Philharmonic speakers review

Philharmonic speakers review DEFAULT

Philharmonic Audio BMR Philharmonitor Bookshelf Speaker Review

BMR Philharmonitor Bookshelf Speaker Introduction

Not many peopleBMR pair spaced outside of audio enthusiasts who pay attention to audio in social media will know about Philharmonic Audio. This is because Philharmonic Audio doesn’t spend a penny on advertising and their only means of promotion is by word of mouth. However, those audio enthusiasts who do pay attention to social media generally hold Philharmonic Audio in high regard, and Philharmonic looks to be thriving despite having a near zero dollar marketing budget. Dennis Murphy, the proprietor of Philharmonic Audio, lets his creations do all the talking for him. When your only means of promotion is end-users telling others how good their experience was with your product, and you gain success with that strategy, that definitely augurs well for the quality of the product. We at Audioholics have noticed all the buzz surrounding Philharmonic Audio in social media circles, and so we arranged for a review of a pair of their speakers to see if they lived up to all the hype. It should be said that we have known Dennis Murphy for some time and knew him to be a more than competent speaker engineer, so we weren’t surprised that his designs would be rock solid. Nonetheless, we were curious to experience a sample of something he has cooked up, so for today’s review, we look at Philharmonic’s top bookshelf speaker, the BMR Philharmonitors.

Unpacking and Appearance

BMR double boxingBMR foam sandwich packing

...these are some of the best packaged speakers I've seen.

The BMP Philharmonitors arrived in two jumbo boxes that were unusually big for bookshelf speakers. This isn’t all that surprising, since I knew these speakers were on the larger side for bookshelf speakers, but they were still unexpectedly large. Each speaker was packed using double boxing and also two large stiff foam blocks that completely surrounded it. The speakers were covered in a soft foam bag to protect them from scuffing and moisture. It is apparent that Mr. Murphy did not want to waste his time with damage claims because these are some of the best-packed bookshelf speakers I have ever seen. Most speaker packing uses top and bottom foam blocks to fit the speaker in the box, but this set uses a very thick piece that guards against anything that could pierce the boxing anywhere around the speaker. It would take particularly abusive transit to cause any damage to these speakers.

BMR pair23BMR grilles

Once unpacked, the BMR Philharmonitors are revealed to be attractive and handsome speakers. ‘Handsome’ is a more operative word here than BMR single2‘pretty,’ since the BMR Philharmonitors are a bit too serious to be called pretty in the conventional sense. I received the standard version of the BMR Philharmonitors, which have a tall, oblong enclosure in a gloss black finish and rounded edges. As bookshelf speakers go, these were almost stately-looking; they were simultaneously elegant yet business-like in their demeanor. The differently-sized circular frames of each of the drivers against the black backdrop of the finish give the BMR Philharmonitors a slightly cosmic aesthetic, as though the drivers were an alignment of planets against the monolithic cabinet (cue ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’). With the grille on, the speakers turn much more stylistically minimal, of course, as gloss black boxes with a muted black fabric front. They are shipped with some small ‘Philharmonic’ stickers that the user can choose to apply to the front grille. I like a cleaner appearance so I declined to do that. As usual, I prefer the appearance of the speakers with the grille off. Due to their simple, clean appearance, the BMR Philharmonitors could fit in almost any style of interior decoration, from modern to traditional. 

Design Analysis

To sum them up very simply, the BMR Philharmonitor is a three-way, ported bookshelf speaker, but these are not simple speakers. Bookshelf speakers do not normally come in three-way designs, although that kind of design isn’t all that rare. However, the three-way design chosen for the BMR Philharmonitor is quite unique. One of its unique traits is the driver selection, so let’s begin our discussion of the BMR Philharmonitor by talking about the drivers used in its design, and we will start at the top: the tweeter.

BMR tweeterBMR tweeter back2

The BMR Philharmonitor uses a ribbon tweeter by the highly-regarded Serbian manufacturer RAAL. Ribbon tweeters are normally found on expensive speakers and are highly sought-after for their linearity, detail, and high-frequency extension. What makes a ribbon tweeter so special? The answer is the low mass of the diaphragm. Ribbon tweeters work by placing very thin, conductive ribbon that is usually either conductive tracings on a material like Kapton or simply a very thin aluminum strip in a tightly-controlled magnetic field between two permanent magnets. When alternating current is run through the ribbon, it vibrates as its magnetic charge rapidly oscillates between positive and negative. Proponents of ribbons claim they are better as high-frequency reproducers than domes because their moving mass is much lower than domes and therefore can accelerate and decelerate much more quickly, and this quicker movement makes for a more realistic sound. However, ribbons have historically had a few disadvantages. Among those disadvantages is they are more expensive to manufacture, and they were fragile, so they were not as capable in midrange frequencies as in treble. They also need a transformer to raise their electrical impedance to a usable level, which naturally raises their manufacturing cost and makes them a larger component. The BMR Philharmonitor addresses the low-frequency fragility by just using the ribbon where it is strongest, at mid-treble frequencies and above and not tasking it to play outside of its comfort region.

BMR midrangeBMR Driver

It is said that music lives in the mids, so the midrange driver in a three-way speaker is crucial in getting a good sound. Philharmonic has chosen a peculiar and perhaps revolutionary midrange driver to serve this range. It is the Tectonic BMR (more specifically the TEBM46C20N-4B) which, of course, is referred to in the name of the speaker. The ‘BMR’ stands for ‘Balanced Mode Radiator.’ It’s not an expensive component but it is a sophisticated piece of engineering nonetheless. It is an extremely wide-band, flat-diaphragm, 3” driver that uses weighted rings on the diaphragm to dramatically reduce cone break-up. Cone break-up occurs when the excursion of the driver happens so quickly that the cone can’t keep a uniform shape and begins to bend in various ways. This happens to all drivers at high enough frequencies, and the results are that the response starts to get heavily distorted past a certain frequency. The larger the cone, the lower in frequency that break-up will start to affect the response, and this is one of the reasons why midrange drivers are smaller than bass drivers, and dome tweeters are smaller than midrange drivers. Filtering out break-up artifacts has always been a challenge for loudspeaker designers, so any driver that doesn’t have as much of a problem in this respect makes designing a good speaker much easier. The exact method that Tectonic uses to reduce break-up with their weighted rings is rather complex but is explained in this white paper.

BMR woofer close2BMR woofer exposed3

The woofer used in the BMR Philharmonitor is the 18W/8545-01 which is the latest iteration of the acclaimed 8545 series from the highly-regarded Danish manufacturer Scan-Speak. This 7” diameter woofer uses a paper/carbon fiber cone in a cast aluminum frame with a beefy 4 ¾” diameter magnet and 1.5” voice coil. It uses Scan-speak’s ‘Symmetric Drive’ motor design which is a patented way to arrange shorting rings and a copper cap in order to reduce the deleterious effects of induction by providing a symmetric induction around the gap center point.

BMR internal

The BMR Philharmonitor is a hefty bookshelf speaker, at 34 lbs., and most of that weight is composed of the cabinet. The cabinet uses MDF construction and has a 1” thick front baffle with ¾” thick side panels and bracing. The midrange driver is housed in its own isolated compartment so that backwave radiation from the woofer won’t affect its operation and also to give it a better enclosure space with more optimal backwave pressure for its own operation. There are two pieces of bracing that jut out from the top of the BMR rearmidrange compartment to strengthen the side panels. The BMR Philharmonitor uses three types of acoustic treatment on the inside of the cabinet: polyfill filling the inside of the cabinet, Sonic Barrier acoustic damping lining the walls, and Acoustimac’s Ecocore acoustic insulation lining the top of the cabinet and inside of the midrange compartment. I am told by the BMR Philharmonitor designer Dennis Murphy that Ecocore is essential as stuffing for the midrange chamber since nothing else will load the BMR driver properly. 

