Philharmonic Audio Model 3

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Stercom

Philharmonic Audio Model 3
« on: 16 Dec 2011, 12:48 am »
I've had these speakers for a few months now. Bottom line: these are one of the best values in high-end audio! As many of you probably know, Dennis Murphy has started a company called Philharmonic Audio. Here is a link: www.philharmonicaudio.com From what I understand, Dennis has designed many audiophile products over the years but especially crossovers for some excellent speaker companies including Salk audio. He is also very active in the DIY speaker community.

I actually bought these speakers without hearing them first which is usually a big no,no, but I had read enough about Dennis' speakers and had heard his work with Salk that I felt confident in the purchase. I was one of the first to buy a pair. He referred to me as the "Guinea Pig".  It took me a while to get them dialed-in to my room but a few conversations/emails with Dennis and I found the right placement, etc.  Over the last few months, I have used all kinds of amps with these speakers: Shindo 40 watt amps, Anthem 200 watt integrated, Van Alstine Ultravalve, etc.  I finally settled on Tube Research Labs equipment and I've got to tell you - its an excellent match!  Very transparent and dynamic yet musical! The bass is only there when needed and is very tight - controlled.  The midrange has a bloom to it that at the same time is transparent and clear. The treble has a quick attack but its not harsh. These speakers make music, not just sound!!! Excellent engineering and design.

There are a couple of things I should mention. First, the fit and finish is just ok. I think it will get better with time and Dennis actually gave me a discount because of a few finish problems. They still look very nice though. Also, the speakers do not come with spikes - I noticed a considerable improvement in the bass and lower midrange when I added spikes. I know Dennis will take issue with this next comment, but the jumpers between the dual binding posts simply color the sound. I added some higher quality jumpers and the music just seemed to be more balanced and natural sounding (I know that comment is very subjective but thats what I hear). Finally, they need fairly high power to sound their best. I would say a minimum of 200 watts per channel.

If you are looking for speakers in the $3,000 range or higher do NOT pass these up!!
*If you want to see some pictures of these speakers I've added them to my gallery*

fsimms

Re: Philharmonic Audio Model 3
« Reply #1 on: 18 Dec 2011, 12:49 am »
Thanks for the review!  I have some open baffle speakers that were also voiced by Dennis Murphy.  These are the first open baffle speaker that I have had and so I also had your problem in getting the speakers to what I felt are their max.  With the ability to add stuffing, you get a lot of flexibility to get the maximum from the speakers but also it takes more time to go through all the options.  I recommended a pair of Philharmonic Model 2s to one of my best friends even though they were unheard.  Like you, I respected Dennis Murphy enough to take the slight risk.  My friend’s speakers are expected in the next couple of weeks.  Your comments were just what I was expecting. :thumb:

Bob
« Last Edit: 18 Dec 2011, 01:59 am by fsimms »

poseidonsvoice

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Re: Philharmonic Audio Model 3
« Reply #2 on: 18 Dec 2011, 01:12 am »
Stercom,

Congrats! Dennis Murphy is one of the few (Very few!) loudspeaker designers I have come to respect who 1) clearly reveals all relevant measurement criteria on his website and 2) has a keen insight to what the word 'value' means.

Nice pic of your 'DUDE' in your gallery as well.

Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

Anand.

Stercom

Re: Philharmonic Audio Model 3
« Reply #3 on: 18 Dec 2011, 02:38 am »
Totally agree with you guys about Dennis. I really think for him its about the music first, the engineering second and maybe the money (this is a business for him after all) third.

I've been asked to compare these speakers to speakers that have similar parts or designs as the Philharmonic 3. I'm not going to do that even though I have heard a number of them. I will say Dennis has no problem talking about his designs and why he uses certain drivers, etc. The RAAL tweeter with the BG planar midrange in the "semi open baffle" makes the sound float like no other speaker I have heard. The cabinets simply disappear. I think using the vertical planar midrange with the RAAL was a fairly significant advance over other designs that use a RAAL with a cone-based midrange. The Scanspeak Revelator bass driver was also an excellent choice, but I'm sure the Paul Kittinger designed transmission-line enclosure contributes greatly to how "right" the bass sounds. I think there is no doubt Dennis spent many hours getting the crossover right - the drivers are seamless. Anyway, this speaker is an amazing value. 


ricardojoa

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Re: Philharmonic Audio Model 3
« Reply #4 on: 18 Dec 2011, 03:12 am »
Great to hear about the Phil.
I would like to input my view from Dennis perspective. I asked Dennis about the open back design on audioholics (post 453 from the Philharmonic post). Dennis described that the open back midrange is better suited with source material that has natural ambiance such as live recordings. He mentioned that on material from studio recordings, that people may prefer the closed back design.
I'm curious as whether there was a lack of detail or presence when listen to music such as R&B, rap and other soft rock types of music. Obviously according the OP not  :lol: but... I have never heard an open back design speaker. I always had the impression that an open back design creates a large soundstage. I would like to hear a more in depth description if possible, about the midrange. Obviously the midrange section is where it differs from other close back design.

