ribbons vs domes and sibilance

I came upon a thread from the DiyAudio site titled "Can you have sparkling treble but without sibilance?" from 2011. The discussion is very technical and as such, completely over my head but one participant asserted that ribbons are far less prone to sibilance than domes. 

Here's an excerpt for the technically minded: :

... the middle of the dome basically flops about doing it's own thing at high frequencies as it's only very loosely coupled to the edge because of it's own less than infinite stiffness. Thus any distortion or resonances that occur due to the middle of the dome bending and moving in non-piston ways are not reflected back to the amplifier via back EMF... when the ribbon is only 8mm wide compared to a 25mm dome, there is far less narrowing of dispersion with increasing frequency than a dome. The directivity control is achieved with a wave-guide instead. This is why a wave-guide loaded ribbon can achieve an almost constant 90 degree horizontal dispersion from 2Khz right up to 20Khz - the ribbon element itself is far less directional horizontally at high frequencies than a dome, with the wave-guide then adding in a constant directivity control.

I'm wondering whether any forum members have compared speakers with domes and ribbons in regard to sibilance and arrived at any conclusions. 


It all depends on the implementation. There are excellent and garbage examples of both. Generally, the pricier tweeters perform better IME. 

I had to Google what sibilance is as it sounds like a sexually transmitted disease that may kill you. A bad itch at best. That said, I own Martin Logan's with their fabulous ribbon tweeter and can attest to a lack of sibilance in how they reproduce highs!

This is a particularly interesting subject for me, since I have been experiencing sibilance in one form or another with my last two sets of speakers.  My previous speakers I first heard sibilance on just a few songs and I believe they were close miked female vocals thinking it was in the recording. Then with my newer more efficient single-driver speakers with expensive drivers, the sibilance is there in spades.  I have heard sibilance to some extent with conventional cone-type tweeters however in my limited experiences, I have not heard that sibilance with ribbon-type drivers and the music seemed very realistic and natural on the few ribbon tweeters I've heard, especially on the Magnepan 3.7i's and other similar electrostatics.  I really like the micro and macro dynamics and detail with my present speakers however the sibilance on many of my favorite male and female vocals songs comes through with this sibilance, and that is annoying.  And I've tried other preamps, digital sources and amplifiers both tube and solid state, even interconnects and speaker cables.  It isn't any of that.  So I'm in a quandary...  I really don't want to proverbially "throw the baby out with the bathwater".  I have two really great class-A flea-watt amps.  Do I try to install a ribbon tweeter with crossovers to pass 5Khz and up to the ribbon, or do I sell the speakers and go for a pair of Magnepans or something like that...  For the Maggies, I'd need a more powerful amplifier !  Ugh !  Perhaps a crossover and ribbon tweeter first...  

Pick any two:

1) Clarity

2) No sibilance

3) Low cost

Sibilance is not about the tweeters.  Maybe 30-40 years ago some speakers had hot tweeters.  Probably to make up for cheap lamp cord for wiring.  The hifi sound is about clarity.  Clarity in the highs and clarity in the bass.  With that comes the sss‘s and that drives me up the wall too.  With vinyl we have a couple of knobs to turn.  We can adjust the VTA to tone down the sibilance on vinyl, for example or play with phono preamp impedance when using MC cartridges.  Digital is harder.  Room treatments and speaker placement can help quite a bit.  Beyond that, it is the cable carousel or finding a better DAC or Amp.  Sibilance can be tamed but it comes with a cost.     


This is a particularly interesting subject for me, since I have been experiencing sibilance in one form or another with my last two sets of speakers.

I empathize with your scenario. Sibilance sucks. I'm also in search of a solution for this problem. 


  Beyond that, it is the cable carousel or finding a better DAC or Amp.  

Please define "better".