The BMR Philharmonitor is rear-ported with a 7” long, 2” diameter port that is heavily flared on both ends. That is a very long port for a bookshelf speaker that ought to make for a very low port resonant frequency. Port tuning was done by award-winning speaker designer Paul Kittinger who is known for his work on more complex transmission line cabinets. One aspect to note here is that these speakers dig ambitiously low in bass for bookshelf speakers- even large bookshelf speakers- with a listed spec of 34 Hz to 20 kHz in a +/- 2 dB window. That will inevitably have a cost in sensitivity, so while these speakers may be able to hit those very low notes, it will not do so as efficiently as a larger tower speaker could for the same wattage. Indeed, its sensitivity is listed as 85 dB for 2.83v at 1 meter, which would be below what one might expect for a bookshelf speaker of this size, although not so much when its low-frequency extension is factored. 

The BMR Philharmonitors do not come with feet installed. For those who want to use feet, Dennis Murphy recommends Sorbothane isolation feet. There is no terminal cup in the back but simply some five-way binding posts that stick out of the back of the speaker. The advantage of the omission of a terminal cup is that the ¾” MDF is a lot more rigid and will better contain the acoustic BMRXoverenergy inside the enclosure. The disadvantage is that the binding posts just kind of stick out there and are more vulnerable to catching something or hitting something, thereby incurring damage. The grille uses magnetic attachment so the front baffle keeps a clean look. The grille uses an acoustic fabric stretched over a thick MDF frame. That frame is bound to increase diffraction, so for the best sound, use the speakers with the grille off.

The crossover circuit looks like a very substantial design, with a handful of beefy polypropylene capacitors, air core inductors, two steel laminate inductors, and four resistors, all neatly organized to fit in a small space. The woofer crossover to the midrange driver is at 600 Hz, and the midrange driver crosses over to the tweeter at 3.5 kHz, using 4rth order Linkwitz-Riley filters in both sections. That explains why the crossover circuit is so heavy-duty; it must be to handle that degree of complexity. 

The overall design of the BMR Philharmonitors suggests a speaker that will have very wide dispersion, relatively deep bass, and somewhat lower sensitivity. Narrow tweeters such as the ribbon tweeter used on the BMR Philharmonitor tend to emit sound at a wide horizontal angle but a narrow vertical angle. The small size of the midrange driver would be expected to have a wide dispersion out to treble frequencies in all directions, since sound of frequency wavelengths larger than the diameter of the driver cone normally project out at a wide angle. With a 3” diameter, the BMR midrange drivers should be capable of wide dispersion out to well past its 3.5 kHz low-pass frequency, and the 7” woofer of the Scan-speak bass driver will certainly have a very wide dispersion out to its 600 Hz low-pass frequency. The long length of the port indicates that the BMR Philharmonitor will have a fairly low tuning frequency, so the low-frequency spec of 34 Hz is plausible. And, as was discussed before, that will inevitably have an impact on efficiency. We will see how these design decisions play out in the “Measurements and Analysis” section, but for now, let’s do some listening!

Listening Sessions

I am not sure how ‘Cafe Blue’ could sound better than how the BMR Philharmonitors rendered it.

In my 24’ by 13’ (approximately) listening room, I set up the speakers with stand-off distances between the back wall and sidewall, and equal distance between speakers and listening position, with speakers toed-in toward the listening position. Dennis Murphy recommends listening at a 15-degree off-axis angle for the best sound since that angle lessens diffraction effects more than the direct axis response. Listening distance from the speakers was about 9 feet. Amplification and processing were handled by a Pioneer Elite SC-55. No room correction equalization was used. At times, subwoofers were used to supplement the bass with an 80 Hz crossover frequency.

Music Listening 

Like always, I began listening to the BMR Philharmonitors with soCafe Bluemething that places emphasis on a solitary vocal, because that is where tonal errors would be the most perceptible. For this purpose, I used Patricia Barber’s ‘Cafe Blue.’ This might be a lazy choice since this classic album has long been an audiophile staple, but it is one of the few audiophile ‘go-to’ albums that I actually enjoy, so I thought, why not?! Even though this recording is somewhat old, released nearly 25 years ago, it isn’t as if recordings since then have substantially topped the sound quality of this impeccably produced album (the version I listened to was the Mobile Fidelity release). For those who don’t know, this is an eclectic jazz album that covers a wide range in styles and moods. It is so eclectic that it dips into the experimental at times. Barber’s voice mostly ranges from a low whisper (often described as ‘smokey’) to a creamy, low key singing, but at times she hits more ethereal and emotional heights. Instrumental accompaniment is performed and recorded beautifully as well, with keyboards, piano, guitar, bass, and percussion getting their moments to shine.

As for the BMR Philharmonitor’s rendering of ‘Cafe Blue,’ I have zero complaints. Barber’s voice and instrumental positions in the soundstage were very distinct, and again I find myself marveling at how a broad three-dimensional musical performance can come from just two points of sound emission in room. There was nothing tonally off either, with no undue weight given to any particular frequency range. I listened to this album using the speaker’s full range, without any subwoofers, and the bass reproduction was superb. There are moments of seemingly deep bass, and the speakers were more than sufficient in capturing the entire frequency range of this album. The BMR Philharmonitors were also not shy in catching the peaks of the more boisterous moments of ‘Cafe Blue,’ and while I listened to the album at a lively level, I didn’t crank it hard (that would have to wait until later), nonetheless these speakers had some ‘pop’ in the attacks of the piano and guitar that demonstrated that they could throw a sharp jab when the recording demanded. In the end, I am not sure how ‘Cafe Blue’ could sound better than how the BMR Philharmonitors rendered it. A high-fidelity recording deserves high-fidelity speakers, so this album and speaker pair were a great match for each other.

For something with a focus on the sound of a single instrument, I listened to a recording of Bach’s ‘EBach English Suitesnglish Suites’ played on piano by Murray Perahia from the Sony Classical label. This particular recording was made in 1998 and covers suites Nos. 1, 3, and 6. The name that these compositions are given, ‘English Suites,’ seems to have been a historical mistake since they have nothing to do with England and do not relate to England in any way, but this mistake has stuck, and the first six suites that Bach wrote are known as the ‘English Suites.’ The acclaimed pianist Perahia gives a spirited interpretation of these pieces and plays with a dazzling force and dexterity very much living up to his reputation as a world-class pianist. The BMR Philharmonitors reproduced Murray’s performance with aplomb. Through the superb imaging of the speakers, I could tell that this album did not use a near-field recording technique as so many piano recordings do nowadays. While near-field recordings can give fuller expression to each note, on a properly set up speaker system or headphones, it does sound as if the listener’s head is inside the piano itself. On this recording with these speakers, it sounded as if the mics were placed perhaps a couple meters away so some notes were heard to have directional proximity to the left or right without being so far back that all notes fell to the center. In other words, this put the listener in the best seat in the house: close enough for an intimate performance but not so close that the listener’s face is buried inside the instrument. My listening experience with ‘English Suites’ on the BMR Philharmonitors was the next best thing to hiring Mr. Perahia and having him play a grand piano in my family room. It was if the performance occurred in front of me but from an invisible grand piano and player. What more can one ask of a loudspeaker?

For something with a larger ensemble, I listened tCatholic Latin Classicso a collection of choral pieces with Latin lyrics entitled ‘Catholic Latin Classics,’ which is performed by the Cathedral Singers conducted and led by Richard Proulx. The singers are accompanied by an organ and a string ensemble. The music and production on this recording are both exquisite and gorgeous, and music lovers would do well to seek out this album regardless of their comprehension of Latin. If the BMR Philharmonitors didn’t already do so well with the other types of music I had listened to, I would say it was made for this album. I could hardly imagine a more beautiful reproduction than what these speakers presented. The BMR Philharmonitors imaged the performers very well, and the soundstage was particularly notable for the lifelike rendering of the acoustics of the performance location, the National Shrine of St. Francis Xavier Cabrini, which is a dazzlingly beautiful church in Chicago. The BMR Philharmonitors was a teleportation device that placed the listener in the middle of the pews at this venerable location. I don’t think the latest in surround sound technology could have made the experience more immersive. Again, we see that two well-placed, well-designed speakers can capture so much of the dimensionality of soundscape that many times I question whether all the extra channels and excess processing of surround sound are a major addition to what can be done in a simple, good stereo system. Those who disagree ought to listen to the BMR Philharmonitors play ‘Catholic Latin Classics’ before cementing their opinion.  

