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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I’m curious what cone material you all like better than another type and why. Do you prefer paper vs poly etc.

Is there a difference in the sound say in a midrange or midbass being paper or poly or carbon etc…

Does paper make a more snappy sound? I prefer snappy so this is one reason I ask.
I run Audison voce which is cotton fiber pressed paper and love the sound.
 

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For midrange and up I prefer Coated Silk but I like that laid back feel and a less 'clinical' sound.

For anything below about 300-400Hz I don't have much preference and I've listened to them all - I prefer a lightweight cone as it seems "snappier" or quicker to respond IME but with todays woofers having Neo motors and High BL the heavier, lower Fs cones seem tighter to me now (as long as Le is kept in check.) But I usually find that the alignment of the enclosure and other factors contribute more below 300Hz than the driver does...
 

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I remember years ago a representative of a speaker company said that the cone was made from seaweed, which was a natural material. Because of that, the speakers were better for natural instruments like violins and wind instruments, real drums, etc.

So I responded, "I like house music. Do you have any speakers with cones made of MDMA?"

Of all the audio boondoggery, this might be the second biggest. The only bigger boondoggery is directional cables for alternating current.
 

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As far as i have read the entire purpose of Cone material is to be stiff enough to not distort while light enough for any give voice coil to operate. You do not want a distorting cone.

I don't believe it's a matter of what people prefer as much as it's an engineering problem that needs to be balanced.

I found this out but listening to sound engineer YouTubers on the exact question, since i had it too when trying to identify which speakers would be an upgrade for my muddy sounding car stereo.
 

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Pulp or paper has been in use since speakers were invented.

I do like paper cones for lower mids, and soft dome/textile or silk tweeters.

Woofers these days come in all sorts of flavors, and in an automobile, I prefer a speaker that's going to last a long time. Woven carbon, graphite, fiberglass or kevlar with a butyl rubber surround, or a poly cone with butyl, all seem to hold up very well in doors and kick panels.

In a home system, I'm partial to paper/pulp woofer cones, such as those in my Rega Jura towers.

I suppose if I only listened with the car off, I could detect subtle differences, but these days most car speakers are all made with some type of synthetic cone as stated above.

Of course, treated paper/pulp cones are pretty stout for car subs; the best examples I can offer being the old JBL GTi series from the 1990s (1000 watt 12s and 15s), as well as the Cerwin Vega XL series. (XL 15s/XL 15D, etc.) The cones on the Cerwin Vegas lasted WAY longer than the orange foam surrounds of the old days, as evidenced by all the "re-foam" kits on the market.

I typically listen to a speaker 1st before I pass judgement, unless it has a foam surround. I don't buy foam surround speakers anymore. I'm just too old/cheap/lazy to deal with replacing speakers every 3 yrs.
 

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Focal has a decent write-up on their material choice. At least, they lay out the key material properties and generally characterize the materials and why the choices were made, without any pseudoscience:

 

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I remember years ago a representative of a speaker company said that the cone was made from seaweed, which was a natural material. Because of that, the speakers were better for natural instruments like violins and wind instruments, real drums, etc.

So I responded, "I like house music. Do you have any speakers with cones made of MDMA?"

Of all the audio boondoggery, this might be the second biggest. The only bigger boondoggery is directional cables for alternating current.
This should be your forum signature. It's by far the best thing I've read on the forum this month
 

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I’m curious what cone material you all like better than another type and why. Do you prefer paper vs poly etc.

Is there a difference in the sound say in a midrange or midbass being paper or poly or carbon etc…

Does paper make a more snappy sound? I prefer snappy so this is one reason I ask.
I run Audison voce which is cotton fiber pressed paper and love the soind.
Tweeters, silk
Mids, poly or carbon fiber (cf for looks)
Subs, non-pressed paper or carbon fiber (looks again)
 

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The only bigger boondoggery is directional cables for alternating current.
I would love it if you could lend your expertise and experience to one of the ultra high end cable threads, revive one if you have to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I would love it if you could lend your expertise and experience to one of the ultra high end cable threads, revive one if you have to.
Definitely high end cables are ridiculous BS. Basic common sense is all that’s needed to realize that. The people that buy high end cables probably buy cable risers to give the soind some “lift” or make or “airy” 😂😂😂.
As far as cone material I wouldn’t put it even remotely in the same class as the BS mentioned.
 

