Hi All: Since there is no place on the Philharmonic website to place a review, is it cool to do it here? I wanted to place a review of the Philharmonitors, since unlike other brands (like Ascend), I don’t see a high volume of reviews for this speaker and I thought it might be helpful for those shopping around in the under-1000.00-category. I’m not an audiophile, in the technical sense. But I love to listen to well recorded music played faithfully. Excuse me if I don’t follow the conventional audiophile jargon in my description.
I use the Philharmonitors in a modest two-channel system consisting of:
NAD C370 Int Amp (120 watts per channel)
NAD C 541i CD Player
1980 Aiwa Linear Drive Turntable
Gram Amp Phono pre-amp
I enjoy listening to vinyl (obviously), as available, and listen to a wide range of music from A (Arvo Part - modern classical composer) to Z (Zeppelin). Just depends on mood.
My only other recent experience with fine sounding speakers were a pair of Ascend 170 CBMs (original version), which I owned for 10 years and was thoroughly satisfied with. Way back in 1980 I owned Chapman 3-ways from Seattle, but can’t recall how they sounded. Well, my beloved 170s now reside elsewhere and I needed replacements.
Impressions of the Philharmonitor:
Bass: "Let me turn off the sub…dum, de, dum, dum...Wait, I don't have a sub on this system. What?" The bass isn't just "useable" down to 42Hz (as described on the website), it's tight, clean, punchy and authoritative! I felt my floor vibrate on Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, Dream of the Witches Sabbath. The tympani drums were explosive. On R.E.Ms Murmur, no particular song, turn it up. The bass amp is in the room; the notes sound authentic and you’re immediately in the groove. How about Holy Cole's CD Don't Smoke in Bed; the upright bass hits a low note that, again, I felt through the floor. I know my experience listening to HiFi speakers is limited, but the bass extension is impressive for a bookshelf-type monitor. I don't know what I'm missing by not using a sub, but for my listening pleasure, it doesn't matter. Again, tight, clean, punchy and authoritative.
Mids/Highs: I group these together because I don’t know where the cutoff is relative to what I’m hearing, but I have a feeling they interact closely. The vocals are not as prominent as what I’ve been used to hearing, but I like what I’m hearing. They sound natural, not over emphasized. The tweeter softens the emphasis of the ssssss energy, which I like. For instance, Diana Krall on “All or Nothing at All” (Love Scenes), the ssss energy of her voice has vanished and she sounds more relaxed and natural. But this tempering of the ssss energy does not detract from the tweeters ability to reproduce realistic cymbal crashes or the sense of air around instruments. When Michael Sexton is strumming his steel string guitar on Black Sheep, images of the strings themselves pop into my brain and I "feel" the strum. The sound of the Phils is very open.
Imaging/Soundstage: The soundstage is deep, no question. The music projects from the back walls of the room, not from the speakers. And this goes for all forms of music. The speakers give the illusion that they have nothing to do with the music I'm hearing; they are just objects in front of the stage. Thus, the speakers disappear. The soundstage width seems to vary with the material I listen to and my distance from the speakers. From my normal listening position of under 10 feet, the width of the soundstage is just beyond the speaker spread, but if I can get back to 11-12 feet (small room), the soundstage broadens noticeably.
Summary: Open, with great bass extension, balanced and natural sounding highs and mids. The speakers surprise me with how they can play rock. It’s easy to be impressed with how refined speakers reproduce jazz or folk. But the Phils rock. Play “The Name of the Band is Talking Heads” (2-CD Live) and play it loud. Your room is now the soundstage and you don’t cringe from the “wall of sound” effect or sizzling highs. Effortless and clean. You are now head banging.
I’ll end with a “Thank You” to Dennis for his wonderful sounding speakers. -DyedBlue