CrystalaimaiTaking a radically different direction, I decided to listen to something on the extreme end of pop music with the album ‘Crystalaimai’ by SAYOHIMEBOU, a Japanese artist who is making electronic pop music that, outside of that broad genre label, is nearly undefinable. This music is a frenetic, kaleidoscopic, shattered reflection of pop culture. It is a journey into Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder for adults that uses all the colors of the rainbow. Its use of aggressive stereo panning, very low and also very high-frequency sounds, sampled vocals that have been outrageously pitch-shifted, breakneck percussion rhythms, and bizarre atonal melodies make it really something else to hear on a high-fidelity sound system. This music certainly wouldn’t fit everyone’s tastes, but for my ears, it is sheer candy. I thought it would be a good album to use for evaluating the BMR Philharmonitors because it is such a purely artificial creation that uses every studio trick in the book to create audio strangeness; how would these speakers handle such a bizarre concoction? Right out of the gate I understood that playing this lunatic album on the BMR Philharmonitors was the right thing to do. Music doesn’t normally make me laugh, but when a sound this bonkers is given the kind of attention to detail that the BMR Philharmonitors are capable of, I had to laugh, because only then can its full crazed glory be revealed. With the BMR Philharmonitor’s wide and expensive soundstage, listening to ‘Cystalaimai’ was like being sucked into a psychedelic tornado of bubblegum and strobing neon lights. And before the reader asks, no, I wasn’t using lysergic acid, but with this album on these speakers, the effect was similar.

Movie Listening

One movie that I wAtomic Blondeatched using the BMR Philharmonitors was the 2017 cold war spy thriller ‘Atomic Blonde.’ This ultra-stylish (and ultra-violent) action movie is drenched in 80’s hits such as Nena’s ‘99 Luftballoons’ and ‘Cities in Dust’ by Siouxsie and the Banshees, as well as more modern remixes of 80’s hits along with an original electronic score by Tyler Bates. The action scenes mostly take the form of brutal hand-to-hand combat but throw in some gunplay and car chases as well. The interplay of music, action, and dialogue is layered and sometimes complex, which might be a challenge for lesser speakers, but I thought it would make a great test for the BMR Philharmonitors. I used subwoofers for this movie since I didn’t want to risk the speakers in case there was some high-level, deep bass that might overdrive the woofers at the volume levels that I wanted to listen at. With the woofers protected, I cranked the volume, because ‘Atomic Blonde’ is a great movie to play loud. The BMR Philharmonitors performed marvelously and blazed the sound of these 1980’s pop hits along with the gunshots, crashes, and punches without any audible complaints or limitations that I could detect. I set the AVR to use a ‘phantom center’ where the left and right front speakers carry the center channel content to give the BMR Philharmonitors the dialogue as well as music and effects sounds, and there were no problems with dialogue intelligibility, even amidst all the action and music. Watching ‘Atomic Blonde’ with the BMR Philharmonitors proved that they were just as capable at bombast and action as they were with musical subtlety. 

Another movie that I viewed using the BMR PhilharmonitorThin Red Lines is Terrence Malick’s 1998 WW2 epic ‘The Thin Red Line.’ The Criterion Edition of this movie states in the menu screen before the movie can be started: “Director Terrence Malick recommends that The Thin Red Line be played loud.” A similar admonition appears before Malick’s ‘The Tree of Life’ and this is because Malick is one of the few directors whose movies’ sound mixes have a truly wide dynamic range. This isn’t done so that the movie will simply be louder; it is done so that when loudness is required, it will be delivered with more punch than a normal sound mix. This is contrary to many movie scores, especially movies with lots of action, where the entire movie is mixed loud all the way through so that moments that should have a sonic impact just get lost in the clamor. This makes ‘The Thin Red Line’ a terrific film for evaluating a sound system’s dynamic range. Outside of the extraordinary dynamic range, the sound mix contains a most convincing aural experience of war from an infantryman’s perspective, along with Hans Zimmer’s celebrated music score. It remains a divisive film on account of its contemplative and unconventional approach to war as a film subject matter, but there can be no argument that its sound mix was, and still is, ahead of its time.

I took Mr. Malick’s advice and watched ‘The Thin Red Line’ at a relatively high volume level, with the gain set significantly higher than I normally listen at, also with subwoofers employed. The BMR Philharmonitors had no discernable trouble keeping up with the elevated peaks in sound, so bullet ricochets, mortar strikes, and artillery bombardment resounded with an especially potent impact. Zimmer’s sweeping score also benefited from the sound mixes’ wide dynamics, and the speakers gave the music the grandiose presentation that it deserved. Dialogue was clear and distinct, even amidst the cacophony of war. While the BMR Philharmonitors would not be my first choice for a dedicated theater room aiming for THX Reference level loudness, I think they would satisfy the vast majority of users for loud movie watching in a medium or small sized room. The BMR Philharmonitors might not be high-sensitivity SPL monsters but they can still get loud when called to do so.

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About the author:

James Larson is Audioholics' primary loudspeaker and subwoofer reviewer on account of his deep knowledge of loudspeaker functioning and performance and also his overall enthusiasm toward moving the state of audio science forward.

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Eppie posts on August 25, 2021 20:36

PENG, post: 1500915, member: 6097
I have been browsing's but I am sure if the VIVO stands are sturdy enough for the 33-35 lbs BMR (non curved), they don't provide such info iir. The VTI website don't have any price info so I would have to find out from a dealer, hopefully there is one in Ontario. Did you have the VTI for your BMR, do you remember roughly how much for a pair? Thank you
Hope to build some BMRs later. I have Paradigm Studio 20 which are smaller than the BMR but quite heavy. The Paradigm stands were $300 but the VTI were only around $200 with a similar look. The VIVO box is much lighter so not sure if they'll handle the BMRs. The VTIs are heavy and very solid. If you plug the bottom opening for the cable routing the posts can be filled with sand for even more weight but I didn't see the need. You need to check the dealer list for current pricing. I think I ordered mine through Cymax. They have the 29“ DF for $154 which is likely too tall. The 24” DF is $170.

Kvn_Walker posts on August 25, 2021 07:59

Alex2507, post: 1500389, member: 22358
Been there, done that! Gotta cover them with decorative towels for WAF purposes though.

PENG posts on August 25, 2021 07:28

Alex2507, post: 1500389, member: 22358

Photos with speakers on them please!!

PENG posts on August 25, 2021 07:27

Eppie, post: 1500382, member: 94526
I have VTI stands that I've been very happy with but recently purchases these VIVO stands from amazon (Canadian site) with the plan to give them to my daughter along with the vintage KEFs that I refurbished. The VTIs are powder coated metal with floor spikes and I used adhesive foam pads to protect the speaker bottom. The bottom plate of the DF series matches the shape of my Paradigms but they have other models if you don't have the curved back BMR Monitor. The VIVOs are a little more modern looking with glass plates and either spikes or rubber feat. Both models have cable management that let you run the cables through the posts. I'll be setting up the VIVO stands on Thursday or Friday and will have some pics and first hand impressions available then.

I have been browsing's but I am sure if the VIVO stands are sturdy enough for the 33-35 lbs BMR (non curved), they don't provide such info iir. The VTI website don't have any price info so I would have to find out from a dealer, hopefully there is one in Ontario. Did you have the VTI for your BMR, do you remember roughly how much for a pair? Thank you

Alex2507 posts on August 21, 2021 18:18

PENG, post: 1500372, member: 6097
any recommendations?


