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Defo 15th April 2009 01:35 PM

Ribbon vs. compression driver - what to choose?
How does hi-eff ribbons or AMT's like the Beyma TPL-150 compare to 1 inch compression drivers like the Beyma CP380 and B&C DE250?

What are the sound differences? The woofer is an Lambda TD12M.

TrueSound 15th April 2009 07:06 PM

Re: Ribbon vs. compression driver - what to choose?

The AMT aren't very accurate having a low treble bump and poor dynamics compared to a compression driver

Ribbons (real ones) are compressed,lack dynamics, and normally have very bad dispersion up and down, they are OK if you are used to regular high end type speakers but are toys compared to a compression driver

The compression drivers in a good horn like the 18 Sound and a little passive eq are the way to go

Defo 16th April 2009 09:58 PM

Re: Re: Ribbon vs. compression driver - what to choose?

Hmm, compression drivers are that much better? I thought maybe ribbons were more transparent and smooth, but at the cost of some dynamics. Which of the two technologies is the easiest to mate with a woofer in a two-way system?

Cal Weldon 16th April 2009 10:11 PM


This is far too broad of a question to ask. They are night and day. On one hand you have a delicate driver suited to medium to small rooms and nearfield. On the other you have a robust driver that is usually mounted to a horn and used in larger venues for PA and the great outdoors. It's like asking which is better, a sports car or a four wheel drive?

EDIT: As far as mating to the Lambda, a compression driver will go lower and handle the power whereas a ribbon will be destroyed if crossed over low enough to deal with the 12" cone break-up. To make a good two way you might want to consider a more robust 2" exit driver and try and get the XO below 1K.

Godzilla 16th April 2009 10:50 PM

>>> To make a good two way you might want to consider a more robust 2" exit driver and try and get the XO below 1K.

I agree. Good suggestion. I find my 1" cheap compression driver (Eminence) crossed over high sounds very detailed and lifelike. Maybe it's because i spent my life listening to dome tweeters (which suck imo... sound so fizzy and fake).

Compression drivers can sound terrible but take that same driver and mount it in a proper horn for home use and cross it over so it's nasty sound is minimized and you can tame them beautifully. IMO of course. I've never heard a dome (regardless of price) come close to the dynamic realism of a compression driver.


bear 17th April 2009 02:19 AM

It's an apples and oranges, or maybe apples and meat question.

Real ribbons made with aluminum foil have limited dynamic range, but are not compressed at all. In fact they have better dynamics than most drivers, and less distortion. But limited SPL.

Ribbons made by bonding a conductor to a substrate (kapton, poly-something, etc) are generally referred to as "leaf ribbons" and are fairly ubiquitous these days, they also have limited SPL and a different overall quality compared to real ribbons.

In the latter category there are some that are made for pro sound, PA/SR applications that do NOT have limited SPL and have very very low distortion levels at home listening levels. These will obliviate any dome or standard ribbon or standard compression driver. They also cost a pile of money.

Compression drivers vary all over the map and some are very good, and others are utter crap. Most imho are in the latter category. Ymmv. The better compression drivers, properly used and with appropriate amplification and MOST importantly a properly designed horn can be be quite excellent. Cheap usually doesn't fly here. Diy horns can be superior and better than 99% of the standard commercial offerings. The OS (Geddes) and Quadratic Expansion (Peavy) waveguides offer an interesting and relatively low cost way to go in terms of a "horn".

The main differential between the best of the (leaf) ribbons and the best of the compression driver horns comes in subjective perceptions (they don't sound the same at all) and in terms of polar response - they fill the room differently.

Bottom line on any speaker type is that it is very unusual to get very high performance from inexpensive drivers. There are exceptions, and used items that are quite worthy, but it's difficult to know without hearing them in a proper situation or trying them urself.

It also matters what ur trying to accomplish and how "sophisticated" a system u want to put together.

As is often the case, anything is better than nothing...


PS. ur confronting a classic problem: matching to a 12" driver with something on top. Short answer, it doesn't work. Either you need the top end to go down to 500Hz or less, or else you need the 12" to run up where it gets very ragged and has horrible polar response. The usual solution in classic terms is a midrange driver, but that brings a host of other issues. Issues that literally fill up several JAES anthologies and countless text books trying to find viable solutions for... There are ways to get the top down lower, but those get large, fwiw... this is the short version...

EspenE 17th April 2009 01:24 PM

Re: Re: Re: Ribbon vs. compression driver - what to choose?

Originally posted by Defo

...... Which of the two technologies is the easiest to mate with a woofer in a two-way system?

I would say a compression tweeter. I have no experience with the Beyma TPL-150, but according to the spec sheet (and in common with all ribbons) the vertical dispersion is very narrow (only 20 degrees). IMO, this is a problem, and it makes mating with a woofer in a two-way more difficult.

For a nice two-way, the trick is to use a crossover frequency where the polar responses of the woofer and the tweeter/horn match.

Example: A good horn for home use is the RCF H-100, which is a constant directivity (CD) horn with a dispersion of 90x70 degrees. A 12-inch has 90 degrees dispersion at about 1200 Hz. So there is your crossover frequency. Select a 12-inch with good extension to at least the double frequency. The Lambda TD12M is a good candidate. Another is the JBL 2204 or 2206H. Then select a compression tweeter which can handle this crossover frequency. I have very good experiences with the JBL 2426 and the Beyma CP380. Many reports good results with the B&C DE250. (See thread )

Then make a crossover that compensates for the CD horns falloff at higher frequencies.

Many very good two-ways are made after these principes: Geddes Summas, JBL 4425/4430, etc.

Just my 0.02$


doug20 17th April 2009 02:27 PM

Re: Re: Re: Re: Ribbon vs. compression driver - what to choose?

Is there a build with the RCF H-100 and the lambda drivers? I have 4 TD12S in boxes still waiting on something to match.

I do have Neopro5i/PHL1120 already matched with 2 other TD12S but I was looking for a two-way design also.

As for all the comments about Ribbons being not as good as compression drivers? Blah!! The Neopro5i is a very, very good tweeter and they definitely do not lack dynamics compared to domes. Crossover around 2K is perfect (btw, I have no concern for Vertical issues).

AndrewT 17th April 2009 02:38 PM

I think there was some confusion between dynamics and peak SPL.

Both the ribbons and the compression drivers can be very dynamic.
Generally the compression drivers can achieve higher peak SPLs.

doug20 17th April 2009 02:55 PM

That is true but the SPL on any of these is well beyond what any average DIYer needs even in my family room which is 40 feet deep. The Neopro5i is damn loud according to my wife :D

Im very interested in building a 2-way compression driver/TD12S modelled similar to Geddes designs. Im just hoping the waveguide choice for me isnt as expensive as what he offers :(

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