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

Audioholic Overlord
I've been saying it all along. Very difficult to evaluate a tweeter in a speaker system. If you want to evaluate a tweeter, listen to some violin concertos which is higher in frequency than a symbol crash or perhaps a piccolo.
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

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

I listen to cymbals a lot, and I've done spectrum analysis on cymbals, and I'm just not on the "much more" page. If the crossover to the tweeter is in the range of 2500Hz you're not doing a realistic reproduction of a crash cymbal without a great tweeter. I don't care what the dome material is, heck, I don't even care if it's a dome, but this is so easy to test. Sitting here right now, in front of my Audioengine 5+ /iMac system (soft domes and all) at The Outpost playing a live drum recording, alternating taping business cards over the tweeters and removing them, I gotta tell ya, a crash cymbal recording doesn't sound like crash cymbal without a tweeter. So the "much more" part needs an edit.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
I listen to cymbals a lot, and I've done spectrum analysis on cymbals, and I'm just not on the "much more" page. If the crossover to the tweeter is in the range of 2500Hz you're not doing a realistic reproduction of a crash cymbal without a great tweeter. I don't care what the dome material is, heck, I don't even care if it's a dome, but this is so easy to test. Sitting here right now, in front of my Audioengine 5+ /iMac system (soft domes and all) at The Outpost playing a live drum recording, alternating taping business cards over the tweeters and removing them, I gotta tell ya, a crash cymbal recording doesn't sound like crash cymbal without a tweeter. So the "much more" part needs an edit.
Depends on the size of the cymbal, how it it hit and how it's prepared (rivets, chains, etc). A smaller one will be more splash, but a tweeter will never reproduce the large movements of a crash cymbal, like the one in this video-

 
R

RHSmith

Enthusiast
There has always been an ongoing debate about the sonic characteristics of tweeter dome materials. Do metal dome tweeters really sound "harsh," as some claim? Do silk domes sound, well, "soft" or "silky"?

Different materials do have different physical properties as it relates to diaphragm performance and these can and do influence the audible behavior of the driver. With full knowledge that many well-respected designers and engineers have opposing views and opinions on the subject, there are a few basic generalizations that can be made about different tweeter dome materials.

Soft dome tweeters are typically made out of fabric or silk material.

Hard dome tweeters (aka. Metal domes) are typically made out of aluminum, titanium, ceramic, or the more exotics like Beryllium.

We discuss these points in our recent YouTube Video below.


Also check out our article on: Soft vs Hard Dome Tweeters

Let us know which you prefer and why.
I am still out on the hard vs soft thing... I have heard good and bad from both. I like the openness of electrostatics but the lack of power handling in most rules them out for me. In my theater I am currently (7.2) using a Yamaha RX V863 driving external L/R/C channels with Morel MDT-30's in my DIY system with Dynaudio 5" mids crossed over at 3KHz (electronic 12db/octave xover) and driving them now with 3 Accuphase P-300's (with the band pass filter modules removed and no current limiters and lots of power suppy bypassing with poly/mylar caps) and 6 NHT 1259 DIY's subs driven by 3 Hafler D500's with no limiters and active xovered at 80Hz. The Yamaha directly drives the DIY MDT-29/Dynaudio surrounds/rears directly.
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Spartan
Depends on the size of the cymbal, how it it hit and how it's prepared (rivets, chains, etc). A smaller one will be more splash, but a tweeter will never reproduce the large movements of a crash cymbal, like the one in this video-

Give me a break. I never said a tweeter was all there was to cymbal reproduction, I just said that a tweeter (implied, actually) made a very important contribution. Secondly, that cymbal hit you posted has very little to do with real music.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
Give me a break. I never said a tweeter was all there was to cymbal reproduction, I just said that a tweeter (implied, actually) made a very important contribution. Secondly, that cymbal hit you posted has very little to do with real music.
I never meant that a tweeter OR mid is all there is, either. My point is that cymbals are hit hard, sometimes and when they are, the low end of the frequencies won't come from the tweeter.

Define 'real music'.
 
KEW

KEW

Audioholic Warlord
I well could be attributing characteristics to the wrong aspect of speaker design, but the main reason I believe it is material is because I have yet to hear a soft dome which competes with metal for extension. The ScanSpeak 9500 is regarded as among the best softdomes and since Status Acoustics are generally regarded as good speaker designers - note the RBH 61lse uses the crossover from the Status Acoustics Decimo:

For this reason, I assumed (there's that word) the design would come close to capturing the full capability of the tweeter.

