I decided to take a test spin with a bunch of interesting new tweeter designs from Vifa. Here we have a 19mm ring radiator model# xt19, a fat surround 25mm silk dome model# dx25, and a compact 25mm neodymium tweeter with heat sink fins on the motor model# d26nc.
I listened to the ring radiator first, because it looked the most interesting. Ring radiators are notorious for having poor top end dispersion, hence the large phase plug sticking out of the center of the tweeter which helps to keep the off-axis response of the tweeter up at high frequencies. The compromise is supposedly quicker transient response and detail retrieval. If you look closely, you can see that the voice coil sits at the center of the silk dome, rather than driving the dome from it's edge. This tweeter also features a copper shorting ring on top of the pole piece, which is visible through the silk dome with direct light. There is also an interesting looking rear chamber design which Vifa claims is "non-reflective".
Listening to this tweeter unfiltered (that's right no crossover!), was quite a treat. For such a tiny tweeter, it was amazingly full bodied. The new rear chamber and motor design must be doing something, because I couldn't detect any offensive resonance or muddiness in the lower frequencies of this driver. It sounded very natural, open, and detailed. The top end struck an excellent balance between detail, sparkle, and air while not being too "hot" or "spitty" sounding. Vocals were natural and open sounding without being too forward, laid-back, or velvetty. I like this tweeter alot! Although I will say it did not have the sheer power, and unrestricted dynamics that you would find in the other top dog offerings such as the Seas Millenium, Dynaudio Esotar, or Scan-speak 9700 revelator.
Next up was the fat surround Vifa dx25. The design of this tweeter was to allow for a very wide top end dispersion. In that respect, it did a fairly good job. This tweeter also plays quite low, so low that it almost sounds like a full 3" midrange. It's definitely more full bodied than the vifa xt19. However, this driver didn't sound quite as open and revealing as the xt19. There was definitely more of a laid back sense to this driver, with details being more rounded and vocals a tad bit heavier/thicker sounding. Still, for being about half the price of the xt19 it did an amazing job.
Last up was the tiny neo tweeter. Some may have noticed this bears a striking resemblance to the CDT 07 series tweeter. There's no rear chamber on this tweeter, and it doesn't play as low as the dx25 or the xt19... also the tweeter has what appears to be heat sink fins on the bottom of the motor for additional cooling. Looks cool... but I doubt if it has any true sonic impact.
My first impression of the d26nc was that it was quite a bit more open in the midrange than the dx25, however the top end could at times be spitty/hissy. Songs with fast and hard string plucks could degenerate into white noise, unlike the dx25 which tended to round off the sound making it a bit softer, or the the xt19 which showed true finesse and managed to capture the impact, fine detail, and shimmer of the sound. Also sibilant vocals tended to be exaggerated somewhat. However, what I felt was the true weakness of this tweeter was that it sounded small. It did not have the presence, power, or dynamics of the larger format tweeters.
Considering the price and size of this tweeter though, I would say it's a good buy. Compared to other tweeters in this category, it's a good performer in terms of detail and powerhandling... but can't quite compete with the larger, chambered, and more expensive tweeters.