Philharmonic Audio Dennis Murphy, the gent who designed the Salk Sound Song Tower and HT2 loudspeakers, was on hand with his new venture, Philharmonic Audio. While I was cruising through, Paul was demo'ing the Philharmonic 3 ($3500) in his room, fronted by Van Alstine equipment. Featuring RAAL 10D ribbons, a BG Neo-Planar mid-range driver, and rounded out by an 8" ScanSpeak Revelator woofer, the Philharmonic 3 pushes a frequency response from 20 Hz to 30 kHz. I hadn't intended to stay so long in this room, in order to be fair to others at the show, but with that first few notes from John Williams' Star Wars (Main Theme), I was riveted to my seat. Big fan of orchestral music? Say hello to the Philharmonic. Philharmonic? Please take a bow. An outstanding debut!
Before diving into this review, I want to thank everyone who directed me toward Philharmonic speakers, and especially express my gratitude toward those who directed the Philharmonic speakers back toward me. (They know who they are and they know what they did! )
I’ve been craving a Dennis Murphy designed set of loudspeakers since I heard my first one. I must admit, though, that the first pair I auditioned was an amazing product by Jim Salk in collaboration with Dennis, a Salk SoundScape 12 set. (Before being officially named, they were called simply the HT4’s.) The SS12’s were one amongst many pairs of speakers we were able to place into our GTG back in 2009. We got to do some fairly thorough comparing during that meet (including other Salk’s at subsequent meets). Perhaps 15 pairs of speakers were available for in-depth auditioning that weekend.
To me, the main attraction with Dennis’ speakers was the coherency I detected from the bottom end to the very top of their respective frequency ranges. Add to that, the SS12 included a phenomenal tweeter, new to me at that time, the RAAL. This little (but expensive) tweeter was by far the finest HF driver I’d ever heard. The other Salk speakers I heard during that GTG, while all just a bit different, shared an obvious and common heritage. All were voiced similarly with crossover designs by some guy named Dennis Murphy. And of course, Jim Salk’s cabinetry was beyond beautiful. If you haven’t seen them in person, you’ll be in for a treat when you finally do. As a myriad of others have said, pictures don’t do his craft justice. I lusted after every Salk speaker I saw that weekend.
I met Dennis at our GTG the following year. I took the opportunity to beg him to optimize an old JBL center speaker I had…a successful effort to improve the performance of the JBL to better mate with my renowned Aerial 7B main HT speakers. (We had space limitations that precluded the use of the Aerial CC3. The JBL is still a gem of a piece in our system.)
I never had the resources to acquire the Salks that I wanted. Enter Philharmonic Audio. As I understand it, Dennis wanted to put out a quality performing speaker that was within reach of po’ dudes like me. Cabinetry investment was minimized…but performance maximized. Oh was the performance ever maximized. I was prepared to like the Philharmonics, but never as much as I ended up loving them.
I had a joyous Thanksgiving by having a pair of Phil 2’s on route to me. Three of the four modules (1 bass, 2 mid/tweeter) arrived on a Thursday. Ack. Where was the other bass module? ‘Twas frustrating not being able to set them up. (Although I did manage to get in a lot of single speaker A/B comparisons to one of our Aerial speakers. More on that, later.) It seems FedEx likes to send things all around the country, willy-nilly. Having taken the low road around the U.S., the fourth box finally arrived on the following Monday and I was in business!
The Chinese made cabinet is not going to win any beauty contests. It’s a bit of a plain-Jane. But in person, it has a nicer finish that I expected from seeing photographs. Strangely, my wife and I both prefer the Phils’ looks in our setup over the much more expensively appointed Aerials. Perhaps it was the bad match of the Aerials cherry veneer along side the oak entertainment console. Maybe it was the shape. Still, I’d imagine that the Phil 3 cabinet, with its custom construction and veneer selection would be a nice step up in a beauty contest.
The first A/B tests were conclusive. The Philharmonic presentation was much more coherent top to bottom. Keep in mind that the Aerial 7B’s MSRP’ed at $6100/pair. The Phils’ RAAL gives such a wonderfully clean and flat FR delivery of the high frequencies, there was no way the laid back, “musical” sound (and gentle ringing) of the Aerials’ titanium tweeters could be preferred. When playing the Phil, one can hear the real twinkle of bells, the crispness of the high hats, the air between the sounds…in fact, the accuracy and effortless reality of all HF musical instruments. Because of the Aerials’ twin 7” ScanSpeak woofers, they might have had a slight edge in moving air at the bottom frequencies. But it is my opinion that the transmission line design of the Phils makes up in accuracy what it might lack in loud volume bass punch. (John Atkinson’s “slow bass” opine, aside. JA gave the Aerial 7B’s some of the finest comments and measurements ever seen on Stereophile…and I preferred the bass of the Phils.) The Phil is NOT lacking in bass punch. I say this only as a comparative comment with another expensive, non-TL speaker. In fact, I have another pair of speakers with SB Acoustics midbass drivers. I think they’re very good, very well designed drivers. That said, I wouldn’t mind hearing the Phil 3’s with their 8” ScanSpeak Revelator woofers.
My hopes and expectations were fulfilled. The Phils became the centerpiece of our entertainment system. And the Aerials? After trying to figure out how two decrepit old people were going to move these 114 lb. beasts, we considered selling them. But I still enjoy their presentation. So they have a new place in our home. The missus and I wrestled the spiked beasts into their new location. LOL, they just became the most expensive computer speakers around these parts. They sound great for my office and computer work…although I do have a decent cdp/amp/soundcard setup driving the things. The Aerials have a tremendous and deserved reputation as quality musical speakers. They are built like tanks and use expensive, quality drivers made to the specs of well-known designer, Michael Kelly. But the Phils just did everything better, with the noted exception of the bass drivers blowing more air for loud music. (WAY loud music was the only way I could tell a difference.)
So how do the Phils sound? Here are my notes from a variety of music I put through them. (Note that they are also great HT speakers, and easily as dynamic as the Aerials they replaced.
Philharmonic Audio Philharmonic 2 Loudspeaker Review
When setting the Phil 2’s up for auditioning and final system placement I played a bit with the midbass/tweeter cabinet stuffing and placement within our room. I started with the mid/tweeter consoles filled with the rock wool, and kept pulling a quarter of it out, while playing the same cuts over and over. I also started with the speakers out in the room quite a bit, even though I knew the CEO of my household operation wouldn’t allow for such placement. The placement you see in the pics was…ah…mandated. In our room, I much preferred the upper cabinets to be ~half-full (half-empty? ?). Grills were removed from the upper cabinets and diffuser pads were used on the RAALs. That setup allowed for a nice balance of soundstage depth, imaging and acoustic richness. While the speakers were out in the room, I was absolutely amazed at the soundstage width. You might notice that I’ve become a big fan of these speakers, and perhaps use glowing terms to talk about their fantastic performance. I unabashedly admit that these speakers have charmed the socks off me. But the one aspect above all others that impressed me was the width of the soundstage. I don’t exactly know how it’s done, but the music from some of my audition cuts extended WAY outside the speakers. I’ve had speakers provide the illusion of width beyond the cabinets before. But the Phils put instruments and voices incredibly beyond the boundaries of what I have ever experienced before. ‘Twas a wonderful experience.
