Philharmonic 3 Review

Discussion in 'Write Your Own Review' started by TheWarrior, Jan 12, 2016.

  1. TheWarrior Audioholic Field Marshall

    TheWarrior
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    Philharmonic 3 Review:

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    Product: Philharmonic 3
    Manufacturer: Philharmonic Audio
    Performance Rating: 5/5
    Value Rating: 5/5
    Price: $3500 Standard with choice of veneer
    $3700 with a slightly revised cabinet with a sloped front baffle and 1.25" chamfered edges
    Wesbite: www.philharmonicaudio.com

    Drivers
    ScanSpeak 22W8851T00 “Revelator” 8-inch woofer, BG Neo8 planar midrange, RAAL 70-10D ribbon tweeter
    Response 25Hz – 20kHz (+/- 2 dB)
    Sensitivity 85 dB (db/2.83v/1M)
    Box Alignment Mass-loaded transmission line
    Dimensions 43” H x 12” W x 24” D

    Pro's:
    -Effortless Sound Quality that is non-fatiguing at ANY Volume
    -Unsurpassed Vocal Clarity
    -Near unrestricted Sound Stage size and Envelopment
    -Can be Fine Tuned with included absorption materials/pads
    -Undeniable Value for Given Performance
    -Current Cabinets are Built by Salk Sound

    Con's:
    -'Form following function' aesthetics
    -Makes it difficult to hear music played on anything else!




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    Genius is said to be 1% Inspiration, and 99% Perspiration. Philharmonic Audio's inception and duration within a demanding market place offers proof that a Teacher, turned award-winning DIY enthusiast, turned Consultant and Designer for brands like Salk Sound, all while being an active Assistant Principal Violinist, can also educate one's ears to 'see' what really comes through the other end of a microphone.

    Dennis Murphy has accomplished this in multiples. Not just with his top-of-the-line Philharmonic 3, but also through a broader range of products including his Affordable Accuracy Monitor that introduces listeners to what quality design, free from over-ruling marketing departments, can produce!




    Upper Cabinet Removed showing the high quality terminals. The 8" Revelator Woofer sits proudly in its slanted transmission line cabinet:

    [​IMG]




    Overview:

    The Philharmonic 3 is a 3-way floor standing, full range tower speaker that utilizes a RAAL 70-10D ribbon tweeter and BG Neo8 planar midrange mounted in an open-backed enclosure, isolated by sorbothane feet. A ScanSpeak 22W8851T00 8” woofer mounted in a separate Mass-Loaded Transmission Line handles the bass and extends useful output to below 25 Hz. It seems Dennis' innate comprehension of crossover design allowed him to hand pick each of these drivers to compliment one another better than any previous design.

    The extremely flat and wide dispersion of both the ribbon tweeter and planar midrange allow for effortless set up for multiple seating locations. The 8” woofer in transmission line enclosure allows for subwoofer-free listening for all but the most demanding LFE movies. For strictly music listening, the Philharmonic 3 was preferred full-range without a subwoofer.



    Rear of Upper Cabinet has a magnetic cloth covering wrapped over a wooden frame:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]




    Setup:

    Listening tests were conducted in a 4000+ cu/ft open floor plan living room with 16' peak gable ceiling. Mild acoustic treatment is used to attenuate room induced echoes resulting from the high ceiling and bass booms from odd corridors.

    Speakers are placed about 7' apart with only minor toe-in, and heard at a distance of 12 feet. They are powered by a pair of Emotiva UPA-1 200W Mono-blocks fed by a Denon X4000 and Oppo BDP-93 using HDMI.

    The cabinet is built as two separate sections. The high sensitivity ribbon tweeter and open back planar midrange need to be isolated from the thunderous vibrations of the Scanspeak 8” woofer. So they are placed in an asymetrical open-back cabinet with which a varying amount of 'absorption fluff' can be used. I chose to leave them completely open. The tweeter also includes small pads to attenuate the ribbon and control dispersion. I found the sound more open and revealing with out the pads.




    Under-side of Upper Cabinet:

    [​IMG]



    Wires are Tinned to Prevent Corrosion:

    [​IMG]



    Hand-built Crossover by Dennis Murphy:

    [​IMG]




    Experience:

    Casual listening is rendered obsolete with speakers such as these. They beckon you to gather 'round as if to hear stories of fantastic, far-away places, only to realize you are simply hearing the rest of the story lesser speakers never told.

