Soft vs Hard Dome Tweeters: Which do you prefer?

What type of tweeter do you prefer?

  • Soft dome (ie. Fabric, Silk)

    Votes: 8 17.8%
  • Hard dome (ie. Aluminum, Titanium, Beryllium, etc

    Votes: 12 26.7%
  • No preference, design execusion is more important than the material used

    Votes: 24 53.3%
  • I'm still rolling with paper

    Votes: 1 2.2%

  • Total voters
    45
3db

3db

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#41
I don't understand the preferences for tweeter composition when one is listening to the entire speaker system which includes crossovers, speaker baffles, cabinet rigidity etc. Saying that you prefer a particular tweeter composition is ignoring the speaker system and its algimated effects on what it is your hearing.
 
Irvrobinson

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#42
I don't understand the preferences for tweeter composition when one is listening to the entire speaker system which includes crossovers, speaker baffles, cabinet rigidity etc. Saying that you prefer a particular tweeter composition is ignoring the speaker system and its algimated effects on what it is your hearing.
Yeah, we do listen to entire systems, but only a tweeter reproduces the last two octaves, so having opinions about tweeters is not quite as weird as having opinions about, say, cables.
 
highfigh

highfigh

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#43
I don't understand the preferences for tweeter composition when one is listening to the entire speaker system which includes crossovers, speaker baffles, cabinet rigidity etc. Saying that you prefer a particular tweeter composition is ignoring the speaker system and its algimated effects on what it is your hearing.
If the material isn't important and people still have a preference, it would seem that system and/or crossover design haven't been perfected or the manufacturers are sending their products to market before they're good enough to be considered 'good enough'.
 
KEW

KEW

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#44
I don't understand the preferences for tweeter composition when one is listening to the entire speaker system which includes crossovers, speaker baffles, cabinet rigidity etc. Saying that you prefer a particular tweeter composition is ignoring the speaker system and its algimated effects on what it is your hearing.
Of course the entire speaker design is most important, but if we are talking listening fatigue from metal domes, it is distortion/breakup when listening to cymbals or upper harmonics. If you had experienced it, I think you would recognize it as belonging to the tweeter.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

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#45
The material is VERY important for resale value and prestige. :D

Diamond unequivocally has the best resale value of any tweeter followed by Beryllium. :D

People can bash and poke fun at B&W all they want. But at the end of the day, the 802 & 800 Diamond still have the best resale. :D
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

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#46
A few years ago in a galaxy far away when I auditioned the older RBH T2 with the "standard" Silk Dome (not the Reference tower with the Scan-Speak 9500 silk dome),I thought it had the most clarity and detail of any speaker I have ever heard when compared to all the speakers I was auditioning at the time including the Salon 2, B&W 800D, Linkwitz Orion, and KEF 201/2.

I don't think it was because of the Silk Tweeters. I think it was because of the Dispersion-Averaging Array design of the Tweeters and Midrange Drivers. Thus, I think perhaps a full line-array design may even have a little more clarity and detail, but I don't think it's because of the tweeter material.

Now in terms of listening fatigue, I can see why metal tweeters could be more fatiguing and harsh on the ears IF NOT DONE OPTIMALLY.
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

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#47
A few years ago in a galaxy far away when I auditioned the older RBH T2 with the "standard" Silk Dome (not the Reference tower with the Scan-Speak 9500 silk dome),I thought it had the most clarity and detail of any speaker I have ever heard when compared to all the speakers I was auditioning at the time including the Salon 2, B&W 800D, Linkwitz Orion, and KEF 201/2.
That's not what you said on May 27, 2011. Just saying.
 
Irvrobinson

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#48
The material is VERY important for resale value and prestige. :D

Diamond unequivocally has the best resale value of any tweeter followed by Beryllium. :D

People can bash and poke fun at B&W all they want. But at the end of the day, the 802 & 800 Diamond still have the best resale. :D
I agree that B&W has the best resale value of any speaker brand, but I'm not sure how much the tweeter material is a factor. The midrange material is a weak point I keep hearing about, but they still have great resale value anyway.
 
Swerd

Swerd

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#49
I agree that B&W has the best resale value of any speaker brand, but I'm not sure how much the tweeter material is a factor. The midrange material is a weak point I keep hearing about, but they still have great resale value anyway.
That has much more to do with advertising and marketing than anything else.

