Mid-woofer cone material

K

Kosta

Audiophyte
I am about to order some custom speakers and a subwoofer from a local speaker builder and choosing the material of the cones is driving me mad...
These speakers are intended for a home theater system which will be for both music and movies so I want the 3.1 part of the system to be high quality for music (including a matching center channel) and the surround system to be cheap.

The stereo setup (for music) will include 2 way speakers with two 6" midwoofer cones each (for the extra DBs) and one silk dome tweeter. When it comes to the cone material, I am trying to choose between some excellent for their price coated paper cones (35 euros per cone), some also really good plastic cones which are a bit more expensive because their build quality is better and finally some really expensive (around 200 euros per cone) ceramic coated cones. The problem is that I have very little experience when it comes to hifi listening so I don't know what to look for when listening to different cones and which one is right for me. My biggest fear is that if I cheap out I will regret it later because I will be missing a lot of detail in music but I also don't want to become the entusiast type who is spending loads of cash for that 1% improvement.

I have already listened to the paper coated cones and I will l listen to a new system with the plastic cones in a couple of days so I would like some guidance about what I should be looking for when I listen to each cone and what are the traits of each (including the ceramic cone). Unfortunately he does not have any system with the ceramic cone so I can't listen to it before placing my order.

Finally, the speaker maker I am talking about is experienced with an excellent reputation and in depth knowledge so am I stressing too much about the cone material or will it not make such a big difference if the one making the speakers know what they are doing?

Thank you in advanced
 
Verdinut

Verdinut

Audioholic Samurai
I am about to order some custom speakers and a subwoofer from a local speaker builder and choosing the material of the cones is driving me mad...
These speakers are intended for a home theater system which will be for both music and movies so I want the 3.1 part of the system to be high quality for music (including a matching center channel) and the surround system to be cheap.

The stereo setup (for music) will include 2 way speakers with two 6" midwoofer cones each (for the extra DBs) and one silk dome tweeter. When it comes to the cone material, I am trying to choose between some excellent for their price coated paper cones (35 euros per cone), some also really good plastic cones which are a bit more expensive because their build quality is better and finally some really expensive (around 200 euros per cone) ceramic coated cones. The problem is that I have very little experience when it comes to hifi listening so I don't know what to look for when listening to different cones and which one is right for me. My biggest fear is that if I cheap out I will regret it later because I will be missing a lot of detail in music but I also don't want to become the entusiast type who is spending loads of cash for that 1% improvement.

I have already listened to the paper coated cones and I will l listen to a new system with the plastic cones in a couple of days so I would like some guidance about what I should be looking for when I listen to each cone and what are the traits of each (including the ceramic cone). Unfortunately he does not have any system with the ceramic cone so I can't listen to it before placing my order.

Finally, the speaker maker I am talking about is experienced with an excellent reputation and in depth knowledge so am I stressing too much about the cone material or will it not make such a big difference if the one making the speakers know what they are doing?

Thank you in advanced
You say that the speaker manufacturer has an excellent reputation and that is a good start. When you talk about plastic cones, are you referring to polypropylene cones? Those are very popular nowadays and their performance is appreciated by many audiophiles.

IMO, many materials have been used to fabricate cones, but the material used should not make a huge difference. What's important is how good it sounds to your ears. If I were you, I wouldn't stress myself with the cone material on a product from a reputable company.

Have you heard air motion transformer or ribbon tweeters? You might prefer them over dome ones because of their better horizontal dispersion at higher frequencies.
 
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ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Ninja
This question is frought with peril!

:p

Some amazing drivers use all different materials in the cone. It isn't just a function of the Cone material that will affect the sound. The entire motor structure will combine with the cone material to create the "right sound" according to some.

Look at drivers from Eton, Audio Technology, Accuton, Seas, SB Acoustics, Scan Speak... (Should I continue??)

One driver that stands out in my mind is the Zaph Audio 5" Aluminum Mid Woofer. It is about $50 US, and very nice. Compared to the $500 Accuton Mid used in the Salk SS8... Which is better? ;) Please tell me, I really don't know! :p

From your question, it almost sounds like this guy is building your drivers, too. Please let us know more clearly. :)
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
I am about to order some custom speakers and a subwoofer from a local speaker builder and choosing the material of the cones is driving me mad...
These speakers are intended for a home theater system which will be for both music and movies so I want the 3.1 part of the system to be high quality for music (including a matching center channel) and the surround system to be cheap.

The stereo setup (for music) will include 2 way speakers with two 6" midwoofer cones each (for the extra DBs) and one silk dome tweeter. When it comes to the cone material, I am trying to choose between some excellent for their price coated paper cones (35 euros per cone), some also really good plastic cones which are a bit more expensive because their build quality is better and finally some really expensive (around 200 euros per cone) ceramic coated cones. The problem is that I have very little experience when it comes to hifi listening so I don't know what to look for when listening to different cones and which one is right for me. My biggest fear is that if I cheap out I will regret it later because I will be missing a lot of detail in music but I also don't want to become the entusiast type who is spending loads of cash for that 1% improvement.