Post ReplySours:

Philharmonic BMR Bookshelf Speaker Review

YouTube Video Review version:


Dennis Murphy designed the Philharmonic BMR some years back and it lit up the DIY circuit. This is a 3-way “bookshelf” (a big bookshelf) incorporating the following drive units: RAAL, 64-10 Ribbon Tweeter, BMR 2.5″ Midrange, and Scan-Speak 18W8545-1 Paper-carbon cone woofer. There are countless threads about this speaker and the design available via a simple Google search so I won’t spend my time going on about it. It is important to note, though, this speaker tested is in a different cabinet than current offerings. This shouldn’t effect the results of the test considerably (I assume the same volume and port tuning is used with the various enclosure shapes) but it is worth noting as some response differences can arise with a rounded enclosure with a flat baffle vs other designs some may come up with for their own enclosure.

The speaker can be purchased complete through Salk Sound for $2395 - 2595, depending on what finish you purchase. Alternatively, this speaker can be built as a kit via Meniscus Audio and you can also even purchase a “flat-pack” for the cabinet from Speaker Hardware. Fully assembled (but unfinished), the DIY route would cost you in the neighborhood of $1150 to 1450 (depending on the flat pack order) and if you decided to upgrade components from Meniscus you could do so as well.

Product Specs and Photos


Grille On:





Objective Data

Unless otherwise noted, all the data below was captured using Klippel Distortion Analyzer 2 and Klippel modules (TRF, DIS, LPM, ISC to name a few). Most of the data was exported to a text file and then graphed using my own MATLAB scripts in order to present the data in a specific way I prefer. However, some is given using Klippel’s graphing.

Impedance Phase and Magnitude:

Impedance measurements are provided both at 0.10 volts RMS and 2.83 volts RMS. The low-level voltage version is standard because it ensures the speaker/driver is in linear operating range. The higher voltage is to see what happens when the output voltage is increased to the 2.83vRMS speaker sensitivity test.

impedanceImpedance vs FR

From the above data we can see the following:

  • The tuning frequency of the enclosure is approximately 32Hz.
  • The minimum impedance dips to about 4.5 Ohms around 1.4kHz with a nominal impedance at 6 Ohms. You might be able to power this with a standard AVR (as long as it is 6 Ohm rated). However, the low sensitivity of this speaker and a long listening distance means it will need ample power to get to higher output levels so choose how you power this speaker accordingly.
  • There are no signs of resonance (typically visible as bumps/wiggles in the impedance that deviate from the curve).

Frequency Response:

The measurement below provides the frequency response at the reference measurement axis - also known as the 0-degree axis or “on axis” plane - in this measurement condition was situated at the ribbon.

fr horz

The mean SPL, approximately 83.2dB at 2.83v/1m, is calculated over the frequency range of 300Hz to 3,000Hz.

The blue shaded area represents the ±3dB response window from my calculated mean SPL value. As you can see in the blue window above, the Philharmonic BMR has a ±3dB response from 62Hz - 20kHz. Even better, a tighter window of linearity is provided in gray as ±1.5dB from the mean SPL and this speaker stays within this window from about 80Hz all the way to 20kHz (ignoring the 0.1dB around 4kHz). That is impressive!

The speaker’s F3 point (the frequency at which the response has fallen 3dB relative to the mean SPL) is 62Hz and the F10 (the frequency at which the response has fallen by 10dB relative to the mean SPL) is 35Hz. This speaker has nice low frequency extension.

The one thing I find a bit odd is the 1dB shelf below 300Hz. I can’t imagine this being baffle step because, from what I can tell, the crossover point between the woofer and the midrange is about 550Hz.

Below are both the horizontal and vertical response over a limited window (90° horizontal, ±40° vertical). I have provided a “normalized” set of data as well. The normalization simply means that I took the difference of the on-axis response and compared the other axes’ measurements to the on-axis response which gives the viewer a good idea of the speaker performance, relative to the on-axis response, as you move off-axis.

fr horzfr horz normfr vertfr vert norm

As I said above, the provided frequency response graphs were given with a limited set of data. I measured the response of the speaker’s vertical and horizontal axis in 10-degree steps over 360-degrees. Nearly 70 measurements in total are represented in my data. As you can imagine, providing all those data points in a single FR-type graphic below is a bit overwhelming and confusing for the viewer. A spectrogram is an alternate way to view this full set of data. This takes a 360-degree set of data and “collapses” it down to a rectangular representation of the various angles’ SPL. I have provided two sets of data: one set for horizontal and one for vertical. Each set consists of 2 graphics:

  1. Full response (20Hz - 20kHz with the angles from 0° to ±180°) with absolute SPL values
  2. Full, “normalized” response (20Hz - 20kHz with the angles from 0° to ±180°) with SPL values relative to the 0-degree axis

Normalized plots make it easier to compare how the speaker’s off-axis response behaves relative to the on-axis response curve.

spec horzspec horz norm
spec vertspec vert norm

The above spectrograms are the standard way of providing directivity graphics by most reviewers. Some prefer not to normalize the data. Some prefer to normalize the data. Either way, it’s a useful visual to get an idea of the directivity characteristics of a speaker or driver.

However, these “collapsed” representations of the sound field are not very intuitively viewed. At least not to me. So, I came up with a different way to view the speaker’s horizontal and vertical sound field by providing it across a 360° range in a globe plot below. I have provided both an absolute SPL version as well as a normalized version of both the horizontal and vertical sound fields.

Note the legend provided in the top left of each image which helps you understand speaker orientation provided in my global plots below.

360 horz polar360 horz polar norm360 vert polar360 vert polar norm

CEA-2034 (aka: Spinorama):

The following set of data is populated via 360-degree, 10° stepped, “spins” from vertical and horizontal planes resulting in 70 unique measurements. Thus, this is sometimes referred to as “Spinorama” data. Audioholics has a great writeup on what these data mean (link here) and there is no sense in me trying to re-invent the wheel so I will reference you to them for further discussion. However, I will explain these curves lightly and provide my own spin on what they mean (pun totally intended). Sausalito Audio also has a good write-up on these curves here. Furthermore, you can find discussion in Dr. Floyd Toole’s book “Sound Reproduction”. Here’s my Amazon affiliate link if you want to purchase it and help me earn about 2% of the price. And, finally, here is a great video of Dr. Toole discussing the use of measurements to quantify in-room performance.

In short, the CEA-2034 graphic below takes all the response measurements (horizontal and vertical) and applies weighting and averaging to sub-sets and can help provide an (accurate) prediction of the response in a typical room. If there is a single set of data to use in your purchase decision, this is probably it.


The following are my takeaways from the data. More may be obvious to others or myself (with more time).

  • There are various ways you can interpret the data, substituting the “dips” for “peaks” in analysis of the non-linearity. For example, I see the 400-500Hz and 700-800Hz regions as potential resonances (namely, the latter). However, if you view the 500Hz and 1kHz regions as dips, then one could argue the other bumps in response are not resonances. Looking at the nearfield data (in the Miscellaneous section), it appears the woofer has a notch at approximately 1kHz. I pulled up the driver data for the Scan-Speak 18W8545-1 and see there is a 2dB tall resonance spread from about 600-700Hz so I’m inclined to believe this really is a resonance, but not breakup, albeit small. Without disabling the other drive-units, however, it is hard to know for sure.
  • The Listening Window lies mostly within the on-axis response but notably different at ~2.5kHz to 3.1kHz. This is within the region of the crossover between the midrange and the tweeter. You’ll notice in the above graphics that the off-axis response of the horizontal response yields a bump in this region compared to the on-axis response. Additionally, the RAAL is quite directional, vertically, due to its tall orientation. Therefore, it “beams” at approximately the frequency that equals the radiating height (70mm; 2.75 inches). Using the speed of sound and half-wavelength you can calculate the beaming point for this dimension as ~2.5kHz (SoS = 13500 under standard conditions: SoS/2/2.75 = 2449 Hz). So, the difference in the Listening Window vs the on-axis response is mostly caused by the horizontal response but the vertical directivity mismatch of the BMR midrange to the RAAL tweeter is a contributor as well.
  • Outside of the two comments above, this speaker displays a very nice set of CEA-2034 curves with relatively wide directivity index curves. It has very wide horizontal directivity (which can be observed in the spectrogram and global plots presented earlier) with a horizontal response window of ±60° (non-normalized) up to about 10kHz. However, the vertical directivity is considerably narrower thanks to the RAAL tweeter’s height as mentioned above. The vertical window begins to narrow considerably above about 4kHz where the tweeter is the provider of response.

