August 1, 2016

What drivers do you use?

One of the questions we are most often asked is "what drivers do you use?" We get this question most often from DIYers. We understand why people are asking. It's one of the first questions a DIY enthusiast will ask to gain a feeling for the quality of the speaker. It's a short cut to making a comparison to other products on the market.

There are many problems with trying to evaluate a product in this way. Here are some

1. False sense of security

Using drivers that are DIY favourites does not guarantee a good result. There are many poor or average implementations of very good drivers. We've experienced many. We've had customers come to us with speakers that should perform much better. They use very high quality drivers but it's very easy to overlook the importance of crossover design.

2. Undiscovered gems

There are many undiscovered gems. Many DIYers are uneasy about heading into unfamiliar territory. This is why most head onto the forums and watch what others are building. The decision to go ahead comes after a lot of reading.

Yet there are many drivers unknown to DIYers with very good performance. Many are actually better than the drivers that get rave reviews. Generally, this isn't realised because comparisons aren't made very often. And when a comparison is made, it may only apply to the specific implementation.

3. OEM drivers are not available to DIYers

Some drivers can only be purchased in commercial quantities. These may carry the branding of the loudspeaker manufacturer or they may not. The drivers may be modified in some way to make them suit the application. It could be a superficial change like a different coloured woofer cone. It could be a modification to the TS parameters to make it better fit a particular design. In some cases, the change is so significant that it effectively becomes a new and unique driver. It may share the same basket or cone but be radically different in the areas critical to performance.

In a DIY project, it often pays to play it safe. You don't want to buy some unknown driver and find out it's a dud. However, when we put a product onto the market, we always test it first. The easy way is to go with something familiar but often we are looking for something more. So we take a risk and try unfamiliar drivers and very often if you are smart about it, this can be very worthwhile.

And then again, sometimes you hit a dead end. Earlier this year we did some experiments with some new mids for PSE-144. We were hoping to find some midrange drivers for a signature edition. Unfortunately none of the drivers we tested were even able to match our current driver.

Most of the drivers we use are OEM. When it comes to woofers are top models use Acoustic Elegance drivers.