BMR-Philharmonitor Review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 21 Old 07-14-2018, 04:48 PM - Thread Starter
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BMR-Philharmonitor Review (vs. B&W 705-S2 )

I recently acquired a pair of BMR-Philharmonitor 3-way speakers from Philharmonic Audio in search of accurate monitors which can hit low notes without a subwoofer. I could accomplish the same objective with floorstanders but in my opinion, monitors are better at creating more accurate image due to closely positioned drivers.

The Phil-BMR has the highest parts to price ratio among the monitors I considered. I knew my investment goes into quality components rather than brand name or the “research” behind proprietary drivers. All components of the Phil-BMR are commercially available in Parts Express, including the pre-fabricated cabinets. Phil-BMR’s distinction over DIY speakers is its crossover personally designed by the owner and operator of Philharmonic Audio himself – Dennis Murphy. I don’t usually blind-purchase speakers from internet-direct companies (other than an HSU subwoofer years ago), but this experience has increased my confidence. There was constant communication with Dennis Murphy from product inquiry, order placement, queue, deposit, product testing, full payment and up to final delivery. He even sent me the FR plot for each speaker via email prior to shipment.

So how do the Phil-BMRs sound? My reference and current main speakers is a pair of B&W 705-S2. The Phil-BMRs are not going to replace the 705-S2s for movies and multi-channel music duties. The BMRs would be used in a dedicated 2.0 channel system instead. Not that the 705-S2 is bad in stereo mode, but it doesn’t dig below 50Hz. It's not optimal in 2.1 mode either because my subwoofers are situated on both sides of my MLP (main listening position) for best HT experience.

Throughout the test, the Phil-BMRs were placed 7.5 feet apart (in the original location of my 705-S2s) 9 feet away from MLP, with no toe-in applied. Using 24” Monolith stands, the Phil-BMR’s Raal tweeters ended up at the same height as my 705-S2’s carbon dome tweeters on its OEM stands.



The Phil-BMRs are substantially bigger than the 705-S2s but with piano black finish, they blend and disappear (almost) with my other components. Both were driven by Parasound Halo Integrated.

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post #2 of 21 Old 07-14-2018, 04:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Tonal Balance

The Phil-BMR is voiced neutral with no apparent boost in certain frequencies which define a speaker’s character being bright, warm or laid back. These speakers are detailed but not bright. I listened to different genres for hours, and did not experience fatigue. Compared to the 705-S2, Phil-BMR’s upper mid-range is more forward but remains smooth at the top end.

Phil-BMR’s drivers appear to be well-integrated, not one calling attention to itself. Whereas the 705-S2’s decoupled dome tweeter would stand-out at certain notes in some material which I also noticed when I upgraded from B&W 685-S2.

Female voices sound fuller and more realistic with Phil-BMRs. In “Sweet Surrender (DJ Tiesto Mix) by Sarah McLachlan” from “Sarah McLachlan Remixed” album, Sarah’s voice was more audible on Phil-BMRs. When played on 705-S2, Tiesto’s music overwhelmed Sarah’s voice, making her sound like a backup singer. In “Don’t Know Why by Norah Jones” from “Come Away With Me” SACD, Norah’s voice had more texture and overtones when played on Phil-BMR.


Dynamics

Throughout my session, all materials were played at 70 db, as verified on Phonic PAA3 handheld audio analyzer. The Phil-BMRs executed transients very well when called upon by the material. In “Terminator Theme by Erich Kunzel: Cincinnati Pops Orchestra” from “The Great Fantasy Adventure” album, the Phil-BMR handled crescendos and transients alike. The Phonic PAA3 registered 85db at some point, and the Phil-BMR showed no signs of strain. I’ve read posts in this forum recommending against using Phil-BMRs in HT systems. I respectfully disagree. Although, I would still use my 705-S2 in HT because it has better dynamics overall. The 705-S2 presented more slam in the sound effects from the “Terminator Theme” single.