This thread is ostensibly about dome tweeters and whether dome composition can directly be identified by sound. Funny that you mentioned the weak B&W midrange, because B&W often, if not always, uses metal dome tweeters. Many people seem to blame B&W's harsh treble sound on those shiny looking tweeters when, in my opinion, it's the Kevlar mid-woofer and B&W's unfortunate choice of a 4 kHz crossover frequency that is the real problem.

I doubt if I can hear the difference between metal and silk domed tweeters when they are properly implemented into a speaker design. But I'm fairly certain that I can hear a Kevlar or metal mid woofer when it is poorly implemented into a speaker.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

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#50
This is an old age question.

I have used Titanium, mylar and silk domes, and probably some others.

Here is the frequency response of the beryllium Scanspeak tweeter which is highly touted and used by Focal and Rockport among others.



Here is the same tweeter with a soft dome.



On that basis it would seem the advantage goes to the beryllium.

However lets take a look at another Scanspeak soft dome tweeter I use in my speakers at Eagan.


Here is the SEAS Excel tweeter in my large TLs.



With the exception of the first Scanspeak soft dome example there is a tendency towards smoother response of the soft dome. As to dispersion there is not much in it, with a marginal advantage to soft.

The Beryllium dome has the more extended response out to 20 KHz, the soft domes have good performance to the 15 to 20 KHz range and are 5db down by 20 KHz.

I had a chance to do an extended evaluation of a $21,500 Rockport Atria, that uses that Scanspeak Beryllium dome tweeter. I have to say it was in the main an excellent speaker. However I did feel that it spat at me very slightly. So when I went to look up the tweeter response after, I was not surprised to see that slight roughness from 2 to 6 KHz.

I seem to have used soft domes more than the others, so I suspect I must slightly favor soft domes, but I have no hard and fast feeling about the issue.
 
3db

3db

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#51
I've asked this question two times now without receiving an answer. How does one know as a matter of fact that it's material composition rather than crossover over affects that is masking the sound? Seems to me that a competent designer should be able to make any tweeter sing without having it's composition come into play.

I think advertising literature sways what we believe we hear.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

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#52
I've asked this question two times now without receiving an answer. How does one know as a matter of fact that it's material composition rather than crossover over affects that is masking the sound? Seems to me that a competent designer should be able to make any tweeter sing without having it's composition come into play.

I think advertising literature sways what we believe we hear.
You won't correct the anomalies in those graphs in the crossover, except for the rise in response before the fall in the first Scanspeak soft dome graph.

The crossover can control out of pass band frequency aberrations, but response problems in the pass band present a much bigger problem. Large narrow band peaks can be dealt with by notching. Dips are much harder with passive crossovers, where active have a huge advantage. A passive network can not boost. So if you have a dip, you can only attenuate either side of it, with consequent loss of sensitivity

In any event, it is much better to start with drivers with the smoothest response.

Frequency response problems are just the symptoms of deeper troubles, and correcting the frequency response is not a complete solution.

That is why the concept of programs like Audyssey are deeply flawed.
 
KEW

KEW

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#53
... the beryllium Scanspeak tweeter which is highly touted and used by Focal and Rockport among others.
I was of the impression that Focal manufactured its own drivers. AFAIK, the only Be tweeter they use is an inverted dome. I don't know when they switched to this tweeter.
The photo below is from the Focal Diablo. If you look closely at the mounting plate, it says "Hand Made in France" (kind of scares me, but I like how they sound:)).
 
Last edited:
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

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#54
I was of the impression that Focal manufactured its own drivers. AFAIK, the only Be tweeter they use is an inverted dome. I don't know when they switched to this tweeter.
The photo below is from the Focal Diablo. If you look closely at the mounting plate, it says "Hand Made in France" (kind of scares me, but I like how they sound).
It looks like they are making their own Be tweeters now. Focal tweeters use to use inverted ceramic domes, then used Scanspeak Be for a while. Now it seems they make their own.

The trouble with Be is it is a highly toxic metal. This causes huge regs to comply with in manufacture. There ends up with a disposal problem and the devices can never be RoHs compliant.
 
jliedeka

jliedeka

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#55
The crossover shouldn't affect the high frequency response of the tweeter. It's job is to roll off the low end output to blend with the woofer or midrange. The only part that would affect the high frequencies is the L-Pad which just lowers the overall power going to the tweeter to match the sensitivity of the woofer.

Jim
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

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#56
I've asked this question two times now without receiving an answer. How does one know as a matter of fact that it's material composition rather than crossover over affects that is masking the sound? Seems to me that a competent designer should be able to make any tweeter sing without having it's composition come into play.

