Mastering the Three Variables of Planar Magnetics

Here's why Audeze's Planar Magnetic Speakers are at the Apex of Audio Technology

Written BY

Mike Dias

I founded Domo Audio because I love music. I love audio. And I believe in building relationships, not transactions.

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September 12, 2019

Dr. C has been working with planar magnetics for the last 45 years. And he has been slowly and steadily perfecting this underlying technology. From his time with Sonigistix to making fixed installation 8’ x 8’ planar arrays that could throw crystal clear sound for miles, he has constantly sought to build better sound systems by eliminating deficiencies  from his previous designs. Because of this, his speakers are known for their unparralled sound quality and holographic 3D imaging.

There are 3 main variables that affect the sound of any planar system. Each variable is independent but also interrelated. All contribute to improved imaging and better sound quality. You can hear the combination of these variables on the Audeze LCD-4’s and on Dr. C’s latest creation, the Mini Dragon Desktop Nearfield Monitors.

LOWEST MASS MATERIAL

The first variable has to do with the mass of the speaker diaphragm. Unlike traditional moving coil speakers, a planar magnetic speaker suspends a very thin tensioned diaphragm sheet between 2 magnetic arrays. The vibration of the diaphragm is what creates the soundwaves. The thinner & lighter the material, the faster that it can respond and vibrate. Traditional planar diaphragms are typically over 24 microns. Working with materials initially developed for NASA, Dr. C has gotten this down to only few microns using a very high temperature film which dramatically increases transducer power handling and provides incredibly fast transient response.

UNIFORCE DIAPHRAM

The second variable has to do with keeping the diaphragm vibrating in a uniform pattern. The goal is to get the entire diaphragm surface to move as one plane. Cohesion degrades if parts of the diaphragm move in different times. Imagine a perfectly tight sail in the wind versus a floppy loose sail. The tight sail transfers energy, the loose sail wiggles. Dr. C’s diaphragms are etched with variable width electrical tracings which allow for equalized forces on each trace. This creates constant pressure. The traces are wider where the magnetic field is stronger and thinner where the field is weaker. The overall effect drastically minimizes distortion.

FLUXOR MAGNETIC ARRAYS

The third variable has to do with the magnetic field itself. Dr. C’s designs allow for twice as much magnetic flux given the same volume. Each magnet helps the others creating up to 1.8 Tesla. The net effect is a 6dB advantage over magnetic structure using regular magnets with the same volume and grade. The maximum  magnetic flux density in traditional planar transdcuers is up to 0.5 Tesla. The Mini Dragon transducer is more than 10 dB efficient than comparable size traditional planar transducers. This means that it will play more than twice as loud as a traditional transducer with similar size with the same power level. This is not trivial.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

Simply put, in Dr. C’s latest planar magnetic designs, each variable has been fully maximized. The diaphragm material is as thin as possible — if it went any thinner it wouldn’t be stable. The traces evenly disperse the force across the diaphragm. And the magnets are 3 times stronger. What else can be done?

Of course there are other minor improvements that Dr. C is always adding and tweaking. Like his work with Edge Damping, dynamic tensioning, cryogenic treatment, … But at this point in time, his designs have reached their apex. The efficiency of a transducer is super critical for the subjectivities of sound. When a system has high dynamic range, we perceive it to sound better — to sound more natural. The acceleration of the diaphragm matters a lot.

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