I went back to my 2009 write up of the comparison of the 61lse to the Studio20 here are my comments regarding what I believe to be tweeter characteristics:

Pro Paradigm Studio20:
1) The highs of a cymbal or triangle had more presence - I interpret this as the very highest frequencies staying strong on the Paradigm while rolling off a touch on the RBH. I spent several years playing in jazz bands and pit orchestras (for musicals) and I don't feel the Paradigm's highs are exaggerated.
Pro RBH 61lse:
2) Clarity - while the Paradigm produced the highest frequencies of a cymbal tap with excellent presence, the RBH compensated with a truly outstanding rendition of the balanced harmonics of a cymbal.
Here is the full write up:
http://forums.audioholics.com/forums/threads/notes-from-auditioning-speakers.57469/page-4#post-611254

I am hoping the experts here can comment on the likelihood that what I heard is material dependent and what are other likely sources of these differences.

Also, can someone recommend a few commercial soft-dome tweeter speaker that they believe equals metal for extension? If I hear it, it will certainly change my belief.

PS - understand that I have the utmost respect for Swerd and TLSGuy. One reason I come here is to learn and this is a prime opportunity. I can simply bear testimony to my experiences, and the more I can learn, the better.
 
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TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
Kew, you raise some good points.

We do have a difference of opinion on the voicing of Paradigm speakers. I think they are over bright. I don't like their brass sound especially trumpets, nor the high strings.

Now it is hard to evaluate a tweeter as there are few instruments that have a fundamental in the range of a tweeter. The piccolo at 3729 Hz. Pipe organs have fundamentals in the 8 KHz range.

Now the fundamental is always acoustically dominant and the overtones color the sound but are at lower intensity.

I think J.S. Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor, the Dorian, is probably the best single test piece for speaker evaluation. Bach very likely wrote this for the purpose of testing organs. A recording by a good organist on a tracker (mechanical action) really fits the bill.

Now 1" soft dome tweeters do have a slight roll off above 15 kHz. A 3/4" dome can extend flat to 20 KHz and beyond. However it means a higher crossover point. So in using the Dynaudio D21 in what are now my rear speakers, required a cone midrange, and a dome upper mid tweeter crossing to the tweeter at 5 KHz.

Now in my mains I could have used a pull up technique, but I didn't because 13 KHz is about my lot now at 67.

So really for any tweeter the range from 2.5 KHz, to about 12 KHz is the most crucial, especially the 4 to 6 KHz range. One of the things I always listen for is exaggerated S sound in sung and spoken voice. Sibilance is a big red flag for a tweeter. If I'm honest, I think I have heard it more with hard than soft domes. However, I used a Titanium domed MB Quart tweeter with excellent results in the living room of my previous home.

The other thing I listen for is a nice smooth sound of the massed strings. Slight defects in the upper registers quickly make them sound steely. I listen to the flutes and piccolos. I listen to see if they unduly pop out of the fold.

Evaluating speakers is difficult and tales years of practice.

What I enjoy here is superb reproduction of voice, realistic and not edgy brass and a gorgeous lush string sound up into the highest registers. That is what really counts. If a speaker does that, I don't care what the tweeter is, or is made from.

Just to reiterate though, what you may feel inclined to blame on the tweeter, may have nothing to do with the tweeter. Sibilance is the one exception, that pretty much indicates a problem with the tweeter, as sibilance occurs at least an octave above crossover for most designs, many three ways excepted here.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
All I know is that, OMG, karaoke sounds sooooooooo much smoother with soft dome tweeters. :eek: :D
 
KEW

KEW

Audioholic Warlord
TLSGuy,

Thanks for the response.

Good point about the smaller diameter on the soft-dome increasing extension. I knew that, but wasn't thinking. The RBH 61lse (which are my soft-dome champion, so to speak:)) use a 1". I could easily believe a 3/4" might do the trick of getting those upper harmonics.
 
gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
I well could be attributing characteristics to the wrong aspect of speaker design, but the main reason I believe it is material is because I have yet to hear a soft dome which competes with metal for extension. The ScanSpeak 9500 is regarded as among the best softdomes and since Status Acoustics are generally regarded as good speaker designers - note the RBH 61lse uses the crossover from the Status Acoustics Decimo:

For this reason, I assumed (there's that word) the design would come close to capturing the full capability of the tweeter.

