There are two different types of speakers: electrostatic and driver. They sound alike, they look alike — at times they even walk alike. Well, they don’t walk, but you get the idea. These are two different technologies that help recreate sound.
In this video, LockerGnome’s Brandon Wirtz breaks down the differences between driver and electrostatic speakers, and why they are both great solutions for various applications.
Electrostatic speakers are generally more high powered, thinner, lighter, and capable of recreating rich sound in both mid and high levels. In many cases, the sound created by these speakers is superior to that of traditional driver speakers, except when it comes to the lows. Due to construction constraints, electrostatic speakers aren’t as capable of producing the booming thump listeners expect from audio that is heavy in lows.
Traditional driver speakers use magnets with a low amount of wattage in them to shake the cone in order to produce sound. These speakers tend to be a little heavier and thicker than electrostatic speakers, but they are capable of producing deep bassy tones where electrostatic drivers fall short.
Because electrostatic speakers are capable of being so much thinner, they’re more easy to incorporate into a sound solution where aesthetics are most important. Being set against a wall, sitting on the desktop, and other various configurations where space efficiency is important is made possible through their thinner construction. The downside is that they rarely function off batteries for any significant amount of time due to the higher amount of energy required.
For most applications ranging from headphones to giant loudspeakers, traditional drivers don’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. In some cases, the two speaker technologies are combined in cabinets in order to produce a sound that ranges from the highest highs to the deepest lows, and all points in between.
To say that one technology is inherently better than the other would be like saying peanut butter is better than jelly. It’s a matter of taste and application.