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Author Topic: What is A Ribbon Driver  (Read 3731 times)

Brian Charbobs

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What is A Ribbon Driver
« on: November 20, 2018, 02:24:31 pm »

Peavey RBN112 I know these have been out for a while, but what is a Ribbon Driver? Is it superior to the compression driver?
Thanks
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTYO4g5aV_4
« Last Edit: November 20, 2018, 02:29:02 pm by Brian Charbobs »
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Brian Charbobs

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Re: What is A Ribbon Driver
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2018, 02:35:10 pm »

Peavey RBN112 I know these have been out for a while, but what is a Ribbon Driver? Is it superior to the compression driver?
Thanks
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTYO4g5aV_4

Well here is this guys answer anyway.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMJPB1G41w4
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Dave Pluke

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Re: What is A Ribbon Driver
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2018, 04:59:45 pm »

Peavey RBN112 I know these have been out for a while, but what is a Ribbon Driver? Is it superior to the compression driver?

For home audio/theater use, perhaps.  For Live Concert audio, I don't think so.

Dave
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Stephen Kirby

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Re: What is A Ribbon Driver
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2018, 05:26:37 pm »

The inverse of a ribbon microphone?

I've owned 5' long ribbon drivers in my home (Magnapan MG3s), and heard Decas and others.  Fantastic sound quality.  They have all the attributes of a uniformly driven flat diaphragm.

There is a finite excursion limit however.  Which is much less than a coil driven transducer.  In home use, the length of the Magnepan's HF section made for adequate SPL.  There have been some horn loaded ribbons to try and get enough output.  The Decca was one such.  Peavey also horn loaded their ribbons.

A true ribbon has only the very thin metal diaphragm suspended from either end and held in the lateral (typically) magnetic field.

There are a number of devices where the ribbon element was laminated to a non-conductive film to make the whole thing more robust.  Appogee (home, not the SR) speakers for one, and the Infinity EMIT on a smaller scale.  These are more properly called planar magnetic transducers.  The bass panels of Magnapans are also planar magnetic but they have actual thin wire conductors bonded to the film diaphragm rather than flat planar conductors.

I'm not sure if the Peaveys are true ribbons or planar magnetic.  Either way, there are some definite SPL limits.

10 years ago, I built some small LA's using the Dayton planar magnetic HF driver which was supposed to handle 80w.  I had 8 of them stacked in a line with a small amount of horn loading.  After a couple years of clubs and occasional street festivals I noticed browning discoloration of the film in some of them.  So that was probably their limit (drove the HF with a PLX1202).
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Dave Pluke

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Re: What is A Ribbon Driver
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2018, 05:47:02 pm »

I've owned 5' long ribbon drivers in my home (Magnapan MG3s), and heard Decas and others.  Fantastic sound quality. 

A guy introduced me to his Magnapans by playing Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side".  The stereo field imagery was amazing, when the vocals went from wide and wet to center and dry.  And that sax solo!

Dave


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Luke Geis

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Re: What is A Ribbon Driver
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2018, 06:27:25 pm »

What it is:

A very thin sheet of aluminum, or other lightweight material suspended by two conductors, one + and one -. The element is suspended between two magnetic poles one North and one South. The element faces outward and the magnets flank the left and right of the element. When a current is placed across the element it energizes within the magnetic field created by the surrounding magnets.

The very light mass of the element lends them to very accurate sound and detail but do have limitations. The low mass element can't move very far or it will rip off of the conductors, can strike the magnets or tear and rip because of the excessive movement. Furthermore, the element is very small in comparison to say a conventional 18" subwoofer and simply can't move the same amount of air, so it is very inefficient at lower frequencies.