Below is a breakout of the typical room’s Early Reflections contributors (floor bounce, ceiling, rear wall, front wall and side wall reflections). From this you can determine how much absorption you need and where to place it to help remedy strong dips from the reflection(s). Again, as a pointer to the wide horizontal envelope, notice how the Rear Wall Bounces Curve is relatively high in amplitude (for a front-facing tweeter, at least) until about 10kHz.

early reflections

And below is the Predicted In-Room response compared to a general Target curve equaling -1dB/octave. The -1dB shelf below 300Hz effects the location of this target curve. Additionally, this, speaker didn’t sound as bright as this overlay may indicate. Though, I did find it to be about 1dB too high in treble up until 10kHz where I wanted more “air”. The combination of what I heard and this shelf would probably put the target and predicted curves more in line with what I heard. Also, the Predicted In-Room response is a function of radiation. This speaker’s tweeter does not radiate like a typical dome tweeter and therefore has a much broader horizontal dispersion pattern, which seemingly causes the Predicted In-Room high frequency response to be more flat.

predicted vs target

You may ask just how useful the above prediction is. Well, I’d be remiss for not delving in to that a little bit here. Please see my Analysis section below for discussion on this. :)

Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) and Compression:

Distortion and Compression measurements were completed in the nearfield (approximately 0.3 meters). However, SPL provided is relative to 1 meter distance.

360 vert spect norm360 vert spect norm360 vert spect norm

Maximum Long Term SPL:

The below data provides the metrics for how Maximum Long Term SPL is determined. This measurement follows the IEC 60268-21 Long Term SPL protocol, per Klippel’s template, as such:

  • Rated maximum sound pressure according IEC 60268-21 §18.4
  • Using broadband multi-tone stimulus according §8.4
  • Stimulus time = 60 s Excitation time + Preloops according §18.4.1

Each voltage test is 1 minute long (hence, the “Long Term” nomenclature).

The thresholds to determine the maximum SPL are:

  • -20dB Distortion relative to the fundamental
  • -3dB compression relative to the reference (1V) measurement

When the speaker has reached either or both of the above thresholds, the test is terminated and the SPL of the last test is the maximum SPL. In the below results I provide the summarized table as well as the data showing how/why this SPL was deemed to be the maximum.

This measurement is conducted twice:

  • First with a 20Hz to 20kHz multitone signal
  • Second with a limited 80Hz to 20kHz signal

The reason for the two measurements is because it is unfair to expect a small bookshelf speaker to extend low in frequency. Applying both will provide a good idea of the limitations if you were to want to run a speaker full range vs using one with a typical 80Hz HPF. And you will have a way to compare various speakers’ SPL limitations with each other. However, note: the 80Hz signal is a “brick wall” and does not emulate a typical 80Hz HPF slope of 24dB/octave. But… it’s close enough.

You can watch a demonstration of this testing via my YouTube channel:

Test 1: 20Hz to 20kHz

Multitone compression testing. The red line shows the final measurement where either distortion and/or compression failed. The voltage just before this is used to help determine the maximum SPL.


Multitone distortion testing. The dashed blue line represents the -20dB (10% distortion) threshold for failure. The dashed red line is for reference and shows the 1% distortion mark (but has no bearing on pass/fail). The green line shows the final measurement where either distortion and/or compression failed. The voltage just before this is used to help determine the maximum SPL.


Test 2: 80Hz to 20kHz

Multitone compression testing. The red line shows the final measurement where either distortion and/or compression failed. The voltage just before this is used to help determine the maximum SPL.


Multitone distortion testing. The dashed blue line represents the -20dB (10% distortion) threshold for failure. The dashed red line is for reference and shows the 1% distortion mark (but has no bearing on pass/fail). The green line shows the final measurement where either distortion and/or compression failed. The voltage just before this is used to help determine the maximum SPL.


The above data can be summed up by looking at the tables above but is provided here again:

  • Max SPL for 20Hz to 20kHz is approximately 96dB @ 1 meter. The compression threshold was exceeded above this SPL.
  • Max SPL for 80Hz to 20kHz is approximately 99dB @ 1 meter. The compression threshold was exceeded above this SPL.

Nearfield measurements.

Mic placed about 0.50 inches - relative to the baffle - from each drive unit and port. While I tried to make these as accurate in SPL as I could, I cannot guarantee the relative levels are absolutely correct so I caution you to use this data as a guide but not representative of actual levels (measuring in the nearfield makes this hard as a couple millimeters’ difference between measurements can alter the SPL level).



Not Zoomed:

step response

Zoomed and annotated for the arrival time of each drive-unit’s impulse. You can see the drivers are not time-aligned and arrive distinctly separately. The difference in time between the woofer (2.5ms) and the midrange (1.33ms) is approximately 1.2ms. To put this in perspective, 1.2ms is approximately 16 inches.

step response zoom

Subjective Evaluation:

Before I dive in to the subjective feedback let me first give you the layout of my room…

room layoutroom 1room 2
If the false wall part is odd to you, here's some background. I don't like seeing speakers when watching a movie. So, I built a false wall and used an acoustically transparent screen with speakers behind it. The wall is only 2x4's; no panels of wood or anything. Just a skeleton of a wall to give me something to attach the screen and acoustic treatment to. There is 2-inch wedge foam affixed to the 2x4 studs and between the false wall and back of the room are the front speakers (L/C/R & 18-inch subwoofers).

My demo music:

Enjoy The SilenceDepeche ModeBest Of Depeche Mode, Vol. 1
Higher LoveSteve WinwoodBack In The High Life (MFSL UDCD-611)
24K MagicBruno Mars24K Magic
MagicThe CarsHeartbeat City (MFSL)
Everlasting LoveHoward JonesThe Best of Howard Jones
KodachromePaul SimonThere Goes Rhymin’ Simon
Everybody Wants To Rule The WorldTears for FearsSongs from the Big Chair (2014 Deluxe Edition - Disc 1)
Know Your EnemyRage Against The MachineRage Against The Machine (Hybrid SACD)
Doo Wop (That Thing)Lauryn HillThe Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Tell Yer MamaNorah JonesThe Fall
Don’t Save MeHAIMDays Are Gone
He Mele No LiloMark Keali’i Ho’omalu and Kamehameha Schools Children’s ChorusLilo And Stitch
Wrapped Around Your FingerThe PoliceSynchronicity
SledgehammerPeter GabrielSo
Feel It StillPortugal. The ManWoodstock
Free FallinJohn MayerWhere The Light Is
WhiplashThe SwampersMuscle Shoals Has Got The Swampers

Note: I don’t generally audition speakers with the typical “audiophile” music. I have thousands of high-quality albums ranging from pop to metal to jazz and all around. I don’t typically listen to “audiophile” music because I just don’t enjoy it. It is far more important that your evaluation music be something you are familiar with than it is to be esoteric for the sake of being esoteric. You also want to listen to music you enjoy because auditioning a stereo system shouldn’t feel like a chore. Such is the case in my evaluations. Besides, the subjective evaluation is purely to help tie to the objective data and make sense of what I am hearing to help you all get an understanding of how relevant the data is. As you will see below, my music selection did a great job at providing enough range for me to identify the issues that readily appear in the data.

