What's the best mid-range driver available?

I'm thinking of trying the DIY route for a pair of full-range speakers. In your opinion, what is the BEST mid-range driver available and the best place to buy it?
Thanks for all your comments for the tweeter!
Thanks and happy listening!
I'll try my best here. I am not a DIY guy and I have never measured a driver. With that said, the 2 most impressive speakers I have ever heard in the midrange both use the same driver. That driver is the Audax aerogel mid. Check it out.
I don't know if it's available or if it would work for your tastes and application, but possibly the best midrange driver I've ever heard is the ATC dome midrange. The magnet on that thing is bigger than many woofers I've seen.

To ask what the best midrange driver is is even more difficult/impossible to answer as what is the best dome tweeter. There is no best. There are better, then it hits a point where the system has to be accounted for. Loudspeakers are *systems*. If you're gonna try an take a midrange driver to 5 or 6,000hz versus say 3 or 3.5--its gonna change your choices drastically. The higher you go the smaller your mid has to be if you don't want beaming. PHL makes some really nice midrange, but out of a 6.5" directivity suffers quite a bit above 3.5khz. When you say full range do you really mean FULL-RANGE 20hz to 20khz +/-3db. Is this going to be a three way design or a four way design, or maybe even a two way. If you want 115db dynamic range with low distortion from 20hz to 20khz you may be looking at a 4 way. This is also where you have to decide you design goals, aside from just full range. The Vifa P13 and P17 are classics. GR-research makes some nice ones for the money. The PHL's are nice as are some of the Scan-speaker units. I would say to at least avoid metal and ceramic coned units, if fidelity is the utmost importance.
Don't remember the brand the the Mid Range driver in the verity Fidelio in Parsifal is pretty amazing... It's a 5 inch underhung damped polypropylene driver (it'a the same driver Sonus Faber use in the Guarneri but Verity tweated it a bit)...

Don't have the specs but I'm sure someone will come up with more info...
ATC makes the finest midrange driver in the world, as Soix said. i know there is as least one site that sells them to the public, through ATC.
Dunlavy V's have Domes by Vifa they sound excellent to me.
Here is a link for the spec's on the ATC
ALE drivers from Japan are cost-no-object products. Their 7550DE lower midrange and 4550DE upper midrange compression drivers are approx. $2,500 each without horn. Their 1260 upper bass/lower midrange driver is $10,000 each. Adding an appropriate Tractrix horn (Sierra Brooks) could add another $2k each.

TAD's 4001 compression driver retails for $1,666 each and is no slouch either.

Both of these make the ATC look/feel like a small toy.
Hey Steve, did you sneak out or something ??? Good to see that they let you out of the Asylum for a change : )

Try using a pair or two of Quads ( or something very similar ) as midranges. Actively cross them with steep slopes and be done with it.

As to using horns, there is a lot to be said for their dynamics and ability to be easily driven. An amp that is coasting will always sound better than an amp that is being pushed. Sean
Hi Sean,

I'm using Innersound Eros in my bedroom system and there is definitely something to be said for electrostatics and midrange quality, especially for guitar, harpsichord, and other plucked instruments. But to hear a trumpet well-reproduced, I have to either crank up my N801's or listen to Magnetar's NE TAD/Altec-based system.

The ALE drivers are featured in the latest version of the big French mansion system at the aca.gr website, having displaced all the JBL pro drivers. That ALE compression driver with the 200 lb. Alnico magnet is a monster.
ATC makes the best midrange driver in the world. No competition. Too bad they will not sell just their MidRange driver, you have to buy the entire speaker.
Agree with most here. ATC dome, also Skaaning (Verity Audio), Eton 5" is damn good, Accuton (Partner/Thiel) concave ceramic dome (in Avalon and LumenWhite) as well, Focal 'W' sandwich drivers are nice and fast, and finally, the ScanSpeaks (new[er] 5" revelator and believe it or not, their [older] 5" paper cone with rubber surround mid is very nice. Relatively cheap too.