I have already listened to the paper coated cones and I will l listen to a new system with the plastic cones in a couple of days so I would like some guidance about what I should be looking for when I listen to each cone and what are the traits of each (including the ceramic cone). Unfortunately he does not have any system with the ceramic cone so I can't listen to it before placing my order.

Finally, the speaker maker I am talking about is experienced with an excellent reputation and in depth knowledge so am I stressing too much about the cone material or will it not make such a big difference if the one making the speakers know what they are doing?

Thank you in advanced
No offense, but if you are looking to simply get the best sound and are fretting over cone material, you are already on the wrong path. Cone material only matters insofar as it affects the end response. If your speaker builder is as good as you say, they would select the midrange driver based on its performance, not its cone composition. You shouldn't even be offering any input to the designer in that area. If you are only concerned with sound quality, the only thing you should be giving the designer is performance goals, not material use criteria. I hope your designer is competent enough to be able to design a good crossover over such a variety of different midrange drivers. Personally I would be a bit concerned. A good speaker designer would be expensive to commission an original design. The cost difference of the midrange would be insignificant compared to the hourly rate of a good engineer.
 
K

Kosta

Audiophyte
Thank you for your replies!

When you talk about plastic cones, are referring to polypropylene cones?
Yes they are polypropylene cones. It's good to hear that they are popular! I am looking forward to listening to them!
Have you heard air motion transformer or ribbon tweeters? You might prefer them over dome ones because of their better horizontal dispersion at higher frequencies.
I have but I don't know if they are suitable for a home theater environment because of their narrow vertical dispersion. I heard both expensive and cheaper AMTs and Ribbons, I wasn't too impressed with the cheaper ones and the expensive ones sounded nice but also cost over 400 euros...
This question is frought with peril!

From your question, it almost sounds like this guy is building your drivers, too. Please let us know more clearly. :)
Yes it is :)

Thank you for the recommendations! No he is not building me drives, he just recommended me drivers in different price points one of which was made by scanspeak.

No offense, but if you are looking to simply get the best sound and are fretting over cone material, you are already on the wrong path. Cone material only matters insofar as it affects the end response. If your speaker builder is as good as you say, they would select the midrange driver based on its performance, not its cone composition.You shouldn't even be offering any input to the designer in that area. If you are only concerned with sound quality, the only thing you should be giving the designer is performance goals, not material use criteria.
He did select the drivers based on performance and he talked to me about their response but I was probably obsessed about cone material because of my lack of listening experience... Since I can't tell what I should be looking for when I am listening to different drives, I thought doing some research on cone materials (which I though it was the most important part) would help me choose.

A good speaker designer would be expensive to commission an original design. The cost difference of the midrange would be insignificant compared to the hourly rate of a good engineer.
The rates in my country are lower so even though it will be a lot more expensive that a DIY project It will still cost me less than buying a branded speaker and as a bonus I will be able to choose the design and parts of the speakers.

I listened to a couple of his speakers and they are significantly better than similar (and more expensive) branded speakers I listened to. Also, he is well known and I heard many good things about him so it's really easy for me to trust him
 
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KEW

KEW

Audioholic Overlord
Thank you for your replies!



Yes they are polypropylene cones. It's good to hear that they are popular! I am looking forward to listening to them!


I have but I don't know if they are suitable for a home theater environment because of their narrow vertical dispersion. I heard both expensive and cheaper AMTs and Ribbons, I wasn't too impressed with the cheaper ones and the expensive ones sounded nice but also cost over 400 euros...


Yes it is :)

Thank you for the recommendations! No he is not building me drives, he just recommended me drivers in different price points one of which was made by scanspeak.



He did select the drivers based on performance and he talked to me about their response but I was probably obsessed about cone material because of my lack of listening experience... Since I can't tell what I should be looking for when I am listening to different drives, I thought doing some research on cone materials (which I though it was the most important part) would help me choose.



The rates in my country are lower so even though it will be a lot more expensive that a DIY project It will still cost me less than buying a branded speaker and as a bonus I will be able to choose the design and parts of the speakers.

I listened to a couple of his speakers and they are significantly better than similar (and more expensive) branded speakers I listened to. Also, he is well known and I heard many good things about him so it's really easy for me to trust him
Is there a reason you are not telling us who he is?
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Warlord
Something seems off about this story... cone materials? Why not just tell him to use what will produce a good sounding speaker? Each one will have its strengths and weaknesses. It's how they're executed that counts. Who is this builder and what are his credentials?
 