SevenMoore by SevenMoore
I began with this rare gem because it is one of my favorite albums. You may not be aware of it, as it had very modest circulation. If you own one, congratulations. The only cd I have been able to find (other than mine) is available on Amazon/Ebay for 200 bucks!! The band includes Marshall Tucker graduates, Jerry Eubanks and Paul Riddle. This is an album with some sweet country rock and dual lead guitars. The dueling guitars are not like the Outlaws or Skynyrd. SevenMoore’s music is much smoother, melodic, and well recorded. If you can find a good download of this, the band’s lone album, get it! You won’t be disappointed. Great voices, musicianship, song writing, and as mentioned, it’s very well recorded and edited. The cut used in the audition is named 406 Whisnant St. Why is it called that? Dunno. I chose this cut because of the great bass test that it provides as well as a run through most of the frequency range. Bass is clean and striking in a good speaker…dull and odd sounding in a not-so-good speaker. I’ve heard it in plenty of both. The bass line presentation by the Phil is the best I’ve heard this cut sound. Certainly there are other speakers out there that can reproduce these notes as elegantly. But from my experience, they would cost you a LOT more money. The sweetness of the bass singer’s voice and Winter-night-clear cymbals round into a great experience.
Sibelius Symphony No. 3 by the London Symphony Orchestra
I chose this piece from my modest classical collection for its complete range of emotion. In this symphony, Sibelius gives us the soft, peaceful, and soulful points counterposed with highly charged, dynamic, lifting and powerfully emotive music. The Phils again handled the piece brilliantly. I found no congestion in the busier, complex elements of the symphony. Power and dynamics were without complaint. In fact, this piece provides a great rendition of the clean, straight-line power response of Dennis’ design. I unabashedly admit that the 3 dimensionality of the soundstage imaging was nothing short of amazing. One can hear the location, anchored in place, of virtually every instrument in the orchestra. And a very wide and deep soundstage it was!
New Favorite by Alison Krauss + Union Station
This album, and the title cut specifically, are more or less a staple of the breathy female vocalists favored by many high quality speaker aficionados. I’ve listened to this piece extensively on my old Aerials, and the Phils put them in a lesser place in the world of class audio. The audio presence of the Phils and Aerials are equivalent, but the RAAL tweeter illuminates the lovely harmonics and highs from this lonely piece. Overall, there was a much greater feeling of Alison’s presence in my room than has ever been the case with the Aerials. I love this entire album more than ever, now.
Romanza by Andrea Bocelli
Most of you surely know of this unbelievable man and voice. An Italian blind (from a football injury) attorney, he has a voice to shame the angels. Powerful, huge, effortless and controlled. In the song, Time To Say Goodbye (Con Te Partiro), Bocelli duets with Sarah Brightman, another classical luminary (and said to be the richest classical artist in the world). The song, if anything, is powerfully emotive and beautiful in music and lyrics. This is another piece, that when my wife and I closed our eyes, could really see them in our living room, singing just for us. If it’s in the source, the Phils will play it with ultra accuracy. The song’s emotion touched us more than usual.
Time Well Wasted by the Freddy Jones Band
This is another under-the-radar band that produces some terribly entertaining music. This particular cd is, in my opinion, a very well recorded live album. If your toes don’t tap while listening to this cd, then your toe tapper is broken. Take The Time is the upbeat cut that I am most familiar with and listen to a LOT. (It’s also a little motivational.) Commanding guitar work tiptoes from mild to symphonic. All instruments (as in all of these audition songs) sounded exactly like I know they should. (I’m an old musician of lost and of minimal talent.) The Phils presented the song in all its toe-tapping delight. The mids are as clean as any I’ve heard. I recall someone else on this thread, or perhaps over on Audioholics, saying that the BG NEO-8 driver is the secret weapon of the Phils. I whole-heartedly agree. (The RAALs don’t count because everyone already knows what monster performers they are.) The Accutons are dynamite mid drivers, but don’t underestimate the performance of the NEO.
Booker's Guitar by Eric Bibb
Eric Bibb is a modern folk-blues artist. His guitar work is wonderful. For his voice...think a little cleaned up Muddy Waters with great recording. This album is mesmerizing in its intimacy. There is no doubt that Bibb was in my living room singing A-Z Blues! The Phils show off to a fine extent the richness of the guitar work. The RAAL's presentation of the harmonica work was nothing short of phenomenal.
Lastly, if you’re still with me in this long-winded report, I have been asked two questions that should be answered.
FSIMMS asked about my wife’s experience with the Phil 2’s compared to Jim Salk’s HT4’s and the wonderful time she had back at the GTG. Well, I just asked her straight away, and was a little surprised by her answer…not so much her opinion, but her knowledge of audio that she apparently picked up by osmosis from hanging around me and my bud, AverageJoe. She recognized that both models have such clean and clear presentations, that even with her hearing loss issues, she could hear music in ways she hasn’t for years. So in that regard, yes, they are very similar. But she also recognized the differences in acoustics of our living room and the sound-controlled HT room at the GTG. That room was designed for maximizing acoustic delivery. Here…not so much. She said she liked them both very much and loves having these Phils much more than the Aerials, of which she has more direct and immediate comparative experience. Additionally, at her request, we NEVER listened to broadcast television (DirecTV) with the Aerials. Now she insists upon playing the tv (and all sources, except surround movies) in stereo using our Yamaha RX-A3010 receiver through the Phils. For the first time in seemingly forever, I’m not answering “What did he say?” over and over during a show. Clarity!
I’ve also been asked about my experience with the Phils vs. Salks. I’m a firm believer in A/B’ing any pairs of speakers to honestly and directly form comparative opinions. I haven’t had that luxury, unfortunately. But I can say the following: all of the Salks I heard, with perhaps one exception, were voiced with a crossover design by Dennis. There is most certainly a family resemblance among all of those speakers. Dennis’ trained ear has given him the ability to duplicate, over and over, the requirements for an accurate, beautifully clean power response speaker. I mentioned that he had optimized my JBL center. It is an EC35…a 3-way with titanium laminate tweeter. It had a terrible FR but had, I thought, potential. When Dennis was done, I honestly believed that this humble JBL outshined the Aerials. Voices sounded like they were supposed to. Mids were cleaner and less ringy. Bass was smoother.
Here is a look at the before and after measurements of the speaker. Nice, eh?! And it mates, timbre-wise, pretty well with the Phils.
