That journey away from low sensitivity/low impedance speakers started with the NOLA KOs I owned for years and carried over to my JBL 4345 speakers. I don’t see myself going back.
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  50. #50

    Re: Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Lavigne View Post
    and the new super uber big $$$ Magico M9 uses the same 11" Accuton ceramic woofer (somewhat modified) used in my MM7's (but only 2 per side).
    Mike, I'm not sure where you read / heard that the Magico M9 uses ceramic drivers. Their drivers other than the tweeter (Be) use aluminum honeycomb core sandwiched between a graphene/carbon fiber skin.

    IME over the years as you hear better and better systems and speakers you learn to hear the detriment of speaker designs adopted by brands (but sometimes modified over time) and sometimes, less often you hear which speakers do sound right. By right, I mean lower distortion, seamless transition driver to driver and across all drivers, lack of detrimental box effects, a high level of detail, extreme dynamics, effortlessness and the rarest of all - neutrality.

    All that said, IMO there's a relationship between the speaker requirements above and the materials used (to be fair there are also other variables). Again, IME the best of the best I've heard don't use paper which is a good material in terms of cost and inherent self damping characteristics, however it lacks the stiffness and control of materials like ceramic, metals and carbon - based drivers.

    The problem here is that, as humans we are subjective creatures and as such, not all value what I value as critical to a very high quality speaker and drivers. For example. some people don't value neutrality, they want a "warmer" sound. Some want "slammin' bass" over articulate accurate bass. And as such, some high end speaker companies capitalize in a market who like what they hear even if the design has inherent distortion, lacks frequency balance and has exaggerated and sometimes bloated bass. Net - driver materials matter in truly high end designs and for those that care about the attributes stated above. But for many (most?) of the market, it's meaningless.
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Are exotic material drivers required for a SOTA loudspeaker?

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