AVS Forum Special Member
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Iowa City, Iowa
Mentioned: 18 Post(s)
Tagged: 2 Thread(s)
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Originally Posted by JerryDonahue
We have purchased BMR Philharmonitor loudspeakers and are very satisfied with the tonal quality and musical presentation of these loudspeakers. They have a very wide musical range, presenting jazz, rock and roll, vocalists, and small and large venue classical music with balance (both across the horizontal soundstage and in the high to low tonal range within the music) and beautiful tone quality. We can easily pick out and follow any melodic thread presented in the music. These are three-way speakers and each speaker component (cone or ribbon) is well-balanced with the other parts of the speaker: I was never able to detect a transition.
The sound is presented evenly throughout the room (after you back up several feet from the speakers) with no directional bias. You can consciously choose to listen to either the left or right speaker, but for normal listening purposes the musical source is from the center of the speakers, and across the wall between the speakers. Overall, you can close your eyes and feel that you are in the room with the musicians with these loudspeakers.
Note: our amplifier has 200 watts at 8 ohms of resistance, which is higher than the recommended input for these speakers. I have noticed distortion at a listening level far above where we usually listen to music and movies. This is not an issue for us.
We are happy with these speakers and would purchase from Philharmonic Audio again if we are in need of additional loudspeakers. The BMR Philharmonitors are among the best loudspeakers we have ever heard, and are the best loudspeakers we have heard for our personal requirements.
The purchase of audio equipment for an amateur over the web is a difficult process and we have written this review, in part, for those other amateurs who are searching for high-quality loudspeakers and would like additional perspective. My wife is artistic, but also the more practical and frugal partner in our marriage: she has approved of the speakers in spite of their expense, and will stand in the middle of the living room with her eyes closed, swaying and listening to music.
Background and Research
My wife and I appreciate music but are not audiophiles. We typically listen to one live music performance weekly, usually rock and roll, swing, or big band for dancing, and occasional classical music symphony performances. We started looking for new loudspeakers in the late spring. Loudspeakers are difficult to audition and we became frustrated with options to which we could listen easily. We were looking for high-quality 3-way bookshelf speakers that had good music presentation and could handle the power output of our Moon Aurora amplifier. We became intrigued with Philharmonic Audio because of Dennis Murphy’s experience as a sound engineer and as a musician, and liked his philosophy of delivering high quality music with a neutral loudspeaker platform. I researched Philharmonic Audio on AVForums, the BBB, and communicated directly with several purchasers of BMR Philharmonitor speakers.
It is very uncomfortable for us to buy audio equipment over the web. I became comfortable with the company and with these speakers after these interviews and we decided to purchase.
Order and Delivery
I communicated with Dennis about the differences between the standard and pre-fabricated BMR Philharmonitors and was assured there was no sound or quality difference, so we ordered the BMR Philharmonitors with the pre-fabricated cherry cabinets on August 2nd and received a Fedex delivery of two boxes on Wednesday, August 24th. The speakers were extremely well-protected within the shipment boxes. The curved cherry cabinets are satin finished with a fine wood grain, are understated and elegant, and a nice example of industrial design. These are heavy, sturdy cabinets. The loudspeakers blend right into our living room, which has a lot of cherry and oak in it.
Equipment and Room Layout
The speakers were installed in our living room, which is 18x27 feet in dimension, about 500 square feet. They are installed on the narrow corners of the rectangle. The speaker backs (which have ports) are 4-8 inches from the wall, and I have not noticed any bass distortion or boominess because of the proximity to the wall (with the exception of exceeding the input power capacity of the speakers, mentioned below).
There is a Moon Aurora amplifier (200 watts / 8 ohms / channel) and a Technics turntable to drive the music. I have found that I can overpower the speakers when I increase the volume past a comfortable listening level, and the sound will distort.
Speaker Evaluation – Music
We listened to a variety of music using our Technics turntable, with an analog signal and no digital signal enhancement. The experience was almost completely satisfactory. Some of the vocalists were harsher than we are used to.
Barbra Streisand and Yves Montand, On a Clear Day You Can Hear Forever: Barbra has her usual clear as a bell soprano voice. The chorus was slightly muffled. Yves Montand has some breathiness and a full, open voice with wonderful tenor and alto. The speakers show their high to low balance.
