"Vegetarian" Speakers





Did you know that many speakers on the market use tweeters made from silk? And silkworms are killed to get the silk. But there are excellent alternative to silk tweeters.

This is actually a hard subject to get to the bottom of. Silk tweeters may be labeled as such. But they may also be referred to as "fabric tweeters". And some fabric tweeters use a synthetic material like polyester. And while some dome shaped tweeters are made from metal, such as aluminum or titanium, they use a fabric surround, which may or may not be silk. The surround is a ring that acts as a suspension, connecting the dome to the frame of the tweeter. You can easily see the surround on a woofer, but it's usually made of rubber. A speaker with an aluminum or titanium tweeter is not necessarily silk-free. Here's an example of a metal tweeter with a silk surround. As far as the consumer electronics industry is concerned, this is a matter of virtually no importance. So it takes some work to sort out all the information.

As a general rule, there are classes of speakers which don't use silk in the tweeters. One class consists of inexpensive speakers that use tweeters made from materials like mylar. Usually, the tweeter is 1/2 or 3/4 inch, where traditional fabric tweeters are usually 1 inch.

The second class are speakers with exotic tweeters. These usually use a flat membrane, made of a plastic or aluminum. These tweeters are usually referred to with names like "ribbon tweeter", "planar tweeter", or "air motion transformer" (AMT).

Urban Fidelity full range speakers

Also, there are full range speakers. Materials and design have gotten to the point that one driver can reproduce almost all of the audio spectrum, eliminating the need for a tweeter.

And finally are speakers which just don't use silk on the tweeter dome or the surround.

These products are recommended:

ARX speakers with ribbon tweeters, available from theaudioinsider.com. These actually appear to be outstanding value speakers.

B&W (Bowers & Wilkins) says most of their speakers don't use silk, but provided this list of models that DO use silk on the tweeter: CT7.3, 7.4, 7.5
CCM7.3, 7.4, 7.5
CWM7.3, 7.4, 7.5
CCM684, 664, 665, 663SR, 664SR.382.362

Boston Acoustics doesn't use any silk on the domes of their tweeters. Boston Acoustics is a big company in the world of speakers, so this is good news. Boston Acoustics has developed their own tweeter which they call the Kortec tweeter. Kortec tweeters are capable of frequency response out to 25,000 Hz. shop online for Boston Acoustics at amazon.com: bookshelf  floor standing  car speakers

GoldenEar Technology (make sure it's a model with a ribbon tweeter). GoldenEar Technology was started by Sandy Gross, who co-founded Polk Audio in 1972. So there's lots of experience designing speakers at GoldenEar Technology.

Most Martin Logan speakers, except a few with dome shaped tweeters, use a variation of the air motion transformer, or their own electostatic designs, which don't use a traditional tweeter at all. Martin Logan calls their version of the air motion transformer tweeter the Folded Motion™ Tweeter. video of their advanced tweeter     shop for Martin Logan speakers on amazon.com

Monitor Audio uses tweeters made from ceramic coated aluminum-magnesium alloy, (which they refer to as C-CAM), with surrounds made of rubber.

PSB doesn't use any silk on any of their speakers. The surrounds for their tweeters, which are metal, are not silk. This is great news, because PSB is considered by many to be a value leader in the world of speakers. Paul Barton, who started PSB, is a professional musician by training.

No Response or declined to answer:

I contacted several companies to make this list, but didn't get a response from some companies:

Bose declined to provide information, saying it was proprietary.

Infinity - no response

KEF - no response

Brands to watch out for

These companies DO use silk in at least some of their products:

Alpine (car speakers)

Cambridge Audio

Cerwin Vega

Dayton Audio


Insignia (this is Best Buys' house brand)


JL Audio



Pioneer Electronics

Polk Audio

Pure Acoustics


Swan Speakers


By the way, if you are wondering about all your other devices with speakers in them, that's a really good question. It's beyond the scope of this article to wade into that. But here's a good rule of thumb. Most devices like clock radios, iPod docks and smaller TVs often don't have tweeters. They use one speaker to reproduce both low and high frequencies. These are often referred to as "full range speakers" and are usually 4 inches or less in diameter. So if you're shopping for a product, one with a full range speaker would be a safe way to go. Products with full range speakers can range from not very good sounding to extremely good. So you'll need to do some reaserch to find something that sounds good wnough for you. As far as TVs, I'd tend to look for a smaller TV, with a less elaborate audio section. Then, if you ever wanted, you could hook up a modest external amplifier. Or you could hook it up to a full home theater system with rear channel speakers.

recommended iPod dock:

Boston Acoustics Duo-I Plus (Boston doesn't use silk.)

Good luck shopping!




some popular models:

Boston Acoustics Classic II CS26

Boston Acoustics Classic II CS260 Floor standing Speakers, Black Walnut

The  Motion 262 5-Channel Speaker Set is one of the lower priced home theater setups with air motion transformer tweeters.



a dome tweeter using a fabric dome
This is a typical tweeter using a fabric dome. You can't tell by looking; this fabric could be silk, or it could be a synthetic material. So you need to do a little research when you shop for speakers.

Martin Logan speaker with folded motion tweeter
One way to avoid silk tweeters is to look for a speakers with a high tech tweeter. These are sometimes refered to as ribbon tweeters, planar tweeters, or AMT (Air Motion Transformer). This is an AMT variant called Folded Motion, from Martin Logan. Invariably, these designs don't use silk. (image credit: Martin Logan)

2012 David Walls. All rights reserved.