JBVO - Ha!
oops - forgot one or two.. dynaudio esotar mid dome.., and the seas magnesium cone 4-5".

application is the key... duh

JBVO - out
Atc may make the "best" mid/driver..but can't buy it separately and way too expensive speakers. So now they are ruled out our 2 contenders are Skaaning 4 or 5 inch( 80hz-2500hz) and the Seas W12CY or W15CY (80hz-3500hz). And i wonder just HOW much better the Atc's are than the Skaan's and Seas's????? Heck the Raven 3 offers a 1.5Khz up(best xover at 2K) range and so is a much better driver than the Atc as far as presenting a seamless mid/tweet..and we also need to consider the Philips RSQ8P/11 and ESg3 both deliver a upper midrange of 1.5Khz up(best xover at 2K)
yes you *can* buy it seperatley. and you can buy the speakers as a kit. they aren't as good, but they're still good.
and they're not too expensive, especially when you consider that they come with multiple top-notch amps as well. if you work it all out, they are really quite a bargain.

15k for a three-way speaker, with the best mid-range in the world, a 50 liter enclosure, one of the best crossover networks available, and *six* seperate power amplifiers driving each driver individually. not cheap, but very reasonable.
Lazarus There is no commercial speaker worth 15 for me. With 15 i could get a superior speaker kit (Skaaning + Raven 3) + superior amp + superior digital (superior = "not your everyday run-of-the-mill stuff") for under 15. Now its true there are 15 and up speakers out there that are'nt worth it. I never consider buying a speaker that weighs more than say 100 lbs. each. The 6 amps sounds too complex for me. And can you give me their weight?
you can get fantastic stuff for that amount, true. but not superior to the atc. it's expensive, but still a good value. the speakers ar very heavy because the amps are affixed to the back of the speaker. there are six power amps, but it isn't at all complex because they're all built into the speaker. you only ever see them as a small protrusion from the back of the speaker. just hook up your preamp using balanced interconnects to them and that's it. saves space on your rack, too.
I don't think you follow me. Why should i invest in a superior amp and then have the output channeled into a speaker amp??? You are sending the music through too many pathways... superior amp + superior digital + superior drivers + superior xover = ? (lets keep the money factor within reason..15 is way more than necessary)
i think you mmight be misunderstanding the path. you don't need to invest in ANY amp. it's part of the speaker. source --> preamp --> speaker.

you don't need an external amp. period. active speakers can't use external amplification.

15 being way more than is necessary is strictly a matter of opinion. you won't change my mind, i won't change yours.

in absolute terms, if something sounds just a little bit better than another product, but costs 100,000 dollars more, the fact remains that it sounds better.
Your point is valid. The local audio club heard a $70K system and most walked away dissapointed at the sound, speakers especially. I agree there are speakers out there at $15 to $50K that are worth all those Washingtons. Now as for your amp driven drivers???, i prefer to have my tube amp supplying the power. The circuits in the speaker amps i doubt can out perform the circuits in my tube amps. Oh by the way i'm not looking for BIG sound. Just enough to fill my room with a superior quality. I would love to compare your Atc speakers, with a 3 way Skaaning 10 + Skaaning 4 + Philips RSQ8P/11.
i always like hearing different set-ups. i don't care about big sound, either. i care about accuracy above all else. part of the reason i love music is because i have a fascination with the human voice, so i'm picky about midrange.

but, please; if you're ever in san antonio, you're more than welcome to come by and have a listen.

