As far as I know, the principle advantage is excellent dispersion. This produces a very even sound field in the room and will result in a more natural and balanced mid range compared to almost all other drivers.
What you actually hear is the direct and reverberant sound field of a speaker and NOT the anechoic response seen in test measurements. Apparently, the key to natural sound is to excite the reverberant field in the same way as the direct sound. Most drivers have bumps and dips in their off axis response that do not follow their direct response and this is what creates so many room placement and listening position issues (and the dead giveaway of "reproduced" rather than natural sound).
The disadvantage is that large 3 inch domes are difficult to build (costly) and hard to integrate with other drivers; the result is that very few designers use them...from this perspective they are worse then normal cones which can be so cheap(a tenth of the cost) and therefore allow for a speaker with a better price point (or more profit for the manufacturer). Soft dome tweeters, of course, are the most popular design on the market because they offer similar advantages in the treble without the difficult costly construction (Xmax is tiny on a tweeter).
Here is some more technical stuff Dome Mid
Given the high cost/integration issues of dome mid ranges, I would say that they are only better if you go to very high end speakers and the proof is that very few manufacturers have had real success with this type of design....basically a poorly constructed dome mid (expensive) will sound a lot worse than a poorly constructed conventional cone(cheap).
Which do you prefer, chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla ice-cream? IMHO, the individual components of a speaker are immaterial...it's the designer's philosophy and integration of quality components which will give the speaker its sound signature.
Rather than get into the idiosyncrasies of all types of speaker design, the most important question is what do YOU LIKE, on your budget, the will be usable in your own listening room & environment!
I have owned and built quite a few speakers which have used dome mids.
In my opinion they are cpable of superb sound.They are generally less coloured and more natural sounding than even the best of cone midranges.
They seem to be extremely hard to use though and their biggest failing is that image depth is compromised by ,as I understand it,their wide dispersion pattern.
Most speakers that use dome mids have poor central imaging and depth.Yamaha NS1000s and 1200s are typical examples of this.
Duntech and more recently Sonique and Aslan Acoustics use two dome mids with a tweeter in between,set back these drivers to time align them,and surround them with profiled felt which effectively narrows their dispersion pattern.
Used this way dome midranges will produce excellent depth and precisioning of imaging.
The Sonique Encore SE use this format.These are superb sounding speakers.I think the best box speakers I have heard.
I was really enthused until I read Jtgofish's problems with imaging.
It is pretty simple to put the 4" Flexbar into a pre-made .375 cu-ft Parts-Express cabinet. Mating a good tweeter may be the problem as Audio technology recommends an x-over of 6kHz. X-over that low means it needs to be done right. i would imagine with such a high quality mid any defect will be VERY noticeable.
Just looking at parts cost, this speaker would be ~$800. use typical hi-fi 6x mark-up and they would cost $4,800 in a salon. Pretty good value if they can be done right.
I am afraid they will be too good and I'll have to upgrade to $10,000 Atma-shpere amps.
Cdc: "I was really enthused until I read Jtgofish's problems with imaging."
Keep in mind, that's just Jtgofish's opinion and maybe so with those Yamaha models. Several speaker design (not neccessarily the driver) issues could be the culprit of stated negatives as well.
Shadorne and I both have ATC 100's, and I'm not sure I/we agree with Jtgofish's generalized statement. But that's just MY opinion.
I really like the ATC's I have heard. One problem for me is the need to be played loud before they come alive. Shadorne's ATC link also mentioned this.
Is this true with all dome mid's? I only listen at 60-70dB and 75 is getting pretty loud. That is why I have been able to live with tang-bands 3' ~full range speaker.
I am not sure about the general poor imaging of dome mids. This may be one of the design challenges, I don't know. The ATC's image as well as anything I have heard but that is not what really differentiates the dome mid sound. The easiest way to explain it is to hear the speakers from outside the room or far off axis...unlike almost all other designs the sound remains completely natural and does not change character or timbre no matter where you stand/sit. The other striking feature is the way vocals sound completely convincing (not recorded) and not just in a narrow sweetspot too.
Whats the sonic tradeoff for domes vs inverted domes? I had ADS speakers with dome mid and tweeter and they were bright! My last 2 speakers have inverted domes, cones without a dust cap I call them but the lack of glare would probably be due to being modern and much more expensive than having to do with cone type. As to a radiating pattern you describe above that might suggest the wide dispersion of the dome could have more reflected energy that could overload some rooms?
For me it’s a matter of how can I use less crossover parts. Less parts equals more open. But less parts also means you need to be better at voicing cabinets. More mass in a cabinet design also results in more crossover parts. The three ingredients are Cabinet (including fill or lack of), Drivers and Crossover & Wires.
Anytime you find yourself using more parts that means your trying to fix something, and drivers start to squeeze the signal the more they need fixed. The magic of a cone is that if you’ve done your cabinet as an extension of the sound a cone will require less fixing and can sound super natural and relaxed (effortless).