Speaker Driver Material & The Sound of Dissimilar Materials

Can anyone explain(NOT anecdotally)how it is possible for a driver made of metal(aluminum etc..)to properly convey the tone of wood & how a wood/pulp or plastic based driver can convey properly the tone of metal(electric guitar strings,cymbals)?This is a very confusing concept to me...

What you are hearing is not a plastic plectrum striking a steel string but the soundwaves travelling through the air that this action produces. Actually, you are mostly hearing the resonance of the wooden body in the case of an acoustic guitar.

Speaker cones of different materials can produce reasonable facsimiles of those soundwaves and also of many other instruments made of different materials all at once. Your speakers don’t produce an exact copy of the soundwave but close enough to satisfy most people.

The cone doesn’t have to be made of the same material, just be able to make similar waves in the air.

This is a very simple explanation, and probably not what you wanted, but I’m sure someone else will do better.

That's a pretty good explanation.  👍

I'm sorry but "soundwaves"are not what we hear,soundwaves are nothing more than the pressure waves of air movement caused by the vibration of initiating object.If all we heard where soundwaves everything would have the same tone.It is the frequencies of vibration that gives us pitch,timbre(tone)& texture.This is where my confusion lies.Just can't seem to wrap my brain around how an aluminum or poly woofer can accurately vibrate at the same freq.as the wooden body of a cello(for example) & this is what I'm hoping someone can explain.
 Thanks for the reply though...

You have a preconceived notion that the material of a driver has to naturally vibrate at the same frequency as the material of the instrument it is trying to reproduce---in other words, have the same resonance characteristics. That is such an incorrect notion, one doesn’t know where to begin to explain why. Where on Earth did you get that idea?!

To reproduce a single frequency (to make it simple), the driver moves forward and backward a certain number of times per second. What the driver is made of is (sorry) immaterial. It is the movement of the driver that creates sound, whether the driver is made of paper, plastic, metal, or wood.

The funny thing is, different materials DO have different sounds, to a degree. But that is a separate thing from what you are asking.


i think you need to read up on acoustics and sound reproduction.

Drivers are meant to reproduce recorded sound, it doesn't act like the string of a guitar.
Soundwaves are what people hear in which there is a frequency and time element. Try investigating harmonics (distortion) and ASDR envelope.

There is difference between free vibration of an insturment and forced vibration of speaker. 
All of this is a good argument for multidriver speakers. A given driver, with its mass, stiffness, and many other properties, can handle only a limited range of frequencies convincingly. A single driver design can play coherently and pleasingly, but will only handle the midrange frequencies with authority.
The driver moves back and forth uniformly. It does not vibrate between two fixed points the way a guitar string or the spruce top of a cello does. Since the driver does not distort, it pushes and pulls air uniformly over the radiating surface so it doesn't matter to the air whether the driver is paper, aluminum, kevlar or any other material. The driver recreates the same pressure wave pattern as the vibrating top of the cello.

Sound waves are exactly what we hear for the waves are rarified and compressed air causing the eardrum to vibrate exactly like the source generating the wave.

Free, so how do you think speakers work when you get a phone call and recognize the voice, or vice versa? :) It would be pretty weird if there were vocal chords in your cell phone. Maybe you’d have to feed it to keep it working. The device in your phone is a speaker too.

I think you are overthinking it a little bit. If all that was recorded in a recording was the notes, like sheet music, then it would be impossible to replay a specific performance. What’s being recorded (as much as possible) is the individual vibrations that make up a sound. For instance, on a violin middle C is played. The CD/MP3 whatever doesn’t record middle C. The microphone recorded the fundamental and all the overtones produced by that specific instrument at that point in time, including any studio sounds, the sound of the bow pulling across the string, the vibrations of the body as well as any air moving through the holes on the top. There's also the effect of the bridge, and a little finger's worth of wood placed int he body of the violin to give it more complexity.  A microphone should capture as much of that as possible, much like your ears do. 

The speaker driver itself should be like a blank page, or like a projection screen. Without any image of it’s own, it should reflect only what is cast upon it. No driver is actually like this, and no driver is perfect, but that is what makers strive for.

Any driver, regardless of material, tries to function like a pure piston and NOT like a musical instrument. That piston should move back and forth exactly as the input voltage asks of it. It should not "ring" or cast on any overtones of it’s own, like a piano or violin always must do. It is in essence a microphone in reverse.




    Simply said.

 A piston (cone) speaker is nothing more than a AIR PUMP.

 A given material has nothing to do with it's sonic signature.( Woody) or Steely. But has everything to do with the speed & ease in which it responds to the electrical signal variances from the AMP. Sure materials vary from Mfg to Mfg only because they are sure that cone made from there proprietary  Nirvana X material.IS ABSOLUTE!!

Clarity hopefully,


Wow thats a though one!!
If ebm says 'wow' I got to check out why. Ya,  I don't want a air pump in my speakers either. Just the basics. Air pump for tires.