Subjective Analysis Setup:

  • The speaker was aimed on-axis with the vertical listening axis on the tweeter axis.
  • I used Room EQ Wizard (REW) and my calibrated MiniDSP UMIK-1 to get the volume on my AVR relative to what the actual measured SPL was in the MLP (~11 feet from the speakers). I varied it between 85-90dB, occasionally going up to the mid 90’s to see what the output capability was. In a poll I found most listen to music in this range.
  • All speakers are provided a relatively high level of Pseudo Pink-Noise for a day or two - with breaks in between - in order to calm any “break-in” concerns.
  • I demoed these speakers without a crossover and without EQ.
  • Components: Oppo BDP-103 playing music off my thumb drive feeding signal via HDMI to a Denon AVR-X4000 which then feeds in to a refurbished Adcom GFA-545 for power.

I listened to these speakers and made my subjective notes before I started measuring objectively. I did not want my knowledge of the measurements to influence my subjective opinion. This is important because I want to try to correlate the objective data with what I hear in my listening space in order to determine the validity of the measurement process. I try to do a few listening sessions over a couple days so I can give my ears a break and come back “fresh”.

In the interest of time and due to no feedback discussing these matters, I am not providing photos of my notes (seems like no one cares and no sense in wasting my time if it’s not important to anyone). I did complete in-room measurements but sold the laptop without saving the results to my external drive so I am unable to provide those at this moment.

Here’s the rundown of my subjective notes (in quotes) and where it fits with objective:

  • Overall, I found the max SPL I could drive the speakers to was around 98-100dB at my listening position, depending on the music. Which is quite loud at 11.5 feet! The tell-tale for me here was the woofer ran out of mechanical excursion listening to Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop”. I didn’t notice any annoying distortion with the tracks I used. I did hear some things that sounded different and now having seen the data, I wonder if the increased harmonic distortion between 2-4kHz might have been a contributor but I cannot say with any degree of certainty that it was.
  • Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy The Silence”: really nice punch in the bass. When the lead singer says “… oh my little girl…” I heard modulation in his voice that I have never heard before. That’s a good thing. It means, at least to me, the resolution of the speaker is extremely high. This was a common trend throughout the rest of my demo.
  • Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love”: The panning drums on this track were very nice. I wrote “WOW” in my notes. I was jamming to this track at about 95dB and it sounded incredible. Chaka Khan’s voice at the end literally gave me goosebumps. Goosebumps. I did note there was something in the 800Hz region that I hadn’t noticed before and I didn’t have a specific way to describe it. It stood out; I wasn’t sure if it was good or bad. Looking at the data, I believe I may have been hearing the resonance I discussed earlier.
  • The Cars “Magic”: Missing some “crackle (10k - 12kHz?)". Looking at the data shows a falloff in response above 10kHz.
  • The Police “Wrapped Around Your Finger”: This speaker reproduced the bass line better than anything I’ve ever heard to date. I noted that it seemed a bit excessive in the 2-3kHz region, though. I see in the data that the off-axis response is a bit brighter in this region but I’m not sure if that’s the reason I heard what I heard or not.
  • Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer”: I could hear inflection in his voice that I’d never heard before which I felt was, again, attributed to the HF response.
  • Portugal The Man’s “Feel It Still”: The chord progression on this track… I could feel it coming at me. Like it was coming out of the speakers. Crazy.
  • John Mayer’s cover of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin”: I see audiophile types say “you want to feel like you’re in the audience”. My response is typically “yea, if the recording is made in a way that will allow it”. The easy example is a singer with auto-tune: he/she shouldn’t sound “real” at all. But, sure, if the recording is of good quality and “real” was the objective then using that as a reference for a real sound is just fine. I feel this recording is one of those. But I haven’t heard a speaker yet that “puts me there” like these do. It was so cool, I even got my wife to listen in the sweet spot. Of course, she said “sounds cool” and went on her way. But the next day she had that song on one of her playlists. So… I take that as a win for this speaker.
  • Paul Simon “Kodachrome”: Drums on the left side of the stage were clearly behind the speaker. Though, I did find something to be a bit resonant in the 250-300Hz region. The majority of the data doesn’t reveal any reason for me having heard this. However, when I look back at the normalized horizontal response I can see a small bump right in this region as the response trends off-axis. I am honestly very impressed that a) I heard this and b) there is correlating data. I keep saying… if the data doesn’t show it then either something is wrong or you’re not looking at the right data. This is a prime example of the latter.
  • Tears For Fears “Everybody Wants To Rule The World”: perfect ~160hz vocal tone. “Behind You”… “Be-hind”… the “beee” portion of this word sounded a bit boomy. Might be the 250-300Hz resonance noted above. Might also be my imagination. Or might be the way it is supposed to sound. I believe it’s resonance, though. The breakdown portion starting around 2:40 has a three-chord progression; low notes. I have listened to this song thousands of times… thousands… it is my favorite song of all time… and I have never noticed the “pluck” of those notes until I heard it on these speakers. Of course, now that I’ve heard it, I notice it on other speakers… but I credit the BMRs for making that possible.
  • Norah Jones “Tell Yer Mama”: Backup vocalist on the left is as wide as my room with the speakers placed about 3.5 feet from the side walls.

I chose not to run Dirac Live with these speakers due to time constraints. But with a little bit of EQ on the 4-8kHz region (where I felt it was about 1dB too high) and with room correction, I can only imagine how much better my listening impression would have been.

Bottom Line

These speakers are awesome. The tonality revealed things in songs I’d never heard before (in only one case did I find that to be a negative). The resolution reveals little details such as slight inflections in voices and even accentuates the breathing-in of a vocalist before they begin their next line. It was a new experience for me to hear these kind of details. The soundstage is incredibly large and well balanced and the reflections in the room help to extend the soundstage to a size I’ve yet to hear from another speaker to date.

For the kit price of about $1000, I can’t imagine anything coming close to the value of this speaker in DIY form. I would have no qualms at all paying the kit price and ordering the flat pack and assembling this myself for about $1500/pair. And if I had more money and less time I wouldn’t mind ordering them complete from Salk. No matter what your experience level or desire to build, I think these speakers are a no brainer for their price.

However, I would like to hear what these speakers can do if one was to cover the tweeter so as to make it a small square rather than as tall as it is. That would theoretically bring the beaming point up to match the horizontal dispersion pattern and I would really be interested to see how that additional vertical window of dispersion would help (or potentially hurt) these speakers.

Objectively speaking, one potentially large concern (emphasis on potentially; your mileage may vary based on use) is the very low sensitivity of 83.2dB at 2.83v/1m. Therefore, I also would like to see what this speaker would be like if the BMR had a higher sensitivity. When I tested one of Tectonics’ 2 inch BMR speakers some years back (link here) I was very impressed with the linearity of response even beyond the typical beaming point. However, the abysmal sensitivity of that speaker kept it from being one I could recommend for typical DIY use. The BMR used in this speaker, too, has a very low sensitivity and therefore all the other drive units’ output capability are brought down in level to match it. The Scan woofer used here has a sensitivity higher sensitivity of about 87dB but baffle step compensation would also bring the sensitivity down some. Therefore, the woofer would need to be upgraded to something with higher sensitivity. The Scan-Speak Illuminator would be a pretty good alternative, considering it has a bit more linear excursion than the one used in this speaker design. Of course, the Illuminator is an easy $100/driver more than the Classic woofer. Basically, if the sensitivity of this speaker were higher… that would make for a very top-shelf speaker but would also drive the cost up a bit more and you begin to reach the point where the value (price per performance) may take a hit.

