This is a driver in a headphone. These can produce every sound and beyond that humans can hear. I understand that there are full range speakers that are sometimes used, but they work in a very different way. The drivers that are used in loudspeakers use rubber surrounds, rather than an integrated plastic surround with the ridges seen here.

Could someone explain to me why drivers like these can't be up sized to produce a more durable full range speaker?

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    $\begingroup$ They work at a small scale because they don't have to support much mechanical movement. With larger drivers the cone can move an inch or more, and the plastic required to support that movement wouldn't be flexible enough to produce a reasonable sound. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    May 10, 2018 at 0:57
  • $\begingroup$ Because the power output from that small thing won’t fill a room adequately... $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    May 10, 2018 at 7:49
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    $\begingroup$ is the durability of rubber/foam supports an issue? $\endgroup$
    – agentp
    May 10, 2018 at 14:20
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    $\begingroup$ To the uneducated observer in any field of engineering, "just scale it up" seems trivial. To those stuck making things work, scalability is one of the worst demons. $\endgroup$ May 10, 2018 at 16:57
  • $\begingroup$ Physics dictate as @Carl notes that things cant be scaled. Mass of objects scale differently from their strength among other things. $\endgroup$
    – joojaa
    May 10, 2018 at 22:49

1 Answer 1


that thing is indeed an loudspeaker- just a small one. it operates on exactly the same principles as a full-size loudspeaker. because it doesn't take much movement of air in a headphone to fry your eardrums, these little guys don't require soft surrounds to accomodate large cone excursions. the flexure of the material itself is adequate for use as a surround.

note the ribs molded into the cone: these stiffen the bulk of the cone without adding much weight. this trick allows the cone material to serve both as the radiating surface (which needs to be stiff) and as the flexible surround.


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