Thanks in advanced

Stercom

Re: Philharmonic Audio Model 3
« Reply #5 on: 18 Dec 2011, 09:13 am »
Hi ricardojoa - After reading your post I did some A/B between the live recordings of Neil Young and Diana Krall songs v. their studio versions.  I also listened to some live recordings that an audiophile friend has made of local choral groups and musicians. The soundstage was equally well defined with both types of recordings. If anything, I would say the studio versions snapped the players/instruments into more specifically located focus. The live recordings had a more diffused sound. But isn't that a characteristic of most, if not all, live recordings? I'm not sure that has much to do with the open back design. I also own a pair of Totem Arro speakers so I put them in the system and listened to some of the same recordings. I heard the same overall differences between the live v. studio versions.

I've owned LOTS of speakers over the years including Salk Archos, Gallo 3.1, Magnepan 1.6, Altec 604c in a OB design and Carver speakers. The midrange on the Philharmonic 3 reminds me of those speakers. Very open and natural sounding on all types of recordings. You do need to get the speakers away from the front wall and corners. You also need to get the acoustical stuffing right (as Bob already mentioned about his Soundscapes). But once you get them dialed-in I think you will really enjoy what Dennis has done with the planar midrange in these speakers. 
« Last Edit: 18 Dec 2011, 11:43 am by Stercom »

Rocket

Re: Philharmonic Audio Model 3
« Reply #6 on: 18 Dec 2011, 10:39 am »
Hi Stercom,

How good is the bg midrange in the speaker.  I no nothing of these types of midranges and I wonder how they compare with seas midrange which are used in my Salk ht2's.

Regards rod

alch3my

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Re: Philharmonic Audio Model 3
« Reply #7 on: 18 Dec 2011, 10:48 am »
Hi Stercom,

How big is your room and how much space do you have around the speakers? Dennis's entire philharmonic line up looks great but given my small apartment space, i'm not so sure if it'll integrate well. Wonder if he'll do any future boxed designs  :D

ricardojoa

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Re: Philharmonic Audio Model 3
« Reply #8 on: 18 Dec 2011, 04:03 pm »
Thanks Stercom, sounds like that there is nothing missing from the phil! Thats good news. Now, the room might be a greater challenge, as some may not have the adequate space, i mean myself. :(

ricardojoa

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Re: Philharmonic Audio Model 3
« Reply #9 on: 18 Dec 2011, 04:10 pm »
Hi Stercom,

How big is your room and how much space do you have around the speakers? Dennis's entire philharmonic line up looks great but given my small apartment space, i'm not so sure if it'll integrate well. Wonder if he'll do any future boxed designs  :D

i did inquire Dennis about making a sealed version of the phil 2 but he said that he would need to redesign the crossver and is soemthing he cant do alone, He also mentioned that a ported version would be better as the sealed version wont go low enough for the planar. Actually, the more i think, a small ported 6 in migh be a good alternative. But sometimes, from a small room perspective, a bookshelf might be a better option as it is eaisier to place over a larger tower like then phil. So like you said, a closed back could be a good alternative. I hope Dennis could chime in his perspective about a closed back desing with the neo.

Phil A

Re: Philharmonic Audio Model 3
« Reply #10 on: 18 Dec 2011, 04:21 pm »
I heard the speakers at the Capital Audiofest in July.  I was very impressed.  I was blown away when he told me the price per pair (I thought he meant each originally).

eclein

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Re: Philharmonic Audio Model 3
« Reply #11 on: 18 Dec 2011, 05:34 pm »
Great stuff, one of the nicest guys I have yet to meet and someday I will just to shake his hand. A gentleman all the way around regardless of any type of financial gain he may or may not receive in the future.
 
Its great to hear such good things, I haven't heard this type of design either but I'm open to anything that sounds good, I wonder what an open back mini type 2-way monitor would sound like, would there be enough low end or more than enough??

If I took a stand mounted monitor and made everything like normal except left the back panel off, 5 sided open back and regulate the sound with stuffing, I bet the bass would be nil wouldn't it???

