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Keeping stereo speakers on their side - Murphy BMR, other thoughts/suggestions?

MattG

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For many years now, in our living room, we've use a pair of Salk Song Towers (in a 2.0 config, for music and TV). No complaints in terms of sound quality, but we'd like something physically smaller. The TV stand + TV + tower speakers ensemble is dominating the room, and we'd like to cozy up the room a bit, while maintaining (or improving!) sound quality.

In the interim, as an experiment, I have a pair of Paul Carmody's Speedsters that I built years ago. I removed the Song Towers, and put the Speedsters sideways on the TV stand. The speedsters are pretty small (only 6in wide), and I have an old plasma TV with a thick bezel, the speakers actually don't interfere with the TV picture at all.

The sound quality is acceptable, but both my wife and I have noticed a bit of a downgrade. But we like the the increased "feng shui" with the towers removed. So we'd like to keep this arrangement: bookshelf- or standmount-type speakers, on their side, sitting atop the TV stand. We can build or buy a way to raise the TV up higher, to accommodate speakers that are wider than the Speedsters.

I know most speakers will be compromised being put on their side... so I'm looking for speakers that will be least compromised in this position. As a starting point, I'm thinking about the Dennis Murphy/Philharmonic BMR: lots of positive feedback, that BMR midrange driver "should" help (?) with dispersion in a sideways arrangement, and the additional perk of being able to DIY. (DIY isn't a hard requirement, but I enjoy it, plus we can get exactly the finish we want.)

Open to any thoughts or ideas here: generally, how can we meet or exceed Song Tower performance in a physically smaller setup; and specifically, how much would the Phil BMR performance suffer being put on their sides as described above?
 

Steve Dallas

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Dennis can speak to this much better than I can, but he once mentioned to me the BMR "center" speaker is simply a BMR with its tweeter rotated 90 degrees. The speaker itself is no joke and easily competes with many floorstanders. I am happily listening to mine in my home office as I type this.

DIYing BMRs has been met with mixed success, from what I have read. It can be done, but there are some aspects that have to be executed more perfectly than your average speaker. I have plans to re-home my BMRs into a DIY cabinet with aesthetics more to my liking, but I have yet to undertake that project. I may also attempt to strip and refinish my existing cabinets. But, they sound so good, I cannot bring myself to take them out off their stands for that long.
 

puppet

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I'll assume that yours have also notched the tweeter face plate around the woofer. If you could turn the tweeter 90 degrees, I think you'd be halfway back to the original sound. The directivity pattern of the ribbon is more narrow in the vertical than the horizontal. Just laying them sideways means the directivity is wider "up and down" and narrow "side to side". Opposite of what you'd want.

I think, with careful cutting, you could produce another notch in the tweeter face plate and use that piece to fill in the space once it is rotated. You'd need a filler of some sort ... like a dark thin foam strip to take up the width of the saw used to cut the new notch. If the face plate is plastic, a coping saw should do the trick.
 

Steve Dallas

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I'll assume that yours have also notched the tweeter face plate around the woofer. If you could turn the tweeter 90 degrees, I think you'd be halfway back to the original sound. The directivity pattern of the ribbon is more narrow in the vertical than the horizontal. Just laying them sideways means the directivity is wider "up and down" and narrow "side to side". Opposite of what you'd want.

I think, with careful cutting, you could produce another notch in the tweeter face plate and use that piece to fill in the space once it is rotated. You'd need a filler of some sort ... like a dark thin foam strip to take up the width of the saw used to cut the new notch. If the face plate is plastic, a coping saw should do the trick.

Speedster tweeters are not notched. The woofer is flush mounted on top of the tweeter. He could rotate his tweeters as a test with little effort, should he be so inclined.
 
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MattG

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Coaxial speakers like KEFs would work well.

I looked at, e.g. the KEF R3 - great review here, similarly good feedback like the BMR. But I don't like any of the finishes. It seems when you get into the higher budget tiers, the finishes tend to get too fancy for our tastes. (Don't mean to knock anyone if that's their thing, we just tend towards more traditional/understated looks.)


DIYing BMRs has been met with mixed success, from what I have read. It can be done, but there are some aspects that have to be executed more perfectly than your average speaker. I have plans to re-home my BMRs into a DIY cabinet with aesthetics more to my liking, but I have yet to undertake that project. I may also attempt to strip and refinish my existing cabinets. But, they sound so good, I cannot bring myself to take them out off their stands for that long.

Do you happen to have any links with discussion about DIY'ing BMRs? I'm curious what causes them to be less successful? One perk of DIY BMR is that I can rotate the tweeter 90 degrees when I initially build them. My carpentry skills are mediocre, but there is a flat pack available.


not the size you want, but sideways can be done with a 3-way layout like this: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...neumann-kh-310a-review-powered-monitor.17723/

I think I could make those work, and from the quick skim of the review I just did, I think they'd indeed be a slam dunk for my application... but definitely beyond the budget! I didn't actually think about budget too much, but it's definitely below $4k. I'm comfortable with the DIY BMR cost ($1500ish). I spent about $2k on the Song Towers (back in 2011), so that feels like the right implied budget for their replacement. Inflation adjusted I suppose. ;)


I'll assume that yours have also notched the tweeter face plate around the woofer. If you could turn the tweeter 90 degrees, I think you'd be halfway back to the original sound. The directivity pattern of the ribbon is more narrow in the vertical than the horizontal. Just laying them sideways means the directivity is wider "up and down" and narrow "side to side". Opposite of what you'd want.