Ribbon drivers have seen a comeback in recent years with a few companies employing them for LA and PS units. It's not that they can't get so loud, but more what it takes to allow them to get that loud without sacrificing the benefits of the driver type. In low SPL situations where accuracy and detail is paramount, I would put my money on a Ribbon driver any day. Because of their size and low mass, they do a very good job at HF media reproduction.
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Chris Grimshaw

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Re: What is A Ribbon Driver
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2018, 06:46:18 pm »

Just a quick FWIW, I'm quite into home HiFi and wouldn't use a ribbon. They really suffer towards the bottom of the tweeter range, to a point where a 1" dome tweeter is preferable for 2kHz-20kHz use.

http://zaphaudio.com/nondomes/

At this point, I'd argue ribbons are mostly a marketing device, unless for some reason you absolutely have to have a HF response up to 50kHz, to the detriment of things happening lower down in the range.

Chris
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Peter Morris

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Re: What is A Ribbon Driver
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2018, 07:10:41 pm »

Peavey RBN112 I know these have been out for a while, but what is a Ribbon Driver? Is it superior to the compression driver?
Thanks
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTYO4g5aV_4


There are basically 2 types of ribbon drivers. Here is the basic principle of one type

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsgUgFQIYGc

To improve the efficiency an aluminium voice coil circuit is etched on to a planar substrate (see attached picture).  Here is an example of these types.

https://www.alconsaudio.com/proribbon/

The second type is a pleated ribbon or air motion transformer.   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5D5IkYajpg


The advantage of ribbon drivers is they typically have much lower distortion than compression driver and a much better impulse responses and waterfall plots.

https://www.supersonic.se/dokument/tpl-150%20BEYMA_esen.pdf


The main issue with ribbon drivers has been their lack of efficiency and power handling compared to compression drivers, but some of the newer drivers are now quite good.

Ribbon drivers are more or less a line sources and as such tend to have narrow vertical dispersion particularly at high frequencies. This may or may not be a good thing depending on your application.

« Last Edit: November 20, 2018, 07:18:20 pm by Peter Morris »
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Chris Grimshaw

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Re: What is A Ribbon Driver
« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2018, 04:02:31 am »

The advantage of ribbon drivers is they typically have much lower distortion than compression driver and a much better impulse responses and waterfall plots.

https://www.supersonic.se/dokument/tpl-150%20BEYMA_esen.pdf


The main issue with ribbon drivers has been their lack of efficiency and power handling compared to compression drivers, but some of the newer drivers are now quite good.

Lower distortion but lower power handling..?
Which is it?

The Beyma PDF was interesting, although I'm dubious about their multi-tone testing. The compression driver was putting out ~10dB more below 2kHz, so I wouldn't consider it a fair comparison.

Chris
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Len Zenith Jr

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Re: What is A Ribbon Driver
« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2018, 07:57:07 am »

Nobody has mentioned a huge reason they are not used in pro audio more often. They are fragile! You can't throw your ribbon tweeter SOS in the back of a pickup and expect it to survive the drive. The wind while driving down the road will shred a ribbon diaphragm.
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Peter Morris

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Re: What is A Ribbon Driver
« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2018, 08:21:09 am »

Lower distortion but lower power handling..?
Which is it?

The Beyma PDF was interesting, although I'm dubious about their multi-tone testing. The compression driver was putting out ~10dB more below 2kHz, so I wouldn't consider it a fair comparison.

Chris

Beyma have a new driver with better efficiency and power handling - TPL200H https://www.beyma.com/getpdf.php?pid=TPL-200/H  ... as I said they are getting better :-)

I actually built a line array using these drivers - and the distortion is defiantly lower and their multi-tone performance is also better, and the impulse response is excellent.

Here is a similar speaker made by EM Accoustics http://www.emacoustics.co.uk/docs/products/HALO-C.shtml  - they use these drivers http://www.mundorf.com/PDF/EN_ProAMT_RAH_JT_Cinema_EN_Print_Final.pdf
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Spenser Hamilton

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Re: What is A Ribbon Driver
« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2018, 12:20:47 pm »

For home audio/theater use, perhaps.  For Live Concert audio, I don't think so.

Dave

The Versarray system sounds great, not good for rock show volumes unfortunately. We've had a group bring in 4 per side in our 1200 seater, did the job just fine.
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Chris Grimshaw

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Re: What is A Ribbon Driver
« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2018, 12:36:31 pm »

Beyma have a new driver with better efficiency and power handling - TPL200H https://www.beyma.com/getpdf.php?pid=TPL-200/H  ... as I said they are getting better :-)

Cool!

