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Old 02-19-2007   #1
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Default A subjective comparison of popular 7" drivers

Since I see this question asked so many times, I decided to write a guide that touches on some of the more popular 7” drivers. I know everyone likes ratings, so I made an attempt to rate each driver from 1 to 10, 10 being best.

Value – Overall, how does this driver perform given it’s price?
Build – How sturdy and robust is the driver’s construction? Does it offer advanced features such as cone technology, suspension, frame, etc.?
Midrange clarity – How realistic does this driver sound? Are details rendered with absolute precision?
Bass performance – How clean is this driver at producing bass? How much bass can this driver provide?
Ease of use – How simple would it be to achieve optimal results with this driver? How easy would it be to integrate to a wide variety of tweeters?

7” mid/bass:

Seas RNX drivers – Comes in many flavors, but are essentially the same driver. The /p in the model# refers to a phaseplug. Model #’s are P for poly, L for aluminum, G for fiberglass, CA for paper. For example L18rnx/p refers to an aluminum cone with phaseplug.

Poly – Unlike Dynaudio for example, the Seas poly cone is a pure poly cone and unblended with mica or any other stiffening elements (IIRC). This yields a very well dampened cone that provides a smooth frequency and extremely forgiving nature at the expense of detail. Special note, the P18rnx/p is the only model to use the latest “adaptive surround” which is used on Seas higher end Excel drivers. The adaptive surround provides greater dampening at higher frequencies for a smoother response, and less dampening in the lower frequencies.

Aluminum – Provides the best detail retrieval, but has significant upper end breakup which should be attenuated to reduce coloration and distortion. Can be a difficult driver to work with, and should ideally be used below 2khz necessitating a high performance tweeter.

Fiberglass – This is the best compromise between detail and warmth. Robust sounding, but not overly laid back or heavy. Has excellent top end extension that will mate easily to any tweeter and requiring very little filtering up top. The only downside is that this unit has been discontinued and could be hard to find. Solen.ca usually has some stock.

Paper – A very warm, smooth, robust sounding midrange. Generally considered the most neutral sounding driver of the three, although detail retrieval is nearly as bad as the poly cone. Definitely has more character and presence than the poly. Good top end extension means this driver mates quite easily to any number of compact tweeters.

These drivers represent an amazing value. Seas is a brand that’s well known for its unit to unit consistency, build quality, and quality control. This sets them apart from many other brands such as Tang band, Hi-vi, etc. in my experience. Another strong point is the very low mechanical noise, and the whopping 22mm peak-peak throw. Very few drivers can match this level of output, and it’s probably the maximum limit you can achieve in a mounting depth of just 3”. Although many drivers will advertise high xmax numbers, they sometimes have so much chuffing, clanking, and complaining that it’s all but unusable. Clean, brute force excursion is the name of the game here. Typical in-door bass response offers flat response to 30hz.

Value: 7
Build: 7
Midrange clarity: (Poly 4, Paper 5, Glass 6, Aluminum 7)
Bass performance: 8
Ease of use: (Poly 10, Paper 7, Glass 9, Aluminum 2)

Peerless Exclusive 830883

Another top performer. Build quality and unit to unit consistency is top notch and on par with Seas. Mechanical noise during high excursion is very low. Amazingly, distortion performance is among the best rivaling that of the Seas Excel, which is often considered the pinnacle of low distortion drivers. A bit less bass output and brute force excursion than the Seas RNX series, but at mid and lower output levels slightly cleaner as well. I would describe the tonal characteristics as dry, but with much of the robust nature and presence of a good paper cone. Clarity and realism is exceptional. Upper end response does need some contouring, otherwise the driver can sound shouty and aggressive. Definitely the driver for someone looking for the best clarity and enjoys the sound of a well executed paper cone.

Value: 9
Build: 8
Midrange clarity: 8
Bass performance: 7
Ease of use: 7

Dayton rs180

Dayton drivers come in at a very low price point making them the most easily affordable driver in the bunch. I find that the build quality is good, although unit to unit consistency can be anywhere from fair to good in my experience. Detail and clarity are very good, and an amazing performance even at a much higher price point. I find total bass output to be slightly less than the Peerless, and about comparable in performance. Mechanical noise performance is good, but not excellent. Where this driver really shines is it’s midrange clarity, which comes very close to what I would consider the reference driver, Seas Excel magnesium cone. It does sound slightly more polite, laid back than the Seas magnesium cones however. Very strong, multiple breakup modes in the upper end make this driver difficult to use especially in minimizing coloration and mating to a compact dome tweeter.

Value: 10
Build: 7
Midrange clarity: 9
Bass performance: 6.5
Ease of use: 2


Vifa XG18

One of my favorite fiberglass cone drivers. Do not confuse this driver with the XT wood pulp driver also from the Vifa line. Clarity is somewhat noticeably better than the Seas RNX series, as in less haziness and softness to the presentation. Upper end extension is smooth and extended, and should mate easily to any number of compact tweeters. Unfortunately, not a strong bass performer. The inverted multi-roll surround smoothes the frequency response as well. One of the best drivers for someone who doesn’t posses a lot of tuning capability.

