What are Some Common Headphone Driver Types? Insight to 5 Kinds

Headphones are undoubtedly mystery devices to let you hear the audio in your ears. What components work in harmony and how the phenomena take place is not an ignorant one. You must be curious to know more about What are Some Common Headphone Driver Types to upgrade your music devices. Don’t you? 

Drivers are fundamental in delivering sound to your ears. Apart from their different sizes and working mechanisms, their function is to convert diaphragm vibrations into sound waves to hear from the headphones. 

Read the article if you are curious enough to know more about headphones drivers. Plus, you will learn how they work and are different from each other. 

What are Headphone Drivers?

Think of the speakers in your home to deliver audio. The same goes for the headphone drivers residing in each earpiece. The function of these drivers is to drive air to create pressure waves you hear in your ears as sound from the headphones. 

Drivers are of different sizes due to the different sizes of headphones and earphones. Also, the miniature speakers comprise magnets, voice coils, and diaphragms that convert electrical energy into acoustic elements. 

You can estimate that the magnets do not produce vibrations but take part in causing them by creating the magnetic field. As the voice coils stimulate the air movement when the electromagnetic force comes in contact with magnets, air forces the diaphragm to move back and forth. It causes the vibrations to produce sound waves which your ear can hear. 

What are Some Common Headphones Driver Types?

Headphone drivers are not beyond-the-sight objects for music enthusiasts like me. However, if you are new to the field, the easy explanation of various driver types will work wonders for gathering your knowledge about music production in headphones’ internal components. 

Dynamic Drivers

The consumers’ favorite, including you and me, is dynamic drivers because they are exclusive in producing a better bass response. Looking over at the working mechanism highlights that they consist of a cone-shaped diaphragm attached to the copper wire coil wrapping around the neodymium magnet. 

When dynamic drivers receive the electrical signal, neodymium magnets create magnetic fields that interact with the current in the voice coils. As you know, vibrations are amplified in voice coils, thus forcing the thin membrane of the diaphragm to vibrate. Sound waves are created so that you can listen through your earpieces close to the ears. 

What Do I like About Dynamic Drivers?

  • Dynamic drivers are affordable and produce a better bass
  • These drivers cover almost entire frequency ranges
  • Dynamic drivers comprise lightweight diaphragm due to frameless coils
  • The drivers easily obtain higher volumes by feeding less power 
  • Headphones having dynamic drivers do not need external amps

What I Don’t Like 

  • The drivers do not deliver clarity and details
  • You may hear distortion at high volumes
  • All the parts of the diaphragm do not vibrate at once in dynamic drivers

Planar Magnetic Drivers

The promising point distinguishing the dynamic or planar drivers is the diaphragm’s shape and how the magnets move it and not coil. The particular drivers have a thin and flat diaphragm with embedded wires instead of coils. 

Moreover, these magnets are evenly arranged, covering both sides of the diaphragm. As a result, the sound is produced when the electric current interacts with the magnetic field created by the magnets. 

Pro Tip: you can identify planar magnetic drivers in open-back, over-ear headphones, or in-ear monitors. 

How Planar Magnetic Drivers Serve You? 

  • Evenly spaced magnets move the diaphragm’s all parts reducing the distortion.
  • You can achieve better sound reproduction
  • Planar drivers are known for their sound clarity


  • Headphones with planar drivers are heavier than others
  • Exclusive drivers are expensive
  • Headphones need external amps to work efficiently

 Electrostatic Drivers

As the name indicates, electrostatic drivers produce sound by producing static electric fields disregarding electromagnetism. What makes them different is the use of stators and weightless diaphragms in converting electrical signals to audio. 

The simple phenomenon is placing the diaphragm between two perforated metal plates to maintain airflow. Also, these plates are positively and negatively charged from their respective ends. 

When you apply the audio signals through these plates, an electrical field is created, motivating the thin film to vibrate. The movement due to electrical attraction and repulsion creates sound signals. 

Do Electrostatic Drivers Fulfill the Purpose?

  • Electrostatic drivers get you desired clarity and preciseness in sound.
  • These drives exhibit a wide-frequency response
  • Distortion is nowhere to be found in headphones with electrostatic drivers


  • The headphones containing these drivers are the most expensive
  • You need an amplifier to power the headphones

Balanced Armature Drivers

The drivers that you can find in small music units are balanced armature drivers. These are nothing less in their performance than bulky drivers housing in the over-ear headphones. How these drivers generate sound is interesting to know.

Balanced armature drivers include the armature, copper coil, magnets, and diaphragm. You can imagine the image of the rotating armature wrapped around the coil between two magnets. The created magnetic field encourages the diaphragm to move and vibrate. As a result, the sound response is quick and clear. 


  • Headphones with balanced armature drivers are portable
  • You will notice excellent treble production
  • Drivers have no air vents resulting in obtaining noise isolation


  • The drivers provide narrow frequency ranges
  • Balanced armature drivers are costly as compared to dynamic drivers.
  • Bass response is absent in these drivers

Magnetostriction/Bone Conduction Driver

Bone conduction headphones appear on the scene with their different sound-producing mechanism. Unlike conventional headphones instilled with typical driver types, the unique pair of headphones have exclusive drivers, and so does their work.

The drivers of bone-conduction headphones do not follow the principle of generating sound by creating electric or magnetic fields. Instead, they cause the jaw and cheekbones to vibrate and deliver the vibrations to the innermost part of the ear, such as the cochlea. 

Tidbits: bone conduction headphones do not cover your ears but rest above them so you can become aware of the surroundings. 

Why Are Bone Conduction Headphone Drivers Approachable?

  • Bone-conduction headphones are best for outdoor activities
  • They are useful for gaining situational awareness
  • Patients with hearing malfunction can use these headphones


  • The headphones have an average audio quality.
  • You do not find noise isolation as earpieces do not cover the ears. 

FAQ’s about What are Some Common Headphone Driver Types

Is Higher Driver Better for Headphones?

The idea of the bigger the size of the headphones’ driver, the better the sound quality is not true. As the increasing driver size focuses on generating more loudness, you can conclude that the driver’s larger size is better for headphones that impact audio quality, but not really. 

Which Type of Driver is Best for Headphones?

While considering the best driver for headphones, three things include into consideration. Sound quality, headphones type, and budget. Dynamic drivers are best for headphones as they provide you with various frequency ranges, ensure practicality, and fall within budget. 

Summing Up | What are Some Common Headphone Driver Types

It is not if you think that sound quality solely depends on the drivers’ types. Many other factors contribute to generating desired audio from the headphones. However, you must strive to find the best headphones driver so the listening experience doubles. In this article, I have mentioned 5 common types of drivers with their pros and cons to make you decide which one you want. 

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