Some here may know I've been seriously into audio for 53 years, with a particular fondness for speakers- I've owned over 250 pair of good speakers, including 150 or so standmounts, with about 35 pairs of stndmounts retailing for $1500-7200.
I started out as most younger folks do looking for the giant killers, cheaper speakers that could stand among the $$$ models. Speakers from the past such as the Spica TC-50, Dynaco A-25, and Large Advents from the '70s and 80s still have their adherents, for good reason. Epos 11 and 14, Ascend Sierras, etc. Revel M20s, etc, etc. I've owned all these and many more.
As I could afford more costly speakers I moved away from budget speakers, and generally found the better higher priced units were simply better, particularly in higher rez systems.
That said, these Philharmonic Audio Affordable Accuracy Plus threaten this conclusion.
Simply put, these $350/pr. recent creations from Dennis Murphy, given quality input and power, are as good sounding as any $1000/pr. speakers I've ever owned, and give chase to the $2000 up class of standmounts.
Murphy uses plain simple vinyl wrapped black boxes from Dayton Audio, along with a remarkable measuring and sounding very cheap 6.5" Dayton woofer, then tops it with the marvelous and NOT cheap ($102 ea.!) Morel MDT32S silk dome tweeter, tied together with a sophisticated 14 element crossover (looks like maybe 24db/octave). A tweeter and crossover design of this quality and sophistication are unheard of anywhere near this price, IMO, and Dennis absolutely shows his stuff with these.
So- how do they sound? Clear, transparent, neutral, wide range, and very spacious. Great depth, width and projection. Really low coloration, very good instrumental positioning.
Very inefficient, with solid, tight bass to below 40hz. and a top end that goes way out there with no hash or glare, but superb top end separation. They need quality power and a fine source, and won't play real loudly.
OK, they're good, but how good?
My favorite standmount of all I've had is what I now own, Revel Gems, which were the cost no object launch product for the Revel Co. in the late '90s. They cost $7200 without stands, were Stereophile Class A and to this day sound wonderful from top to bottom. Very detailed, yet perfectly balanced and integrated. The most satisfying small speaker I've owned. They used twin 5" titanium woofers and a Scanspeak 9700 tweeter. They are not as fast overall as some modern units, such as Accuton ceramics, Raal ribbons or beryllium tweeters, but are very convincing as is.
So- in direct comparison, how do the Phils do?
Extension at the top and bottom is very close- both go below 40Hz. and as high as I can hear.
The top end in general is pretty close- both spread percussion instruments over a wide field, and show no distracting artifacts.
The Gems are more efficient and will play much louder without complaint.
The top end balance of the Phils is a little hotter in the presence zone, but that is mostly by design, I think. Revel built in a 2-3 db. drop in this range, as their research showed listeners tend to prefer this, while the Phils are very flat across the spectrum.
The Gems sound a bit more neutral and easy on the ears overall, but just a bit.
Lastly, the Gem's titanium woofers are faster, more transparent and clear from the lower mids and down, as might be expected, but the difference does not call attention to itself, as the Phils are still very uncolored and flat in all ranges.
So, I don't think I'll drop the Revels, but I've never heard a real budget speaker that merited this kind of comparison to a superb speaker 20X the price. To me, these are the Spica TC-50s of today.
If you need speakers for a second system, or just don't want to pay big $ for premium standmounts and don't mind chunky vinyl wrapped cabinets, I recommend you buy a pair before Dennis changes his mind or retires. Make sure you feed them well, as these are legitimately high-rez, particularly from the mids on up.
As always, your mileage may (and probably will) vary.