It is my own experience that implementation is at least as important as tweeter type. I have used Ionic, ribbon, and many different types of domes. The first two have many virtues but are hard to match with standard cone speakers. I have tried titanium domes and find I prefer soft domes to them; this is a personal choice, not "better" or "worse". As I like Scanspeak I decided to try some speakers with the "Revelator" tweeters, I have purchased some but not yet received them.
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So far one of the best I have seen is the new tweeter made by High Emotion Audio http://www.highemotionaudio.com.
It is high efficiency, very fast but smooth without brightness and extremely wide dispersion angles (120 degrees). It is also rear-firing and crosses over at about 2KHz. It surpasses any ribbon I've heard (for example the Raal) and ESLs. They have at least two patents on it as far as I know.
The only other tweeter that I have heard that is as fast (but much more limited dispersion angle) is the field-coil powered tweeter made by Classic Audio Loudspeakers.
Much cricism has been made about the dispersion of ribbon tweeters. I have a pair of inexpensive 5" monitors with "isodynamic" ribbon tweeters. They are placed about 8' apart, with they're backs on the same plane as the widescreen that is between them. Listening to video in stereo, the sound stretches well the the outside of the speakers, but dialog is rock solid, sounds like it is coming from the TV.
These hivi tweeters do have a sort of shallow waveguide(?) that is gently rounded to the sides, which may help.
A well known DIYer tested ribbons and concluded that, at least on the bench, they didn't fair very well compared to good domes. I have had speakers with soft and metal domes, horns and these ribbons, and the inexpensive hivi ribbons have always been a favorite.
I can see that you already concluded that Diamond dome has to be superior to Beryllium dome. Steve Mowry says in the article "The Whole Truth About Beryllium Diaphragms: -
"For a given geometry the first bending (break-up) frequency is proportional to the material Speed Of Sound, where the speed of sound within a material is defined as the square root of the Youngs Modulus divided by the Mass Density, (m/s); the higher the better. However, the Mass of the diaphragm must also be considered. Then the ratio of the Speed Of Sound to the Mass Density can be used as the materials acoustic figure of merit, (m4/kg/s); the higher the better."
After that he shows values of "Acoustic Figure of Merit" for different material (higher the better)in m4/kg/s
Berillum - 6.97
Diamond - 4.92
Aluminum - 1.86
Titanium - 1.13
Steel - 0.63
It is hard to beat a Ionovac plasma tweeter, and a horn at that. But, they need to be rebuilt, and are expensive. I also like the Magnepan tweeter/Ribbons, very detailed and natural, big open space, the Legacy Heil tweeters are wonderful, (Bill Duddleston reportedly has every significant tweeter made, and he chose these...I would trust his ears) and the Aerial tweeters on the 20T are wonderful. Domes just donn't open up for me as well. But I do like the top end of the Cremona M by Sonus Faber. Domes can do things like efficency, but many hurt my ears. Personal preference I guess.....
There is no real answer to this question. Asking for the best tweeter without reference to other drivers in the design is like asking what is the best tire without asking what application it would be used in - track, draf racing, off road, wet weather, etc. Like many of you I have heard tweeters utilizing ion, diamond, beryllium, ribbon, silk, paper, aluminum, titanium, etc. I couldn't tell you which is best unless you tell me the type of speaker design it will be implemented in. For example, the Maggie ribbon tweeter, although fast and airy, doesn't integrate well withe planar magnetic driver so I find it difficult to enjoy the music sometimes. However, the ribbon tweeter in an Apogee Diva integrate very well with the midrange ribbon, so in this implentation sound is coherent and example of excellent tweeter implementation. I like prefer the sound of silk domes in most cone designs because they integrate well and sound NATURAL, unlike some ceramic or beryllium tweeters I've heard.
Diamond cones , ribbons are also fast but directional and dont have the same snap /impact in my opinion .
I would suggest to use diamond cones also for lower freq ,as low as one can go for accurate (freq) response they have very lineair response and very low distortion , but at a cost.