Another aspect that would be interesting to investigate is the time-alignment of the drivers. As shown previously, these drivers are not time-aligned. Personally speaking, it’s not easy for me to notice smaller differences in time alignment in absolute terms. But, when I have a DSP and the ability to adjust time delay manually using pink noise or test tones (for high frequency and low frequency, respectively) I almost always can manually nail the correct time delay values when I compare to a microphone measurement. So, while maybe not incredibly obvious, timing does matter and I - as well as others I know - can hear when a drive unit is in time/phase with another one when given the opportunity to make adjustments manually. Correct time alignment at the crossover always helps the coherency; that’s how I am able to detect when I am “in time” or not via DSP settings. So, I have to believe that if this speaker had all the drivers aligned in time that the result would be another level of improvement.

At any rate, kudos to Mr. Murphy on a very well designed speaker!

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measured vs predicted

  1. 10x24 lofted barn cabin
  2. Jolly memes
  3. Skyrim enb download
  4. 2018 ford escape width
  5. Epoxy tv stand

Philharmonic BMR Monitor Semi-Objective Review - Road Show Stop 1

Subjective Listening – Home Office
The words get wordier.

All critical listening as performed with the stereo PEQ filter shown above.

By the time I finished listening in my office (several days of working at home), I auditioned more than 300 songs, spanning nearly every genre.

The dimensions of these speakers place them in the same league with midsize floorstanders. This is visually true under sighted listening, but also true according to the spec sheet. Indeed, they claim lower bass extension than my Revel F206s, which I will explore in the next round of tests. They easily outperform the X18s in bass output as seen in the in-room measurements. In short, they are large, they sound large, and their scale is captivating--even if I sometimes raise an eyebrow to what I perceive as a lot of help from the port, but that is most likely due to their proximity to the front wall in my room. (I will test this hypothesis in the media room review as appropriate.)

The CD
Dennis includes a CD with the speakers, which features excerpts from a variety of genres. Each track seems to be chosen to show off some aspect of the BMRs. I listened to all 28 tracks and thought I was able to identify each of those aspects. It was enlightening and the gesture is appreciated. The last track is a 34Hz sine wave, and the BMRs were able to reproduce it at normal listening levels without breaking a sweat!


The Test Tracks

My speaker testing playlists include much of the standard audiophile pablum and much, much more. I won't bore you with the pablum.

This is a subset of my standard speaker testing playlist. Each track includes at least one built-in test. Here are my thoughts:

No Frontiers by the Corrs from Corrs Unplugged- Showcases the female voice with two sisters singing a duet. Their voices are similar, yet distinctly different. They approach the microphone differently, which is apparent in the recording, as are the differences in their mouth and breath sounds. PASSED

Tigerby Paula Cole on This Fire - Female vocal and bass extension test. This track has enough bass to cause Paula's incredible voice to warble, if a system is not up to reproducing it cleanly. It also has enough bass to punch you in the gut. No warble. Gut punched. PASSED

Never Go Back by Evanescence on Synthesis- Piano, female vocal, midrange test. This track can sound shrill in the vocals and electronic drums during the chorus in speakers with too much emphasis in those bands. PASSED

S.R.V. by Eric Johnson on Ah Via Musicom - My acid test for tweeters. If a tweeter can accurately depict the various attacks and appropriate decays from the 7,631,253 cymbal strikes in this song, it is a quality unit and implementation. PASSED

Baby Plays Around by Anne Sophie von Otter on For the Stars - Female vocal detail. In addition to conveying the delicate emotion in her voice, a speaker should reveal the anatomical details in her breathiness, toothiness, and spittle-liness. [wipes face] PASSED

Oneby Johnny Cash on American III: Solitary Man- Male vocal test and image test. It's the Man in Black. No explanation necessary. PASSED

Pacing the Cage by Bruce Cockburn on The Charity of Night - Male vocal and chesty-ness test. You know what you are listening for in this one. PASSED

Yellow Light by Of Monsters and Men on My Head is an Animal - I include this song, because one of the more ridiculous subjective speaker reviews I have read declares that the otherwise excellent speakers under review cause the vocalists to lose their "Icelandic lilt," he cannot tell if the bells are real or synthesized, and the song fails to build. They sound plenty Icelandic to me, and the bells sound quite real through the BMRs. Half the song is a long crescendo. It builds. PASSED

Overtimeby Trace Bundy on Elephant King - Midrange clarity test. Trace's percussive attack on the strings and guitar body is widely varied and relentless. Each strike and decay should have its own distinct character. PASSED

Mombasaby Hans Zimmer on Inception- Dynamics and clarity of attack test. The original soundtrack recording with its motion picture sound target. The track should build to sound huge, bold, and dynamic. It should be obvious this was produced as part of a film score. The relatively deep bass should not impact the clarity of the attack nor obscure the decay. PASSED

Mombasaby Hans Zimmer (2Cellos) on The Classics- Bass impact and attack test. Re-arranged and re-recorded by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and 2Cellos with their unique take and intended for musical reproduction. Many speakers cannot handle the loudest bass tones or the busiest passages and muddle the attack as a result. Decay should be clean and clear. PASSED

[Album] The Best of Tommysongsby Tommy Emmanuel - Acoustic guitar test in a great room with natural reverb. I cannot stop listening to this album when played on good speakers and sit through song after song. Listened to all of it. Again. PASSED

Romanceby Jason McGuire on Blue Coast Collection: The ESE Sessions - Acoustic guitar test. A different take on the minimalist acoustic guitar test as played by another gifted guitarist in an excellent room. I listen to this on repeat. PASSED

Saint-Saens: Danse Macabre by Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra on Chiller- Dynamic range and width of soundstage test. Turn this up to where the opening passage is about 65dB and hold on to your hat. The speakers should also cast a soundstage greater than 180 degrees wide, and you should be able to locate most instruments in 3D space. It should also be clear where each string instrument begins and ends. Finally, It should acquaint you with the feel of your internal organs. PASSED

Black Mambo by Glass Animals on Glass Animals - Bass extension test. I don't really know. I just like the song, and “Mr. Beard,” the speaker salesman, refused to tell me what it was, when he was trying to sell me a pair of Wilson Sabrinas. I spent a few hours hunting it down just to spite him. It jiggles my jiggly bits. Jiggled. PASSED

Josieby Sultans of String on Move- Layered midrange details test. This is a dense, yet cleanly recorded track, in which every one of the instruments has its own space. Many speakers fail to represent the djembe correctly, as part of its timbre is lost in crossover directivity nulls or BBC dips. Many speakers also tend to lose midrange focus with so much going on in the band. PASSED

Temple Caves by Mickey Hart on Planet Drum - Bass extension, impact, and compression test. There is a drum used on this track that is something like 10' long. You will hear only the overtones on many systems. Turn it up. Listen to the whole album. Enjoy. Be careful. PASSED

Letterby Yosi Horikawa on Wandering- Width of soundstage test. You should hear sounds emanating from a soundstage more than 180 degrees wide. A variety of frequencies are represented, and all should sound even. PASSED

What God Wants by Roger Waters on Amused to Death - Soundstage test with QSound. Roger and others should be whispering in your ear in some passages. In reality, speakers with truly wide dispersion, will present all of the spectrum as something like believable surround sound. PASSED

Fast Car by Tracy Chapman on Tracy Chapman - Cohesion of space test. Tracy's voice is wet with reverb and delay, but her guitar is much drier, and this should be apparent. Each musician is in a different room in the studio, and if you listen closely on a good system, you can tell the track lacks cohesion of space. PASSED

Say Something by Justin Timberlake on Man of the Woods - Compressed pop test. It's a fun track with a good groove, good bass, Chris Stapleton, and my wife likes it when I play it as part of speaker testing. It is also on an album filled with unintentional comedy. Rappers in plaid. PASSED

Morning: Good by Anat Fort on A Long Story - Piano realism test. Percussion, ring, decay. You know what this is about. PASSED

Over the Rainbow by Jane Monheit on Live at the Rainbow Room - Female vocal, depth of soundstage, compression test. The listener should be able to locate Jane just to the right of center and about 6 to 8' in front of the piano. If it sounds like she is in the piano, the speakers are doing it wrong. Interestingly, there is sub-bass scattered throughout this track which keeps the woofers moving, and there is a series of sub-bass pulses beginning at 3:57 that cause many speakers to lose control and bottom out, tanking the rest of the spectrum with compression. PASSED

FBIby The Shadows on Instrumental Guitar - Midrange harshness test. The lead guitars in this track should sound sharp, but not harsh. PASSED

Conclusion to appear shortly...


