We have all heard of how difficult it is to build loudspeakers using Beryllium, so what exactly is it good for? First of all, most loudspeakers used in headphones are made of cone-shaped mylar or paper diaphragm. The cone, of course, is where sound waves are generated through electro-magnetic vibrations.
Materials used to build diaphragm differs in their mass, stiffness and damping, and the differences in the ratio of these characteristics directly affects the sound quality, pitch, accuracy and responsive-ness of the loudspeaker.
Beryllium is a material with the symbol Be and its atomic number is 4 on the Periodic Table of the Elements. Beryllium is a steel grey color, strong, very lightweight, and hard alkaline metal. Beryllium is relatively rare element in both the Earth and the universe. Although Beryllium is a strategic material used in the medical, aerospace, and defense industries, it has played a role in high performance audio transducer applications since Yamaha introduced their legendary NS-1000 and NS-2000 in 1977 and 1982 respectively.
Although, it is one of the most expensive materials used to make diaphragms, in terms of stiffness-to-weight ratio, Beryllium is the highest of any known metal. In fact, its stiffness usually raises its resonances to over 50 kHz, eliminating the need for surface treatments of any kind.
It is precisely this characteristic, which gives Beryllium speakers its unique high responsiveness, and sound clarity.
Simply put, in a market filled with headphones that only focuses on a strong bass output, audio enthusiasts are fed up with murky and sloppy trebles and mid-tones as a compromise for powerful bass. Yet, headphones with Beryllium speakers have excellent accurate and clean sounds. Without sacrificing strong bass perfor-mance, even the finest details are all there.
More noticeably is the quickness and responsiveness during transitions in music, as there is little to none "leftover" sound to cloud up the overall audio experience.
Now, an interesting question is, how does Beryllium speaker compare to Balanced Armature driver?
Balanced armature drivers are primarily used in hearing aids, but they also see extensive use in modern in-ear headsets. Most balanced armature drivers are tuned to sound good in a specific frequency range, and this is why many in-ear monitors and headphones contain multiple drivers. A crossover splits the sound signal into multiple frequency bands, and sends different frequency bands to each driver.
In a balanced armature design, an electric current is passed through a coil that is wrapped around an armature. The coil is suspended between two magnets, and the changes in current cause attraction between the coil and magnets. Variations in the magnetic field move the armature thousands of times per second. The in-ear headphone's diaphragm is connected to the armature, and this movement produces sound that we can hear. A balanced armature is “balanced” because “there is no net force on the armature” when it is centered magnetic field.
Unlike dynamic driver designs, balanced armature drivers do not displace air in order to generate sound. There are upsides and downsides to this. Balanced armature speakers typically provide better isolation because there is no need for a vent to move air. On the contrary, balanced armature drivers lack the superior bass frequency presentation of dynamic driver designs.
A quick comparison of Beryllium speakers and Balanced Armature drivers:
We see both Beryllium and balanced armature driver designs have their pros and cons. It's hard to definitely say which one is better because they both excel in different situations. In summary, Beryllium speakers give accurate and clean sounds, powerful bass. Balanced armature drivers offer more detailed sounds. Users like us have different preferences on sound and music, some of us love bass, some like details. Nevertheless, not only the speakers but also the speaker chamber design determines if the Beryllium speakers or balanced armature drivers are optimally built to present the best sound to the users.
Popular Beryllium IEHs: Accutone Pisces-HD MMCX, Gemini-HD, PiscesBand-HD, Fuji Labs SQ306. Popular balanced armature IEHs: Shure SE315, Etymotic Research HF