and if you prefer tubes, the speakers are available (considerably cheaper, i might add) in passive versions to be driven by whatever amp you'd like.
I've heard that San Antonio is a beautiful town. I've always wanted to go there. BTW i've got word that the Seas W12CY midrange will outperform the legendary Skaaning's. This is from a reliable source. As well you may want to know that the super tech ribbon from Philips RSQ8P/11 will be avaliable at the end of May. $840/pr from Koch in Germany. Now i'm open to consider the Atc's in a passive setup. Can you get me a price. If you get a chance take a close look at the Seas Excel woofers. Another driver that you may want to research is the Raven 3 ( $1600/each) Now give me some description of your speakers. The ATC web page gives absolutely no info...strange?? BTW they are British, i tend not to like "british" sound.
the best way to describe them is 'accurate.' i don't know what you mean by sounding 'british.' i've heard lots of english speakers and i don't really think they sound very similar. (linn, rega, naim, tannoy, atc)

i'm not sure what kinda info you want, but here's a list of plaves that *only* use atc equiment. just to skim over (taken from their website)

"Sony Music Studios, New York; Kate Bush; Warner Bros, Burbank, CA; Dairy Studios; Polygram Wiseloord Studios, Holland; Sain Records; Lenny Kravitz; Whitfield Street Studios Skin; (Skunk Anansie)Mute Records (Depeche Mode, Erasure); K & A Productions (Naxos); Todd AO, USA; Pioneer Optical Disc (Barcelona); Nick Whitaker (Internationally Renowned Acoustician); Telarc; VTR TV Production Company;
Ground Control, LA; Paramount Pictures, Hollywood; Angell Sound, London (5 Studios); BBC - UK; Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Lightning Seeds (Ian Broudie); Sydney Opera House; Pink Floyd's Studio & Dave Gilmour's Home; Royal College of Music; Jarvis Recording Studios, NY; Birmingham University; Dep International; Essex University; Nimbus Records; Bristol University; John Kurlander; University of Surrey (Francis Rumsey);Ian Anderson; Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club; Manor Mobiles; Lou Reed; Beacon Studio (Dublin); SBS Television, Australia; Hans Zimmer; Lansdowne Recording Studio; Karl Wallinger World Party; Greg Walsh (Producer Paul McCartney, Tina Turner, Elkie Brookes); Albert's Music; Angel Studio, Islington; Peter Walsh (Producer Stevie Wonder, Peter Gabriel, Simple Minds, Pulp); Oorong Studio, N.Y.; London Post; James Guthrie (Pink Floyd, Toto, Chicago); Enya; The Tate Gallery; Thierry Allard, Bruxelles; Bob Ludwig Masterdisk; Boogie Park Hamburg; Bruce Leek; Bruce Dunlop Assoc., London; Vogler Audio Media; Prince Sufri, Brunei; Tony Wass; Monster Music, Madrid; John Richards; Crazy Sound, Guadeloupe; Beethoven Street; Fluke, London; Moles Studio; Spectral Harmony, Bombay; ARC Studio; Haman Studio, Tel Aviv; Kash Productions, Madrid; Zaza Studio, Tel Aviv; Polygram, Hong Kong (Mastering & Studio 1); Loco Studio, Wales; Matrix; London College of Music; Swedish Radio; Polish Broadcast;
Carlton Television (Nottingham & London); Lakeside, Switzerland; York Street Studios; Tape to Tape, London (Heathman's Mastering); Albert's Studio; Telegael, Eire (6 Studios); John G Deacon Founder Conifer Records; Allaire Studios, New York"

also check out:


three reviews of the speakers, just fyi. i tend to agree most with the last reviewer.

and as for pricing, the passive 50's run about 10k, the passive 20's about 5k.

