Tuesday, July 5

Diamond, Beryllium, Silk and Other Exotic Materials Used in Speakers: We Analyze If They Make Sense or Is It Just ‘Marketing’

In the world of hi-fi, the line between the esoteric and the technically justified is sometimes thin. One of the most striking peculiarities of the market that supports this hobby is that despite its moderate size it is made up of a number of important companies. And many of them are relatively small.

Surviving in a market with a moderate volume and in which the competition is very tough requires being able to attract the attention of fans. Many brands (probably the majority) opt to expose those attributes of their products that seem most competitive, such as, for example, their sound quality, their design or their construction.

However, there are also brands that bet on another strategy that in the short term can work, but in the medium and long term it usually condemns them to a resounding failure. Companies that decide to go this route to capture the attention of fans often sweeten the characteristics of their products, and one way to do so is to introduce eye-catching materials or components that do not respond to a technical justification.

If your presence isn’t justified by a solid technical argument, it’s just ‘marketing’

Fortunately, we fans have a very valuable tool that can help us protect ourselves from these tricks: consistency. If a material or a specific element of a hi-fi component does not go hand in hand with a clear, solid and unambiguous technical justification, it is most likely an attempt by the manufacturer to get our attention by introducing something that makes it more expensive. product but actually possibly does not contribute anything relevant to its sound.

If a specific element does not go hand in hand with a clear, solid and unambiguous technical justification, the most prudent thing is to distrust

Loudspeakers are a component of our music equipment that is very sensitive to these practices, especially if we stick to the materials used in the manufacture of the cabinet and the speaker diaphragm. Some manufacturers introduce them expensive and eye-catching items that by the mere fact of being it can arouse the suspicion of some fans.

And at this point we can find ourselves with two options: that we are only facing a maneuver of marketing that not linked to a technical justification, or that this element does have a perceptible and quantifiable impact on sound quality using the appropriate measuring instruments.

This article is dedicated to these last components: to those who by their nature, and even by their luxurious nature, can invite us to think that they are nothing more than a trick of marketing from the manufacturer, but actually contribute and are justified from a strictly technical point of view.

Here are some exotic and meaningful materials used in the diaphragm

As I mentioned a few lines above, the speaker diaphragm is an element in which some manufacturers introduce materials that a priori could invite us to think that they only respond to a maneuver of marketing. However, the presence of some of them is justified because it seeks to approximate the behavior of the loudspeaker that of an ideal piston.

A quality loudspeaker should exhibit a behavior as close as possible to that of a perfect piston.

The diaphragm of a perfect loudspeaker should be able to move back and forth instantly, changing direction without being subjected to inertia. And, of course, without deforming the least as a consequence of the mechanical stress to which it is being subjected when it is generating the pressure waves that we perceive as sound. Of course, this is just a theoretical ideal completely unworkable.

In practice, the diaphragm of any loudspeaker is subject to inertia, and, furthermore, it deforms as a consequence of the mechanical stress to which it is subjected. Nevertheless, the material used in its manufacture, and also the way in which its peripheral suspension is executed, determines both its properties and its response ‘in combat’. This is the reason why many manufacturers use relatively exotic materials in their tuning.

Diamond diaphragm

Diamond tweeters typically exhibit very high detail and a wide frequency response, but are complex to produce, making them very expensive.

Bowers & Wilkins and Usher Audio are two of the brands that have incorporated into their high-end speakers tweeters with diamond dome produced by chemical vapor deposition. The diamond diaphragm is characterized by having a very low mass and extremely high stiffness, which is why it is able to withstand the natural mechanical stress that a tweeter is subjected to, assuming minimal deformation that can be measured with the appropriate instrument. .

Bowers & Wilkins and Usher Audio are two of the brands that have incorporated diamond dome tweeters into their high-end loudspeakers.

