Are ribbon speakers superior?

Discussion in 'Speakers & Subwoofers' started by EdNichols, Sep 8, 2003.

  1. EdNichols

    EdNichols Second Unit

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    I have heard some say that Ribbons are much better than cone or dome speakers. Has anyone done a direct comparison to see? I realize that ribbons are usually more expensive so I am talking comparison in the same price range. If so, what brands did you compare?
     
  2. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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    Ribbons are used in Magnapan speakers. Awesome really.

    But one can't really say a speaker technology is "best" because there's trade offs no matter design approach is made.

    Us planar fanatics (speakers use a large diaphram to move air) like to call cone/dome speakers "distortion boxes". And generally its true. [​IMG] "Generally"
     
  3. Ned

    Ned Supporting Actor

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    I think Magnaplanars are "quasi" ribbons. My friend has ribbons (diy) and planars (Accustats), and I much prefer the planars. They have way better imaging and none of the "ringing" of ribbons.
     
  4. Doug_B

    Doug_B Screenwriter

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    The Maggie 3.6's and up use true ribbons (but don't ask me to explain the difference vs quasi).

    Some of us simply fall in love with the planar or ribbon sound [​IMG] . There are others who don't like it. I find it hard to listen to many "box" speakers since owning ribbons myself, although I figure I would get used to them again if someone swapped them for my ribbons (but it would take a while, kicking and screaming every day).

    Doug
     
  5. Tim Streagle

    Tim Streagle Stunt Coordinator

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    There are no "best speakers", only those that suit a particular need or desire. Some types of music sound very anemic on planar speakers, while other types of music really shine. Purchase the type of speaker that best suits your listening criteria and you've won the day.
     
  6. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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    I upgraded my VMPS speakers to ribbons 3 years ago. The sound is unquestionably superior to the old cone midranges/dome tweeters. Fabulous, fabulous midrange and highs (and no one does bass better than VMPS [​IMG] ).
     
  7. Jack Gilvey

    Jack Gilvey Producer

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    It's difficult for most to separate their experience with "ribbons" from their experience with dipolar speakers, since, as with Magnepans, they occur in the same speaker. Dipolar cone speakers can preserve many of the qualities many consider the sole province of "ribbons". Chief among which is...
    Bass quality. There is nothing which approaches the immediacy and presence of dipole bass.The lack of "room sound" and boom, which each and every monopole sub is subject to, can lead the inexperienced to describe the sound as "anemic", and lacking in bass. What it's lacking, of course, is the standard distortions/response irregularities we've come to regard as "bass impact".
     
  8. Kevin_R_H

    Kevin_R_H Stunt Coordinator

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    Ed,

    Contrary to many folks belief, there are many companies currently making speakers using ribbons as drivers. Do not confuse "ribbon speakers" with "planar speakers" as there is no connection. It's true that Magnepan makes planar ribbon speakers, and they are far and away the most well-known (particularly since Apogee is no longer in business).

    I always wonder when I hear folks state "ribbons are superior to dynamic speakers", just how many ribbon speakers have they heard (from different manufacturers)? In fact, I would bet that the vast majority of Magnepan owners have hever heard ribbon speakers by other companies. Yet, they are positive that ribbon technology is the way to go. Amazing.

    Let's not forget that ribbon speaker technology was introduced in the 1920s. Some other companies that make ribbon speakers:
    > Alternate Audio
    > Ambience
    > BG
    > Bohlender Graebener
    > Eminent Technology
    > Eton (kits)
    > Genesis
    > Newform
    > Piega
    > Relco Audio
    > RHF
    > Soundline Audio
    > Strathearn
    > VMPS

    I own VMPS RM40s (w/ TRT). They replaced Thiel CS-3.5 speakers in my main system, and I am very pleased. But don't get hung up on the technology - it's the implementation of the technology that makes the difference.

    Kevin
     
  9. EdNichols

    EdNichols Second Unit

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    Now I am little confused. What is the difference between planar and ribbon? From John's post he says that planars have a diaphram that moves air. Then is a planar more like a cone or dome?
     
  10. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Ed,

    Planar is a family of drivers, with (typically) dipole operation. Planars encompass the driver types of ribbon, electrostatic, planar magnetic (aka quasi-ribbon), linear field transducer and probably a few others I'm overlooking.

    Ribbons are connected at only top and bottom to the frame.

    Quasi-ribbons use various backing materials on a ribbon driver (mylar, kapton or kaldex, depending on implementation) to strengthen the driver and increase durability of the driver.

    Electrostats utilize electrostatically charged stators at high voltage (almost non-existent (current).

    Bruce Thigpen's Linear Field Transducer is very similar to the design of an electrostat, substituting magnets for the electrically charged stators.

    Only tweeters on the Magnepan 3.6 and 20.1 are ribbons, the mid-woofer panels on the 3.6 and 20.1 are quasi-ribbon, with the 20.1 using a symmetrical array of magnets (front and back).

    In Kevin's list above were the names BG and Bohlender-Graebener -- these are the same company [​IMG]

    Regards,
     
  11. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Ed (et al),

    As far as superiour goes, that's in the ear of the listener [​IMG]

    Regards,
     
  12. Manuel Delaflor

    Manuel Delaflor Supporting Actor

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    No speaker technology is "superior", everyone have its flaws. Ribbons sound good, but some dipolar configurations sound more or less the same. And ribbons fall short on dynamics, compared to other technologies.

    A good answer would be: depends on what kind of music you listen.
     
  13. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    As well as examining if your room is suitable for the type of speaker you're lusting after [​IMG]
     
  14. Yogi

    Yogi Screenwriter

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    What about imaging? aren't dynamic drivers better at imaging because they emulate a pointsource (the recording mics are essentially point receivers) better than planar designs? What about a small sweet spot that ribbons/planars are notorious for? what about ease of placement/setup in your room? IMHO neither technology is superior to the other just different is what they are.

     
  15. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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  16. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Oh they all have their headaches. Maybe one of the biggest headaches is finding you've bought a speaker and you know you're going to have to place it there and that you're going to also have to add some room treatments and then the spousal unit says...no, it can't go there and you must be kidding about room treatments and by the way honey, i'm having the carpet ripped up and putting in a marble floor.
    I'm waiting for the return of the helium plasma speaker
     

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