So, I’ll finally answer the question as best I can…though not having been able to directly compare the Phils to the SoundScapes. There is much more completeness and cabinet beauty in the SS’s. The SS12’s I heard had more visceral bass, but that’s to be expected. The Phil’s 8” SB Acoustics bass driver does well, but obviously won’t keep up with the 12” SS12 driver with double passive radiators. I also really enjoy the bipolar nature of the open-backed mid sections of both models. But the RAAL in the SS12 has a boundary compensation switch which makes it a bit more positioning flexible. The Phil and the SoundScape are different, but are relatives in the same family. And both, in my humble opinion, are at the top of their respective classes.
I have the Philharmonic 3 for coming to a week. I'm glad the sturdy packaging for the woofer box saved me from a need to verify if Dennis can do a long distance warranty service. They are indeed very well built. Given that I own a pair of Phil 3, my opinion is certainly biased. I'll also point out some of my objective findings as well during the search. My impression is as follows:
Phil 3 are indeed awesome! They look gorgeous. I echo the findings of the other reviewers. They have extremely good clarity, detail, wide dispersion and soundstage. The ML-TL design with the revelator woofer packs an impressive range of very tight bass. I am extremely impressed with the amount of detail and the accuracy in the overall representation. Like the other reviewers, I was able to hear the longer transient vibrations of drums after being struck or the subsequent vibrations of a plucked string instrument being accurately and distinctly presented. Vocals are also accurately and nicely blended with the instruments. Everything is simply well blended and in harmony. Accurate, detail and pack lots of punch!!
Below are my objective findings:
Ribbon tweeters tend to beam wide horizontally while narrow vertically. I noticed this on the only two speakers with ribbons I have previously auditioned but not so on the Raal used on the Philharmonic. Taking into account for the slightly tilted front, I noticed that the only very high frequencies roll of at ~40 degree angle and ~3' from the Raal, and is very gradual. I have tried with and without the foam and the difference is not very significant. It has better vertical dispersion with the foams.
The Phil 3's power is very balanced among the 3 drivers. At fairly low sound level, I can hear the woofer producing its fair share of sound. They remain well balanced, poised and well behaved as the volume increases. I didn't pick up distortion or drivers fading out at relatively high volumes.
I only have a Marantz sr6005 receiver in a 2.0 setup in a relatively large room and originally thought I needed more power due to its relatively low sensitivity. At moderate listening levels, my setup is doing just fine. Movies tend to play softer than music. I have cranked it up on a few occasions and there is still sufficient headroom. Besides, there's always the bi-amp option for an additional 3db that I have yet to do.
To sum it up, I can feel that the philharmonic 3 speakers accurately convey the soul and spirit of the composer / performer rather than the speaker designer. Dennis has indeed created a masterpiece! Thank you Dennis for the Phil 3!
It's certainly hard to beat at the current price point for this level of performance.
Philippines here, couple of mountain passes and bad roads away from Manila, lucky the packaging was top notch. I've been listening to the 3's for almost a month now, let me share my impressions.
My first marvel was obviously the completeness of sound. Listening to them makes me very happy.
First impression: musicality. Those enormous cabinets make me think of the soundboard of a piano or a guitar. Just a simple guitar or lute recording sounds much more complete. To hear Ted Hawkins strumming and singing is like having him here in the room. One of my favourite albums is Birth (1969), by The Peddlers (now only available on the How Cool is Cool collection). Hammond, bass and drums. There's a track, Lockshen Pudding, that I used to dismiss as the obligatory track for soloing, which many albums had around 1970. I used to skip it. But now it's a joy to the ears, because I hear the full musicality of the drums.
Second thing: dynamics. I like the many songs Emma Kirkby recorded with Anthony Rooley on the lute. But listening used to be a bit frustrating because if I set the volume on a level to listen to the voice, it was hard to hear the lute. Not anymore.
And then clarity, detail. I used to prefer the sound of my headphones (AKG Q701). I use the headphones much less now.
I read somewhere that those 'big fat dots' are made of sorbothane, so I got 2 sheets of 5 by 5 sorbothane for $30 at Amazon, I put some plastic below it because I read it can stain the surface. It's even possible to slide the speakers on the wooden floor a bit to experiment. I took out most of the polyfill from the right cabinet, because there's plenty of room on the back. Left a bit more in the left one, since there's a cabinet 3 feet behind the upper cabinet.
My set-up: computer, ethernet cable to squeezebox classic. Coax to Van Alstine Vision DAC/preamp combination. RCA to Crown XLS1500 (thanks again Monkish54 for the recommendation. Sound is very clear and even if I put my ear to it I can't hear any fan noise). I'm no connoisseur of DAC's, my only experience was to audition a Moon 300D and a Dacmagic in a hifi store. The Moon impressed me with tight bass, but left me wanting in precision of mids and highs. The Vision DAC is more all round to me, very nice, and does a good job on the soundstage; and I got a preamp in the bargain for less than the price of that Moon. Only disadvantage is low gain from the preamp when you go through the DAC; and while you can connect a headphone and I even get some soundstage there, there's no separate volume control for the headphones so I can't use it simultaneously with the speakers, which would be way too loud.
Originally Posted by avdigger
(2) Now I found I have more demands on the record quality of the source CDs. Good recordings sound much better thru Phil2, and bad recordings sound worse than before. I guess this is so called accuracy of speakers.
Sure, there is music I will listen to in another room. But I wanted more detail so that's a price I'm happy to pay. There's also music that disappoints because the lows are lacking. Example: John Hiatt's 'She loves the jerk', great little song but there's no resonance of the guitar in the recording so it only comes from the upper cabinet. You get spoiled with speakers like this.
How I got to these speakers:
In 1975 I bought a Rotel RX-802 receiver, which is a gem. I paired it with Ultralinear speakers which I bought 2nd hand from a friend. Not bad, certainly not the best. Been listening happily ever after with a pair of Wharfedales on the back (the Rotel can simulate quadrophony), I was too busy working to bothered about details of speaker placement and such. Until last year, the Rotel's volume control needs replacement which I still need to hunt for, I bought an Outlaw RR2150 receiver (which turns out decent but way overhyped in the reviews) with Outlaw bookshelf speakers with the plan to get a subwoofer later, and those headphones. Then I started noticing things through the headphones that I didn't hear through the speakers, and I got curious. Would there be speakers that could give me that much detail? Probably not, but you never know. The guy who recommended the Outlaw uses them with Axiom M80. Best review about those I found here
Ah, Newtronics, out of production, I found a pair for sale in Europe but had no way to ship them here. Reading around about other speakers I got to the Salk songtowers, many happy owners and I saw you can get them with RAAL tweeters at a price. Ah, read about it, that's it! And by searching those I stumbled on the Philharmonics and couldn't believe what I saw. I asked Dennis for a pair of 2's. Then I showed my wife what I was doing and she declared me crazy. Those black monsters, in this room? I said we can have the painter spray them, tape off the speakers. Crazy again, you better get those with the veneer. And well, I wouldn't mind all that extra bass and now that they're here that sure is bliss. No thought about subwoofer at all (I'll get one later to pair with the Outlaws and Ultralinears, driven by the Rotel in an open terrace room).