I think advertising literature sways what we believe we hear.
Any tweeter? I can't believe that you believe that. I certainly don't. Possible differentiators beyond frequency response I think I hear... linearity at high output levels, and distortion at high output levels. Like I said earlier, at low levels lots of tweeters sound good to me. A cymbal crash is loud, and that's one place I hear differences. Massed violins too. The question is, does a specific dome composition help a tweeter play better loudly. I don't know, but it seems possible.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

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#57
The crossover shouldn't affect the high frequency response of the tweeter. It's job is to roll off the low end output to blend with the woofer or midrange. The only part that would affect the high frequencies is the L-Pad which just lowers the overall power going to the tweeter to match the sensitivity of the woofer.

Jim
It can. You can use a pull up resistor and cap. That is a resistor and cap in parallel that is in series with the tweeter. This pretty much always has to be done if there is any type of horn loading to the tweeter. This is pretty much pat for the course with coaxial drivers. I use this in my center speaker.
 
KEW

KEW

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#58
A few years ago in a galaxy far away when I auditioned the older RBH T2 with the "standard" Silk Dome (not the Reference tower with the Scan-Speak 9500 silk dome),I thought it had the most clarity and detail of any speaker I have ever heard when compared to all the speakers I was auditioning at the time including the Salon 2, B&W 800D, Linkwitz Orion, and KEF 201/2.
I have compared tweeters as follows:

The Status Acoustics (Scan-speak 9500) soft dome tweeter in the RBH Signature 61lse vs the Al tweeter in the Paradigm Studio20. The soft dome was cleaner, but the Al offered more extension

Later compared them to the Be tweeter in the Paradigm Signature S-2 offered the extension of the Al tweeter with the clean detail of the soft dome.

Since then, I have concluded Focals Be tweeter is slightly better than the Paradigm.

The issue of extension interests me because looking at FR charts, I feel certain that the status acoustics soft-dome extends beyond my hearing, yet, there is an obvious difference in the sound of steel (triangle... and more revealing, chimes) being struck with the Be being clear and accurate and the soft-dome distant and somewhat muted.
I can believe what you are saying about the clarity. When I compared the 9500 to the Paradigm Be, I considered them equivalent in detail clarity, but the Be offered extension that the 9500 didn't. The 9500 may well have had a slight edge in clarity, but they were close enough that I didn't feel like I was sacrificing anything significant to go with the Sig-2's, I would not argue that the Sig-2's were clearer, as I was not listening as critically to that one aspect as I might, and the difference in extension was distracting.

Later when I compared the Focal Solo6Be to the Sig-2's, their sound character are similar and I could discern that the Focal offered slightly better clarity. I did not compare the Focal directly to the 9500 and would not be surprised if either beat the other for clarity. I would, however, be surprised if the difference was anything more than elusive.

That said, I have a friend who struggled to discern any difference in extension between the Al tweeter of the Studio20 and the 9500 and thought the 61lse were close to perfect!
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

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#59
Any tweeter? I can't believe that you believe that. I certainly don't. Possible differentiators beyond frequency response I think I hear... linearity at high output levels, and distortion at high output levels. Like I said earlier, at low levels lots of tweeters sound good to me. A cymbal crash is loud, and that's one place I hear differences. Massed violins too. The question is, does a specific dome composition help a tweeter play better loudly. I don't know, but it seems possible.
Again this illustrates the difficulty of tweeter assessment as you can't hear a tweeter by itself. A cymbal crash has most of it energy from 300 Hz to around 5 KHz. The crucial band is 300 Hz to 12 KHz, although there is sound way above the limit of hearing at 20 KHz.

A cymbal crash has much more to do with accurate midrange performance then HF.

What is required is powerful instantaneous mid range power, with perfect BSC. Lack of good BSC really leads to a wimpy cymbal crash.

I have been trying to find interferometer pictures of different dome types, but I can't. The wonder is that they sound so similar, as their behavior is just about polar opposite.

If there is a problem with metal, I think it relates to retained energy. Soft domes are highly self damping and have little chance of ringing, but their motion is far from pistonic, which speaks to the roll off issue.
 
Swerd

Swerd

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#60
Again this illustrates the difficulty of tweeter assessment as you can't hear a tweeter by itself.
Absolutely!
If there is a problem with metal, I think it relates to retained energy. Soft domes are highly self damping and have little chance of ringing, but their motion is far from pistonic, which speaks to the roll off issue.
And we haven't even discussed the issues of the coatings on soft tweeter domes. That's where the proprietary magic begins. These 4 dome tweeters are rather similar except for their coatings: http://www.hiquphon.dk/page1.html
 

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