the bad thing about passively amplifying them is that they're no longer active, so you don't have an amp per every driver, which is part of what makes them so dynamic. the good thing is that you are able to choose which amp you would like to use.
Why don't you use a Quad Esl or the like?
Laz I just got word from a DIYer in Denmark. I asked him what's his drivers. Says he started with the best mid , the ATC..so looks like your right. Says they are expensive. As well he had Skaaning build him a woofer to certain specs. For tweet i think he uses Scanspeak. Can you give me some info on this 3 inch mid soft dome. Where to buy? etc.
LAZ which ATC speakers do you have ..the SCM 50's 100's or the 150's. The ATC active speaker may..no IS the best commercial speaker in the world. No doubt in my mind. However you did mention like 15K. That leaves me out. However i'm trying to find out if my designer will work the ATC 3 inch soft dome into the SEas W22 + RT8P. Hope they are not more than say $500 each..i may go $700..thats tops. If they are more than that I'm going with the big philips ribbons $850/pr
One more contender for "best" mid. Accuton 2 and 3 inch dome, probably 2nd to the ATC
i use the 50's. i know of one distributer that sells the midrange driver without the magnet, but i'm not sure about the 3 inch. let me do some research, and i'll post again shortly.
so they make the best mid, but do they do as well with the woofer and tweet or do they have someone else. Now i would have doubts that they can do all 3 drivers world class. If the thread said best tweets, then which would show up? Lets not bring up the Accuton Diamond tweeter at $2800 EACH!!!. I guess top tweet may be the Raven 3
ATC will not sell any drivers alone. There are only 2 distributors in the country and I know both. If you want to buy and demo pair, I can turn you on to the importer and distributor of ATC located here in Denver. Cheers.
yes, there is a place to get just the driver (sans magnet) it's based out of england.
The Skaaning or Flex Driver (other commercial name) used on the Verity is a thing of beauty. Fast as lighting with the best midbass I have heard. My two cents.
Yes the Skaanings are very nice. The Danish DIYer , Mogens Anderson has a 3 way Skaaning + ATC + Scan-Speak. He had Skaan build a 5 inch with specs of his choice. The only thing he would change is the tweet to a Hiqulaphon. Take a look. http://home13.inet.tele.dk/meil/
I believe Solen in Canada sells ATC (www.solen.ca) just for reference. What I don't get with the R-3's though, is I could swear I've seen design/kits using and R-3, but then crossed to an R-2 or R-1 to finish on up to 20khz ?????(Big Time)????? Unless there's some reflections of the wavelengths in the upper registers given/relative the dimensions of the R-3 that actually warrant one of the smaller Ravens better at the high-frequency extremes and the crossover worth it--I can't think of any reason to do something like that. But can't the R-3 be crossed even lower than the ATC dome-like 500hz with the R-3. If it were to be an active system-the money saved on xover parts and an extra set of amps would be a strong point in favor of a two way R-3 setup.
Yes i found access to the ATC's. Since we're on the subject of "best" midrange, it's good you brought up the Raven 3. This ribbon is one very interesting speaker. If i chose to go single source driver this would be the one. The R-3 does go down to an amazing 500,i had thought it was 1K. Zalatroyn has a kit with the R-3. New York Noise Maker. You can see the xover schematic and a picture. The NYCN has dual Focal 10 inch Kevlar woofers in each cabinet. Quite a load for a tube amp i would guess. They xover at 500, which seems low to me. I would feel 1K would be a better xover point, so as not to stress the R-3. Though the unit does looks like it's built like a tank. The R-3 could offer a seemless image that the ATC + tweeter may not. If i used the R-3's i would go with the new Seas W26. W26 + R-3! What a speaker!!...for under 5K!
One drawback of the R-3 (in my opinion anyway) is the limited vertical listening window. When you stand up, you lose the highs. Now I probably place a higher premium on good sound while standing up (and dancing) than most people do. But if I were using the R-3, I'd probably want to use an R-1 or (egads!) Pioneer leaf tweet for the top end.

No doubt about it though - sit down and the R-3 is stunning.

If you decide to call Orca with questions about the R-3, ask for Allen Hulsebus. Allen is one of the finest loudspeaker engineers in the business, though his work never ends up with his name on the box.
New kid on the block...Zellaton, don't know much about the driver right now i'm researching. E-speakers has them on order. I just got a note on Madisound from a DIYer who has all the midranges on his table. He votes on the Zell's...???As soon as i know something i'll post. The Etons got votes as well.