In car audio today, there are more options than ever before. New design techniques and technologies, allow audio manufacturers to push the envelope of what a car audio system can do in terms of performance and sound quality. With all of these choices out there, making a decision on what to buy for your car audio system can be confusing and frustrating at times. In this post, we will look into one of the most commonly asked questions about subwoofers; “Should I buy typical ferrite or neodymium speakers?”
To help you decide which type may be right for you, I will discuss the differences, and also, the pros and cons of both motor structures. In order to determine if one would be considered “better” over the other, we must look at the types in more detail.
Ferrite has been the magnet of choice for speaker manufacturers for decades. Ferrite magnets are comprised of ferromagnetic metal oxide and are considered to be non-permanent magnets. By nature, ferrite magnets tend to have low magnet force, which is why you see many subwoofers with multi-layer magnet motor structures. In order to achieve the magnetic force to drive the subwoofer efficiently, the magnets must be stacked to create the additional force needed to drive the cone assembly efficiently.
Ferrite magnets are highly resistive to deterioration and corrosion and these properties are what makes the ferrite magnets the perfect option to use when manufacturing car audio speakers and subwoofers. Ferrite magnets also tend to be heavier in weight. This weight can be both good and bad. For subwoofers, for example, the added weight of the ferrite motor structure will add stability to the subwoofer within its enclosure when the sub is being pushed close to its limit.
Another reason that ferrite is used in so many speakers and subwoofer applications is the cost. It is a less expensive option than its neodymium equivalent.
Neodymium, or Neo, magnets are rare earth magnets that contain the elements neodymium (Nd), Iron (Fe), and Boron (B). Neo magnets are considered to be permanently magnetized and have a much higher magnetic force than the traditional ferrite magnets more commonly used. As stated in the previous paragraphs, ferrite magnets are frequently “stacked” in order to up the magnet force. Neo magnets can produce the same magnetic force as ferrite, but with fewer magnets in terms of speaker design.
Neodymium magnets are lighter than ferrite, which can be advantageous in certain applications such as component speakers or headphone drivers. Neo is also a great magnet for subwoofer motors because of the lighter weight and increased magnetic force over ferrite. This allows the manufacturers to create smaller, light-weight, powerful subwoofers versus a comparable stacked ferrite motor.
The downside of neodymium is its working temperature is lower than that of ferrite and it is highly susceptible to erosion and deterioration. Because of this, neo magnets must be chemically altered and coated in order to make them more durable for their specific uses. Another factor to consider is cost. Neodymium magnets ultimately cost more, which in turn, will raise the overall cost of the speaker or subwoofer.
Sound Quality: Is There A Difference?
Both ferrite and neodymium speakers or subwoofers can equally produce the same overall sound signature. There are many characteristics like voice coil construction, the speaker’s cone, and even the enclosure that will ultimately affect the sound quality of a speaker or subwoofer. Though the motor structure’s magnet material could possibly contribute to its overall sound quality, it is my opinion that you should not base your choice solely on whether the speaker or subwoofer has a neodymium or ferrite magnet motor.
When choosing a speaker or subwoofer for your car audio setup, don’t rely on the fact that the speakers or the subwoofers are neo or not. It is my hope that this post has given you some basic information pertaining to neodymium and ferrite motor structures. In my opinion, this choice is simply personal preference. Don’t let hype drive your choice either way. Do your own research and make a decision that you believe will work better in your car audio system.