Paper cone drivers/natural materials

I’ve been think recently about some post I read somewhere in which the OP complains about Wilson Audio’s use of doped paper pulp drivers for the cone material, saying that that’s not an acceptable material by today’s standards. Thinking about how meticulous is the design and execution of this company’s  offerings, this criticism just doesn’t seem valid. I’m sure if they found a better material, they’d use it. I’m sure they are designing for linear excursion within the pass band. I remember visiting an ex audio dealer’s house near Binghamton, NY, back in the early 80s when I was just a teenager. I remember him extolling the virtues of paper cones, and that way back then many manufacturers had experimented with others but kept coming back to paper. My opinion now is that many materials can be good candidates if executed well. Wilson is also using silk dome tweeters. My dad had very smooth and detailed sounding Philips silk dome tweeters back in the ‘70s in his homemade speakers. I say natural materials tend to hold their own and often prove superior. I have a cactus spine for my cartridge cantilever- my excellent Soundsmith Hyperion. Vandersteen uses extremely stiff and light balsa wood and carbon fiber in its top offerings. I can vouch for the excellent midrange in my 5A Carbon.

How much does driver material influence you purchasing decisions?



I agree with those who have cited the importance of implementation regardless of the driver material. I’ve heard many varieties of speakers throughout the years.

In my opinion more often than not, high quality well implemented speakers utilizing paper cone drivers consistently sound the most “natural “ in presentation. Paper has withstood the test of time for very good reasons.


My Submariner was plenty accurate for me for 9-10 years. It slowed a little and I sent it to Rolex for service. Just got it back and it looks like a new watch. Also has a two year warranty.  

At this time, I can sell it for more than I paid for it new. Not too shabby!

Keep in mind unless ancient the paper cones today are not really all made of paper. And there are also many types of paper used Fostex for example uses a banana pulp some Fostex cones are hyperbolic paraboloidal shaped others use Washi or hemp-based many other types exist. So one can not generalize to many variables. And I see far more complaints of ceramics and metal having tonal issues and I would disagree that if properly implemented that there is a consensus on that being true. Materials mater design maters implementation and build mater. Would say the overall design is one of the most important aspects. One plays to strengths mitigates issues when designing audio products. 


I'd agree that most cone design and construction is far advanced these days. A good designer can use the driver of his/her choice and produce a world class speaker if talented and with the right budget.

I've not really been concerned about cone types in the dynamic coned boxed speakers I've had over the years. The sound produced was the first concern. That said, over time I realized I like soft domes, silk, etc, far more than metal-domed or diamond tweeters. Some are good but still too tiring, so I shy away and now I love the sealed ribbon tweeters I have more than anything else.

I laugh at those who disparage paper cones. Please understand and believe that 'this paper isn't the same paper of years past'.  That is for sure.  :-)    Again, a great designer can do a lot...