Why Balanced Armature Drivers Suck

Discussion in 'Audio Science' started by purr1n, Oct 2, 2021.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Why BA drivers suck

    This is a low-end BA driver IEM, but these distortion characteristics carry throughout all BA type drivers. Higher end BA drivers or perhaps better implementations will have lower distortion, but the kind of distortion, the harmonic pattern, stays the same. What I've been below is provide a 1kHz signal at four different levels in increments of 10db
    1. Pervasive high 3rd order distortion, regardless of sound level. It sticks our like a sort thumb and never goes away, even at the softest levels. The BA sound is likely killing you softly with this song.
    2. At moderate higher levels, we see an increase in all harmonics which is typical, but it's the odd order harmonics that really rise. That's the 3rd and the 5th.

    BA Driver 1 kHz
    Each successive measurement 10db lower stimulus tone than the one prior
    upload_2021-10-2_10-17-10.png
    upload_2021-10-2_10-16-50.png
    upload_2021-10-2_10-16-2.png
    upload_2021-10-2_10-16-25.png
     
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    Last edited: Oct 2, 2021
  2. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Now let's compare to a "low-end" DD driver. Is the Pinnacle P1.
    1. Note how the distortion at lower levels is practically non-existent. This is the opposite of BA drivers which still have pervasive high distortion at all at sound levels, including low levels.
    2. As we push it, we see a slow rise in the second harmonic, followed later by the third hamonic
    3. The odd harmonics only rare their ugly head at the highest sound level (clipping). Even then, the the second harmonic is level with the 3rd harmonic.
    DD 1 kHz
    Each successive measurement 10db lower stimulus tone than the one prior
    upload_2021-10-2_10-32-3.png
    upload_2021-10-2_10-33-27.png
    upload_2021-10-2_10-33-54.png
    upload_2021-10-2_10-34-19.png
     
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    Last edited: Oct 2, 2021
  3. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    I should have explained this years ago. This scientifically explains why so many people dislike BAs.
     
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  4. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    Do you still have distortion measurements on the Planamic and any of the Audeze i3/i4? Let me know if I need to lend some things for 'science'.

    My mother used to build hearing aids and almost everyone in my family has hearing damage from either war or disability. BA's were meant to help those people restore some semblance of their humanity (senses) while not being cumbersome to wear all day. Enter the balanced armature.

    I still think it is neat what they CAN accomplish in the space that they do, but the trade-off's are MEASURE-ABLE! I always thought this was a KNOWN thing and why a balanced armature in-ear will not outright win.

    We've been spoiled by their ability to be tuned well while sacrificing the intangibles (IMO) They don't sound 'real'.
     
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  5. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    The Audeze and planamic stuff should be the same as DDs. Ortho is actually dynamic driver tech - orthodynamics.
     
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  6. nishan99

    nishan99 Friend

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    Are there any measurements on their fast decay and short sustain?. That's the most offensive attributes of BAs to me, they sound fake AF even tho they measure beautifully on FR graph. Single DDs even with imperfect FR sound more real and natural.

    @M3NTAL Also their stupid efficiency is huge plus for battery powered thingy you have to wear all day.
     
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  7. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    I suspect the "fast" decay is the result of uneven spikey decay in measurements. It's funny how that works. (The inverse of STAX smoothless and lack of grain indicated by a decay that continues on by at a low level and in an even way). Give me a bit...

    The issue with BA is that it's asymmetric - this is why the odd order stuff. The diaphragm is driven by a rod attached to one end of it, not in the middle.


    BAs suck balls, but there are good reasons why they are still around. One of my favorite IEMs is the Ara, which is BA throughout. Good engineers can design around the inherent suckiness of BAs.
     
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    Last edited: Oct 2, 2021
  8. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    BA 4.8kHz burst
    upload_2021-10-2_12-13-16.png

    DD 4.8kHz bust
    upload_2021-10-2_12-15-26.png

    The 4.8kHz burst was the only one which was different. Note different characteristics with the first and last cycles in the 10 cycle burst. BA overshoots. DD undershoots. DD takes a while to settle. BA is slightly faster to settle but does it in an odd way.
     
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  9. Stuff Jones

    Stuff Jones Friend

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    Doesn't "there's no replacement for displacement" also apply here?
     