Question - how do they compare with the BMS coaxials?
I'm currently running some decent compression drivers (18Sound ND1460), but always looking for the next step up in quality.

Chris
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Peter Morris

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Re: What is A Ribbon Driver
« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2018, 07:04:29 pm »

Cool!

Question - how do they compare with the BMS coaxials?
I'm currently running some decent compression drivers (18Sound ND1460), but always looking for the next step up in quality.

Chris

The ND1460 is a very good compression driver.  I believe the new ND3 and ND4015 series are better, as is the BMS 4594 and 4594HE etc..  The advantage with the BMS is that it will go quite low but still has excellent VHF reproduction.

The BMS has relatively high second harmonic distortion, but the critical 3rd harmonic is very low and as a result it sounds very nice.

In comparison to the BMS (and the 18sound drivers), the TPL's sound better - BUT - they have no where near the SPL capabilities, don't go below about 1000Hz and the vertical directivity is very narrow at high frequencies, which is great for a line array but a little limiting for some other applications.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2018, 07:08:24 pm by Peter Morris »
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: What is A Ribbon Driver
« Reply #14 on: November 22, 2018, 01:38:57 am »

The Versarray system sounds great, not good for rock show volumes unfortunately. We've had a group bring in 4 per side in our 1200 seater, did the job just fine.

I heard a Versarray rig 12, maybe 13 years ago on the daytime mobile stage with OzzFest.  I think Hate Breed was the closing act on the stage and we had a show with them a couple days earlier so I had some idea of the presentation.  Screaming SPL at FOH.  Talked to the system guy as he and the crew packed it all up.  He was going through 3 ribbons a week with 18 boxes.  Easy replacement, I was told.  Frankly they were getting flogged hard and Peavey had tweaked the drive parameters for this rig with an eye to survival.  The Versarray subs were kick-ass.

There are plenty of non-metal gigs where the Versarray line might be okay but to really make it work right you need "amp channel per pass band" and DSP for every 2 boxes in the array.  There are enough competing products that take care of the EQ and drive level changes with internal amplification, and the result is less money than Versarray.  Versarray can sound very good but it comes with a price tag greater than the lightning bolt logo implies.
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Peter Morris

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Re: What is A Ribbon Driver
« Reply #15 on: November 22, 2018, 03:25:19 am »

I heard a Versarray rig 12, maybe 13 years ago on the daytime mobile stage with OzzFest.  I think Hate Breed was the closing act on the stage and we had a show with them a couple days earlier so I had some idea of the presentation.  Screaming SPL at FOH.  Talked to the system guy as he and the crew packed it all up.  He was going through 3 ribbons a week with 18 boxes.  Easy replacement, I was told.  Frankly they were getting flogged hard and Peavey had tweaked the drive parameters for this rig with an eye to survival.  The Versarray subs were kick-ass.

There are plenty of non-metal gigs where the Versarray line might be okay but to really make it work right you need "amp channel per pass band" and DSP for every 2 boxes in the array.  There are enough competing products that take care of the EQ and drive level changes with internal amplification, and the result is less money than Versarray.  Versarray can sound very good but it comes with a price tag greater than the lightning bolt logo implies.

The Versarray used a 20W driver made by Fountek (I think ?) ...soo I'm not surprised.

https://www.parts-express.com/peavey-rd-16-versarray-ribbon-tweeter-7-ohm--299-465
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Spenser Hamilton

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Re: What is A Ribbon Driver
« Reply #16 on: November 22, 2018, 01:56:01 pm »

I heard a Versarray rig 12, maybe 13 years ago on the daytime mobile stage with OzzFest.  I think Hate Breed was the closing act on the stage and we had a show with them a couple days earlier so I had some idea of the presentation.  Screaming SPL at FOH.  Talked to the system guy as he and the crew packed it all up.  He was going through 3 ribbons a week with 18 boxes.  Easy replacement, I was told.  Frankly they were getting flogged hard and Peavey had tweaked the drive parameters for this rig with an eye to survival.  The Versarray subs were kick-ass.

