Headphone Drivers: Dynamic vs. Planar Magnetic Complete Guide

Confused about what headphones are the best for you? Are you struggling to choose between dynamic and planar magnetic drivers? You’ve come to the right place.

This guide will help you figure out which headphone driver type suits your needs in terms of performance, comfort, and cost.


Headphones are an important tool in both professional and personal audio playback. Selecting the right type of headphones for your needs can make all the difference to how your listened content sounds. Two common types of headphones are dynamic and planar magnetic, each of which offers its own sound signature. Understanding their differences is essential to getting the best from your listening experience.

This guide will explain dynamic and planar magnetic headphone drivers, their advantages and disadvantages, as well as outline other factors that can influence audio performance such as sensitivity, impedance, frequency range and more. We will also look at how these factors applied to both dynamic and planar magnetic headphones.

By the end of this guide, you will have a better understanding of the differences between these two headphone types and be able to make an informed decision when it comes time to choose the right headset for your needs.

Importance of headphone drivers in audio quality

Headphone drivers are a critical component of any headphone and play an important role in the overall sound quality. The driver is the diaphragm contained within the ear cup or ear bud that vibrates to generate sound. Headphones can be broken down into two main categories based on their driver technology — dynamic and planar magnetic. Each offers its own unique benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to consider which type of headphones is best suited for your needs before making a purchase.

Dynamic headphones feature round, lightweight drivers that use magnets to move coils of wire at different frequencies. This type of headphone is relatively inexpensive compared to planar magnetic models and offers good bass performance, allowing for deep, punchy bass sounds. Additionally, dynamic headphones are fairly durable and often have good isolation capabilities that reduce sound leakage.

On the other hand, planar magnetic headphones feature larger Drivers that use multiple magnets positioned around a thin membrane or “diaphragm” to create a greater range of motion than traditional dynamic headphones can offer. Because they are more efficient than dynamic models and don’t require as much power to produce sound, they can offer an improved listening experience with more detailed treble notes and extended low frequencies producing crystal clear audio without distortion. Planar magnetics also tend to be more comfortable than dynamics due to their softer earpads and weight distribution over the user’s head area.

Purpose of the guide

Headphones are an essential part of any audio listener’s setup, making quality sound available in a convenient and personal way no matter where you may be. But, as with any complex device, there are many types of headphones that vary greatly in technology and production methods.

This guide will focus on two common types: dynamic and planar magnetic drivers. It will explain the purpose of both kinds of drivers, their comparative strengths and weaknesses, and how each affects the sound produced by your headphones. By the end of this guide, you will have an understanding of the major differences between dynamic and planar magnetic-driver headphones so that you can make an informed choice when it comes to selecting a pair for your needs.

Dynamic Drivers

Dynamic drivers, sometimes called moving coil drivers, are the most popular type of driver and are used in some of the most popular headphones on the market today. This is because dynamic drivers are typically smaller in size compared to other types of driver technology, and this makes them easier to fit into a variety of headphones.

Dynamic drivers consist of a diaphragm, a voice coil and a permanent magnet. The permanent magnet creates an electromagnetic field that drives the diaphragm back and forth when an audio signal is sent through the voice coil. This allows for the conversion of electrical energy into sound waves which your ear interprets as sound.

One benefit to dynamic drivers is that they tend to be more efficient when it comes to producing sound, meaning they require less power. This means headphones with dynamic drivers will often have longer battery life before needing to be recharged or replaced. Additionally, Dynamic Drivers do not require any type of electronic amplification in order to produce sound, making them easy and cost-effective solutions for many headphone manufacturers.

Explanation of dynamic driver technology

Dynamic driver technology is a type of headphone driver technology where a voice coil is attached to a flexible diaphragm that moves back and forth to produce sound. The voice coil is suspended between two magnets which move in response to the audio signal sent from the amplifier. This motion generates vibrations that travel from the headphones and into the ears, producing sound.