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  10. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Yes!. These teeny little fuckers can't move air. This is why IEM manufacturers double, triple, quadruple up BA drivers for the lows.
     
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  11. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    Plastic timbre and ten BA driver IEMs for life.

    Wish DD drivers on IEM can match the resolution of the Ara one day without the 2k-8k hotness on some recordings.

    Come on Campfire Audio, give me an OG Solaris in a smaller shell that fit ears better, that's what people want. Give me that DD for bass air and I'll leave the BA for the other stuff.

    And yet I ordered an 2020 Andro yesterday.
     
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  12. Stuff Jones

    Stuff Jones Friend

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    Hybrids sound incoherent to me and marry that with BA timbre. I wonder why manufacturers don't use a DD (or two) for bass on up to about 8 to 10k, and then use BA or electrostatic from there on up? Personally I don't notice timbre or dynamics above those frequencies, so the disadvantages of non-DDs are minimized. That would probably make the crossover more discrete, solving the coherency issues. And you wouldn't be forced to force a tiny DD cover the entire frequency range, which I bet would allow you to tune it better than most full range DDs. Is this crazy talk?
     
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  13. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    UM 3DT has me convinced multiple DDs is the way to go.
     
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  14. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    UM 3DT ( @Merrick just beat me to it). And, sort of, Vision Ears Elysium: that has BAs for the bass but a dynamic for the mids and electrostatics for the highs. And sounds great, btw.

    Interesting. Worth looking at the distortion pattern of a 4.8k signal? Sure, only up to H3 would be relevant for people who aren't batman (so perhaps something a bit lower, 3.5k or 4k, instead) but maybe H2 vs H3 would look different from 1k?
     
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  15. Stuff Jones

    Stuff Jones Friend

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    I like my 3DT a lot too but they do lack some air. Imagine a BA driver stuck in there to handle everything from 10k up? Wouldn't that be all + and no - ?
     
  16. Rockwell

    Rockwell Friend

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    I would say the trend is certainly heading in this direction. 3 years ago when I started getting seriously into this hobby it was smack in the middle of the ridiculous fad of trying to stuff as many BA drivers as humanly possible into an IEM. Next came hybrids & tribrids with DDs being reserved for the bass and BAs & other exotic drivers doing the highs. Lately we're seeing the emergence of many hybrid type IEMs where DDs are being used for the mids as well as the bass and other, qucker drivers being used for the highs. I imagine it won't be too long before an IEM like the one you're describing becomes a reality. My dream IEM at the moment would be a CFA IEM with a Solaris-like balanced tuning in one of their ceramic shells with one of their proprietary DDs doing the mids & lows and one of those gen 2 Sonion e-stats doing the highs.
     
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  17. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    It would be the same for these reasons:
    • xovers are transitional, not immediate. they need to be transitional for a good blend in the xover region, so that BA as supertweeter will still cover a lot of area below 10kHz
    • not enough space in IEMs for complex xovers anyway
    • ultrasonics matter. in theory we can't hear them. in practice, this is why some people dislike focal metal drivers and why Amir said the Elac monitor (alum tweeter) sounded like ass despite nearly perfect measurements from 70Hz-20kHz.
    • attack and decay characteristics are still different
     
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  18. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    Worried how big the shells can get. I missed my OG Solaris but I do not miss how soar it made my ears felt. More types of drivers with an IEM, the more/bulker it will get. DUNU EST 112 was in the step in the right direction: Tri-Driver Design that didn't sound like shit, not Bulky, easy to put in your ears, and most importantly the price.

    I'm getting sick of $2k-$3k IEMs that is enough cash for a down payment on a car.
     
  19. Stuff Jones

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    And/or maybe bigger drivers like on the Zen (Pro)? Is it easier to cover the whole heard FQ range with more surface area?
     
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  20. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    I agree, price and bulk are going up quickly. The 3DT is nowhere near the largest shell I’ve ever experienced in an IEM. And the sound from them is very good, and could be even better if we’re talking higher end DD drivers. With 3D printing we could get lighter, but more durable shells too. I think there’s a lot of potential in this particular avenue, far more than the endless 300 BA drivers with 50 way crossover monstrosities that most companies flog.
     
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