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Definitely high end cables are ridiculous BS. Basic common sense is all that’s needed to realize that. The people that buy high end cables probably buy cable risers to give the soind some “lift” or make or “airy” 😂😂😂.
As far as cone material I wouldn’t put it even remotely in the same class as the BS mentioned.
I used to live down the road from Bob Gross, owner of Speaker Art and very well respected passive filter designer. He's mostly retired now but one of the reasons he retired early was the inability to source the cone material for his best selling(affordable) line of Super Clef bookshelves & Super Clef TL 1/8 wavelength transmission line towers. The 8" woofers were custom units of his design & made by Eminence. I remember listening to several other woofers that didn't make his final cut. Most were really nice drivers but the tone or character was slightly different. Better or worse would depend on your personal preferences but there were differences.

As far as high end cables go, I have a few sets of $800ish silver RCA's. Only reason I have them is Bob gave them to me to see if I could tell a difference between them & the generic Radio Shack ones I was using. A few weeks later when I told him I couldn't tell a difference when used on my 2ch setup he laughed & said to keep them as he used the same Radio Shack RCA's I did when they go on clearance. He would get all kinds of equipment sent to him to evaluate & would admit that much of it was snake oil or junk with big advertising money behind it.
 

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kevlar reinforced paper pulp, carbon, kevlar, butil rubber upper centrator
 

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There's a lot of anthropomorphisization in the marketing of audio products. In some cases, much more attention is paid to designing words to describe performance in a way that seems plausible to people who don't know how this works. My example above was such an exercise--as a retort to the same.

An ideal speaker cone is infinitely stiff and has no mass. Since this isn't possible, everything is a compromise. In fact, that's what speaker design is--managing a thousand interrelated things. Change one and you change a hundred other things. Here are the basics of how this works.

Below is the unsmoothed frequency response of a speaker with a really stiff paper cone--it's a GB60. The frequency response has three distinct regions.

#1 is the speaker's piston range. That's a region in which the cone maintains its shape while it moves. It's a region in which the frequency response has no peaks and dips.
#2 is the region in which cone deformations while it's moving create peaks and dips in the response.
#3 is the region in which the main cone mode creates a big peak. This is caused by the mass of the coil and former and the dustcap. At really high frequencies, the region inside the former vibrates independently of the rest of the cone. The rest of the cone doesn't move much because it's too heavy and not rigid enough to maintain stiffness at the joint of the former to the cone. Because the region inside the former it has a smaller mass (without the rest of the cone). So all of the motor force is applied to that smaller and lighter region--boom--a peak. Because the region is smaller, it has wider dispersion and this peak will persist in the off axis response.

The dip above that peak is the small region vibrating out of phase with what movement is left of the larger cone.

Rectangle Slope Plot Font Line


So, there are a bunch of ways to do this. Getting rid of the dustcap can reduce the peak. Making the cone stiffer can raise the frequency of the peak. Making the cone less rigid can reduce the frequency and the Q of the peak. Making the cone less stiff will also reduce the frequency of the transition between #1 and #2.

The design goal for the GB60 was to move the peak so that it's above the likely crossover so it can be eliminated with the low pass filter by making the coil/former as light as possible and making the cone as stiff as possible. Getting rid of this peak requires a steep slope--which makes for an expensive passive crossover. If active, then there's no additional expense for a steeper slope.

Removing the cap and installing a "phase plug" would reduce that peak, but at the expense of sensitivity because when the dustcap disappears, so does a significant amount of cone area. Making the coil smaller--say a 1" coil instead of a 2" coil would raise the frequency of the peak further, but that would come at the expense of power handling. And so on and so forth.

Below is the frequency response of a GS60. This is a polypropylene cone. It isn't as stiff. The difference will be obvious in a second. Keep reading.

Rectangle Slope Plot Font Line


As you might have expected with a cone that isn't as stiff, the transition between 1 and 2 happens at a lower frequency. Same for 2 and 3. The big difference is that the more flexible cone has reduced the frequency and the Q of the dustcap peak. This speaker has a smaller 1" coil also. Why would anyone do this? Because this hump at high frequencies (rather than a sharp and narrow peak) is more easily managed with fewer crossover components. The GB60 design is superior, but it's also MUCH more expensive.

Here's an example of what you can do with this polypropylene cone.

Below is the frequency response of a GS62--this is a coaxial. Inside the basket there's a little PCB that includes a 6dB/oct low pass filter for the midrange cone and a 12dB/oct high pass filter for the tweeter. The 12dB slope (higher than the usual 6dB for a tweeter on a coaxial) allows more control of the response and a lower crossover. That, coupled with a very careful design of the tweeter's wave guide to boost frequencies in the middle of the tweeter's response results in the curve below.

Since a coaxial is often mounted off axis and in the bottom of the door, the rising response at high frequencies works out really well. The curve is smooth and doesn't include any big peaks and dips.