K

Kosta

Audiophyte
Is there a reason you are not telling us who he is?
Not at all, it's just that unless you live in my country you don't know who he is because he is not working internationally.

Something seems off about this story... cone materials? Why not just tell him to use what will produce a good sounding speaker? Each one will have its strengths and weaknesses. It's how they're executed that counts. Who is this builder and what are his credentials?
I was the one who got hang-up on the cone material. He just recommended me drivers that will sound good in different price points and told me what the cones are made of. Since my knowledge on drivers is rudimentary I though that the cone material was what made the difference which is wrong according to the people who replied to my question.

It's just that I have to make a decision based on my inexperienced ears so it's difficult to choose. The speaker builder told me that he can build me really good speakers with the cheaper cones but it's up to me if I want to go for the more expensive ones. He told me there will be a difference in quality but not a big enough one to justify the 4x price increase so it's up to me to decide. Problem is that I can't tell what that really means because there are audiophiles spending thousands of dollars for micro upgrades just to make already expensive speakers sound 1% better and then there are reasonably priced parts you can choose to upgrade cheap speakers which drastically improve the sound. What I mean by that is that I don't know if by choosing the expensive cones I am going for that 1%, which is something I don't want to pay for, or If I am getting a reasonable upgrade over the cheaper ones.

Is a driver with a good price/performance ratio enough if the one making the speakers knows what they are doing?
 
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ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Ninja
Ha! ;) It is a trap!

:cool:

Here’s the thing: a skilled designer can take inexpensive parts and make them wonderful!
(If the part allows for that, that is.) :p

a good example is a magnesium driver like the kind Seas uses. They all have points where the break up. Below that point, many consider them to be quite astounding drivers. The skilled designer will take that into account when selecting drivers and building the Crossover. If executed competently, you will never hear that break up.

In short, you are falling into the overthinkers trap.

If you want to engage on that level with your designer, you need to understand a lot more than what you do. :) Otherwise, my advice would be to set the budget, tell the designer to pick the best drivers he can for the money... perhaps give you recommendations if it’s a close call... and sit back and enjoy.

:D
 
K

Kosta

Audiophyte
In short, you are falling into the overthinkers trap.
Yeah, at this point this sounds about right... Unfortunately I am prejudiced towards many aspects of Hifi which I am constantly trying to get over and as a result I tend to overthink things without realizing it...

Things like "I ve only seen dome tweeters in cheap speaker up until now and suddenly I learn about Hifi and new cool tweeters such as Ribbons, AMTs etc which are used in more expensive speakers so dome tweeters must suck"

or " If I pay 2x for parts I well get 2x or close to 2x better performance from the speakers"

etc etc

Don't get me wrong, I am aware that this way of thinking is completely wrong in HiFi but nevertheless these ideas are echoing in my subconscious when I am trying to choose parts and most of the time I need to hear it from others to realize that I got affected without knowing it...

I got to know the speaker builder and he is someone I know I can trust so I think i will take your advice, set a budget and let him choose what's the best driver for my case.

Thank you everyone for your advise!
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
The art of speaker design is to choose drivers that will work well with each other. Most combinations will never work. So you have a plan of what you want to do, and then you look for drivers that will work well together with an elegant crossover design. If the guy is any good he will have total designs at different price points. If he says you can have this mid for so much and this one for so much, then you need to run away fast. If that is his game plan you will have lousy speakers.
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Ninja
I think, more importantly, is that you get the speaker you want.
I like Flat, Accurate, Neutral speakers. For example, this is the published response of one of my speakers, the BMR.
1590285628138.png

And this is the same speaker, as tested by Shady for AH:
1590285762982.png


On the other hand, some people want their speakers to have elevated Lows, or nuanced Mids (whatever that might actually mean).

As long as you are able to work that out with your designer, then you should be good. :)

Just for kicks, I mentioned drivers by Seas, before. This particular one is the 7" W18E001, selling for US$281.00, ea. If you look at the FR chart, it doesn't look super pretty. That big spike peaking at ~4500Hz, especially. That is the cone break-up I mentioned. If accounted for in the design with some smarts, you won't see, or hear, any of that. Case in point:
This is just a 2-way design using a Raal Ribbon tweeter and that exact same W18 driver. With the right crossover slope, possibly a filter to attenuate that break-up frequency if needed, and crossed at the right point to voice seamlessly with the tweeter, what you get is an impressively flat FR.

I hope you keep us informed of your quest and share many tidbits and photos of the project! :D

Best,
R
 
KEW

KEW

Audioholic Overlord
The art of speaker design is to choose drivers that will work well with each other. Most combinations will never work. So you have a plan of what you want to do, and then you look for drivers that will work well together with an elegant crossover design. If the guy is any good he will have total designs at different price points. If he says you can have this mid for so much and this one for so much, then you need to run away fast. If that is his game plan you will have lousy speakers.
This!
If he is giving you a choice of the material for the driver, he is allowing you to impose a restriction on his design that could be very problematic. This does not sound right if he is truly a good designer. Has said above the selection of the driver should be a very carefully fault through thing because not all drivers can work together without a ungodly mess of a crossover to attempt to allow them to mesh properly, which quickly introduces sound quality problems with its own!
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
There is a reason for the offerings of various mids? How about tweeters? Woofers? If just mids, why?
 