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post #3 of 21 Old 07-14-2018, 04:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Versatility

I played different genres from classical to jazz, pop, rock, metal, bluegrass, trans, techo, edm, and dubstep. The Phil-BMRs can play any type of music I listen to. While not comparable to a system with well-integrated subwoofer, the Phil-BMRs can convincingly play bass-heavy rock, edm and dubstep music. It can accurately reproduce vocals, subtle and loud musical instruments, and synthesizers alike. Every twang in the electric guitar solo in “Aerodynamic by Daft Punk” from “Daft Punk” album, every bells ringing in Pink Floyd’s “Time” from “The Dark Side of the Moon” SACD, sounded very convincing.


Treble Response

Both speakers exhibit good frequency extension but neither sound harsh. Although the 705-S2 sounds warmer, the Phil-BMR is smoother at the top end. No doubt, the 705-S2 has more sizzle at the top end. In “Crash Into Me by Dave Matthews Band” from “Crash” album, the percussion and cymbals are present but not as prominent in Phil-BMRs than in 705-S2.

The Phil-BMR’s treble is more airy over a wider frequency range at the top end. This results to more dramatic vocals especially when recorded close to the mic such as in “Blame It On My Youth by Emilie-Claire Barlow” from “Best Audiophile Voices V” album.

Nobody wants to hear sibilance in movie dialogue. Same applies to music. In “So Nice by Stacey Kent & Jim Tomlinson” from “Best Audiophile Voices I” album, Stacey’s signature diction is borderline sibilant. Both 705-S2 and Phil-BMR reproduced Stacey’s enunciation with great realism but never sibilant, Phil-BMR being smoother between the two.

Eric Clapton’s voice is not exactly husky but in the song “Next Time You See Her” from “Slowhand“ SACD his voice sounds gritty. The 705-S2 reproduced that sound as if It had a bad tweeter (sounded like torn paper) while the Phil-BMR reproduced the same verse with no issue.

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post #4 of 21 Old 07-14-2018, 04:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Bass Response

The Phil-BMR hands down beat the 705-S2 In full range due to the former’s lower bass extension. But even when integrated with subwoofer at 60 Hz LPF crossover point, the Phil-BMR sounds better due to faster and tighter mid-bass. In fact I am more satisfied with standalone Phil-BMRs than with subwoofer integration mostly due to my room setup (with subwoofers placed at the side of MLP).

The Phil-BMRs dig deep into 30hz without sounding boomy. In “Flight of the Cosmic Hippo by Bela Fleck and the Fleckstones” from “Greatest Hits Album”, Phil-BMRs bass output remained texture-rich and musical. This was not possible with the 705-S2 paired with subwoofers which only went loud but had no texture. The Phil-BMRs showed no emphasis on mid-bass (as other speakers do to portray good bass response). In fact when played in full-range, the 705-S2 has louder mid-bass but quickly rolls off at 50 Hz.

At the 7 minute mark in “Giorgio by Moroder by Daft Punk Featuring Giorgio Moroder” from “Random Access Memories” the bass guitar was fast and accurate with Phil-BMRs but muddy with either 705-S2 + subwoofer or stand-alone 705-S2.


Imaging

Both speakers are capable of dead center image but the Phil-BMR casts a bigger image compared to the 705-S2. Bigger image is good when the vocalist and instruments are all projected at the center, but detrimental when images are spread across the soundstage. That’s because a bigger image is harder to pinpoint within the soundstage as explained further in subsequent paragraphs.

I could move my head 1.5 feet side to side at MLP without losing the center image with Phil-BMR. That movement is limited to 1 foot with the 705-S2. Phil-BMR is better in this department.

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post #5 of 21 Old 07-14-2018, 04:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Horizontal Soundstage and Depth

Both speakers are capable of rendering horizontal soundstage from side to side of the speakers. In “Fever by Valerie Joyce” from “The World’s Greatest Audiophile Recording” SACD (2 channel playback), both speakers could pinpoint the singer and musical instruments in precise locations across the soundstage – singer at the center, piano to the left of the singer, percussion to her right but behind her, saxophonist further to the right but in front of the percussion, cello on the rightmost side at the location of the right speaker. Both Phil-BMR and 705-S2 could accurately scale the image size of each instrument – the piano image being the biggest among the instruments, occupying the entire left soundstage. However because the Phil-BMR casts bigger image than the 705-S2, it had harder time representing the depth of the percussion, which was supposed to be behind the singer and saxophonist. The 705-S2 is better in this regard for casting smaller images across the soundstage.