Value: 6
Build: 7
Midrange clarity: 7.5
Bass performance: 4
Ease of use: 10

Focal 6w4311

It’s unfortunate that Focal has left the diy market. A very difficult driver to find nowadays, but still deserves special mention. The 6w4311 possesses a unique blend of clarity and character that make it one of the best drivers that I’ve heard midrange wise. It’s nearly similar in clarity to a metal cone, but almost completely absent of any metallic coloration or fatigue. Mediocre non-linear distortion performance and motor design hampers what I would consider to be one of the most advanced cones available. The driver requires modest filtering up top, but can still be mated easily to most compact tweeters.

This version differs dramatically from the 6w2 used in the retail car audio component sets, namely in that it uses the latest generation cone…. which is stiffer, thinner, and bears a striking similarity to the Audiom line, and also features a flat spider instead of a cupped spider design. You will also notice that this version has a metal phase plug, but without the bullet shaped cone at the top. Bass performance is not quite as good as the 6w2, and more on par with the Vifa XG.

**Edit - Zalytron and Orcadesign now sell a "b" version of the 6w4311 that's shielded. With a higher qts it's more suitable for car door use. Another notable change is the cone is no longer a constrained layer of foam between two glass sheets, but an even thinner cone with a single layer of glass and foam underneath.

Value: 6
Build: 8
Midrange clarity: 8
Bass performance: 5
Ease of use: 6.5

Seas Excel W18 Magnesium cone

The reference driver for those seeking the absolute best resolution, accuracy, and clarity. The magnesium cone of this driver is remarkably stiff, and coupled with a world class motor design and low loss suspension offers amazing realism and detail. A somewhat older design, bass performance is good but not up to par with the more recent designs such as the RNX series. Although difficult to work with, the single well defined breakup mode and ruler flat response makes it easier to deal with than most typical metal cone drivers.

Value: 6
Build: 9
Midrange clarity: 10
Bass Performance: 6
Ease of use: 4

Seas Lotus rw165

Similar to the Seas Excel w17, an older generation variant of the W18. It features a shorter voice coil, as well as no ventilation under the spider or pole vent. This driver comes with weather treatment on the cone which makes it appear black rather than white, and although it’s somewhat restricted design prevents maximum airflow through the driver it also serves to protect the driver from moisture and dirt entering the motor. It’s also one of the only 4 ohm drivers that Seas makes, with significantly higher q and fs values gives this driver more snap in the bass region, albeit at the expense of low end extension. It’s also nearly half a cm shallower than the RNX series drivers.

Value: 4
Build: 9
Midrange clarity: 10
Bass Performance: 5
Ease of use: 4

Seas W18NX

The pinnacle of Seas driver design. Utilizing a higher excursion motor than the W18, Seas replaces the stiff magnesium cone and low loss suspension with a high tech adaptive suspension and stiff, Nextel treated paper cone. The result is a stiff cone which offers some measure of internal dampening reducing coloration and allowing for more flexible upper end crossover points. The result? Better bass performance than the RNX series, and midrange qualities nearly similar to that of a metal cone driver without the associated heavy ringing and breakup.

Value: 7
Build: 10
Midrange clarity: 9
Bass Performance: 10
Ease of use: 6

Scan-Speak Revelator 18w/4531g

One of the most highly regarded and popular driver in its class. The Revelator offers an exceptionally high output/low distortion motor design, along with a well ventilated chassis and unconventional slit paper cone. This is one of the best examples of a paper cone driver available. Renown for having extremely low coloration and a most natural presentation, combined with good top end extension and ease of use.

Value: 6
Build: 9
Midrange clarity: 8
Bass Performance: 9
Ease of use: 8

Usher 8945p

An improved clone of the infamous Scan-Speak 8545. Famous for it’s dark, warm, rich sound. Some describe it as velvety. Quite a good mix of detail and warmth. Some minor frequency response issues to worry about, but nothing severe. Solidly built, with a low distortion motor and great bass output. Magnet size is large.

Value: 6
Build: 8
Midrange clarity: 6
Bass Performance: 7.5
Ease of use: 7

A speaker is only as good as the room you put it in.

Last edited by npdang; 04-12-2007 at 12:43 PM..
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Old 02-19-2007   #2
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Default Re: A subjective comparison of popular 7" drivers

You are da man! Thanks lot, I was always wondering about this stuff especially materials. Thanks!
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Old 02-19-2007   #3
 
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Default Re: A subjective comparison of popular 7" drivers

I can easily fit a 7" in my doors. This is post is dangerous for my bank account.

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Old 02-19-2007   #4
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Default Re: A subjective comparison of popular 7" drivers

You hinted a lot at the Excel but didn't include it
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Old 02-19-2007   #5
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Default Re: A subjective comparison of popular 7" drivers

1) Would the break up of a metal cone like the Seas Excel or L series ever be an issue in a car door if it was xover to a dome mid at around 600 to 900?