Verdinut

Verdinut

Audioholic Samurai
Most of the musical program in the majority of musical compositions occurs in the mid frequencies, let's say between 300 and 3,000 Hz or so. It is therefore the most critical range of the full frequency spectrum, and also the section where the human ear is most sensitive.
Ideally with loudspeakers using passive crossovers, there shouldn't be any crossover point in that frequency range which also covers the human voice spoken and sung frequencies. However, that is not always possible for various reasons.
 
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K

Kosta

Audiophyte
The art of speaker design is to choose drivers that will work well with each other. Most combinations will never work. So you have a plan of what you want to do, and then you look for drivers that will work well together with an elegant crossover design. If the guy is any good he will have total designs at different price points. If he says you can have this mid for so much and this one for so much, then you need to run away fast. If that is his game plan you will have lousy speakers.
His driver recommendations were all based on drivers he has used before and he was happy with them. It's not like he showed me a huge collection of drives to choose from. He already informed me that he might need some extra parts for the crossover based on the driver I choose but the box and crossover price will not change much no matter which one of the three drivers I pick which means that the final price will depend on the drivers.

I think, more importantly, is that you get the speaker you want.
I like Flat, Accurate, Neutral speakers. For example, this is the published response of one of my speakers, the BMR.
This flat line looks real sexy! This is exactly what I am aiming for. I really dislike sound colorization.. If the instruments don't sound natural I would rather not listen to them at all...

Once I place my order it will take a while for him to make the speakers but I will make sure to keep you up to date!
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
His driver recommendations were all based on drivers he has used before and he was happy with them. It's not like he showed me a huge collection of drives to choose from. He already informed me that he might need some extra parts for the crossover based on the driver I choose but the box and crossover price will not change much no matter which one of the three drivers I pick which means that the final price will depend on the drivers.



This flat line looks real sexy! This is exactly what I am aiming for. I really dislike sound colorization.. If the instruments don't sound natural I would rather not listen to them at all...

Once I place my order it will take a while for him to make the speakers but I will make sure to keep you up to date!
From all I am hearing I sense a real mess coming. You can not just choose drivers. I have over 60 years experience now designing speakers. It is very complex, and far too complex to go interchanging drivers. The other thing that concerns me is this drive to three way. When you do add a driver then you need a really good reason. It becomes only worth it if it usefully extends the bass, and above all, if the midrange can handle the whole of the speech discrimination band. That means crossover points in the 400 to 500 Hz range, and 3.5 to 4 KHz on the top end.

Decent mid range drivers are far and few between. There are always been a serious lack of them. In general if you can't meet the above criteria, you are far better off with a two way design. The ideal speaker has no crossover, and the fewer the better. So that is where driver selection becomes paramount so that you can achieve crossovers with the least components that do the least phase and therefore time shifts, as they are one and the same thing..

Developing a good design is a lot of work, and hard work at that and takes time. That is why there are so few really good speakers around.

If you want you can submit the design here before you put down cash and I will take a look at it.
 
K

Kosta

Audiophyte
The other thing that concerns me is this drive to three way. When you do add a driver then you need a really good reason. It becomes only worth it if it usefully extends the bass, and above all, if the midrange can handle the whole of the speech discrimination band. That means crossover points in the 400 to 500 Hz range, and 3.5 to 4 KHz on the top end.

Decent mid range drivers are far and few between. There are always been a serious lack of them. In general if you can't meet the above criteria, you are far better off with a two way design. The ideal speaker has no crossover, and the fewer the better. So that is where driver selection becomes paramount so that you can achieve crossovers with the least components that do the least phase and therefore time shifts, as they are one and the same thing.
Yeah you are absolutely right, this is why I opted to go with a 2 way design with 2 mid-woofers and a tweeter. I was thinking about a 3-way speaker before but the speaker builder told me exactly what you said.

If you want you can submit the design here before you put down cash and I will take a look at it.
The design is not finalized yet because I need to make a choice regarding the final budget. I made a few drawings to show him how I want the speakers to look like but it's still not final since it's pure art, without taking into account the requirements of all the speaker parts (I don't have the knowledge to do that). The speaker builder will use my design as a reference and will make the necessary adjustments where it's needed.

From my conversation with all of you, it looks like I will be the one restricting him with my fixation over the drives so I will just do what I said above. He already knows what I am looking for sound-wise so I will just choose my budget and let the speaker builder do what he knows best.
 

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