Has BG Done it Again?
Planar Ribbon Drivers Offer Exceptional Clarity, Accuracy and Detail
Planar ribbon drivers employ an ultra-thin, low-mass diaphragm or membrane coupled with strong Neodymium magnets to move air and thus create sound. The low-mass of the diaphragm is not only lighter but has a larger surface area than a dome or a cone midrange or tweeter, which gives them the ability to move more air quickly and uniformly. The output of a planar ribbon driver is evenly distributed over the entire radiating surface, which results in no wave cancellation, diaphragm break-up or resonances. The flat radiating surface also results in a coherent wavefront with even dispersion. The result is exceptional clarity, accuracy, detail and a certain sparkle in the high-end that sets them apart sonically from standard cone drivers.
Ribbon or planar drivers are not new – they were first introduced in the 1930s, but with mixed results and uncertain reliability. New diaphragm materials, stronger magnets and improved manufacturing techniques have made ribbon drivers as reliable as cone drivers and with the ability to create realistic output levels needed for today’s dynamic music and movie content. The sound wave created by ribbon drivers also provides wide horizontal dispersion for a broad listening area, ideal for a home theater or stereo system.
Z-92 Listening Tests
I noted in my review of the R-800s that the ribbon drivers sound outstanding, particularly with percussion instruments, such as the piano. They have a smooth and strikingly realistic sound quality with excellent transient response due to the low mass of the diaphragm. Likewise, vocals have a palpable in-room presence and uncolored sound quality that is hard to match. Subtle musical details that are otherwise lost are more easily resolved. Listening to a ribbon driver brings the listener closer to the live performance. All of these characteristics lead to excellent imaging and soundstage characteristics. They also reveal weaknesses in recordings, but that’s kind of interesting, too.
In many respects, the Z-92s are similar to the R-800s. Their clarity and high-definition qualities present a clean, uncongested midrange presence and a high-end that resolves details that otherwise go unnoticed in music and movie soundtracks. The quick attack of the ribbon drivers results in very good transient response. The guitar in Acoustic Alchemy’s “One for the Road” (GRP Records) sounds snappy and sharp like the pluck of a guitar string should sound. The R-800s have a taller image and bigger sound stage than the Z-92s, but that’s to be expected given their height.
I thought the two 6.5-inch woofers in the Z-92s sounded tighter and punchier than the two 8-inch woofers in the R-800s, though not as deep. The smaller size of the woofers in the Z-92 gives them a quicker, tighter response. When placed correctly in the room, the bass in the Z-92s is well balanced with the rest of the system.
So, Has BG Done it Again?
It’s a trick question. The R-800s offer an unbelievable sound experience, but it’s not realistic to compare a floorstanding tower speaker with an eight-foot tall speaker with 22 ribbon drivers. So, I give the Z-92s a Guide rating of 4 1/2. The ribbon drivers are outstanding and the Z-92s produce tight, well-defined bass response. They deserve serious consideration for a mid-priced to high-end stereo or home theater system. I can’t give them a five rating because that designation is reserved for the R-800s. Check out the BG Corp.website to locate a dealer near you. Good listening!
- Woofers: Two 6.5-inch Aluminum cone with Neodymium magnets
- Tweeter/Midrange: Neo3 PDR, Neo10
- Frequency response: 32Hz – 25kHz
- Sensitivity: 91 dB
- Impedance: 4 ohms
- Power handling: 200 watts
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 44.25” x 7.7” x 14”
- Weight: 70 lbs.
- Finishes: Grain-Matched Light Maple or Black Ash Veneers
- Warranty: Lifetime Limited
- Price: $2,499 pair