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Article: Bookshelf Speaker Comparison


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Thanks for the review @JoshM! This is a really good write-up and describes details that are important to me or that I'd at least be interested in knowing. Of course when I see RAAL true ribbon tweeter, I immediately perk up. My RAAL headphones are amazing. But, they are a single driver "speaker" that doesn't have to integrate with any other driver or drive a room.I wanted to read that the BMR was equally as stunning as the RAAL SR1a headphones, but that's a bit crazy :~)

 

Looking at these three speakers, it's really evident that many roads lead to sonic happiness. Just considering the difference in tweeter technologies alone, these speakers should be metaphorically placed at the tips of an equilateral triangle, all three very far from each other. 

 

Great info Josh. Well done.

Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems

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2 minutes ago, davide256 said:

Thanks for the review! Can you advise what amplifier you used as that can bias the results. Have heard the Philharmonic BMR's before, very nice,

 

 

 

From the review:

 

At various points, I listened to each speaker with both a Schiit Ragnarok1 integrated amplifier and a (previously reviewed) Bryston 4B3 power amplifier controlled by a Benchmark HPA4 headphone/preamplifier. Over time, I also used a variety of DACs with each pair of speakers. Finally, I also listened to each pair of speakers with and without my SVS SB13 Ultra subwoofer (which required different settings, due to each pair’s differing sensitivity and low-end response).

 

However, for this review’s critical listening, I kept things consistent. The subwoofer was switched off, and the evaluation setup included my Berkeley Alpha Reference 1 DAC and the Bechmark HPA4/Bryston 4B3 pre/amp combination. Each pair of speakers was level-matched with pink noise using a Dayton measurement microphone at the listening position. Volumes for each speaker were marked on the HPA4, which allows for precise level-adjustment.

Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems

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Nice write up Josh, I really enjoyed the read.  I'm not surprised the Dynaudio speakers came out on top.  

 

 

Speaker Room: Lumin U1X | Lampizator Golden Gate 2 | Viva Linea | Vinnie Rossi L2 Signature Monoblocks | FinkTeam Kim | Revel subs  

Office Headphone System: Lumin U1X | Lampizator Big 7 updated to GG 2 specs | Viva Egoista | Hifiman HE-1000SE/Audeze LCD-4z

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Hello Josh, 

 

Great review. I also have the Bryston poweramp and Benchmark preamp but my speakers are the Revel Performa M126BE😉

 

And in my room they sound amazing to my ears. I have a large, open and quite lively room but we measured it and nothing causes real problems. 

 

Bass is really tight and punchy. Mids are neutral and i can understand your comments on the mids. They are not really artificial to me but more analytical. They aren't going to add warmth or romance but i don't want that. I want a clean, precise sound. Fast and detailed. I use them to test gear for Alpha-Audio.net. Also i listen to a lot of electronic music and they are great for that kind of music. 

 

I haven't heard the dynaudio however. Will ask for a pair to try out. Seems like they tick a lot of boxes as well. Very intrigued to hear them now. 

 

Thanks again for the great write-up. 

 

Geoff

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7 hours ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

Thanks for the review @JoshM! This is a really good write-up and describes details that are important to me or that I'd at least be interested in knowing. Of course when I see RAAL true ribbon tweeter, I immediately perk up. My RAAL headphones are amazing. But, they are a single driver "speaker" that doesn't have to integrate with any other driver or drive a room.I wanted to read that the BMR was equally as stunning as the RAAL SR1a headphones, but that's a bit crazy :~)

 

Looking at these three speakers, it's really evident that many roads lead to sonic happiness. Just considering the difference in tweeter technologies alone, these speakers should be metaphorically placed at the tips of an equilateral triangle, all three very far from each other. 

 

Great info Josh. Well done.

 

The BMR is the third pair of speakers I've tried with RAAL tweeters, and I honestly hadn't been very impressed by them in the past, but Dennis did something really special with the BMR.

 

3 hours ago, Geoff13 said:

Hello Josh, 

 

Great review. I also have the Bryston poweramp and Benchmark preamp but my speakers are the Revel Performa M126BE😉

 

And in my room they sound amazing to my ears. I have a large, open and quite lively room but we measured it and nothing causes real problems. 

 

Bass is really tight and punchy. Mids are neutral and i can understand your comments on the mids. They are not really artificial to me but more analytical. They aren't going to add warmth or romance but i don't want that. I want a clean, precise sound. Fast and detailed. I use them to test gear for Alpha-Audio.net. Also i listen to a lot of electronic music and they are great for that kind of music. 

 

I haven't heard the dynaudio however. Will ask for a pair to try out. Seems like they tick a lot of boxes as well. Very intrigued to hear them now. 

 

Thanks again for the great write-up. 

 

Geoff

 

Geoff, Wow! I had that *exact* setup! To be clear, I didn't hate the M126Be. They absolutely measure well and, as you said, are extremely fast and detailed, which are both traits I value. But there was just something about their tonality that I couldn't get past. I also found their soundstage to be relatively flat when listening at close range (though their horizontal and vertical dispersion was excellent). Like the Ushers, I think that the M125Be would sound much better listening from a distance in a large room than they sounded in my nearfield monitor setup.

 

3 hours ago, Chorus said:

Josh,

 

This is a very timely article for us. Arizona Audio Video Club on August 27th will have 17 Standmounts here for a public demonstration. See AZAVCLUB.com for details.

 

The Philharmonic is one of them. We capped MSRP at $3,000 so your other two are not.

Did you consider the ATC SCM 11 by chance? 

You mentioned  your 3 "Made the Cut". Love to see the complete list.