2) How about if it were highpassed in the high sub 100 range and with a steep slope to increase output, would the higher output then make the break up noticable?
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Old 02-19-2007   #6
 
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Default Re: A subjective comparison of popular 7" drivers

How high can the Peerless be crossed over? Could the LPG small format tweeters be a good match or would the Seas Neos be better?
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Old 02-19-2007   #7
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Default Re: A subjective comparison of popular 7" drivers

Extremis? AA 6.5? (They're closer to 7" than 6.5" after all)

Last edited by dragonrage; 02-19-2007 at 04:18 PM..
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Old 02-19-2007   #8
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Default Re: A subjective comparison of popular 7" drivers

Man the Seas L18rnx/p and the Peerless Exclusive 830883 are looking good for my midbass needs. I kind of hate I sold my Exclusive 8's now. Npdang of these 2 which would you choose as a midbass (50hz - 150-200hz) only driver IB in the kicks vent to the out side of the car.

Or would the Seas L22RN4X/P be better choice in this setup, I can fit either.

Or maybe go back with the Peerless Exclusive 830884

Thanks for the help in advance.

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Old 02-19-2007   #9
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Default Re: A subjective comparison of popular 7" drivers

Very nice review.
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Old 02-19-2007   #10
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Default Re: A subjective comparison of popular 7" drivers

Quote:
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Very nice review.
x2

I was always too lazy to get to the bottom of all the Seas variants - appreciate it

-aaron
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Old 02-19-2007   #11
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Default Re: A subjective comparison of popular 7" drivers

Added a few more drivers~!

A speaker is only as good as the room you put it in.
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Old 02-20-2007   #12
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Default Re: A subjective comparison of popular 7" drivers

Thanks for the review.

Would the Seas G18RNX make a nice midrange paired to some of the Seas 25TFFNs?

I would be crossing at around 3000hz on 24db slopes.

Last edited by dogstar; 02-20-2007 at 09:30 PM..
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Old 02-24-2007   #13
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Default Re: A subjective comparison of popular 7" drivers

Awesome review. An incredible amount of information distilled into one post. Great job!

I must say that I agree so far on those speakers I've had the chance to work with. Most recently I've built a set of home speakers with the L18 (per John "Zaph Audio"'s design and was a little disappointed with midrange clarity relative to the Dayton. That really surprised me, but totally goes with your ratings. Also the info on the paper cone Seas, as well as Exclusive. Nice reference document here!

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Old 02-24-2007   #14
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Default Re: A subjective comparison of popular 7" drivers

.

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Old 03-01-2007   #15
 
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Default Re: A subjective comparison of popular 7" drivers

Quote:
Originally Posted by dogstar View Post
Thanks for the review.

Would the Seas G18RNX make a nice midrange paired to some of the Seas 25TFFNs?

I would be crossing at around 3000hz on 24db slopes.
I try to cross less than 2300hz LP and 55hz HP for my L18RNX/P, tweets at 2300hz for my seas lotus reference RF25A, L18 cannot go lower than 60 (will caused muddle) n cannot go over 2300hz. This is my last setup n now my mid bass is seas lotus reference.

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Old 03-02-2007   #16
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Default Re: A subjective comparison of popular 7" drivers

Quote:
Originally Posted by ahboy View Post
I try to cross less than 2300hz LP and 55hz HP for my L18RNX/P, tweets at 2300hz for my seas lotus reference RF25A, L18 cannot go lower than 60 (will caused muddle) n cannot go over 2300hz. This is my last setup n now my mid bass is seas lotus reference.
Thank you, I will give that a try once the drivers arrive.
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Old 03-04-2007   #17
 
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Default Re: A subjective comparison of popular 7" drivers

U r welcome bro

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Old 03-07-2007   #18
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Default Re: A subjective comparison of popular 7" drivers

ok so I'm looking at the Dayton rs180... but whats the mounting depth on that sucker?? it looks REALLY DEEP....

anyone recomend a good tweeter to match?
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Old 03-07-2007   #19
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Default Re: A subjective comparison of popular 7" drivers

Quote:
Originally Posted by illnastyimpreza View Post
ok so I'm looking at the Dayton rs180... but whats the mounting depth on that sucker?? it looks REALLY DEEP....

anyone recomend a good tweeter to match?
Dimensions here, and this thread may help.

That link is for the RS180-4, by the way.

Rick

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Old 03-07-2007   #20
 
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Default Re: A subjective comparison of popular 7" drivers

Ha, I was just about to post this: reviews of compact domes mated with dayton rs180s

Another thread about mating the Dayton RS180 with compact domes.

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Old 03-18-2007   #21
 
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Default Re: A subjective comparison of popular 7" drivers

nice review! how about including dyn MW160 on the list? would like to hear your feedback on it before i decide on which 7" to use

thanks!
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Old 02-15-2011   #22
 
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Default Re: A subjective comparison of popular 7" drivers

Thanks, this helps a lot!!
I am going with the Dayton since I am running a three-way and will not require it to play up beyond 1000hz
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Old 02-15-2011   #23
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Default Re: A subjective comparison of popular 7" drivers

Thanks for reviving this thread....what DIYMA used to be about and hopefully will improve in the future
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Old 02-15-2011   #24
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Old 03-27-2011   #25
 
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Default Re: A subjective comparison of popular 7" drivers

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