Dome tweeters vs compression drivers

compression drivers on average are about 10 times the price and produce about 100 times the output of regular dome tweeters

are there any downsides besides the price ?

well compression drivers can only be used with a horn so immediately they make your speaker larger …

but what many people don’t know is compression drivers also have an additional distortion mechanism not present in regular tweeters - namely air compression itself is nonlinear …

JBL published a great paper on the subject here ( clicking on link will trigger download of PDF file ):

on other hand regular domes suffer from distortion due to nonlinearity of motor and suspension …

Klippel published a paper on that here:

compression drivers due to their higher output capability almost completely eliminate these types of distortions at levels normal tweeters would be used at …

but at higher levels introduce their own distortion that can be extremely bad …

furthermore compression drivers are more prone to other types of artifacts such as diaphragm breakup and resonances in the phase plug with resulting time smearing …

so which should you use ?

basically stick with regular domes if they can deliver high enough output for your application. basically any kind of desktop or apartment speakers stick with regular domes.

if you have a big house and want to build large tower speakers and don’t have any neighbors and like to go really loud - use compression drivers.

Never used compression drivers. Sister had a midrange compression driver I thought sounded great even at low volume it was in a homemade horn loaded bass driver in huge box. ba No tweeters. Think I might try a mid range compression driver soon Michael

actually the industry trend is away from midrange compression drivers.

compression drivers are a measure of last resort - like nuclear weapons. good design principle is to only use them when needed.

most systems will be output limited at the extremes of frequency range - very low and very high frequencies - so that is where horn loading is sometimes used. on other hand midrange is rarely SPL limited and vocal range quality is critical so horn loading is typically avoided here as it can cause issues.

in fact the trend is away from compression dome tweeters and towards compression ring radiators, which in the past were used as supertweeters. in other words compression drivers are being pushed out of vocal range to the extent possible.

however i believe the dynamics of compression tweeters bring a level of realism ( especially in movies, which are less dynamically compressed than music ) that regular tweeters can’t match. this only makes sense though if the rest of the system can keep up with that output.