Mussorgsky, Pictures at an Exhibition, Eugene Ormandy directing the Philadelphia Orchestra: We can easily follow all musical themes presented in the music. The low bass violin is completely audible. Horns (trumpet and trombone) and reeds (clarinets) are full-voiced and extremely clear. There is a consistent sweet soundscape presented. All notes are full and clear, and the mid-range in particular is superb and balanced. Perhaps the bass is a little weaker in this presentation. All of the orchestral instruments were present and balanced.
Chet Atkins and Les Paul, Chester and Lester: You can very clearly hear the guitar picking and the harmonic synchronizations between these two great guitarists. The notes are full. Some of the hand picking on the bass guitar sounds a little buzzy. It really sounds like you are in the room with them when listening to this recording.
Wagner, Tristan and Isolde: The string orchestra clearly builds to a beautiful climax, and the violin, viola, cello, and bass violin melodies are cleanly distinguished. The music is full-bodied and clear, and presents across the entire soundscape.
Chuck Mangione, Feels so Good: This is just a brilliant album, and Mangione’s flugelhorn is just presented superbly. It is clear, crisp and (again) full bodied. The supporting percussion and guitar are beautifully presented, and the bass is completely adequate. If you close your eyes you are in the room with the band.
Vicki Sue Robinson, Turn the Beat Around: This is a loud, percussive discotheque song from the 1970’s. Vicki Sue’s voice is a clear soprano, not quite full and a little harsh through these speakers. She has remixed herself into the background and she has a smaller, smoother voice there. The percussion and horns are clear.
Eugene Fodor, Tchaikovsky solos: Eugene Fodor is a virtuoso violinist and he is beautifully presented with these speakers. You can sit back and listen to his bow and finger-work, with clean beautiful transitions and a full-bodied high violin. The mid-range is also presented smoothly here.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Volume 1: Bruce Springsteen has his usual harshness, and James Taylor’s voice was smooth and full-bodied in Woodstock.
V.S.O.P: The Quintet: All of the abstract jazz was presented with clarity and precision. This is another album where you can feel you are in the room with the musicians.
Speaker Evaluation – Movies and Surround Sound
There is an equipment difference when we watch movies with surround sound. We are using a (late 2016 vintage) Sony XBR-55X930D 55 inch television and a Sony UPB-X800 Blue Ray Player (spring 2017). There are 4 Bose 161 speakers in use for surround sound, which are neutral, innocuous, and competent for the background speakers. Most (60-70%) of the sound for movies is directed through the BMR Philharmonitors. We are still adjusting this balance. The television is muted and the center channel is turned off, with those signals being added to the BMR’s. The sound signal goes from the Sony DVD player to the Moon Aurora amplifier to the BMR loudspeakers.
We have watched the DaVinci Code, and the BMR Philharmonitors fill the room with no directional bias, you can sit in anywhere in the back half of the room and not detect a sound difference. We cannot detect the lack of a center channel speaker: the BMR speakers spread the sound universally across the front of the room. The tonal quality is excellent and consistent with the music review above.
We also tested the bass volume using one of the battle scenes from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The bass is completely adequate: I could actually feel the low rumble within the battle scene.
We feel completely in the scene with these speakers when watching movies. We will continue to listen to movies on these speakers, but at the moment do not see the need for either a center channel speaker or a sub-woofer.
Summary and Conclusions
Please go to the beginning of this article for the summary and conclusions.
BMR Philharmonitor Review
Jerry, I have those same speakers and the few times I think i have found a sonic flaw, it turns out to be the recording. I assume with a huge pile of money, there are better sounding speakers out there...but I have no desire to find out!
Set up #1: EMP e5Ti, e5Ci, and EMP e5Bi surrounds, Outlaw LFM1 Plus sub, SVS NSD SB12 sub, Marantz Slimeline 1504 AV receiver
Set up #2: Def Tech SM450, CLR2002, SLS Qline surrounds and EMPtek10i10i sub, Denon 1910 AV receiver
Set up #3: Philharmonics- BMR in a 2.0 system, music only, Yamaha RXV-363 AV receiver