While both speakers could cast soundstage beyond the bounds of the speaker, the 705-S2 casts an extended soundstage wider than the Phil-BMRs. This is exhibited in the first 2 minutes of “Right This Second by DeadMau5 “ from “4x4=12” album.


Vertical Soundstage

Vertical soundstage is hard to reproduce. I use a specific material to demonstrate this – “Summertime Sadness (Acoustic Cover) by Megan Davies and Keelan Donovan”. The ensemble-style recording makes it possible for good speakers to project Keelan’s voice slightly off center to the left - 2 feet higher than the horizontal soundstage while Megan’s voice gets projected at the same level as the horizontal soundstage but slightly off center to the right. Again due to the smaller image size casted by the 705-S2, it could pinpoint exact recording location of both singers while the Phil-BMR (with bigger casted image) could project Keelan’s image only slightly higher than horizontal soundstage. Vertical soundstage does not improve sound quality, but it’s sinister when you hear one.
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post #6 of 21 Old 07-14-2018, 04:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Equipment Used

Parasound Halo Integrated, Sony X1000ES (CD and SACD playback), Sonos Connect (ALAC/M4A playback).

Parasound Halo’s internal Sabre DAC was used for all ALAC/M4A playback via Sonos optical output. Sony’s internal DAC was used for CD/SACD playback. Using Sony’s DAC results to more detailed albeit slightly more edgy sound compared to HINT’s Sabre DAC. Sony X1000ES is terrible for ALAC/M4A playback, that’s why I use Sonos Connect for that purpose.
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post #7 of 21 Old 07-14-2018, 05:00 PM
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Great review and observations. I placed an order for two BMRs just today. Have to hold my expectations in check due to the wait, but reviews like this make it hard.
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post #8 of 21 Old 07-14-2018, 05:11 PM
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Excellent write-up and comparison! Very detailed as well. Kudos to you! Many will find this very useful. Not much out there going to best the BMR's under $3K or more inmho. Thanks!


Cheers,

Phil
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post #9 of 21 Old 07-14-2018, 06:21 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BluesDaddy56 View Post
Great review and observations. I placed an order for two BMRs just today. Have to hold my expectations in check due to the wait, but reviews like this make it hard.

how long is the wait approx?
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post #10 of 21 Old 07-14-2018, 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by NewtoAVBob View Post
how long is the wait approx?
Depends on which cabinets that you go with. The PE cabinets is much sooner whereas the JS cabinets take a bit longer. However, JS cabinets are second to NONE! The PE Cherry cabinets look very good to me as well.


Cheers,

Phil
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post #11 of 21 Old 07-14-2018, 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Gyroscopics View Post
Equipment Used

Parasound Halo Integrated, Sony X1000ES (CD and SACD playback), Sonos Connect (ALAC/M4A playback).

Parasound Halo’s internal Sabre DAC was used for all ALAC/M4A playback via Sonos optical output. Sony’s internal DAC was used for CD/SACD playback. Using Sony’s DAC results to more detailed albeit slightly more edgy sound compared to HINT’s Sabre DAC. Sony X1000ES is terrible for ALAC/M4A playback, that’s why I use Sonos Connect for that purpose.
Thanks so much for the articulate and thorough review. I'm sure everyone appreciates the effort you put into it. The only thing I'm not clear on is how far the speakers were from the rear wall. I couldn't quite tell from the pics. Also, is the retail price of $2,500 for the B&W's a street price, or can they be had for a good bit less? As for wait times, they're running 2-3 weeks for the PE cabinet versions. The Salk custom cabinets take much, much longer--a minimum of 5 months. Once I get the new piano black rectangular cabinets with the crossovers and wiring already installed, turnaround will be practically instantaneous. I'm hoping that will happen sometime in September.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Murphy View Post
Thanks so much for the articulate and thorough review. I'm sure everyone appreciates the effort you put into it. The only thing I'm not clear on is how far the speakers were from the rear wall. I couldn't quite tell from the pics. Also, is the retail price of $2,500 for the B&W's a street price, or can they be had for a good bit less? As for wait times, they're running 2-3 weeks for the PE cabinet versions. The Salk custom cabinets take much, much longer--a minimum of 5 months. Once I get the new piano black rectangular cabinets with the crossovers and wiring already installed, turnaround will be practically instantaneous. I'm hoping that will happen sometime in September.
Dennis, are the Cherry PE cabinets still available? Is that the only option as far as PE cabinets go? I just love the Maple color. IIRC, you told me that PE phased the Maple out, no? As such, if I want Maple then it would be a JS cabinet for me in Curly Maple. Thanks!