    Female crescendo's are beyond effortless, not a glimpse of strain could heard from the likes of Tori Amos, Adele, or Bernadette Peters. Piano hammer strokes are heard with the exact intensity with which they are played. Brass instruments and cymbals are only limited by the recording itself. Equal sound staging is applied to any quantity of singers or musicians, never battling for dominance of the listener's ear. And strings, oh the strings! Let's just say that these speakers prove that Live, is not always better!

    Movies are handled with similar ease. Sometimes the excitement of a beryllium tweeter, for example, is missed. But then you realize how non-fatiguing these speakers are when you turn up the volume a bit more only to find yourself completely enveloped with pitch-perfect sound that is truly only limited by the recording. This is where the value of the Philharmonic 3's is realized!




    [​IMG]

    -This unique pair was veneered with Teak and Signed By the Artist himself!



    Conclusion:

    Speakers utilizing drivers of this quality typically approach five-figure price tags. Philharmonic Audio has almost single-handedly taken control of the market for full range towers simply by offering more for less. No other speaker comes to mind, for less than $4000/pr, that can even come close to the experience derived from a pair of Philharmonic 3's. And because Philharmonic Audio offers a full range of products, partnering the Philharmonic 3's with a center and surround speaker system is easy!

    For the music lover in all of us, you owe it to yourself to hear a pair of these!


    www.philharmonicaudio.com

    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2016
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  2. BoredSysAdmin Audioholic Overlord

    BoredSysAdmin
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    Thanks for your review and photos from angles most folks never seen this great speakers from.

    a very minor con: despite using obvious high quality components, crossover build looks a bit messy, but since it's hidden anyways who gives a damn :p
    I prefer messing looking xover vs noticeable price raise;)
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  3. TheWarrior Audioholic Field Marshall

    TheWarrior
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    "Some settling may occur" - after 3 years, lol!
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  4. KEW Audioholic Spartan

    KEW
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    Alex,
    Thanks for investing the time and effort!
    I think this may be the first actual review of these speakers I have read!!!

    The stickies on the terminals and wires between the top and bottom modules are placed by Dennis Murphy - I would guess as a safe-guard against someone assembling the speakers and reversing the wires for the tweeter and the midrange.

    "The owner" did add the foot pads for use on hardwood flooring.:)

    BSA,
    You may realize this, but for the record, the crossover is located under the bottom sheet of plywood that Dennis signed, so you'd have to partially disassemble them to see the crossover.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2016
    KEW,
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  5. BoredSysAdmin Audioholic Overlord

    BoredSysAdmin
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    Yes, as I said it above - I fully realize this, still this is a very VERY minor nitpicking :) - otherwise I'm sure it's absolutely awesome speaker !! Never had privilege listening it in person, but my educated guess would place it among similar level of performance as Salk ss8
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  6. TheWarrior Audioholic Field Marshall

    TheWarrior
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    You are absolutely right! Wonder what it would it take to get Jim Salk to send me a pair to compare? He'd have the obvious bass output advantage, and as he did not make these cabinets, any species he sends should have a superior finish.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2016
  7. Dennis Murphy Audioholic Chief

    Dennis Murphy
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    Thanks very much for the review. I'm obviously gratified that you liked them so much. They started life as a much cheaper alternative to the Salk SS10, which it resembles in shape and configuration. Since the SS8 has pretty much replaced the SS10, I guess the 3's are currently cheaper SS8's. The 3's actually go a little lower than the SS8's, although the single Scan woofer won't be as sensitive as the dual 8" drivers in the SS8. The high frequency performance of the two speakers is probably very similar. The main difference would be in the midrange. The Accuton driver in the SS8 has a little different character compared with the planar mid in the 3. I'm really not sure which presentation most people would prefer. Thanks again for sharing your impressions of the Phil 3's.
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  8. TheWarrior Audioholic Field Marshall

    TheWarrior
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    And thank you for having designed and built these!

    I feel it is worth mentioning that when I did my Bookshelf Speaker Shootout I frequently had to shut the system down due to a head injury I've sustained that affects my hearing. Yes there were many speakers to hear, but that review took 3 months! Even the Scan Revelator silk tweeter, as sweet as it is, could not keep my ears happy. Then I heard the RAAL 70-10D and the Planar, and regardless of volume, I never once experienced any pain or need to shut down because I became too sensitive.