Choosing veneer was a bit hard, whenever I saw something I really liked it turned out to be really expensive. So I went for standard, flat cut cherry. It's very light for cherry but it will probably get some tan over time.
Men profess to be lovers of music, but for the most part they give no evidence in their opinions and lives that they have heard it. ~Henry David Thoreau
Mr. Thoreau was most certainly correct. That is until I heard the Salon 2. My experience with the Salon 2 revealed to me what a musical experience can be, and what a musical experience should be. That was the day I heard music for the first time. Live, unamplified music is great, but a sufficient recording can be so much more intimate. I enjoy few things more than listening to a good recording and feeling like the artist is performing for me. After the Salon 2 I went on to listen to the KEF Blade, TAD Compact Reference One, and TAD Reference One. While I enjoyed all of these top performers very much, and I think the TAD Reference One is the most advanced, I have a special love for the Salon 2. The Salon 2 was the first speaker I ever heard that truly moved me, and it is the cheapest of the 4. With 99.99% of the greatness of the TAD R1, I believe it has a great price to performance ratio (comparatively speaking). Unfortunately, like most of you, (curse you ADTG) I don’t have $20,000 to purchase a pair of speakers.
What I did have, was ~$2,000, a desire to get Salon 2 caliber sound, and a willingness to wait until I found it. Trying to push a $20,000 speaker into a $2,000 budget is no easy task. Somehow Dennis Murphy managed to do it! I call the Philharmonic 2 the Studio 1.5. The Philharmonic 2 has all the detail and accuracy of the Salon/Studio 2, with a few less bass drivers. If you want deep, accurate bass, and overall neutrality and accuracy, these are most definitely the speakers for you! The RAAL tweeter is absolutely amazing. It is incredibly accurate and detailed. It has been quite a while since I have heard the TAD R1, so I won’t compare it to the R1’s Beryllium tweeter, but when I first heard the TAD R1 (the day after I heard received my Philharmonic 2) I didn’t think the RAAL gave up anything to the Beryllium tweeter.
I could go on about the tracks I listen to, and the drivers Dennis chose, but it has all been said before. The main point I want you to take out of this blurb, is the Philharmonic speakers are probably the best value in loudspeakers today and should most certainly be considered by the budget-minded audiophile looking for world-class sound quality. The Philharmonic speakers allow you to truly hear music.
*I purchased the Philharmonic 2s back when the Chinese cabinets were available so it was a bit cheaper. The Philharmonic cabinets are now being made by a local cabinet shop with your choice of finish.
Model: Philharmonic 2
Suggested Retail Price: $2,000
Description: A 3 way speaker with a open baffle midrange and a transmission line woofer
Review by F Robert Simms
The best $2k speakers are the Philharmonic Twos which are made by Dennis Murphy who is retired. Dennis has always been searching for a speaker that would produce what he heard on the concert stage when he plays his Viola with the Washington Philharmonic Orchestra. I think he pretty much nailed it with his new Philharmonic Two! Dennis buys cabinets which are custom built to his specs. By himself, he builds speakers for his customers. He donates $50 of his meager profit to the Washington Philharmonic Orchestra. Paul Kittenger designed the transmission line woofer section.
I have Salk SoundScape 10s that were also voiced by Dennis Murphy. One of my best friends had serious speaker envy. My friend said that my SS10s were the first speakers that played music that moved him emotionally. He didn’t know music could do that. When I found out that Dennis Murphy had a similar design at a much reduced price I told my friend and he immediately told me that he wanted to buy a pair. I told him that they wouldn’t have my SS10’s museum grade finish nor their very deep bass response, but that didn’t make any difference to him. He said that he was mainly interested in the midrange. I was a little bit surprised as he is very big on style. This review is of his pair.
I was pleasantly surprised by the nice build and satin black finish of the cabinet on the Two. It looks better than the pictures that were posted and seems to be built solidly. It passes the knock test even though it is not a particularly heavy. My friend was very pleasantly surprised by how nice the cabinet was.
The Twos are a pseudo open baffle speaker. In a live performance some of the sound radiates from the performer to the surroundings and bounces back to listener. The upper chamber of the Twos has an open back to allow the sound to hit the front wall and surroundings like a live performance. This adds a natural bloom or ambiance to the performance. Open baffle and panel speakers usually have an overly large image. The Twos have fairly deep walls or wings on the upper chamber which allows the image to be of a more lifelike size. The back ambiance wave goes directly back to the wall and bounces directly to the listener just like a live performance. If the speaker is too close to the wall then the reflected wave can interfere with the sound coming from the front of the speaker. This creates an uneven frequency response that is called comb filtering. To minimize that effect, the front of the speaker needs to be at least 4 feet from the back wall. This is true for all open baffle and panel speakers. Since the speaker is 2 feet deep the back of the speaker needs to be at least a couple of feet from the wall for best results. Absorbing or diffusing the front wall’s direct reflection can make closer placement feasible if absolutely necessary.
I loosely filled the top chamber full of poly-fil and I had pinpoint imaging. I could almost see the singers in front of me. The image was totally realistic. I removed about half of the poly-fil and I lost the pinpoint imaging, but I gained a glorious bloom. The music became much livelier. There was still enough stuffing for a soft natural image. In a live setting, you rarely get a pinpoint image. Only in a heavily treated studio do you get that. My friend still said that he felt like he could reach out and touch the singers. I left the top module half full the remainder of the review as the music was so much more exciting.
The Twos are very forgiving and musical. With ambiance reflections old 40’s and 50’s mono recordings are very full and musical. With good modern recordings, the illusion of a live performance is palpable. Somehow the Twos get the timber of instruments correct and do it with a sense of finesse. The pianos are woody, full and sparkling. The brass sounds like brass with all the brashness they should have. The strings are woody, full and sweet. The drums are full and you can hear the round tones of the taught drum heads. The cymbals and bells are metallic and are clean and clear. Both male and female vocals are among the finest that I have heard. The Twos seem to be able to make singers sound like real people and not musical instruments. Playing an orchestra can give a strong illusion that you are right there. Most of my limited classical CD collection is dated, but listening to the Classical Music channels on Cable, many of the pieces sound fabulous. I don’t think I have ever heard a speaker that has nailed the tone of so many different instruments. I have heard speakers that have gotten one or two individual instruments a bit better but not so many of the instruments.