I'm ramblin..congrats Dennis, and great review!!!

smwick

Re: Philharmonic Audio Model 3
« Reply #12 on: 18 Dec 2011, 05:52 pm »
Stercom,  I as well have had the Phil 3's for a few months now.  I absolutely love these speakers.  As far as finish, they are good but not excellent, definitely no salk.  But the music they play is better than anything I have heard.  Mine took a little playing around as well to dial them in.  Not that they sounded bad before, but now the sound stage is wide, deep and they speakers just disappear.  I have all the acoustic fill in the top cabinet.  I tried with various amounts and prefer the more forward sound with the cabinets full.  Even with full top cabinets, there is still added depth to the sound stage.  My room is 15 x 25 with a bay window, behind the speakers, the width of the room.  I power mine with an AVA ultra II 350 amp & an AVA Vision Dac/Pre.  Everything sounds natural and very open with deep bottom end that is tight and very quick.  I use Herbies Audio Lab Big Fat Gliders under the speakers with very nice improvements.  These little gliders decouple the speaker and give some nice improvements in the bottom end.  Stercom, I also replaced the jumpers.  I never even tried the ones supplied by Dennis.  For the jumpers I use 10 AWG wire with banana plugs.  Unless I can afford the Salk Sounscape's one day, I think my search for the perfect speaker is over.  Happy listening.

Stercom

Re: Philharmonic Audio Model 3
« Reply #13 on: 18 Dec 2011, 06:15 pm »
Hi all - Lots of great questions. I'll let Dennis know about this thread is since he obviously is the one to ask. I can only tell you what I hear. As to my room, its fairly small at 12' x 15'.   I have the speakers about 3 feet from the front wall and 2 feet from the side walls. I sit about 10.5' feet away from them. The sound didn't open-up until I got them away from the corners and the front wall. The amp you use with these speakers is important. The TRL D225 really takes control of the bottom end. As Smwick pointed out I'm sure one of Van Alstine's solid state or hybrid designs would work well. The AVA Ultravalve I have wasn't up to the task - maybe if I had biamped a pair of the Ultravalves............ :D

smwick

Re: Philharmonic Audio Model 3
« Reply #14 on: 18 Dec 2011, 06:27 pm »
I'm not sure if everyone is aware that these are ported out the top of the bass module.   They don't use the wall behind the speaker for bass reinforcement. So you could have them up against a wall, not that this would be a good place for any speaker mind you.  Moving them away from the wall will open things up and make the speaker have a better chance of disappearing.  So they are very easy to place in a room.  A speaker this size does need some room to breath imo.

fsimms

Re: Philharmonic Audio Model 3
« Reply #15 on: 18 Dec 2011, 09:43 pm »
Quote
If you are looking for speakers in the $3,000 range or higher do NOT pass these up!!

or higher”   :wtf:

Move over Magico, Tidal, MBL and Vandersteen? :jester:

Bob

Stercom

Re: Philharmonic Audio Model 3
« Reply #16 on: 18 Dec 2011, 10:42 pm »
or higher”   :wtf:

Move over Magico, Tidal, MBL and Vandersteen? :jester:

Bob

All I've got to say is: sometimes you get what you pay for and sometimes you get much more......... :dance:

DMurphy

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Re: Philharmonic Audio Model 3
« Reply #17 on: 18 Dec 2011, 11:41 pm »
Thanks very much Stercom for taking the time to start this thread.  I'm obviously pleased that you like the Philharmonic 3's.  I agree that they can take some tinkering with placement and stuffing to optimize them for a given room and taste, but unlike fully open-back designs, there should be a good place for them in any decent-sized room.  To answer a couple of questions, the semi-open back design in the Phil's will only work in a 3-way with a dedicated midrange that can work into the open cabinet.  There would be insufficient bass output if you tried this design with a midrange that also has to operate as a woofer.  I have a design for a conventional 2-way bookshelf monitor using the Fountek ribbon from the Phil 1 and 2 working with the Seas reed cone ER18 woofer, all housed in either a .5 cu ft or .75 cut ft (for deeper bass) Parts Express cabinet.  That should be available in late January, and I've already shipped one pair.  I just need to finalize the price and gear up for it.  Thanks again Stercom.

Nuance

Re: Philharmonic Audio Model 3
« Reply #18 on: 20 Dec 2011, 07:10 pm »
You're 'Da Man, Dennis!  I'm going to attempt talking the wife into letting me buy a pair of the Philly 2's early next year. 

Thanks for what you do, Dennis, and keep up the good work.  Enjoy your vacation to Germany!

AcuDefTechGuy

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Re: Philharmonic Audio Model 3
« Reply #19 on: 10 Aug 2012, 05:56 pm »
I also own the Philharmonic3 speakers. I just want to say they are great speakers!