 

Your article is particularly well written. As I read your professional background I see why.

 

One thing most reviewers skip is "Low level listening" . For that matter almost never is the SPL level employed even mentioned. 438034497_SpeakerFestFlyer-p1-2.thumb.jpg.ce85c3e0364c3129fc412d06d6dd74b3.jpgThis is wrong for many reasons.

 

You did well in the analysis of Detail vs Tonality. 

 

Presence, Soundstage, Airiness, Separation and most of all "Magic" are my key loves. 

 

I look forward to reading more of your articles.

 

Thanks,

 

Jeff Kalina

Arizona Audio Video

SpeakerFest Flyer - p2-3.jpg

 

Jeff, that sounds like a great event! I haven't heard *any* ATC speakers, though I'd love to. Are you doing head-to-head demos for attendees? If so, I hope you'll survey everyone and post the results. I'd be very curious to see how attendees think the BMR stack up and which speakers come out on top!

 

 

 

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Hello Josh,

 

It's a small miracle those three speakers even work in a near-field situation seeing as they weren't made for that. My Revels will indeed sound boxy and boomy close against the back wall. Why not explore the wonderful world of pro speakers?

 

In my larger room the Revels perform excellent but i understand your comment of the tonality. They are quite dry and kinda matter of fact but i love that about them. 

 

Thanks again for the great write-up. You guys always write elaborate reviews but i still love reading them for start to bottom.

 

Best regards 

Geoff

 

 

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24 minutes ago, Philharmonic Dennis said:

Thanks very much for your excellent review Josh.  I haven't heard the other two speakers in the evaluation, so I obviously can't comment on your comparative observations.  However, I used to greatly enjoy working with Dynaudio drivers back in the day when they were available to the DIY community, and  I have no doubt that the Contour 20i is a superb piece of audio engineering.  

 

Quite frankly, I had never expected the BMR monitors to be used in a nearfield application, but I'm happy to hear that they hold up in that environment.  My primary design goal for the BMR's was realistic reproduction of larger scale works recorded in venues with natural ambiance. My experience (dating back farther than I would like to contemplate) has been that most speakers, and particularly 2-way speakers, tend to compress the sound stage and fail to provide the sense of space that we hear in a live performance.  That explains my choice of very broad-dispersion drivers and crossover points that equalize their radiation pattern.  It's possible that this approach has some negative impact on imaging for smaller scale studio recordings, but I can't think of any way to address that without sacrificing other qualities more important to me.  Fortunately, the loudspeaker market is among the  most competitive in the economy and  no one can complain of lack of choices.  Again, thank you for spending so much time with the BMR's and reporting your impressions in such articulate fashion.   


Hi Dennis,

 

What you’ve achieved with the BMR is remarkable. I bought it knowing that my use case wasn’t typical, and I agree that they’d be even better in a large space, since one of their strengths is their room-filling dispersion. But thanks to your driver and crossover decisions, the BMR has an excellent tonality that come across even in my near-field setup, and it’s fun to experience a sound that’s much larger than I’ve come to expect from a speaker of that size at that distance. I hope more and more audiophiles try the BMR, because it’s price to performance ratio is off the charts.

 

Josh 

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Josh - while my setup is a more conventional stand-mount speaker config - Sonus Faber Venere 2 with Sumiko matching sub. About 8.5’ apart me sitting about 9’ away. I have always been interested in possible swap out for the BMR Philharmonitors - on the very short list I am always considering. If I saw correctly - you played with the Venere 2 as well - even though the application is not identical - would you pick the BMRs in a heartbeat over the Venere’s? Thanks for sharing any feedback.

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On 8/19/2022 at 10:42 PM, Sbleam said:

Josh - while my setup is a more conventional stand-mount speaker config - Sonus Faber Venere 2 with Sumiko matching sub. About 8.5’ apart me sitting about 9’ away. I have always been interested in possible swap out for the BMR Philharmonitors - on the very short list I am always considering. If I saw correctly - you played with the Venere 2 as well - even though the application is not identical - would you pick the BMRs in a heartbeat over the Venere’s? Thanks for sharing any feedback.


Yes. For me, at least, it’s not even close. I thought the Venere 2 had a zingy upper-treble and depressed mids, which was too bad, since I thought they looked great. The BMR is dramatically better, IMHO.

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Very nice review. 

 

I am also glad to see Denis Murphy's speakers in the mix. I know this phrase gest overused quite a bit, but they really are 'giant killers'.

 

My only complaint is, can we audio enthusiasts, please, please, do away with the term 'bookshelf' speakers? Long gone are the days when people are actually putting speakers of this size on a bookshelf. 'Standmount' speakers is more accurate way these types of speakers are being used, and of course, they sound drastically better on stands. 

 

 

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  • 5 weeks later...

This was a great review.

It brought my attention to philharmonic audio that might play a role in a secondary system.

 

I am enjoying my new speakers (Audiovector R3) and they also have a dome tweeter that I found informative but sweet sounding. They have a monitor (R1) that probably would feel at home in that comparison.

 

Monitor loudspeakers have a charm of their own because we can more easily play with their location and made them sonicaly disappear.

 

It reminds me that I should have took the opportunity to buy a used Evolution Acoustics micro one, as that was the best that I found at doing that disappearing act while being extraordinary on voices and acoustics with a great integration of tweeter and ceramic drivers.

https://www.evolutionacoustics.com/loudspeakers/micro-series/microone/?doing_wp_cron=1663845790.1658730506896972656250

 

I will keep an eye on the market for used Micro Ones and Philarmonic Audio monitors...

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