I played Louis Armstrong on It’s a Wonderful World and Louis was recessed. I pushed the phase button of my preamp and Louis stepped forward nicely. My receiver didn’t have a phase button so I rotated the banana plugs on both my speaker cables to reverse the phase.
Jennifer Warnes Way Down Deep was amazing. The drums and Jennifer Warnes were up front. The drums vibrated the room and were tight. Jennifer was intoxicating. The backup vocal was behind her and the guitar was further on back. The violin was off in the distance.
The Twos have a very large sweet spot. In my setup it is about 3 or 4 feet wide and falls off very slowly from there. The speakers have such a wide dispersion that most of the room has the same tonal response. The image is free from grain, wide, deep and completely detached from the speakers. It is not an open window to the performance. It is an open porch.
Madisound sells these RAAL tweeters for $389 apiece and at that price they are worth every penny. They are arguably the finest tweeters that you can buy for any price. The RAAL, on the Twos, completely disappear. But, maybe it is just because I am 65 years old.
The midrange and treble match seamlessly as you might hope from them both being ribbons. This is the first midrange driver that I have heard that can come close to keeping up with the RAAL in clarity.
The Twos are among the most transparent speakers that I have heard. They do this and still manage to sound very musical without being warm. They remind me most of the way an electrostatic speaker can sound transparent and still remain very musical. Like an electrostatic speaker, they play well at lower volumes too.
The Twos sound great with my cheap digital XR70 Panasonic receiver. Maybe that is because of the musicality, efficiency and the easy load on the digital amps by the Twos. The clarity of the Panasonic is put to good use. Still, my Calypso and McCormack are more engaging.
I tried the Twos with my 30 watt Fisher 500C tube receiver. As Dennis suggested, I moved the jumpers to their 4 ohm taps. I ran my Aesthetix Calypso preamp directly into the amp section of the Fisher. I can tell it is an antique but the 30 tube watts drove the speakers well. I loved the total lack of compression that the tube amp had. The bass was even tight.
For music, you might be able to get by without a sub. The Twos go down to 32 Hz and that is low enough for most music. The bass sounds clear clean and tight. The double bass on Splanky by Christian McBride sounds deep and clean with a lot of character.
The sound effects on TV shows like The Mentalist can have a lot of shock power and the Twos soften the percussion a bit. Adding a sub crossed over at 80 Hz pretty much fixes the problem though. Movies would also improve with a sub.
I know people want me to compare the Twos with my SoundScapes. With the huge price/quality differential it would be unfair to make a detailed comparison however; I will make a few observations. As might be expected by a similar design by one of the same designers, they have similarities in sound. Still, the more expensive SoundScapes are better in all areas except for two. I like the transparency and musicality of the Two’s midrange driver better than the Accuton in the SoundScape. The Accuton has its charms too, so it may not be a clear call. I also prefer the higher efficiency of the Twos. There is no free lunch as the Twos trade almost 10 Hz of bass extension for their higher efficiency. Dennis has a more expensive model Three that has more bass extension at the cost of lower efficiency.
Who shouldn’t buy these speakers? The only people that I can think of are people who like to play rock at ear damaging levels. They will play at realistic levels (i.e. loud) but not comfortably at 90+ db levels at 12 feet. Crossing the Twos over to a sub at 80 Hz allows a few more decibels. Of course, to get the maximum from this speaker you need to experiment with position and stuffing. Still, if you didn’t want to bother with that, you could just loosely stuff the midrange chamber and just treat them as normal speakers.
I have attended three RMAF shows and have heard most of what is out there. In comparison to the best speakers, the Twos give a taste of the highest levels of performance. Of course I am not talking about the bass extension or the ability to drive a large ballroom. For a $2k speaker that is absolutely incredible performance.
Dennis Murphy's Philharmonic 2
By Robert Woods (woodsart)
For a few years I have been looking for an affordable great sounding theater package, since I have owned onkyo, infinity and the WAF-1s. And, as my evolution process progressed, I discovered many aspects about speakers. I learned the 3 fronts are most important and auditioning is important....or is it. (Still learning).
But, first I should say I heard the Phil 1 and 3s before I made my final decision.
My most favorite speakers before the Phil2s, that I owned, were the Infinity Primus line of speakers. I read a lot about them and took the plunge, was not sorry. Amazing sound designed by an amazing company. Perfect entry level speakers for theater....I called them the High End Entry Level speaker system and these were a purchase sight un-seen/unheard!
Also, the CAOW1 Monitors, a very, very, nice speaker indeed, a Dennis Murphy original, of course.
Then came the little WAF-1s, liked them so much got another pair and they are still playing a role as my surrounds in the theater.
Some of my speaker auditions included......Cambridge audio monitors, Wilson audio monitors/towers, Salk Soundscape (just listened at Dennis'), Salk Songtowers, GR Research N3 towers and the N2X Monitors, Swans, the Philharmonic 1 and the Philharmonic 3. There are others, but, unfortunitely I have lost my list. These are all good speakers, very good speakers and excellent speakers.
MODEST EQUIPMENT/LISTENING AREA:
My equipment is quite modest and includes an Onkyo 806 receiver/Emotiva XPA-5, Panasonic Blu-ray player and a Sansung 50" plazma TV. Internet provider is Comcast with Xfinity. My sub is GR Research DIY 12" Servo.
Most of the review includes, not limited to, Pandora Internet streaming, since my current CD collection somewhat sparse and located in the PC/Office area where the Philharmonitor 2s are.
The room size is approximately 20 X 24, hardwood, with 9' ceilings. I have no room treatments.
The PHILHARMONIC II SPEAKERS:
When Dennis emailed and said they were ready, we had a death in the family, so I had to postpone til the next weekend, so my wife and took advantage to make it a weekend.
I must say Dennis is very hospitable indeed.....lunch and a dog for entertaining!!! What more could one ask?
However, he was worried that there was not enough room packed in their original boxes, so I had to forgo those in order to get the Phillys home with one trip. But we did it and they all fit nicely and made it home without a scratch....Dennis knows how I am about that!
The problem was carrying them inside....ugh, very heavy, but I managed. I could see the look on Gail's face as I hooked them up. But I told her we will work the aesthetics out and we did.
They sounded as expected and it was love at first sight/ear or two......end review!!!! He He......just kidding!
I will attempt to give my thoughts on some songs that stood out....but first I will say one of my pet peeves is harsh/unnatural..... Piano/violin straining on one's ears. And, I think I speak for the most of us.
And, in an orchestral setting.....individual notes/instruments/voices rather than a jungle of sound just ringing distortion!!!! Whew, glad that is over!
First, "Lake Erie Rainfall" by Jim Brickman.......The intro with keys hitting the strings was very lifelike, clear and non-distorted. Some hard hits on the strings one could actually hear hammers hitting on the higher notes. Me likey that!!!! The Phils passed that with flying colors!!!
