Transducers- What are they and how do they work
1.1 How Transducers Work in Ear Monitors
Let’s talk transducers! for those of you who know what they are your ears will perk up, but for those of you who do not know what they are I might as well be talking about solutions to the motion of the free asymmetric top or Göbekli Tepli, but if I do my job right then both the transducer savvy and the transducer newbies can leave here with more knowledge. So, where do we begin?
Table of Contents
I believe that eating the frog and jumping into the murky details of what a transducer does and how it functions in a very simple way is a great way to dissect this topic (Pun intended). The term transducer in its base form means the conversion of an energy signal into another energy form. Simple enough right? One signal (The Input) takes in an electrical signal and relays that message to an output such as a radio outputting sound, or a machine such as this STANLEY right angle torque tool. In the in-ear monitor niche, the transducers job is to in the words of Headphonesty.com to, “convert the electrical signal into a sound wave that the ear can understand. Its straightforward and over the years many companies have crafted higher and higher quality devices that fulfill the needs of many different applications. And within these applications are the different versions of drivers available and they are a balanced armature, Dynamic, Planar magnetic, Electrostatic, Magnetostriction, or bone conduction transducers.
With this many choices, it is hard to go wrong with the transducer that you purchase, However, not all headphone drivers are created equal, and each specific type serves its purpose, read this article to understand which is right for your intended application. In our companies niche, we have selected balanced armature drivers as they are ideal for fitting within a custom shell and provide users on motorcycles, and users who intend using their in-ear headphones for communication in extremely loud surroundings exceptional clarity while efficiently producing sound waves which ensure that the user can have beautiful sound while listening at responsible volume levels. And this is an important point to be made as there are many options on the market and so many companies including ourselves that market and sell products with transducers in them. There are so many now that it can be hard to differentiate between what product you specifically need, and since I am writing this for both experienced and inexperienced transducer crowds.
I believe there are some myths to dispell before we go any further. The first is that there is a correlation between the number of transducers and the sound quality. While this is a true statement in most cases if the unit is a well-built device that showcases quality frequency responses and linear dynamics and meets professional standards only when this is achieved will adding more transducers to the equation output a higher quality sound. But if the build of the device is subpar and done in a non-professional manner with uncertified technicians the sound reproduction is degraded quickly, and the finished product may offer more drivers at a lower cost but when compared to a well built lower transducer count, the lower count higher quality transducer will perform much better.
Here is a perfect example for you to understand Frequency. Our transducers we use to give you a response from 20HZ to 20,000. Get a listen to what that actually is. Set your speaker system to 3/4 volume. This is not a pretty test and it may even annoy some, but when people make recording either books on tape or music this is the frequency range that is used. When we design our head Stereo earplugs we take into account first what the frequency that is present, (say wind noise on a motorcycle) and designs a headset that will compensate for the outside sound and makes us totally different than any other company out there. Their units are designed in a quiet setting with no background noise. That’s why when you hear it just in a room then try and use it in an application they ALL fall short.
Get a listen at 3/4 volume to understand what frequency is.
The next myth to dispell is that name brand headphones are the highest quality products that you can buy. In the world of sales and marketing, the biggest fish dominate the industry and while this is fair, what does suffer at times is the end consumer as they are constantly being conditioned to purchase the most name recognized brand. The problem with doing this in the headphone industry is that it can wind up costing you a lot of money very quickly for a subpar product that has massive marketing forces pumping out ads and product placements.
This is a very small niche that the Big Box players can’t service as everything is custom and one off. They try and make it seem that using a generic ear cup or a heat and stuff will do the trick as it is the easiest to manufacture.
However for the few who decide to look past the veil of advertising, there are many articles written that compare the performance of both well known and unknown in-ear monitors and even more youtube videos than you could ever watch in a lifetime that break down every aspect of headphones, earbuds, speakers and transducers and what they can do for you. And for those who do their research and invest in the right product, you can limit the money you spend while searching for the right product while also supporting non-name brand products.
The last two myths that I would like to dispell are. First, all custom earplugs are the same and second that all custom transducer products are too expensive. These two can be dispelled by just typing in,”Are custom earbuds worth it?” Into Google. What you will find are cases where journalists take the plunge into custom earbuds to uncover how good they are. And the dynamic range of choices that each journalist or enthusiast has defeats the first myth. Dispelling the second part of the myth that custom headphones are all too expensive is why I am writing this article. The problem that I see permeated in other articles covering custom products is in many reviews; the journalists acquire the biggest baddest and most expensive products from the most established and well-known custom headphone companies. They get the ten drivers or the eight drivers and laud the performance of the device.
This in the world of cinematography is like getting ahold of a red epic or an Arri Alexa and stating that it’s amazing, its a known thing that is tried and true. However what happens is the journalist does the article on the ten thousand dollar product, and as an afterthought, they throw in that you can get an affordable product at the four hundred dollar price point and they end the article without going into any more detail. In our consumer-centric society, this is dangerous as it creates an air of false superiority around custom headsets in that they are lavish and only for the mega-wealthy or the world-class musician who has just signed a huge record deal. But that is not the case.
In our product line and most other companies, there are extremely available options that don’t cost as much as a downpayment on a home. From our Be-1c that retails at 350.00 or our Be-2 which provides pro-level sound quality at an affordable price of 550.00 or the myriad of other companies mid-tier priced products. These products are all but missed as they are not the flashy 5 or 10 driver’s that our marketplace has saturated. However, this would not be a productive post if I just stated the issues. The way that these products receive recognition and attention is like any other product or cause; it takes time and exposure to resonate with a broader audience. And hopefully, through articles like this one and the hundreds of others on the internet, customers can receive the correct information on the other options past generic earbuds.
I would like to wrap this up by sharing that the passion that custom companies have for creating these high-quality transducers. In most cases, you will deal with very honest and upstanding people who work hand in hand with some of the best labs in the world to create products that will provide their customers with the very best in both hearing production and sound recreation. And by doing business with these upstanding businesses you will cultivate a market that keeps everybody who sells these products on their toes and constantly innovating to create the very best products, and in turn, you create a truly fair marketplace.