Which speaker technology do you prefer?

Which speaker technology do you prefer?
Dynamic/Cone drivers
47% (108 votes)
7% (16 votes)
Electrostatic/Dynamic hybrid
18% (41 votes)
7% (16 votes)
Ribbon/Dynamic hybrid
7% (17 votes)
3% (8 votes)
Horn/Dynamic hybrid
2% (5 votes)
3% (6 votes)
No preference
5% (12 votes)
Total votes: 229

There are some wildly different speaker technologies out there with one common goal: accurate reproduction of music. In your experience, which approach works best?

Brad Bryant's picture

I need more experience with different speakers, especially electrostatics, to have a good opinion on this one. Wish I did!

Mike Parenteau's picture

The vast majority of real living spaces have furniture and are actually used for purposes other than just audio listening. They do not support the use of large-panel electrostatic speakers or even omni-bipolar drivers. Well-designed two- or three-way dynamic driver mini-towers are often the very best compromise between quality of sound and suitability to the living environment.

Brad Waldoch's picture

In my experience, Martin-Logan gets the best results. I have heard many other speakers that I like, both less and more expensive, but to my ears Martin-Logan does the most things right.

Federico Cribiore's picture

B&W's technology, which places the tweeter on top of the driver enclosure, is truly hard to beat. I have yet to hear anything so open and airy, yet focused. Horns are great if you need super efficiency (read SET users), but for general focus and midrange sweetness, I prefer dynamic speakers.

Doug Bogert's picture

I feel that for value in loudspeakers today ,the best choice is Magnepan Magneplanar.

Anonymous's picture

Tonnoy's dual concentric provides greater detail and transparancy than any other speaker I've heard. Driven by good tube electronics they are also very musical. Bob Sykes

Anton D.'s picture

they are super with single-ended triodes!

Chris Zell's picture

Unfortunately, nothing quite does it for me like an electrostat, despite the problems with placement, extra wires, weird amp loading, lack of low bass, and the limited sweet spot. Although some people will try to convince you (and themselves) that low bass is not necessary, most will eventually be bored without the impact and atmosphere created by the low, low end. Therefore, a subwoofer is needed to augment a planar speaker.

Geoff Fleet, UK's picture

Just as people have relearned that the SET is the only way to amplify music, they will eventually relearn that the horn is the only way to play it back. Horns have had a bad press because the technology has not been used properly, but it is the only way to reproduce the emotional experience that is music. I don't care about "accurate reproduction of music," only emotional reproduction. Only well-executed (read: inconvenient and expensive) horn technology can do this.

Matt Grayson's picture

Apogee Divas - best I've heard

Al Marcy's picture

Flea amps and efficient speakers sing without effort or strain.

Tom Selnau's picture

After you've lived with a planar speaker, everything else is a box, no matter which side(s) the drivers are on. I do believe in hybrids to get the low bass and maintain a human-sized enclosure.

John Busenitz's picture

This is a silly question. What matters is how well the design is implemented, NOT which design it is. Any of the above systems could be good OR bad, depending on how well it was designed. Answerless questions such as these serve no usefull purpose, and only confuse and divide audiphiles further. Think of something better.

ADAM L.'s picture


Sean Farris's picture

Perhaps this is due to the fact that these types of speakers are the most widely used, giving the consumer a larger variety of products to choose from. Speakers are the most personal part of any audiophiles system as they reflect the "style" of their listening preferences. Many quite expensive sets that I have heard, and really did not like, have gotten rave reviews and have a large following of satisfied owners.

V.  Liu's picture

The Green Mountain Diamantes and Gallo Acoustics Reference are two of my favorite reference speakers, and both use cone drivers.

DJG from Cali's picture

Any speaker involves multiple tradeoffs. The key, as in so many areas of life, is to exchange those characteristics toward which you are indifferent for the things that you really care about.

Frank Goldfarb's picture

Legacy Focus which are all dynamic, have a lot of radiating area are sensitive and has a ribbon upper tweeter, are the best all round speakers I have heard. I listen to CJ premier tube stuff along with VPI, Wheaton, Temper and MIT 350 ref and 770 Tube Term cables. These speakers are definitely high end!

bryan merritt's picture

In my price range range (under 10k) I feel that a hybrid electrtostaic design such as my martin logan aeriusi are the way to go. For two grand you an match them with a $1000 amp from Adcom, Acurus, Rotel, or PS audio. Throw in a $2000digital front end and a $1000 for an analog front end and you have as much "high-end" sound as 3-4 times the money can buy!

Mr.  Knowitall's picture

Magnepan electrostatics have ribbon tweeters. The question makes no sense.

Craig Copeland's picture

No one type of speaker technology currently available can reproduce of the elements necessary to accurately create the effect of live music perfectly. In my expierence, however, those speakers incorporating Dynamic/Cone drivers come the closest to providing a good compromise of all of the required elements and therefore the best sound.

JLTH43's picture


Mannie Smith's picture

Every speaker I've been drawn to has been the dynamic/cone type (Avalon, NHT, Aerial, Waveform).

Manfred Albrecht's picture

The reasons for my preference for horns are high effiency, low distortion, great dynamic range, and controlled dispersion. A three-channel hornspeaker system in a large, correctly designed, dedicated listening room can provide stunning reproduction of musical events.

Garry Campbell's picture

It's a close call between electrostats and ribbons. Missing from the list are planar speakers. As a group, they represent dipolar speaker systems in that they have a radiation pattern front and rear, giving an expansive soundstage. This is usually achieved at a lower cost than a cone system of similar quality, but at the expense of the size of the speaker.

brandt weibezahn's picture

best of both worlds. Dynamic extension in the bass. Clear,clean,transparentcy of the ribbons.

Carl's picture

It's the implementation. I just heard two speaker systems: a very large custom horn system, and a friend's Grand Utopias. WOW! But neither would fool anybody into thinking it was real musicians. We have a long way to go---a long way to go, indeed.

walkertm's picture

For my taste the Martin Logan SL3 offers the best combo of base slam and detail, follwed by Magneplanar 3.5, then the Alon Lotus.A purely electrostatic design while offering the best in sonic detail offer very little in low frequency response. Dynamic/Cone drivers seem to offer the best in frequency response and low bass slam but don't seem to have the effortless spaceousness of electrostatic designs. In addtion to be more often than not boomy and indistinct in the bass and midrange. As for horn loaded design I have yet to hear a Horn driver that doesn't sound like a megaphone.

Dave F's picture

Having owned electrostatics,planar's and now dynamic/cone's there is far more palpability with dynamics than the other two. The big difference is in the ability for the driver to move air. This is I believe one of the most important factors in speaker design, and accounts for a real difference.Horn's that I have heard also move air very well, but all seem to have a distinct nasal character. Projection is something that should perhaps be considered as important, and in my experience dynamics simply project better..

dave robinson's picture

Quentessence Acoustic's Stealth to be exact.