What ribbon loudspeakers are

What they are

There are a handful of special design speakers which don't use cones. Instead, they have thin foils suspended between magnets or metal sheets. With a ribbon speaker, the musical signal is applied to a foil ribbon, and the varying electrical charge placed upon it by the music causes it to be attracted or repelled by the magnets, moving air in doing so, and thus reproducing the sound. A variation on this consists of a foil attached to a large flat membrane, and it is the membrane which is suspended. Such designs are called planar-magnetic.

Ribbon speakers reproduce midrange and upper frequencies with superb clarity, but are not very good at the low frequencies (below 100Hz). Therefore, they usually have standard cone type speakers in a separate cabinet at the base (see photos) to serve as woofers. Ribbon speakers are dipolar in nature.