Electrostatic Headphones: Amazing Facts You Rarely Know [With Videos]
- 21 Nov, 2018
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When it comes to choosing headphones, some would say it' s a piece of cake, while the other think of it as a rather complicated decision. In this article, you will find out more about electrostatic headphones and an electrostatic driver, and get numerous useful tips on how to buy the right headphones for yourself.
What is an electrostatic headphone?
Before you find out how do headphones work, you must learn what are they actually. The main part is an electrostatic driver. It has an extremely thin diaphragm, which you charge electrically. It' s usually a PET film membrane.
This membrane is placed between 2 electrodes. When the sound signal gets to the electrodes, it creates an electrical field. Then polarity defines in which direction the diaphragm will move. Air flows through the perforations, When you combine the mentioned perforations with an electric signal that charges continuously, you get a sound wave.
Thanks to the ultra-thin membrane and the absence of moving metal parts, these ones have a high-frequency response, which even goes beyond the audible limits. It' s approximately 20kHz. And what' s even better, the absence of moving-coil drivers means much better sound quality.
Moreover, you need an amplifier for these headphones in order to boost the signal which will deflect the membrane. As for the electric potential, it goes from one hundred to 1000 volts.
How electrostatic headphones work?
First of all, you must know that these are completely different than the conventional dynamic headphones. A coil of wire inside a magnet in the dynamic headphones is glued to a stiff cone. The current goes through the coil, and the result is the force which then vibrates the coil.
On the other hand, the electrostatic system has less “primitive” method of operating. This system allows us to place a force on an ultralight film without touching it. They use extremely thin diaphragms (or films, whatever you like), which are lighter than the air around it.
The system works by placing non-moving (static) electric charge on a film between 2 perforated metal plates. When you apply an audio voltage across the plates, the film moves entirely by itself, thanks to static cling and repulsion.
Is safe to use electrostatic headphones?
The question of safety is always very important when deciding to buy any product. Having in mind that these ones use high voltage current, it' s quite natural that you wonder how safe is it to use them actually.
If you stick to the instruction manual and use them as they should be used- responsibly, you have no reasons to worry. If you place them on your head and your hair is still very wet, or if you decide to wash your hair, there' s quite a high possibility that you will damage them. This is rather dangerous, but only in terms of your budget, because you will have to buy a new pair of electrostatic headphones.
Moreover, avoid listening to the music at the highest volume, because if you do that too often, you may damage your hearing. Even though they have amazing performance, still stick to the safe limits.
As for the high voltage, just don' t do anything you wouldn' t do with any other devices which use such current. So, avoid getting them wet or placing them where humidity is high. Moreover, don' t open up the amplifier, and do not touch the electronics inside.
As I said, the main thing is to act reasonably, and these headphones won' t cause you troubles. After all, we all have a TV which uses high-voltage current, and none of us got the idea to water it or do anything silly like that.
Benefits and disadvantages of electrostatic headphones
As many consumers and experts say, electrostatic headphones are so far the best thing an audiophile can have. However, like any other types of headphones, they also have pros and cons.
The main benefit of these is an extremely high-quality sound. Another good side is the less “primitive” (as we named it) way of operating, without conductors, with the diaphragm moving exclusively by itself.
Speaking of bad sides, well the first one would be the price. Even when you search among the cheapest electrostatic headphones, you will see that they may not be so budget-friendly as some other types are. Sure, the choice is wide, which is good, but since they require an amplifier, even the cheapest model is more expensive than some other headphones.
Moreover, not being portable is another thing that may be their disadvantage. They require an energizer to function. With that having said, they are certainly not a type you can easily move around your place.
One more thing to add, they are a bit larger than traditional dynamic headphones. The reason we mention this is that some people are bothered by their size, but if you ask me if a quality sound is what they deliver, size is the less important.
All in all, we may say that these are truly great headphones if you are not limited by your budget. However, do have in mind that the price range is big, and sometimes, if you are lucky enough, you can get a decent pair of used ones at an affordable price.
Who should buy electrostatic headphones?
When you start thinking about the best electrostatic headphones, there are many different factors you should take into consideration. First, of course, would be your lifestyle.
How often you plan to use headphones? Is it for fun or more as a professional? Then, mind the headphone drivers. And, the last but not the least important is the price. After you carefully find the balance between these three components, be sure that you cannot make a mistake!
If we are to give the simplest answer to the question who should buy these headphones, then we' d say everybody! Why so? Because everybody' s ears deserve the best experience a music can give. However, since they are the priciest of all, perhaps not everybody can afford them. That' s why we shall give you some extra ideas.
Stax electrostatic headphones are so far the top choice when it comes to these types of headphones. As a matter of fact, they are so good, that the name of the manufacturer is used to represent the type itself.
They are available in a few different dimensions, and their quality varies. But what all of them have in common is the finest sound you can imagine, without distortion, resonance and any other artificial distractions.
However, if you are looking for something more affordable than electrostatic headphones, but still want to have a sound of good quality, perhaps you should consider planar magnetic headphones.
Generally speaking, planar and dynamic work rather similar. Two magnetic fields interact with each other and that causes the motion. The charged part in a planar magnetic driver is a large flat film, It is all over the diaphragm.
In case you are not familiar with how a dynamic one works, here comes the explanation. The voice coil moves first, After that, a dynamic driver moves the diaphragm in and out from one ring. The ring is within the driver.
Once you start your research, you will see that planar headphones are less common than the dynamic ones, and there are not many manufacturers of magnetic headphones but are still a nice compromise between dynamic and electrostatic headphones.
Whichever pair of headphones is the one that suits you the best, have in mind that the best way to decide so is to try them out if possible. Only when you hear the difference between them, you will be able to make the right decision. And just so you know, the first impression sometimes is not the real one, so do have a proper listen.
So, you have learned what are these headphones and how they work. Moreover, you learned what are the main pros and cons. You have also learned that it is safe to use them, as long as you do it with responsibility. We have also given you some alternatives to these headphones in case your budget is limited.
Even though these ones are perfect for everybody, in terms of quality. Still, you should take your own style and needs into consideration when buying headphones. Besides that, there are many different types of headphones You have wireless and wired, in-ear and overhead, monaural and binaural, and the list goes on. The smartest would be to make a list of all the categories and look for the characteristics that match your needs.
It' s a kind of time-consuming process, but in the end, one doesn' t buy electrostatic headphones (or any other) every day. Hence, the decision has to be the right one. We'd like to hear your comments on these, have you already used them and how did you like them.