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?

Bertus Wiltvank's picture

No further comment. Listen to Avalon Eidolon your self.

Samuel Ou's picture

Whatever sounds good to my ears!

Steve Dudley's picture

It's been my exprience that stats have the best sound over all. But their inability to play loud with powerful bass is their one shortcoming. The high cost does not help either. My Magnepan MG1.5-QR's with my DIY sub/amp/crossover combo make a good compromise though.

Joseph Ramon's picture

Overall best sound so far. Just look at your Class A ratings and Loudspeakers of the Year ! And if I want it to sound like ribbons/electrostatics, I just use tube amps. In the end, the source determines the sound quality you get.

Stephen Stewart's picture

I like ribbon/planar magnetic the best because there is the least amount of "stuff" between the electrical signal and the sound that is produced in the room. All there is is a strip of thin metal interacting with a magnetic field, which is connected to a crossover and speaker leads. With cones you have a heavy cone, a heavy voice coil, surround, and spider, which are all driven at its apex. Electrostatics can be very good, but they have to go through a transformer. I think this contributes to their lack of impact. Any speaker technology can sound very good these days, if it is engineered correctly. I just got a pair of Magneplanar MMGs. They prove that excelent sound can be made with even an inexpensive quasi-ribbon. No other $500 cone speaker can touch it, and I'd like to see someone make an electrostatic for $500!

Peter K.  Sappanos's picture

As a drummer and musician, I have never heard a piano or cymbals reproduced better than what an electrostatic panel can do, but the weight and tonality of drums comes across more realistically to me on a speaker such as the Dunlavy 4s. Put that "sheen" on the 4s and you would have it.

Anonymous's picture


Hans U.  R's picture

Current-driven, motional feedback, one amp per speaker (low, mid, high) [Silbersand !]

C.G.  Kuhn's picture

Its so hard to compare something so subjective. Besides all the speakers I have ever owned have been dynamic so it becomes that much harder to say whats best.

David L.  Wyatt jr.'s picture

If you filled a room with speaker designers and clubs, there would be a lot of bodies as they argued about the correct approach. Who cares what the approach is as long as it sound good?

Big Matt's picture

Nothing can come close to a properly designed and executed horn speaker powered by SET tube amps.

Dave M.  Kobe's picture

To my ears, ribbon speakers are the most realistic (you are there) and satisfying. I love Maggies!!

Mark Mason's picture

Luckily for the consumer, this is a close race. Currently, in my experience, the dynamic speakers of the past three years have a slight edge. The best minimonitors can have a good bit of that planar "sparkle" without any of the drawbacks. They seem to be a bit more consistent, top to bottom, than the planars. Don't get me wrong, I love some of the planar technologies out there now, and expect a very interesting future for speaker development and the high end in general.

Scott's picture

Bass Transmission Line Designs from Meadowlark Audio.The Bass you hear in live performances!

boogiemn@frontier.net (Frank)'s picture

From Dahlquists to Vandersteens to Soundlabs . . . I love my electro/hybrids the best!

Bob Lennox's picture

Carver's ALIII Plus ribbon/bass hybrid is a best of genre speaker.It combines all the attributes of ribbon speakers, with the deep, clean bass I expect from today,s speaker technology.

Anonymous's picture

I'm from Denmark, the land of Dynaudio, Scan Speak, Vifa and Skaaning - how could you ask?

Joe Hembrough's picture

Klipsch La Scalas are the best sounding speakers I have heard. I know it's old technology, but I haven't found anything to beat them

Kurt K.  Heinz's picture

My experience tells me: there is no ideal approach. Rock music works best with full horn speakers (like on stage); for classical music you'll probably need an electrostatic/dynamic hybrid. If you happen to love a wide variety of music, just have two speaker systems at home!

Louie's picture

Any approach can be made to perform SOTA.

Joe Hartmann's picture

Although I have always admired the Quad 63s, when I finally invest my money, my choice has always been cones and domes. Speaker placement has always been the final determining factor.

jeff weinberger's picture

cello all the way

Martin S.  Coates's picture

I find Magneplanar speakers most transparent. Why do I never see them in Stereophile? I would love an answer!

Paul A.  Basinski's picture

The fact that I own a pair of Martin-Logan 'stats could be called a bias. Still, I've never found a dynamic speaker that satisfies me as thoroughly in the all-important midrange. Sure, they won't produce SPLs to shake the heavens, but it's music we're after, isn't it, not FX? If so, electrostatics are simply the way to go!

David S.  Dodd's picture

In the last 26 years I've owned: Wharfedales, IMFs, Original Quads, B&Ws, Spendors, Accustats, "new" Quads and Hales, and although my Signature IIs give me a great deal of pleasure, I still find myself lusting after another set of ESLs . . . perhaps the soon-to-be-released next-generation Quads will entice me. There really isn't another transducer that gives the same degree of "chill factor" on every type of music . . . it's not just the midrange that's special.

Wilfredo Sanchez's picture

In my experience, afyter listening every kind of speakers and most of the major speakers makers, I found that the best sound is obtained with ribbon speakers(always driven by first rate electronics) I still Have my DIVA Apogees powered by Krell electronoics all the way.and fell very happy with them.

Simon Kern's picture

Wilson Audio X-1.

Jim Whitney's picture

I have owned electrostatic, dynamic, hybrid, maggies, big and small. I love planar speakers---they are sooo pleasant---but in the long run they don't give me what I want when I listen to music. A great dynamic speaker does---caveats follow. I prefer to hear what is on the record (studio fake or live real); I don't want to listen to the room I am sitting in. Therefore, any speaker with significant rear-wave transmission is not a reasonable option. I have found that in a reasonably sized room, optimal imaging, soundstage, detail, microdynamics---in fact, most attributes of the midrange and above---are optimized by a direct radiating system. This also means significant damping of the primary reflected wave from the side walls and floor. This is what I prefer. I also like deep, articulate, and powerful (when on the source) bass. This, of course, is a very different set of applied physics. A full range dynamic speaker with response into the mid-30s can usually be placed in a rectangular room without ridiculous standing-wave reinforcement. For the LOW bass, mid-30 and below, a good subwoofer should be used, allowing for tweaking and optimal placement, phase alignment, level adjustment, etc. Put it together, play just about anything analog, sit back, and truly enjoy!!

Doug Cline's picture

Seeing as I've just purchased a pair of Martin-Logan ReQuests, I guess there is no doubt about it!

Todd Quigley's picture

ESL/Hybrids do things that no other type of speaker can accomplish. As a jazz musician, the mids and highs are, to my ears, simply more realistic than any other design. When they're coupled (properly) to a dynamic woofer, you get the best of both worlds. Martin Logan does this better than anyone, but Soundlab and a few other companies are doing very well too. Actually, if you had the money to have them designed and built, and the space to put them in, a 6'x12' pure ESL would probably sound the best because any type of cone is a compromise. The simple fact is, cones and domes cannot react fast enough without distorting, and ribbons sound like the metal that they are (lots of hate mail for sure). I don't care how much you've spent on some esoteric mini (sounding) monitor, if it's accuracy, transparancy, and the ability to track the rise and fall of a note you're after, then you better buy ESLs. Having said that, ESLs are not known for bottom-end dynamics, so if you want to rock out, you need a hybrid (or a really big ESL panel) to get good bass. Unless you listen to a steady diet of Rap, Industrial, or Speed metal, prepare to be unhappy with your current speakers.