    Turning up the volume on a pair of Phil 3's does not cause any of the sharp or fatiguing sounds typical of other speakers, they just keep opening up revealing more about what the singers mouth and tongue are doing on the other end of the mic. The force with which piano key strokes are made is heard. Its really an incredible experience! I will be sad when these depart!
  9. Alex2507 Audioholic Slumlord

    Alex2507
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    Why are they departing?
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  10. psbfan9 Audioholic Samurai

    psbfan9
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    Well written and informative! Thanks. But there are a few things I don't understand .....

    Have you had these for 3 years? Are they on loan from Dennis and now you're sending them back? Are they KEW's?

    Are they for sale?!?!?!?
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  11. Swerd Audioholic Ninja

    Swerd
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    I liked it when TheWarrior said:

    "Casual listening is rendered obsolete with speakers such as these. They beckon you to gather 'round as if to hear stories of fantastic, far-away places, only to realize you are simply hearing the rest of the story lesser speakers never told."

    Yep :). That review was excellent. Thanks.
    Both Alex and I were with Kurt when he took possession of these fine speakers at Dennis's house. So I understand Alex's concern about that "departing" comment. Kurt, if you are selling these, you didn't get our permission to do so :D.

    Perhaps TheWarrior is referring to the fact that the BG planar mid range driver in the Phil 3s is no longer available. The Philharmonic 3 will have to be redesigned once a suitable mid range driver can be found.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2016
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  12. Swerd Audioholic Ninja

    Swerd
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    For shame :eek:. There is nothing finer in all the audio world than a crossover board designed and handmade by Dennis Murphy.

    Such comments may require convening the Audioholic Promotions Board to review your status as Audioholic General :p.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2016
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  13. Dennis Murphy Audioholic Chief

    Dennis Murphy
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    Off with his head. I thought the crossover looked great compared with the misaligned exit holes for the tweeter and midrange wires in the top cabinet. You have to remember that I slept through 7th-grade shop, and managed to make a 3-leg stool wobble. The "departing" reference was alluding to the 3's return to Kurt' house, not the demise of the Phil 3. Parts Express has a signed contract with Christie Corporation to sell the Neo 8's again. It's just a matter of when they'll get inventory.
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  14. Swerd Audioholic Ninja

    Swerd
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    Spoken like every DIYer I've ever known, especially myself. I've never liked looking closely at my own woodwork because all I see are the flaws and mistakes.

    You need a marketing department to invent creative prose to explain just why those misaligned wire exit holes are so important, even necessary, for that unique Philharmonic sound quality :D.
    I didn't know that, but it's certainly good news.
  15. KEW Audioholic Spartan

    KEW
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    I'm not in a big rush to get them back.

    They sound better in Alex's room than my Living Room (which I know to have acoustic problems) - I have really enjoyed my listening sessions with the Phil3's at his house!
    Near the end of this year, I expect to have a proper listening room to bring the Phils back into.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2016
    KEW,
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  16. slipperybidness Audioholic Spartan

    slipperybidness
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    Agreed!

    That's the tough part about DIY.....I always see every little place that I made a mistake or I could have done something better!

    When I show off my work to friends, I'm always afraid it will be a disappointment or that they will immediately see the tiniest flaw, because I can certainly easily see every little flaw that I created.

    Another thing that I have learned over the years, sometimes if you make a small mistake or a flaw, it's better to just let it be than to keep coming back and trying to make it just a little bit better. Almost every time I obsess over something like that, it ends up worse in the end than it was when I started to try to fix it.
  17. TheWarrior Audioholic Field Marshall

    TheWarrior
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    Dude if we can't schedule it, I'll show up at your house with my tools and just let myself in!

    For the joy you've given me with all these speakers (or free storage depending on how you look at it) I look forward to custom building one of your rooms in to a theater. You've already got everything but a projector... I think...

    I do however think you'd be a damn fool to sell the Phil's. You bought them when they were cheaper, and these drivers are seldom used in other designs. You can't get that sound anywhere else! And if Jim Salk knows what 'Crystalac' is, he should be well worth the slight upcharge to get those drivers, with that crossover, in a TL, that if treated right(paper woofer), will last a life time!

    Lol, just think of it, the Phil's L+R, Focal Twin center, RBH 61 LSE corner loaded in the rear of the room! You can run 5.4, just need the Y-splitter!
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  18. KEW Audioholic Spartan

    KEW
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    So let me state emphatically - I have no plans to sell the Phils!:)
    KEW,
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  19. Alex2507 Audioholic Slumlord

    Alex2507
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    No wonder they looked familiar.
  20. KEW Audioholic Spartan

    KEW
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    Yep, you carried one and loaded it in my car (thanks)!
    KEW,

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