The next song, "Que Misterio" a tango by Tango Jointz.......nice drums and click click, harmonica, guitar and piano. Orchestral background, really good separate instrumental clarity and preciseness! Really loved this song, so I added it to my favorites.
"Ceremonial Fanfare For Brass Ensemble" by Aaron Copeland......Ahhhh, now we are kicking or tooting! Love brass and the Philly's did too.The RAALs really shines with these trumpets in the higher register, precise and excellent! The trombones are another favorite, bursting with energy a real favorite of mine.
"Dark Fire" by Strung & Farah on Worldbeat Radio/Pandora.......This song had a Samba sound that one would love to chill by. The drums were quick, precise, tight and exactly what to expect with these excellent speakers right from the start of this song. Perfect violin reproduction by the RAALs. I use to hate when a song started with a violin or any piano, but not any more.
"Keep On Moving" by Bob Marley....... Very nice, smooth, snappy song. All of the drivers the RAAL, Neo8, BG, seem to be in harmony with this song. The Phillys work very well with all these styles of stations....../reggae/Caribbean/Dub/Dancehall/Techno/Trance/Electronica/Ambient/Electro/Club/Dance/Techno/Dubstep.
On Lowfish/Uberzone/Cirez D Radio.....The Phillys kept on pumping and delivering clean, clear, precise low notes, surprisingly very low notes!
"Air" by Jesse Cook......serenades with a fast repertoire of this guitar solo, no problem here, couldn't find a thing wrong with this song, except it didn't last as long as I would have liked and I couldn't play it again!
"Crazy Love" by Throat Culture, in Acapella.....the Neo8/BG Woofer really shined, they just performed as expected. live.....live....live! Bout as good as I would ever want!
July London on "Easy Listening Radio"......with her "Oh baby" voice was very clean, right-in-front-of-you sounding. An old recording? Can't tell here as the Phillys are just doing their thing, I guess they are not scared of the older recorded stuff afterall.
On the 20th Century Radio........."Suite For Jazz Orchestra #1" by Demitry Shostakovich.......The violin and trumpet was just surperb with very high notes.....tonally correct like the real thing.
This, of course is only 1/3 of the songs I listened to and made notes, but I think that is enough! I did not mention the ones with the EQ on Onkyo turned on.
My thoughts on......Philharmonic Audio/Dennis Murphy!
I have been looking and talking for sometime now, particularly with DM. His reputation, being the no-nonsense person he is, meaning.....efficient, direct and quite tough when it comes to speaker design! He has really come up with winners and I am glad I am now a owner of one of the best speakers out there in this price range! The cabinetry is as good as any and better than most, very solid. All the drivers were installed to perfection.
The Philharmonic 2 speakers are.....well as Dennis said......"They sound pretty much exactly like the 3's unless there's a big bad bass drum whacking away. " So I feel like I got the bargain.
I think these are clear, clean, distinct throughout the audio spectrum, near perfect reproduction. The RAAL produced no edge or sharpness. The BG Woofer was smooth, extended, natural with no boominess, very tight. The NEO8 midrange, enveloping, lush and warm....was as good as Dennis could make it IMO.
These were my ears auditioning and obviously everyone's ears are very different. So, this is what I believe I heard and I hope this review helps someone in their decision making.
Honestly, there was no noticeable bloated low end, harsh unnatural midrange or ringing treble!
Vocals oustanding. Voice on Dennis' Demo Disc of Sarah McLachlan Angel are hauting in quality. Her voice is pitch perfect and seems to come from a limitless black background. You feel like you are in a small venue such as a club where she is on a slightly elevated stage a few feet from you, like a real person in the room with you rather than a recording of one. Similar for Jennifer Warnes Way Down Deep and Bird on a Wire from this disc you get a great 3d soundstage and outstanding female voice emerging. On former the bass truly made me smile and was felt as well as seen. Phantom of the Opera Music of the Night by Michael Crawford and Remember Me with he, Srah Brightman and ? I felt like I was at a real performance. The voices were perfectly placed in space stage right/left and had body and heft to them like an actor/actress in real life dimensions, again emotional and moving to listen to. Mormon Tabernacle Choir sounds like a real choir with appropriate size and power to the sound coming from the speaker and an image that is wider and deeper than the 12 ft between my mains. Even modern stuff like Beyonce and Rihanna sound realistic and well recorded even though maybe not the best material instrumentation, again outstanding. Allows me to appreciate Dennis' role as a musician in the design and performance. Dvorak New World Symphony , Beethoven's 9th Ode to Joy sound like full orchestra with massed strings, brass, woodwinds etc all in proper place and true to the sound of the instrument producing them (i.e. a flute sounds like a flute and can hear artist taking breaths, violin can hear the bow drawing across strings and the low basses on Largo for the Dvorak piece had me smiling ear to ear. Dire Straits DVD-audio of Brothers in Arms palyers are arranged so that if close your eyes can 'see' everything like it was in the studio and Mark Knopfler's voice is extremely life-like.
Highly recommend Dennis' speakers as will never look back.
Philharmonic 2: Mundane or Transcendental?
My journey to find the definitive speaker for me to last the next 10 years has been arduous. I have been seeking that perfect speaker for the last 2 years in a price range of 10-20k, but every offering has let me down in price/performance. For instance, I was looking at buying the B&W 802Ds, but at 17k I couldn’t justify it to myself. They sounded fine, but not spectacular. I was looking at Totems, Focals, Dynaudios, etc., but the same hesitation was present. Sure they sounded fine, but for the price?
This conclusion led me to look at smaller lesser known brands like Salk, and through that research, to Dennis Murphy. Now here’s a world class designer who knows what he’s doing coupled with factory direct prices. The problem: I couldn’t audition them. So I threw caution to the wind based on Mr. Murphy’s background building these speakers from the ground up. So what do I think? Read on to find out.
The FedEx driver showed up with a big grin on his face with four boxes filled with speaker delight. I carted them in with the help of my 5 year old and promptly unpacked them. The packaging was fantastic with double boxes and foam inserts to protect the precious cargo.
Lifting the cabinets out carefully one was impressed by the well made cabinets and utilitarian finish. The satin black looked stellar and the bass cabinets were well braced passing the knuckle-rap test with flying colors. The cabinets are comprised of thick MDF. Dennis has commented that the bass modules and upper cabinets are extremely sturdy and well made. The cabinets are separated to minimize vibration, but separated with Berber carpet which seems unfinished and is a bit DIY. Then again, I’m not here for the WAF, I’m here for the sound. This is a less-is-more approach.
The drivers are comprised of a SB Acoustics 23NRXS45-8 woofer, BG Neo8 planar midrange, and last but not least a RAAL 10D ribbon tweeter. The drivers appear to be ‘off-the-shelf’. The load might be difficult for some amps as they are rated at 4ohm 87.5 db (dB/2.83v/1M). Grills come with the speakers but I do not use grills for critical listening. The crossover is designed by the master himself and is supposedly what makes this speaker truly special.