Dynamic drivers vary in size, shape, and weight depending on their intended application. Generally, dynamic drivers offer good mid-range at moderate volume levels. For example, a 40mm dynamic driver should theoretically be able to provide deeper bass tones than smaller dynamic drivers at higher volume levels. It should also be able to conserve power – allowing the listener to enjoy their music wirelessly for longer periods of time – despite offering loud sound production capabilities with low distortion levels that may inevitably arise during high power usage.

Advantages of dynamic drivers

Dynamic drivers are the most common headphones used today. They are composed of a diaphragm, voice coil, and a magnet. The diaphragm is usually made of some kind of light plastic and is connected by foam or other material to the larger part of the earphone. When an electrical signal is sent to the coil, it vibrates with the magnet and drives sound waves through the plastic diaphragm into your ears.

Dynamic drivers have many advantages that make them attractive for use in headphones. They are generally easy to produce compared to other driver types due to their simple design and low cost. Additionally, their small, lightweight size makes them well suited for portable audio applications such as smartphones, mp3 players, and laptops. Dynamic drivers also offer good power handling with reasonably low distortion levels at any given volume level; this allows you to get loud sound without too much degradation in quality or adding strain to your listening device’s battery life. Lastly, dynamic drivers provide a great bass response which adds depth and impactfulness to music recordings.

Disadvantages of dynamic drivers

Dynamic driver headphones employ traditional speaker technology in order to create sound. These headphones use a voice coil suspended in a magnetic field in order to drive the diaphragm and create sound waves. While dynamic drivers are usually the most common type of headphone, there are some significant downsides associated with this type of design when compared to planar magnetic drivers.

The primary disadvantage of dynamic drivers is that they tend to have limited frequency range, resulting in lower quality sound reproduction than planar magnetic or electrostatic drivers. Furthermore, dynamic drivers also generally have slower bass response, as well as lower level detail in the treble range and mids. In addition, these drivers tend to require more power than their planar counterparts, making them less suitable for low-power listening devices such as mobile phones or portable media players. Lastly, dynamic driver designs can sometimes suffer from audible distortion when driven at higher volumes which can reduce overall listening enjoyment.

III. Planar Magnetic Drivers

Planar Magnetic Drivers are the less common type of driver technology, primarily used in higher-end headphones. Instead of using traditional voice coils, they use a flat diaphragm with an extremely thin coil spread over it which is powered by two or more magnetic fields. This design provides significantly better sound quality than dynamic drivers due to the greater control and accuracy of the sound waves produced. It also offers a much wider frequency range and very low distortion.

Planar Magnetic Drivers have to be driven by more powerful amplifiers but are definitely worth considering if you’re looking for premium audio quality.

Explanation of planar magnetic driver technology

Planar magnetic drivers, also referred to as isodynamic drivers, are a type of headphone driver technology characterized by their thin, light diaphragm suspended in an array of permanent magnets. Their design combines the best attributes of both dynamic driver systems and electrostatic systems. They are capable of extremely accurate sound reproduction with no distortion or ringing.

Planar magnetic drivers usually comprise two parts: the diaphragm and the magnet array. The diaphragm is a thin sheet of highly conductive material that vibrates in response to audio signals when suspended between two small permanent magnets. Unlike dynamic drivers, planar magnetic drivers don’t require a large iron core or voice coil to move the diaphragm – which makes them much lighter and more efficient. They have much lower distortion levels than dynamic driver systems because the tension in the diaphragm remains constant throughout its range of motion;meaning that no part of it ever experiences excessive stress.

The permanent magnets used on planar magnetic headphones contain numerous small layered neodymium magnets arranged in layers along a flexible nylon film “frame” with each layer being slightly offset from the previous layer;creating an alternating North to South pattern across all layers when magnetized (called a “bi-polar pattern”). This “bi-polar pattern,” provides greater efficiency than traditional single-pole designs (found on typical dynamic drivers) allowing for higher power handling capabilities and superior sound quality with minimal distortion. It also offers better control over bass frequencies due to its ability to direct sound waves away from unwanted areas without requiring large housings or larger magnets – meaning planar magnetic headphones can achieve decreased harmonic distortion while providing phenomenal clarity across all musical ranges without sacrificing size or weight.

