Re: [DMCForum] Planar?
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Re: [DMCForum] Planar?

On Tue, 25 May 2004, Farrar Hudkins wrote:

> Er, pardon me for showing my ignorance, but ... The only "planar" I'm
> familiar with is planar geometry.

You're on the right track.  Planar speakers, also called ribbon or
quasi-ribbon speakers (two subtly different varieties), are speakers which
use a thin vibrating sheet to create sound instead of a vibrating cone. 
Essentially, they consist of a tightly stretched membrane suspended in
between mangets.  The membrane is either made of plastic (often mylar) 
with wires running through it or is one large membrane conductor.  As the
amplified signal passes through the membrane, the EM interaction between
the membrane and the magnets causes the entire plane to vibrate, producing
the desired sound across the whole surface.

Where cone speakers have a definite center to the sound, and thus can
sometimes give away the fact that they're speakers, not live sound, planar
speakers produce the sound over the entire surface of the speaker and can
produce a hauntingly realistic soundstage.  They tend to be a bit more
finicky about placement, and are generally good only for small listening
environments (i.e. home audio room, not a dance hall), but in the right
environment they sound simply phenomenal.  Cones cannot compare.

Because of the design of planars, they are very thin.  My main speakers,
Magnepan MG1.6s, have faces 19"x65", but are only 2" thick.  Planars don't
need cabinets to sound right, hence my initial jab at you.

Really the only downside of planars is they have a hard time with low end,
so it's essential they be paired with an appropriate subwoofer to generate
a good flat response.

Magnepan is probably te most well known planar speaker manufacturer in the
world.  You can check out their site at

(also an a/v geek)
(yes, I was that kid at school.  still am, really.)

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