There are plenty of non-metal gigs where the Versarray line might be okay but to really make it work right you need "amp channel per pass band" and DSP for every 2 boxes in the array.  There are enough competing products that take care of the EQ and drive level changes with internal amplification, and the result is less money than Versarray.  Versarray can sound very good but it comes with a price tag greater than the lightning bolt logo implies.

I'd hate to be replacing drivers every week, that sounds like a case of round hole square peg.

In our case, he was using the VSX48 and some Yamaha amps, for 1000 grey hairs it was an ideal rig.

The Versarray Sub is definitely the strong point of the line.
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Scott Holtzman

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Re: What is A Ribbon Driver
« Reply #17 on: November 22, 2018, 02:13:08 pm »

I'd hate to be replacing drivers every week, that sounds like a case of round hole square peg.

In our case, he was using the VSX48 and some Yamaha amps, for 1000 grey hairs it was an ideal rig.

The Versarray Sub is definitely the strong point of the line.

The Vue Audiotechnik's have beryllium ribbon drivers.  One of the other shops in town is all Vue and there rigs sound pretty damn good.

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Justin Myers

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Re: What is A Ribbon Driver
« Reply #18 on: November 22, 2018, 04:26:39 pm »

I have a Versarray MK 2 system that I used for years including Rock shows without losing any ribbons. It did however have the RD2.6 ribbon which I think the RBN series have as well.

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Brian Charbobs

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Re: What is A Ribbon Driver
« Reply #19 on: November 23, 2018, 08:18:43 pm »

I have a Versarray MK 2 system that I used for years including Rock shows without losing any ribbons. It did however have the RD2.6 ribbon which I think the RBN series have as well.
Lots of info here, I had no idea about these ribbon drivers, you guys are all over it, thanks for the feedback and the knowledge you have on this topic.
Do you recommended the Peavey RBN speakers then?
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MikeHarris

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Re: What is A Ribbon Driver
« Reply #20 on: November 24, 2018, 03:58:20 am »

The Vue Audiotechnik's have beryllium ribbon drivers.

Beryllium...yes...Ribbon ...no. Conventional compression driver.

Many years ago we used both Stage Accompany and SLS Loudspeakers...both with ribbon drivers. One limitation was the 1K lower limit. 2 way with a 12 beat one with a 15.
Dolby now owns SLS and their cinema system using the PRD1000 remains in production while they rehab the conventional product line.
While reviewing specs for a upcoming 80 seat theater project I noticed the PRD1200...a higher power version I was unaware of.
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Craig Leerman

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Re: What is A Ribbon Driver
« Reply #21 on: November 24, 2018, 01:53:11 pm »

There are a few professional loudspeaker systems using ribbons. Alcons Audio has an 18 unit in some of their boxes that has a peak handling of 3000 watts. They make great line arrays and point source cabinets that are out on tour with big names and in major installs.

Innovox is another high end manufacturer that comes to mind that uses ribbon drivers. While mostly an install company, they have a few portable products and are starting to get some traction with rental and production companies.

As mentioned, SLS makes some boxes that use ribbons including compact line arrays.

I have heard products from the above companies at our loudspeaker demos and have been impressed by their offerings.

Dont base your ribbon experience on MI grade Peavey boxes.
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Justin Myers

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Re: What is A Ribbon Driver
« Reply #22 on: December 03, 2018, 04:31:47 am »

Lots of info here, I had no idea about these ribbon drivers, you guys are all over it, thanks for the feedback and the knowledge you have on this topic.
Do you recommended the Peavey RBN speakers then?

I have been impressed by the Peaveys ribbons but take note of what people are saying. They will not have the output of a standard compression driver but if driven within their capabilities, they sound very good.
Versarray Version 1 didnt get it right. Version 3 coming out which looks interesting but I have learnt my lesson with not buying rider friendly brands.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2018, 04:36:38 am by Justin Myers »
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Re: What is A Ribbon Driver
« Reply #22 on: December 03, 2018, 04:31:47 am »


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