Zirconium Dioxide - The Science Behind the CL2 Planar's Sound & Beauty

The CL2 Planar is on pre-sale now. One of the unique elements to the CL2 are the disctinctive housings, moulded from zirconium dioxide. Occurring naturally and also grown in labs - zirconium can be found in jewellery and jet fighters, is used in geological research and (most importantly) is moulded into our CL2 Planar housings.

What is zirconium?

To understand zirconium dioxide, first we must look at the element zirconium. Nestled between Yttrium (LEDs and lasers) and Niobium (nuclear power and superconductors) on the periodic table, zirconium has been used for over 2000 years. 

Though zircon can be made in labs, it is naturally occurring. Micro zircon crystals are abundant; though barely visible to the eye, you can find them every ocean, river and stream - even in the rocks right below your feet. While other crystals degrade over time due to chemical and mechanical abrasion, zircon is remarkably resistant and capable of surviving extreme conditions. 

It was also prescribed as medicine in the Middle Ages, but please do not eat our headphones.

What is zirconium dioxide?

It was in the 1970s that the first synthesised zirconium dioxide crystals appeared; better known as cubic zirconia (CZ). These crystals aren’t quite as strong as their naturally occurring cousins, but they are clear and flawless gems; easily mistaken for diamonds. In fact, that’s exactly what happened. The diamond market was quickly flooded with CZs under the guise of genuine diamonds; some people got very rich, others very much out of pocket.

The strength of zirconium dioxide makes it an excellent element for use in ceramics, taking an already robust material and making it stronger. It’s so strong, in fact, that zirconium ceramic is used to coat jet engines to protect them from heat, sand and dust; often in use at 1,000 degrees Celsius.

Does it help with sound?

Yes. ZrO2 is more than just aesthetically great - besides the durability and beauty of the finish. As anyone who sings in the shower can attest, ceramic has excellent acoustic properties. Certain compounds have a natural aptitude for transmitting sound; the inside of the CL2 is designed to carry audio waves from driver to ear without distorting it.

So why isn't everything made from Zr02?

Incorporating this type of material into such a small product is challenging; from understanding and taking advantage of the material’s properties - to developing precise manufacturing techniques from the ground up. We chose injection moulding - a process we have some experience with - to create aesthetically striking outer housings; and an inner sound chamber capable of using the planar driver to the best of its extraordinary ability.

The result is an astonishing headphone – incorporating many world firsts. Zirconium aids the CL2 Planar in demonstrating acoustic clarity and aesthetic beauty.

Find out more about the CL2