I went back to my 2009 write up of the comparison of the 61lse to the Studio20 here are my comments regarding what I believe to be tweeter characteristics:

Pro Paradigm Studio20:


Pro RBH 61lse:


Here is the full write up:
http://forums.audioholics.com/forums/threads/notes-from-auditioning-speakers.57469/page-4#post-611254

I am hoping the experts here can comment on the likelihood that what I heard is material dependent and what are other likely sources of these differences.

Also, can someone recommend a few commercial soft-dome tweeter speaker that they believe equals metal for extension? If I hear it, it will certainly change my belief.

PS - understand that I have the utmost respect for Swerd and TLSGuy. One reason I come here is to learn and this is a prime opportunity. I can simply bear testimony to my experiences, and the more I can learn, the better.
The RBH 61-SE does NOT use the same crossover as the Decimo. Nor does it use the same tweeter. The 61-SE uses a Vifa softdome while the Status uses the Scan Speak 9500. There is quite a dramatic difference in the highs as a result to the tweeter and crossover change.
 
KEW

KEW

Audioholic Warlord
The RBH 61-SE does NOT use the same crossover as the Decimo. Nor does it use the same tweeter. The 61-SE uses a Vifa softdome while the Status uses the Scan Speak 9500. There is quite a dramatic difference in the highs as a result to the tweeter and crossover change.
I did not say the 61-SE,
I said the 61lse, as in 61LSE!
 
gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
TLSGuy,

Thanks for the response.

Good point about the smaller diameter on the soft-dome increasing extension. I knew that, but wasn't thinking. The RBH 61lse (which are my soft-dome champion, so to speak:)) use a 1". I could easily believe a 3/4" might do the trick of getting those upper harmonics.
You will never get the output, and efficiency of a 1" using a 3/4" tweeter. I have heard some very good 3/4" tweets but I wouldn't trade them for the best 1" ones.
I did not say the 61-SE,
I said the 61lse, as in 61LSE!
Wow you did. I missed it reading this thread on my phone. Good deal.
 
3db

3db

Audioholic Overlord
Finally, we're getting somewhere in recognizing how it's next to impossible to attribute a tweeter's sound to it's composition especially when the tweeter is in a speaker system.
 
KEW

KEW

Audioholic Warlord
Finally, we're getting somewhere in recognizing how it's next to impossible to attribute a tweeter's sound to it's composition especially when the tweeter is in a speaker system.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves! I don't think a soft-dome can possibly make the horrible sound of a truly bad metal-dome breaking up within audible frequency!:p
 
3db

3db

Audioholic Overlord
Let's not get ahead of ourselves! I don't think a soft-dome can possibly make the horrible sound of a truly bad metal-dome breaking up within audible frequency!:p
Easily corrected with esoteric cables. :):D
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
Here is the 1" Seas Excel T29D001 Diamond Dome Tweeter for only $6500/pair or $3250 per tweeter:

https://www.madisoundspeakerstore.com/diamond-dome-tweeters/seas-excel-t29d001-diamond-dome-tweeter-matched-pair/

Here is the 3/4" Accuton D20-6 Diamond Dome Tweeter for $5800/pair or $2900 per tweeter:

https://www.madisoundspeakerstore.com/hard-dome-tweeter/accuton-d20-6-3/4-diamond-dome-tweeter-89.5db-d20n-6-31/

Here are some Beryllium tweeters ranging from $454 to $520 per tweeter:

https://www.madisoundspeakerstore.com/index.php?p=catalog&mode=search&search_in=all&search_str=beryllium
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
Also, can someone recommend a few commercial soft-dome tweeter speaker that they believe equals metal for extension? If I hear it, it will certainly change my belief.
Yeah, IMO the RBH SX-T2/R's soft dome will blow away any $30K TM speaker with metal dome tweeter in terms of DYNAMICS & EXTENSION because the T2/R has the Dispersion Averaging Array drivers.

It's NOT the Tweeter; it is DESIGN of the speaker.

... Assuming we are talking about extension to 20kHz since we can't hear anything above 20kHz.
 
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