Edifier // Dayton // Plugable // Rockville _(Z Reviews)_ AFFORDABLE SPEAKER BLOWOUT!!

Philharmonic Audio

Philharmonic Audio is Pleased to Announce a New Full-Range BMR Tower

Our popular BMR monitor continues to win rave reviews.  In addition, we have rounded out our product line to include a tower version of the BMR with increased power handling and bass extension to 25 Hz.  Although both the towers and BMR monitors are currently out of stock, we will be receiving a new order of BMR's and Towers near Christmas.  The curved BMR monitor will feature a natural rosewood finish.  The towers and rectangular BMR monitors will be available in either natural rosewood or piano black.  To get on the the wait list for the upcoming shipment, just email Dennis Murphy at [email protected]

The New BMR Tower

Although our BMR monitor provides exemplary bass extension down to 34 Hz, true full range performance requires a larger cabinet and a larger woofer.  Working with Paul Kittinger, who is an expert in transmission line design, we have developed a mass-loaded transmission line cabinet that utilizes the same 8-inch Scan Speak Revelator woofer that performed so well in the Philharmonic Model 3.  In our opinion, the Revelator woofer is the finest available in this size class and provides flat in-room response to 25 Hz with absolutely no port noise.  Useful response extends to 20 Hz, which you can test for yourself using our new demonstration CD.  Detailed specifications for the Revelator woofer are here.

The use of two BMR midrange units in an MTM configuration further improves power handling and provides increased clarity in the lower treble and upper midrange. 

All of the towers are priced at $3,700/pair, plus shipping.  To order, just email Dennis at [email protected]  For specifications and full measurements of the new BMR Tower, click here.




The BMR Monitor

“These speakers are awesome.  The tonality revealed things in songs I’d never heard before. ... The resolution reveals little details such as slight inflections in voices and even accentuates the breathing-in of a vocalist before they begin their next line.  It was a new experience for me to hear these kind of details.  The soundstage is incredibly large and well balanced and the reflections in the room help to extend the soundstage to a size I’ve yet to hear from another speaker to date.”
      Erin's Audio Corner, July 18, 2020

Our latest shipment of BMR monitors has sold out.  We have placed a new order for rosewood and piano black BMR's and hope to have them here by Christmas.  All of the rectangular BMR's are priced at $1,700/pair, plus shipping.  The curved rosewood versions are $1,900/pair plus shipping.  All BMR cabinets are furniture quality and come with magnetic grills.  If you wish to be placed on the wait list for one of the upcoming BMR's, just write to us.  No deposit is required to reserve any of the BMR monitors.  Specifications and full measurements for the BMR may be found here.  For reviews with complete Spinorama measurements, see and  The reviewed BMR's are for the previous version that used the Scan Speak 8545 woofer instead of the SB Acoustics ceramic woofer.  This version is still available from Salk Sound or as a kit.  See details below.


Other BMR Purchase Options

A finished version in a wide variety of veneers and finishes is available through Salk Sound for $2,395/pr - $2,595/pr, depending on finish.  You can also build your own BMR's at lower cost by purchasing a kit version from Meniscus Audio.  The Meniscus kit includes all of the crossover parts, hardware, drivers, and plans for about $940/pr.  Meniscus will also assemble and wire the crossovers for $105/pr.  If you don't wish to build your own cabinets from scratch, Leland Crooks at Speaker Hardware will provide Baltic Birch flat packs for $149 - $169 a side depending on the quality of the birch veneer.


Review philharmonic speakers


Originally Posted by ScottGView Post

oh, and as a "plug" for Erin (bikinpunk), here is his Youtube website:

(..if enough people watch his videos, he might start making at least something to help with that huge expenditure for the Klippel system.)

Erin's Audio Corner
- YouTube

Thanks for the support.

Unfortunately, to get paid via YouTube it takes millions of views. I think I read somewhere that you get 2 cents per view. Aside from that, YouTube requires 1k+ subscribers (I have about 940) and 4k+ hours watched (I have about 1500) before they run ads. But, maybe in 5 years I can make enough off monetization that I can buy a cheeseburger.

That is why I have a link for donations on my site. That's the only way I can help fund some of this stuff. Even when people send me their speakers, I still sometimes have to come out of pocket to pay for shipping. For example, today I am expecting a set of Bose Series V's. One-way shipping was $115. So it's gonna be about $230 round trip. I've got $60 in my PayPal right now so I'm a bit behind.

Honestly, I just hope that with enough YouTube views that it will be easier for people/companies to be willing to send me stuff to test (not to keep... but hey, if Mcintosh one day wants to send me one of their amps and lets me keep it, I won't complain. LOL). The downside is that after I completed my review of the Jamo S807 and trashed it, no company may ever want to send me anything again.
BMR Philharmonic Assembly

Highlights of this design

Philharmonic BMR Monitors

Designed by Dennis Murphy (Philharmonic Audio), the BMR's have gained a reputation for providing a level of performance previously available only in a premium tower speaker, but at substantially lower price.

Balanced Mode Radiator

The BMR midrange is a flat-diaphragm driver that features greatly reduced breakup and extremely broad dispersion above 2,000 Hz.

The result is smooth, peak-free response with great off-axis performance.

RAAL ribbon tweeter

The RAAL 64-10 tweeter uses a narrow ribbon element for great off-axis response and highly detailed and transparent top end.

This brings out the rich detail of the overtone structure of instruments and is like a crystal-clear window into the sound.

ScanSpeak Woofer

This is the latest iteration of the classic ScanSpeak 8545 woofer that has proven itself over the years as a solid performer.

Bass extension is to an F3 of 34Hz, providing the bass "heft" of a tower speaker in a moderately-sized monitor speaker.

BMR Monitors

The Story
Dennis Murphy developed these monitors based around the Balanced Mode Radiator (BMR) drivers. These flat cone drivers have very smooth response with great off-axis performance. The design became very popular on several audio forums and received a rave review from James Larson of Audioholics.

When Dennis decided to close shop at Philharmonic Audio, he suggested we add the speaker to our offerings since it is a very capable monitor at a very reasonable price. Not wanting to see this design fade away, we decided to do just that.

We're happy to be able to build this model for anyone looking for an excellent 3-way monitor speaker at an attractive cost.


BMR Monitors



BMR's get rave review
"Their bass extension is the best I have seen from a bookshelf speaker, and the bass quality itself is superb...I can’t really pick out a standout aspect of its sound quality because it does everything so well. They are one of, if not the most linear speakers I have yet measured.

...those looking for a high-quality and very high-fidelity loudspeaker that they will end up listening to often should give the BMR Philharmonitors a very close look because for most people I am sure they will absolutely be keepers."

James Larson

Read the Review

BMR Monitors


ModelBMR Monitors
Design3-way ported
TweeterRAAL ribbon
MidrangeBalanced Mode Radiator (BMR)
WooferScanSpeak 18W
Response +/- 3db34Hz - 20kHz
Sensitivity85 dB
Impedance6 ohms
Amplification100 watts
Dimensions8" W x 20" H x 12-1/2" D
Weight32 pounds
Price$2495 per pair in black satin or white finish

$2695 per pair in a standard veneer **

Custom veneer or automotive finishes quoted on request.
* All dimensions in inches.
** Standard finishes include curly maple, curly cherry, curly walnut, oak and straight mahogany. Wood veneers can also be dyed. So, for example, you can have deep rose-red curly cherry or electric blue curly maple. See gallery for examples.

Explore Finishes

Orders or Questions


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