Setup was rather straightforward. The floorstanders were positioned equidistant from each other and the listening position with no toe-in as the measurements are smoother slightly of axis. They sit in the middle of a 12x12x8 room away from any reflective walls. The room is acoustically treated. Fill is supplied and varying amounts are recommended depending on your room for midrange soundstage depth. I realized that I like maximum fill to minimize rear emanations.
Associated equipment included the Bryston 4BSST2, Benchmark DAC1, YBA CD3 Delta transport, laptop for FLAC, Kimber 8TC, Kimber Hero balanced, Kimber DV30, and Kimber USB (not for purported sound quality, but for build quality).
Powered by the Bryston 4BSST2 two channel dual mono amplifier at 500 wpc into 4 ohms, the Philharmonic 2s were immediately engaging, presenting a stable soundstage and smooth spectral balance. I was shocked at the neutrality of the sound neither warm nor harsh, but so much more smooth compared to my Focal Electra floorstanders. The bass was flat and so was the treble.
Zero listener fatigue. Musicians were in my presence. It was time to challenge these puppies. Alright, what about voices? The clarity was astonishing to present voices in a cohesive manner like I’ve never heard. Dave Gahan’s voice of Depeche Mode has never sounded so clean and present, so tonally rich and powerful. I used my usual suspects for listening: Alice in Chains Unplugged, the remastered Depeche Mode catalog, NIN Pretty Hate remastered, Diana Krall Quiet Nights, Ella Fitzgerald Live, etc. Each of their distinctive voices was incredible in their presentation. Peter Gabriel in ‘New Blood’ and ‘Scratch My Back’ never sounded so cohesive and so invigorating. I’m thinking the incredible crossover design has a lot to do with this.
The bass was neither bloated nor anemic, but flat and neutral. Attack and decay were incredible. I was surprised by how low and loud they could play with no transmission line port noise. I should say that I have a pair of SVS PB Pluses that I use in stereo from 60hz down, the crossover being Dennis’ suggestion. To me, these speakers require a sub for that low end reinforcement, but then again, I’m a bass nut (e.g. I have 4 SVS Ultras for HT).
At the high end, the treble was completely grain free and smooth. No harshness or brightness like the Focals, but just transparent and detailed. I’ve never owned a ribbon tweeter before and the sound is nothing short of spectacular. The imaging (once the upper cabinets were packed with ‘fill’) was precise and voices were locked in the center. Music hung in space. Cymbals sounded phenomenal. The fill made the soundstage have less depth but imaging became more precise it seemed to me. This speaker has silence between notes that only a cabinet with few resonances possesses.
I have no measuring equipment and my review is totally subjective. The Philharmonic 2s to me have few failings, one being the bass, but this is one negative against countless positives. As a cost/benefit analysis they are flawless. These are by far the best speakers I have ever heard and they cost a fraction of any of the contenders out there that I’ve auditioned. I will live with these happily for the next decade. They may not be perfect, but their overall performance makes listening pure pleasure, and you may be rediscovering your CD/FLAC/Vinyl collection all over again for the very first time.
This is my first post to this forum. I have posted only once or twice to other audio forums but I have read about Dennis Murphy's designs for many years, noting the Ellis 1801 and his designs for Salk audio. When I learned about his launching of the Philharmonics, the combination of Dennis' reputation and plus very favorable pricing, I made the bold decision to order a pair without auditioning them.
The Philharmonic 2 speakers arrived 5 weeks ago. Dennis Murphy had customized his design for us with custom cabinets (walnut veneer boxes with black lacquer fronts), and with upgraded components, including Sonicap, Jantzen Superior caps and some Mundorf silver/oil caps for tweeter bypass.
First, I will describe our set-up and listening habits. Our listening room has a 10' ceiling height and is roughly 13' by 21'. The speakers are roughly 7' apart on a long wall. I don't often listen to audiophile recordings. Much of what I listen to may not be perfectly recorded.
I had never before owned full range speakers. Instead, I had been using monitors, initially ProAc 1SC and most recently, Usher BE718 (original model, not the one marketed in the US with updated crossover). After about a year, I replaced the Be tweeters with Usher's Diamond tweeters.
The ProAc 1sc is extremely engaging but has limitations. As with most mini monitors, the upper octaves are slightly exaggerated and the mid-base is boosted to compensate for the lack of deep base. In all, they are very musical with the right equipment and when playing the right music. However, the treble can be a bit bright and may lack desired sheen for brass. The Ushers, on the other hand, have a somewhat warm midrange, an occasional hard upper midrange, and a Be tweeter that, at times, sounds a bit aggressive.
Currently, I use a Buffalo DAC with Arduino Volume control and a Pass F5 (my Buffalo DAC is built for higher output to compensate for its lack of gain). As you may know, the Pass F5 delivers only 25 watts, 8 ohms, 40 watts, 4 ohms. I chose the Philharmonic 2 rather than the 3 because of its higher efficiency. You may wonder how the low power output of the Pass F5 can drive the Philharmonics; for my listening habits they perform beautifully.
Impressions of the Philharmonic 2:
The Philharmonics deliver sound that is very even across all spectrums, without perceivable emphasis in any frequency. They are extremely smooth without rounding things off and produce a sound that is clean, free of grain, and without harsh edges. , They are also extremely transparent and rich with detail.
Prior to the Philharmonics, some of my favorite violin recordings were hard to listen to. Renaud Capucon's Brahms Violin Sonata (Virgin) sounded thin and hard. The same was true of his rather bright Mozart concertos. With the Philharmonics, the violin loses it's etch, gains detail and airiness, and projects its woody resonance.
In Christian Tetzlaff and Leif Ove Andsnes' recording of Bartok's violin sonata, the Philharmonics deliver the voice of Tetzlaff's violin from soft whisper, without blurring any detail, to intense attack, without a hint of harshness or glare. They also reveal Andsnes' extremely dynamic, sometimes ferocious piano playing with great articulation and clarity, without overshadowing the violin. Listening to this piece on the Philharmonics is truly thrilling.
I often listen to solo piano recordings. The philharmonics appear capable of delivering the instrument's full spectrum. (I had been previously been accustomed to listening on monitors.) With the Philharmonics, I am able to hear more detail and better articulation from the left hand, plus an incredible but natural sounding shimmer from the RAAL tweeters.
In Leif Ove Andsnes' recording of Grieg's lyric pieces, recorded in Grieg's drawing room on his own Steinway model B, the Philharmonics were able to produce the piano's bell-like treble and rich mid-register. This is especially evident in Homesickness (op57), and The Brook (op62).