Cheers,

Phil
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post #13 of 21 Old 07-14-2018, 08:09 PM
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Originally Posted by audiofreak38 View Post
Dennis, are the Cherry PE cabinets still available? Is that the only option as far as PE cabinets go? I just love the Maple color. IIRC, you told me that PE phased the Maple out, no? As such, if I want Maple then it would be a JS cabinet for me in Curly Maple. Thanks!


Cheers,

Phil
I guess the maple cabinets weren't selling, because PE dropped them a year ago. I always liked them. The current PE cabinets are available in both cherry and piano black.
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post #14 of 21 Old 07-14-2018, 08:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Murphy View Post
Thanks so much for the articulate and thorough review. I'm sure everyone appreciates the effort you put into it. The only thing I'm not clear on is how far the speakers were from the rear wall. I couldn't quite tell from the pics. Also, is the retail price of $2,500 for the B&W's a street price, or can they be had for a good bit less? As for wait times, they're running 2-3 weeks for the PE cabinet versions. The Salk custom cabinets take much, much longer--a minimum of 5 months. Once I get the new piano black rectangular cabinets with the crossovers and wiring already installed, turnaround will be practically instantaneous. I'm hoping that will happen sometime in September.
It's actually 1 ft from the back wall. But the yellow acoustic curtain behind it negates the wall. The 705-S2s can be had for less than the MSRP. I got mine NIB, 20% off.
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post #15 of 21 Old 07-15-2018, 07:48 AM
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Great wright-up. Having owned a set of BMR's for a while now I would say I agree with many parts of it the biggest being the cohesion of the drivers and the bass response. One other thing that the BMR excels at and is important to me is their off axis sound. You can enjoy these speakers from just about any spot in your room. Its very impressive how good they are off axis
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post #16 of 21 Old 07-15-2018, 08:30 AM
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how long is the wait approx?
I believe the PE cabinets will be in the beginning of August, so a week or so after that. I have no clue how many in the queue ahead of me.

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I believe the PE cabinets will be in the beginning of August, so a week or so after that. I have no clue how many in the queue ahead of me.
The PE cabinets are here now. What I'm waiting on is the custom piano black rectangular cabinets I commissioned from over there. The build time was supposed to be 45 days, of which maybe two weeks has elapsed. What I don't know is how long it takes to get them on a boat, across the Pacific, through the Panama Canal, and up to Baltimore.
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Originally Posted by Dennis Murphy View Post
The PE cabinets are here now. What I'm waiting on is the custom piano black rectangular cabinets I commissioned from over there. The build time was supposed to be 45 days, of which maybe two weeks has elapsed. What I don't know is how long it takes to get them on a boat, across the Pacific, through the Panama Canal, and up to Baltimore.
Okay, I misunderstood from our communications. Thanks!
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Originally Posted by BluesDaddy56 View Post
I could move my head 1.5 feet side to side at MLP without losing the center image with Phil-BMR. That movement is limited to 1 foot with the 705-S2. Phil-BMR is better in this department.

this seems awfully small...I have heard some speakers where the center image isnt lost until you move past the outer edges of the speakers...maybe Im not following you.

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post #20 of 21 Old 07-15-2018, 05:42 PM
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Okay, I misunderstood from our communications. Thanks!
Probably not a misunderstanding. The PE cabinet drama just played out a little differently than planned. Originally, they were supposed to get one last order of the tall and thin cabinets in August. Then the arrival date changed to the end of June, but they were different cabinets. The sound is the same in either cabinet. It's purely a matter of taste which you prefer.
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post #21 of 21 Old 07-16-2018, 05:36 PM - Thread Starter
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this seems awfully small...I have heard some speakers where the center image isnt lost until you move past the outer edges of the speakers...maybe Im not following you.
I was talking about the sweetspot for critical listening.
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