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Old 31st May 2013, 09:31 PM   #1
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Default Options for (very) small transducers for earbuds?

I've been reading up on custom in ear monitors. You can definitely can DIY these, but it requires expensive balanced armatures which, if you can even buy them in low quantities, are significantly more expensive than they are in bulk. As such, it's kind of out of my price range.

However, all is not lost! I've wanted to experiment with alternative technologies for earbuds (as in, the things that go inside your ear) for awhile, anyhow!

Now, not everything that might work in a headphone would work in an IEM, because the driver is sealed within the casing. It can be vented, if need be, but AFAIK this decreases the quality of the acoustic seal and noise blocking.

I would imagine ESLs are out. Even if you ignore the difficulty of driving them, don't the backs have to be open, else you get very poor quality sound?

Could you seal ribbons within a shell?

Would it be possible to DIY orthodynamic-style drivers? These have the advantage of not needing any special amplifier.

In commercial IEMs, most designs use multiple drivers, sometimes up to 8. I think that is a little unnecessary, but one idea might be to use a balanced armature as a woofer (these are actually much cheaper than the HF and mid range ones) with something else for the tweeter and/or mids. Balanced armatures, as far as I can tell, have pretty poor frequency responses for HF anyway, so that kind of hybrid design might actually be optimal in the end.

Anyhow, let me know what you think!

EDIT: I forgot to mention, what about piezos? It's my understanding that hysteresis prevents them from accurately reproducing sound, but is that true?

Last edited by krfkeith; 31st May 2013 at 09:38 PM.
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