The French firm FocalHowever, it argues that beryllium diaphragm It is the one that gives the tweeter the behavior closest to that of an ideal piston thanks to its extreme rigidity. Interestingly both tweeters Diamonds such as beryllium tend to exhibit very high detail and a very wide frequency response, but some hi-fi enthusiasts find their high resolution unpleasant. It goes in taste, but from a technical point of view both materials make sense.

Other manufacturers, however, have followed a different path and have chosen to use diaphragm manufacturing for their tweeters. a light textile fiber and very similar to silk. Dynaudio, DALI o Scan-Speak, are some of them, and they often argue that this material exhibits a very low resonance frequency and a great power handling capacity.


Dynaudio is one of the loudspeaker manufacturers who are committed to using textile domes in their tweeters.

Its physical properties are very different from those of diamond or beryllium, and precisely these differences cause its sound to be different as well. In any case, your presence is justified as a consequence of the search for a behavior and a specific sound aesthetic.

When a manufacturer clearly explains why they have chosen a particular material, and backs it up with solid technical arguments, esotericism is pushed aside.

So far we have only talked about the diaphragm of the tweeter, but the behavior of the mid and bass drivers is also highly dependent. of the material used in its manufacture.

For this reason, when a manufacturer clearly explains why it has chosen a particular material, and backs it up with solid technical arguments, something that all the brands I have mentioned so far, and many others as well, do, esotericism is left aside. From there, users are free to decide if the sound aesthetics that they propose fits with our preferences.

The enclosure must be inert (almost always), and there are several ways to make it so

Almost all loudspeaker manufacturers strive to provide the venue with their solutions, at least the most elaborate, as stiff as possible and the minimum presence of vibrations that can alter the sound generated by the speakers.

The ‘almost always’ that I have used in the headline of this section is due to the fact that there are some brands that advocate designing meticulously conceived and tuned enclosures for vibrate and generate sound. One of them, perhaps the one that takes this philosophy to its maximum expression, is the Japanese Kiso Acoustic, but it is an unusual practice.

How to place the speakers of your PC and your stereo to get them to deliver their best sound

The material most used in the manufacture of the loudspeaker enclosure is medium-density reconstituted wood.

The most common is to find that the enclosure is very rigid and inert, and to achieve this, most manufacturers resort to a structure of internal reinforcements which increases its rigidity. However, there is another option that tends to coexist with internal reinforcements: the material used in the manufacture of the loudspeaker enclosure itself.

The most widely used is medium-density reconstituted wood, commonly known as DM o MDF, which in combination with a well-executed internal reinforcement structure can offer very remarkable rigidity.

However, some brands have chosen to use a material, or even a combination of them, different from medium density wood in the manufacture of the enclosure of their loudspeakers in order to provide it with maximum possible stiffness.


Wilson Audio has not disclosed the composition of the material it uses to build its speaker cabinets, but you only have to listen to them to see that it achieves what it is aiming for: bomb-proof rigidity.

Bowers & Wilkins uses aluminum in the construction of the enclosure for its high-end tweeters and midrangers, and YG Acoustics It mechanizes the entire enclosure of its loudspeakers using this material. There are other brands that also follow a similar path, but the interesting thing is that the choice of aluminum is justified by its rigidity and remarkable immunity to vibrations.

When a brand decides to be opaque and does not justify its choice, it is inviting us to distrust

Other manufacturers, however, dispense with both wood and aluminum, opting to use relatively exotic materials in their enclosures whose composition is not entirely clear. The opacity they usually show may be linked to the absence of solid technical arguments to support their choice, or to the need to protect intellectual property of your ‘recipe’.

A brand that fits into this last philosophy is Wilson Audio, which has not revealed the composition of the enclosure of its loudspeakers, but whose designs have a quality that is objectively beyond doubt and outstanding sound (although also a price that places them out of reach of most users).

Even so, when a brand decides to be opaque and does not justify its choice is inviting us to distrust. And yes, it is possible that it is only a maneuver of marketing, so the most reasonable position that we fans can adopt is, precisely, skepticism.

Images | Bowers & Wilkins | Dynaudio | Wilson Audio


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