The berylium cones i have not yet had much expirience with
Weseixas, yes that is true. But a guy over at audioasylum who does extensive mods with Maggies (Peter Gunn), including entirely new crossover and new frame, still doesn't like the Maggies with the true ribbon tweeters because of integration issue. When I owned the Maggie IIIs, I was impressed by the high freq detail, but the kinda wore on me over time. Still, very fine speakers to this day. To me, proper integration of high freq with the rest of the lower freq is more important than a highly detailed airy tweeter that sings its own tune.
It's funny with all the new tweeter designs using the latest diamond, beryllium, ion, and ribbon materials, I still find a simple silk dome tweeter to be more natural and more enjoyable. We, as audiophiles, tend to jump on the "latest and greatest" band wagons as the only way to achieve high end sound (I'm also guilty sometimes), but experience has shown me (and like Stanwal and Johnk) over and over again implemenation trumps choice of the individual part.
Wesexias I have the Acapella plasma tweeter in my system, and a friend has a Lansche Corona plasma tweeter. IOW - I have heard both plasma tweeters which are currently in production.
If I had to pick a second best, I would nominate the Heil AMT (as used in Adam Tensor speakers) as a superb tweeter. Extended, uncoloured, free of any metallic sound, and natural.
I used to agree with Amfibius about plasma tweeters. I have since bought Tidal speakers with a 1" diamond tweeter. I clearly is better and also expensive, however.
I know it doesn't seem to make any sense that a tweeter with mass would sound better than one with none, but I do find this. I think it may be the power supply that is needed with all plasma tweeters.
I've been speaker building for 32 years. The best tweeter that I've ever heard is the old Hill Plasmatronics.
I've had great success with ribbons, but they can be beamy and one that can cross low is expensive.
Horn loads: (you can hear the horn)
Diamond dome:(Accuton) Haven't tried them... I'm always on a budget
Ring Radiator: (old advents) ok
Inverted Dome: (Focal) Fast, Detailed, can sound etched & grainy easily with some electronics, wonderful with others.
Soft Domes: I currently use a Scan Speak with excellent results. Alot of variations with very different outcomes.
Bottom Line, use a technology correctly and you can come up with a very nice sounding speaker.
Weseixas, Blkadr, yes the HEA tweeter *does* look like the old Linaeum, but if you have a closer look they have little in common except that they are both tweeters. The HEA tweeter is sort of like a ribbon tweeter in a horn configuration- That diaphragm you see in the photos is a flexible film, and curved in such a way that it is very efficient. I understand that the tweeter has to be padded down so the other drivers can keep up; its about 107-109db 1 watt.
Unlike a ribbon, its not beamy, and even though its really fast, its not bright. They will be at RMAF...
Interesting and i do believe i know the design of what you speak, just 4 times the size of the one presented.
Funny the comments about ribbons being Beamy, IMO it's very dependent on application and not necessarily a reflection of ribbon topology.
They ( ribbons) have issues ( eff/load ) but beamy is not one of them and I'm not saying you are incorrect, as i have heard such myself, also from ESL's and IMO sounding "Beamy" has more to do with poor integration and design than Ribbon topology.....
(Defining ribbon tweeter as a vertically suspended diaphragm suspended in a magnetic field,open freely front/ back and tensioned only at it's vertical ends...)
As far as ribbons being beamy. In my experience, not all ribbons are beamy. It does have more to do with ribbon design (dispersion pattern) but not all ribbons are beamy. Also, some of this can be overcome, by crossover frequency & slopes. I've seen open back and sealed back ribbons and one where the ribbon was mounted horizontally. Hopefully everyone has sat in front of a good set of ribbons, what they do, they do very well. Again, I've always been a budget builder. I've tried a few sets of HiVi's, theirs are a mixed bag and some of their ribbons have an extensive rise on the high end that bothers me, One in particular was quite good. I've played with Bolender Graebner and an old Fostex. Some of the Fountek look promising and I've seen great results with RAAL. Unfortunately, I have not yet figured out how to just look at a ribbon and tell if it will be beamy. I know none of this is really a help, but to say, there is alot out there, some of it is very good.
Why is an inverted (concave) dome on this list if a conventional (convex) dome is not unless made of diamond or horn-loaded, and leaving out 'soft' domes unless configured as a "ring radiator"? Too arbitrary to be meaningful IMO.
[I'm deleting the rest that originally followed the above and reposting it in a new thread.]