Rectangle Slope Plot Font Line


So, everything that goes into designing a speaker cone is an exercise in managing the final frequency response. "The right tone" is just an exercise in managing the frequency response. Flat response is correct in a speaker. Everything that isn't flat is an exercise in managing these compromises in a way that provides a pleasant sound or providing good performance in a SPECIFIC application. It's also a matter of building a speaker for listener PREFERENCE. The cone material, the cone shape, whether there are ridges that stiffen the cone or concentric rings molded into the cone to change the way the cone changes shape at various frequencies, and so on and so forth, are all ways to manage the compromises I've described above.

As someone else mentioned above, this is an engineering issue. Unfortunately it has also become a marketing issue.

I read a review of a home speaker recently in which the reviewer wrote, "There aren't any exotic materials" and because of this, the speaker didn't get a good "review". Whether a material is readily available is immaterial to its performance. A speaker made of the bones of baby lemurs is probably more costly than a paper cone, but whether it works doesn't depend on scarcity. Price does, though. Using another name for paper can sometimes create the illusion of scarcity or "exoticness". "Semi amorphous molecularly aligned fiber" is undoubtedly much better than paper if you don't mind a few pieces of BS mixed in with the pulp used to form the cone.

When I read subjective reviews of loudspeaker performance that ramble on and on about the tone of the speaker and the "obvious" correlation with the scarcity and exoticness of the material used to make the cone and then read about the obvious connection of the type of tree used to make the pulp and it's effect on the sound of wind and string instruments sometimes made from a tree of the same species, I know the dude has no Fing idea what he's talking about because that kind of link doesn't exist except in the imagination of a listener so enthusiastic he looks for conspiracy theories to validate his preference.

Either the material contributes meaningfully to the compromises I've written about here or it doesn't. Whether it does or doesn't do what it's claimed to do is really obvious in the frequency response graph, but you really need an unsmoothed graph to see it. And those are sometimes hard to come by. I wonder why? Maybe because the interwoven strands of molecularly aligned fiber were chosen for the value of the words rather than the value of their contribution to making a better speaker?
 

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Well I know with subs the cone doesn’t matter all that much. I have a w7 that had a ripped edge going around the cone and some other holes in the middle where it attached to the dust cap. I just built it all back up with dryer sheets and glue and I put it side by side with another identical w7 and there was hardly any difference at all.

It’s weird, I actually slightly prefer the sound of the dryer sheet cone sub over the brand new w7. Maybe it has more distortion and my ears like it, idk. But I don’t think I could reliably pick which one was which in a blind AB test though.

It seems hearing is so inextricably linked to feelings that the interpretation of sound becomes a personal belief system. Whatever you want to hear, you can hear given the right confirmation bias.
 

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Well I know with subs the cone doesn’t matter all that much. I have a w7 that had a ripped edge going around the cone and some other holes in the middle where it attached to the dust cap. I just built it all back up with dryer sheets and glue and I put it side by side with another identical w7 and there was hardly any difference at all.

It’s weird, I actually slightly prefer the sound of the dryer sheet cone sub over the brand new w7. Maybe it has more distortion and my ears like it, idk. But I don’t think I could reliably pick which one was which in a blind AB test though.

It seems hearing is so inextricably linked to feelings that the interpretation of sound becomes a personal belief system. Whatever you want to hear, you can hear given the right confirmation bias.
We use a subwoofer at the bottom of its piston range, so this is far less important than a full range speaker.
 

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the tone of the speaker and the "obvious" correlation with the scarcity and exoticness of the material used to make the cone and then read about the obvious connection of the type of tree used to make the pulp and it's effect on the sound of wind and string instruments sometimes made from a tree of the same species
Scarcity and exoticness have nothing to do with it, but it seems like the strength and density of the paper would be related to the type of wood used, right? Also, since internal friction (tan delta) varies wildly between wood species, I would expect that it would be heavily influenced by the type of wood.
 

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Scarcity and exoticness have nothing to do with it, but it seems like the strength and density of the paper would be related to the type of wood used, right? Also, since internal friction (tan delta) varies wildly between wood species, I would expect that it would be heavily influenced by the type of wood.
This is why these marketing statements work...because all that's needed for them to work is a seemingly plausible connection between the material in its raw state and the finished product. If some of the "key" materials can be presented in something that looks like their raw state, then the plausibility factor goes through the roof.
 

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@GotFrogs What do you think of those carbon fibre and balsa wood cored cones that keep the cone shape pistonic through region “2”? The accuton may also have some similarly stiff cone, which is more a function of the cone thickness than the cone material. Maybe a plastic and nomex honeycomb cone would be another way to get a stiffer cone to move region “1” out to extend through region “2”?
 
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