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Old 11th May 2012, 05:46 PM   #1
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Default noob question, planar speakers vs ESL on bass

Both planar speakers and ESL use a thin diaphragm suspended by a magnetic field to make sound. I realize that planar speakers use a thin wire embedded in the diaphragm resulting in more mass but is it enough to make a significant difference in the bass department? I'm curious to see if i can get better bass slam out of diaphragm based speakers. For example the Audeze LCD-2 seems to have better bass response than most Stax headphones. Is this due to the large diameter of the LCD driver? or simply because the embedded wire in the diaphragm adds enough mass to make a significant difference in the bass. Can anybody explain this please?
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Old 11th May 2012, 09:42 PM   #2
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ESL's Do Not Use Magnets........At All!

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Old 11th May 2012, 09:46 PM   #3
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Magnetic field** I know ESL's don't use magnets but all speakers use magnetic fields to function. thanks
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Old 12th May 2012, 03:26 AM   #4
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Are you sure that LCD-2 can get better bass?

To get better bass on ES headphones, you can try using thicker diaphragm. I think you can go as high as 6 microns and still be able to get good full range frequency responses.

Wachara C.
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Old 12th May 2012, 04:18 AM   #5
j beede is offline j beede  United States
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Planar magnetics and conventional cone drivers use "B" field. ESL use "E" field.
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Old 13th May 2012, 09:30 AM   #6
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I have been building full range planars for a long time now, and I find that the bass on a planar is very much tighter and cleaner, than ESL's. I also have 57's and 63's and in comparison the bass is a lot plummier and resonant on the ESL's, than the planars. I certainly prefer the planar bass.
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Old 14th May 2012, 01:41 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by j beede View Post
Planar magnetics and conventional cone drivers use "B" field. ESL use "E" field.
okay i'm interested and i'm here to learn, what's the difference here? i'm assuming "E" for electrostatic but "B"?
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Old 14th May 2012, 02:10 PM   #8
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A magnetic planar usually will allow for more diagphram displacement (Xmax) compared to your average ESL.

Although an ESL can be designed for a higher Xmax but it requires much much higher voltages than what its practical.

Usually to compensate for this you would increase the surface area of the ESL,but this would only be good for the lower frequency's as increasing the width of any planar causes the higher frequency's to become more directional (Beamy).
The older Quad ESL's don't have a very large surface area to begin with if you are trying to compare to them for bass frequency's.

For good bass you need alot of displacement for any planar type of speaker.

You can get a good bass response if it is large enough but don't expect the kind of SPL's that you would get from a conventional bass driver (subwoofer),unless they are very large.

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Old 14th May 2012, 02:28 PM   #9
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how large do they typically need to become to have (beamy) highs. Also is that so bad..? it sounds like it provides a more accurate sound stage? or am i missing the point. Thank you
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Old 14th May 2012, 08:30 PM   #10
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Typically when the width of a section starts to get over about 4.5" they start to become very directional.
This is okay if you like having the effect of having your head in a vice while you are listening to your music.

Yes, I believe that the sound stage seems more accurate this way much more so than a curved panel, but can be uncomfortable to listen this way.
Especially when when there is more than just you trying to enjoy the sounds.

Again this is a highly debatable subject and there are many opinions on this all with valid comments and had been discussed many times over in various threads.
It basically boils down to your listening situation and what works for you.

To give you an idea, my little panel has a diagphram width of 3.25" and has a horizontal dispersion of around +/- 30degree off center before the high drop off on the sides to be almost non-existent.
A wider panel of say 8 or 9 inches can be around +/- 10 to 15 degrees or so and worse as the width increases.

There are ways to combat this using segmentation technique's applied to either of the two technology's.

Room sizes can play a big factor in the design as well,For instance,
My room is long and narrow (10.5' wide on the speaker end) so using a wider panel that is more directional can still give me about a 2 foot wide area of sweet spot 16 feet away from the speakers.

Also since I don't have any room treatments yet this will also cut down on any reflections reaching me ears first do to the straight beam path.
it is this reflections that can destroy the stereo image.
Typically in my room the left and right become reversed at the higher frequency's even as low as 1000Hz and is quite annoying and this is with just your average cone drivers.
I use my little panels in a nearfield situation anyhow.

If I were to setup a system in a larger room such as my living room the speaker might be placed 14' to as much as 20' apart and this is were a wider horizontal dispersion would be more desirable.

To make up for the efficiency loss of a narrower panel at the lower frequency's, you just simply add more sections increasing the surface area such as charlieM's panels.
He has 3 sections in about a 12" width,some just use two sections, I typically like to stick with an odd number of sections so that there is always a center section.
He says that even his woofer has a hard time keeping up at times.He,he,he
But trust me they get louder than you think.
I can get well over 105db at 1 meter with one of my little 3.25" X 9.75" panel and a larger panel is just awesome.
I will be making some new larger panels this summer.

Here is the link to Charlies pages,

Jazzman's DIY Electrostatic Loudspeaker Page: Building the Stat Panels

He also uses a beam splitter design as well and this works very well and I have tried using it with my little panels as well on my desktop,It works good.
I have been contemplating a design that uses a cylindrical reflect at the back of the panel.
Again this is just an experiment, but it has been used by others before and the reflections interacting with the forward wave may become an issue as well.

That is basically it in a nutshell and gets much much more detailed as we go.
I hope this helps you to understand a little better.

I like ESL's, But I would like to put together magnetic planar one day.
When I can swing the cost of the magnets!!!

Cheers !!

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