Advantages of planar magnetic drivers

Planar magnetic drivers offer several advantages over their dynamic counterparts, which have been traditionally used in the headphone industry. The main feature that sets planar magnetic drivers apart is their incredibly low total harmonic distortion (THD). This means they are able to reproduce music accurately, without any audible distortions that would otherwise displease the listener.

Additionally, planar magnetic headphones deliver a wider soundstage than most similar dynamic-driver models. This helps provide a sense of immersion and offers more precise imaging, making a definite improvement in sound quality.

Finally, planar magnetic headphones often have better sensitivity and require less power to drive them at louder volumes.

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Disadvantages of planar magnetic drivers

Planar magnetic drivers have some major advantages over their dynamic counterparts, but they also have some limitations that users should be aware of before making a purchase.

Firstly, planar magnetic headphones are significantly more expensive than dynamic headphones. As a result, many manufacturers opt for cheaper models with dynamic drivers for their entry-level products. To get the highest levels of performance from planar magnetic drivers, you must invest heavily in materials and construction. In addition to cost, planar magnetic speakers are heavier and bulkier compared to dynamic designs and may not be as comfortable for prolonged listening sessions.

Furthermore, planar magnetic drivers have slower impulse response compared to dynamic drivers. This can lead to audible smearing of transients and reduced clarity in certain frequencies. Finally, due to their added complexity, planar magnetic headphones often require greater amounts of power than their dynamic counterparts and may not perform optimally when driven by low-powered sources such as smartphones or portable players.


The ultimate decision of which type of headphone driver to choose should come down to personal preference. The two major types — dynamic and planar magnetic drivers — each have their own advantages. Dynamic headphones are generally more affordable and have a tight bass response with punchy mids, while planar magnetic headphones provide a more detailed soundstage, better imaging, and extraordinary levels of clarity.

When considering the cost of both types of drivers, it is important to factor in the total cost, including replacement parts and accessories. Additionally, your listening habits will also determine which driver works best for you. Listening to classical or jazz music just won’t be the same with punchy dynamic headphones as it would with detailed planar magnetic drivers — conversely, a consumer wanting that punchy bass driven hip hop sound would benefit from having dynamic drivers. Depending on where your musical tastes lie, one type of driver may be able to satisfy all your needs while another may require switching between different headphones.

For those who are looking for an all-around pair of headphones that offer premium audio quality (no matter the genre) planar magnetic drivers can deliver an expansive soundstage coupled with remarkable accuracy and precision.

Summary of the differences between dynamic and planar magnetic drivers

Dynamic drivers are the most common type of headphone driver and can be found in most models of headphones. They consist of a large diaphragm connected to a voice coil which moves in response to an electrical signal. The electrical signal is sent to the headset by an amplifier and this causes the driver’s diaphragm to move back and forth to create sound waves.

Planar headphones, on the other hand, are relatively new on the market. Instead of using a large diaphragm connected to a voice coil, these have many smaller (sometimes hundreds) drivers lined up in a flat “planar” pattern that help create audio waves when an electrical signal is sent from an amplifier or sound source. This type of headphone technology provides extremely high sound accuracy compared with dynamic drivers because it works slightly differently. Planar headphones also usually have more closely-spaced drivers than dynamic models, allowing them to achieve greater detail when it comes to playback.

In terms of audio quality, planar magnetic headphones can provide better sound reproduction than their dynamic counterparts. They typically offer more detailed reproduction overall and generally provide superior bass performance due largely to their ability to move air faster than traditional dynamic headphones since they use multiple small drivers rather than one large one (such as found in dynamic models). Furthermore, planar magnetic designs are often more responsive and tend to be better at providing balanced sound with less distortion at higher volumes.

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