Pros and Cons of Ribbons

I've been looking into getting a pair of VMPS RM-2's and would like to hear any comments or thoughts on these speakers or ribbon midrange and tweeter speakers in general. These speakers have a 12" woofer, (2) 7" ribbon mids and (2) spiral ribbon tweeters. I know nothing about ribbon speakers but have heard that they are very open, transparent and detailed and have exceptional imaging and spaciousness. Some say after listening to ribbons you won't like cones or domes again. This all sounds good, so what's the bad part?


My experience with ribbons is with Apogees. All the stated qualities are accurate, the downside is they are power hungry (you best have some big-ass amps) and like all planars they are very sensitive to placement. It can take weeks of fiddling to get them just right, but it sure is worth it!

I would suggest you contact Brian Cheney direct at VMPS. He is a very nice guy and I am sure he would be very willing to discuss any of your questions. Unfortunately, I have never had ribbons so I can't comment on that. I believe his number is 415-222-4276 and you can also go to and read allot of info there.

Good Luck!
I have the newforms. I found the nordost red dawn cables were too much of a good thing in my sytem[SS]. With tubes this might be different...but the sheer speed and transparenty of ribbons requires the right match that doesn't give you too much of the leading edges of the notes and too little of the timbre or the fullness of notes...with RD the notes were litterly zinging with too much sibilence. It was ultra detailed and I couldn't live with the mix. For me the cure was the acoustic zen satori and matrix mix...the siltech gen3 were awesome but out of my reach..take your time with the cabeling and you will be hugely rewarded. Good ribbons can float images and notes and make for long listening sessions. You'll be buying lots of new music and listening to all your current collection with awe. You'll stop looking at other just gets better...happy listening.
If they're anything like ribbon microphones, they're probably a little more fragile and may require more gentle handling (like not turning your amp up to 11?).
I am not familiar with VMPS so this comment may not apply to these speakers. One of the problems with using a conventional cone woofer with a ribbon/planar midrange and tweeter is that sometimes the bass doesn't sound like it integrates seamlessly with the upper frequencies. Bass will sound thick, slow, or "muddy" when compared with the rest of the higher frequencies. I would definitely audion ANY ribbon with cone woofer hybrid before you buy! Happy Tunes!
Another good source of ribbon opinion is, he's not unbiased but it's interesting reading anyway. They are better than dynamic drivers in most ways except efficiency, power handling, and fragility. If these don't concern you, go for it!
The biggest downsides seems to be reliability and integrating with regular cone drivers. I've heard some great ribbons, (Maggies and Apogees). I guess the key is to really listen and to get a feel for what the company is like that manufactures the ones you're interested in. has an article called "cones, domes and planars" underneath the tech talk icon. Its a little more technical than the sequarra one (I just read the sequarra one. I didn't know about it , thanks for the link), but more general. And it gives a good oversight, although biased in its own right. There's five different ways to produce sound in high fidelity: electrostatic, electrodynamic, ribbon, bending wave transducers, and plasma drivers. Alot of it depends on how well its done (although the last two a pretty "high-end" at any level). The planar technologies are the only two suitable for the line array design (electrodynamics run into too much interference among the drivers), although I believe Nelson Pass' "ion cloud" from the '70's was a plasma driver in some type of "electrostatic" design, so its dispersion characteristics may have pushed it out of the point source class, I'm not sure. But its healthy to look at it from both sides like your trying to do. Some ribbons can be pretty bad: like the Monsoon speakers on your PC versus some Raven R3's. VMPS' site wasn't working when I tried; I don't know what ribbons they use (Bohlendar Graebener's maybe, I doubt Newforms, but I don't know) but with a 7" length you won't have much vertical dispersion, which is good and bad. It minimizes ceiling/floor reflections, but the overall vertical polar response may be a little weird (I don't know where the crossover points were and what not.) Ideally an audition, but at least VMPS doesn't look like they are skimping on parts cost or anything (like Genesis using $200 Carver ribbons in a $70k+ speaker.) But the "old-fashioned" cone driver can still be state-of-the-art when done right. Not all cones are equal and not all ribbons are equal. Dunlavy shed's good light on the efficiency aspects of planars v. cones/domes.
The latest Listener has a informative review of VMPS.
I bought a pair of newform research r645's. They're a hybrid 2-way ribbon/cone design. I bought them factory direct over the net. I've had them about 9 months and I love them. My listening room is small, about 11 x 13. Placing the speakers was no problem, just followed newform's suggestions. These speakers throw music in front of me when I'm standing facing them in the same plane as the drivers!! In fact, these speakers sound better when I'm standing behind them than anything I've ever owned before.