Ribbon Speakers

The diaphragm of ribbon speakers is conductive, positioned in a transverse magnetic field and supported by both ends. When an air current passes through the diaphragm, a perpendicular force results. This generates an even trust on the diaphragm that is typically thin and light. Ribbons are a type of flat-panel speakers.

Ribbon Speakers and Electrostatic Ones

Ribbon speakers and electrostatic speakers share many things. They both have a linear transduction mechanism that has an attractive minimum phase characteristic. However, they also have some differences. The ribbon loudspeaker produces a driving force to the applied magnetic field, so the diaphragm is a plane of magnetic field lines.

On the one hand, since the diaphragm is fairly thin, only a small part of the magnetic field is able to run through. On the other hand, the electrostatic speaker generates a driving force that is pointing towards the same direction as the applied electrostatic field. The diaphragm tends to be quite wide, so the electrostatic one is extremely efficient. When the air gap is wide, the width of the diaphragm has more limitations, including a leakage problem.

Ribbon Speakers: Characteristics

They usually need separate low-frequency units; these can be either horn-loaded or direct-radiating. Firstly, horn-loaded ribbon speakers tend to provide very good directivity. They have an efficiency that is similar to the direct-radiating moving-coil transducers. Unless the design is pristine, the coloration of the horn might lose some of the inherent clarity of the ribbon transduction system. Secondly, direct-radiating ribbon speakers tend to be quite large and heavy, so they frequently have directivity problems.

The Material

Ribbon material is extremely efficient. The ideal diaphragm must be as thin and light as possible in order to operate efficiently. The most efficient diaphragm material has the smallest product of both density and resistivity.

Conclusions: If Not Ribbon Speakers, then What?

If these speakers are not what you’re after, you have many other options. Try learning from digital, electrodynamic, full-range, mid-range, woofer, subwoofer, tweeter, and coaxial speakers. You can also consult piezoelectric, magnetostatic, and magnetostrictive ones. The possibilities are endless: find the speaker that suits your needs.