In Jean-Efflam Bavouzet's recording of Ravel's Jeux d'eaux on a 1901 Steinway D, the Philharmonics produce breathtakingly shimmering highs. In Bavouzet's Haydn sonatas (Chandos), I was able to hear the bright and vivid Yamaha CFIIIS with the superbly fast and nimble action for which it is known.
In Sviatoslav Richter's incomparable 1971 recording of Schumann's Symphonic Etudes, the Philharmonics deliver a lower range with detail, richness and clarity that I had never known was there. In my first listening it drew me in, immersed me completely, and left me with an incredible high.
I recently acquired a recording of Janacek's Sinfonietta, by Rafael Kubelik and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, (Orfeo). (I am interested in this piece because it is referenced repeatedly in Haruki Murakami's novel IQ84.) In its final movement, in its climax, 12 trumpets in unison play across the broad sound stage. The Philharmonics deliver the trumpet's metallic shine and the full sonic splendor of this live performance
The Philharmonics are no less remarkable with vocal performances. In Christian Gerhaher's recording of Mahler's Lieder, his baritone voice comes through with, richness, clarity and conviction. In Um Mitternacht, the emotion in Gerhaher's voice comes across with breathtaking and piercing anguish.
In Alban Berg's Seven Early Songs, performed by Barbara Bonney, (Nacht, Die Nachtgail), her warm and crystalline voice soars before you with incredible grace and ease. The Philharmonics deliver this performance with an intimacy and immediacy, as if you were there, able to hear and see the shape of her mouth.
Last but not least, in Billy Holiday's Lady in Satin, the Philharmonics reveal clarity and definition in the bass that I had not heard before in this recording. They also reveal a fragility in her husky voice that magnifies the impact of this deeply moving performance.
With these speakers, I find myself listening to music from beginning to end. I become so fully drawn in that I forget about the equipment entirely, as it no longer seems to stand between me and the performance. For this, I would like to thank Dennis Murphy, for this wonderful pair of speakers and for his willingness to work with us so generously throughout the process.
"Defining A Natural High Definition Listening Experience?"
This is what I will attempt to do in this my critiquing of this amazing Monitors.
Not too long ago Dennis Murphy retired and had planned a group of "retirement speakers", the Philharmonic 1, 2 and 3 and viola....Philharmonicaudio.com was born!
The 1 & 3 were a big hit at CAF by many who attended, Capital Audio Festival. I was there and the listening room was busy the entire time I was there.
A "first" impression by John Atkinson from Stereophile realized what a bargain the Philharmonic 3s were.
Then, there was a request for a monitor, (not surprised), then the birth of the Philharmonitor 1, which was received quite well.....as mentioned below by the happy owner, don't think he would mind.......
"I finally had a chance to hook up the bookshelves. After a lengthy
break-in period and dialing in the sub and such, I must say I am very
impressed. I don't have the jargon to say explain what I am hearing. But
words such as: neutral; a very deep sound stage; fast and dynamic;
engrossing and just flat out musical is what keeps swirling around in
my head. Can only imagine what your floor standers must sound like....
The performance outweighs the cost"
I was very interested in these so, Dennis recommended a larger enclosure as I needed more bass and thus the Philharmonitor 2 was born!! The cabinet used was the Dayton 2 way curved gloss black from Parts Express .75' and will house the Seas Prestige ER18RNX Reed Paper Cone Woofer and the Fountek NeoCd3. Dennis will correct me if I am wrong. And, seems to me the most important ingredient is the meticulously created/designed crossover, which I believe is the basis for these Philharmonitor 2s outstanding audio performance.
Some music I listen to that impressed me, but first......what drives them..... My equipment is simple in the office area where the monitors are powered by.....a Musical Paradise MK2 Tube Amp...... HRT Music Streamer II+ DAC, Simplyphysics RCA cables and Asus Desktop CM6850, with Comcast as my provider. I stream Pandora, Grooveshark.com and onboard listening with the Jriver Media Player, which I highly recommend. I listen mostly to FLAC recordings.
"Somewhere Within" by Joe Bongiorno, starting with Piano, really nice with these monitors. The Founteks really shined, clean, precise and airy. Loved those ringing piano cords with no distortion that I could hear. Piano and violin is always an issue with me as most of the time, it just didn't sound clear and clean, but distorted. NOT with these, though.
"Ceremonial Fanfare" Trumpet and Trombones by Copeland. Very majestic, grand fanfare. The dissident, erie/airy notes produced by the trombones create great variation in this song and the forward trumpets bring on the chills. Both the Fountek and the Seas performed meticulous feats with this score. I love it.
"Bass Machine" by Techno Bass, very nice, clean solid low notes by hey these are not small monitors, they're huge and sound more like towers to me anyway, with the BIG sound/soundstage they produce.
"05 Basscadet" by Autechre, thump, thump....chicca Chang, plenty of every kind of squeaks, tings and tangs. The Fountek loved this and the Seas just deliver soothingly smooth and tight bass.
"Lowride", also Autechre, bold bass, nice, "where's the sub", one might say. But, not overpowering or earthshaking, but a good balance without the adjustments and quite enough without that "big bad bass" going on. Monitors being about 12" from the walls and 9' apart.
"Mechanism", by Lior Magal, Soundstage witht he Tube Amp and the MSII+ is just stunningly huge. Seems it's a good match for the monitors, thump, thump, such a "joy to enjoy", so much big, bold, clear sound even at the 9:00 volume position.
"Hallelujah" by Instrumental, Kind of like Kenny G's solo instrument that he uses, as it leads into this very laid back instrumental version, beautifully done and executed by these speakers.
Well, at this point maybe I should mention the room size which is approximately 11.5' X 11.5' 9' ceilings with carpet....(pic included).
Dennis has another winner....IMHO! Another pair of monitors....without flaws, dunno, but probably flawless to me would recommend with hesitation if you are looking for an incredible set of monitors for 2 channel listening with out a sub. They can handle just about anything and produce just about everything........beautifully.
There were issues with the 2 Genelax Gold Lion tubes, so they were removed and the stock tubes replaced them. At my surprise the Philharmonitor 2s didn't even notice....Ha Ha!!!! Instead they continued to astonish me with solid clean quality I know I will enjoy in the years to come, without a doubt.
I believe to me and my ears, the Philharmonitor 2s offer all the ingredients for the best audiophile, musical experience that other speakers lack in one form or another of all the ones I have heard, except a few.
The Philharmonic line of speakers have truly satisfied my audio needs. My journey was hard as there are other speakers that I could live with and almost did, but I am very happy I waited for Dennis' line and they "will" truly be classics some day. I also own the Philharmonic 2 floor standers too.
Just a thought, I believe I could have been very happy with the Philharmonic 1 too, as the Fountek really does a smooth job with the highs in the violins, piano notes and trumpets!
Congratulations Dennis Murphy for a job well done and thank you for my great speakers.