I think, with careful cutting, you could produce another notch in the tweeter face plate and use that piece to fill in the space once it is rotated. You'd need a filler of some sort ... like a dark thin foam strip to take up the width of the saw used to cut the new notch. If the face plate is plastic, a coping saw should do the trick.

I just pulled the drivers from one of the Speedsters. The cutout for the tweeter isn't symmetrical, so I can't rotate the tweeters without cutting the baffle. It's a part of the baffle that's not visible (i.e. new and old cuts would be completely covered by the tweeter face plate). But I don't want to put that kind of effort into modifying them. They are only intended as a proof-of-concept at this point. Also, they are finished in black Duratex, which is nicely understated, but a bit too "utilitarian" for the living room, and my wife wants to get away from black.
 

Steve Dallas

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Rather than post links of people having difficulties getting a good result, here is a link where a builder describes what is important to get right. It nicely summarizes what I recall about building DIY BMR cabinets:


Looks like Speaker Hardware will actually assemble, edge route, and damp the cabinets now at a cost of $720 per pair. Equally as important, they now support the newer SB woofer cutout. For that kind of $$, their assembly had better be perfect...

Anyway, if I were facing your dilemma, I would find a way to make KEF R3s or BMRs work, depending on the directivity you prefer.

Any photos of the space?
 

tuga

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Maybe this will help:

gRQ7sBP.jpg
 
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MattG

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Rather than post links of people having difficulties getting a good result, here is a link where a builder describes what is important to get right. It nicely summarizes what I recall about building DIY BMR cabinets:


Looks like Speaker Hardware will actually assemble, edge route, and damp the cabinets now at a cost of $720 per pair. Equally as important, they now support the newer SB woofer cutout. For that kind of $$, their assembly had better be perfect...

Anyway, if I were facing your dilemma, I would find a way to make KEF R3s or BMRs work, depending on the directivity you prefer.

Any photos of the space?

Thanks for the diyAudio link. I'd like to think that with the flatpack kit, hints in that thread, and careful assembly, I should be able to get a decent result.

Here's a pic of the space. It's also in a corner, which is tricky. The Song Towers used to be on either side of the TV stand, and everything had to come farther out into the room.

living_room_tv_stand_20220117.jpg
 

TurtlePaul

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If you are looking to rotate the tweeter due to comb filtering, frankly, you are already making so many compromises with that speaker placement that you can't possibly be getting good imaging anyways. The speakers are too close walls, too close together, on their side, on an extended artifical baffle formed by the TV and stand. The sound downgrade you notice may be more these factors than the quality of the speaker. Pretty much no speakers are tuned to perform in this arrangement.

I wouldn't use the Philharmonic BMRs. Understanding that you are going to rotate the tweeter, placing a speaker with a 3.5 kHz crossover on its side is the worst case for comb filtering. I would look for a coax or a 2-way with a much lower crossover frequency. The lower the x-over, the less comb filtering, as a general rule of thumb.
 
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Steve Dallas

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Yes, you have nearly a worse-case scenario there.

The BMRs will look huge on that console. They are twice as tall as the Speedsters, 16" deep, and 2" wider, which means they will take up most of the console in front of the TV. They will be close enough together to have significant interaction with each other as TurtlePaul details above. They also hit low enough they will shake the console to audible levels.

If you really want to do what you propose, you might look at the KEF LS50 Meta (best case) or build a pair of DIY single driver cubes crossed to a sub.
 

DDF

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FWIW, been in your shoes. The spare TV in my family room has almost the exactly same layout. I DIY'ed my own speaker with same woofer as the Speedster but a tighter dispersion tweeter specifically for this installation. Same aprox size as Speedsters and very flat, controlled dispersion. An accurate speaker that sounds great in normal set ups. Tried them two ways, on very slim line stands next to the screen, and also side ways on the TV stand as you have. Nothing sounded good, even after trying various BSCs. The set up is inimical to good sound. I bit the bullet, plugged my nose, and bought a Sonos sound bar. It's app supports room EQ from the iphone mic and that cleaned it up. Not high end but dialog was much much better.
 
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MattG

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Yes, you have nearly a worse-case scenario there.

The BMRs will look huge on that console. They are twice as tall as the Speedsters, 16" deep, and 2" wider, which means they will take up most of the console in front of the TV. They will be close enough together to have significant interaction with each other as TurtlePaul details above. They also hit low enough they will shake the console to audible levels.

If you really want to do what you propose, you might look at the KEF LS50 Meta (best case) or build a pair of DIY single driver cubes crossed to a sub.

Agreed. But keep in mind a new piece of furniture to (to replace that black console) is being planned. And we're also looking at a new TV. So, basically, want to completely overhaul that existing arrangement.

Maybe that's a better general question: I'm forced into corner placement, and want to keep things neat and tidy as possible. Despite being a fairly big room, I don't have a lot of space to work with. I know just about anything will be a compromise, what's the least bad I can get given the limitations of the placement?


FWIW, been in your shoes. The spare TV in my family room has almost the exactly same layout. I DIY'ed my own speaker with same woofer as the Speedster but a tighter dispersion tweeter specifically for this installation. Same aprox size as Speedsters and very flat, controlled dispersion. An accurate speaker that sounds great in normal set ups. Tried them two ways, on very slim line stands next to the screen, and also side ways on the TV stand as you have. Nothing sounded good, even after trying various BSCs. The set up is inimical to good sound. I bit the bullet, plugged my nose, and bought a Sonos sound bar. It's app supports room EQ from the iphone mic and that cleaned it up. Not high end but dialog was much much better.

The sound bar - that's kind of what I was thinking too. Hard to give up the idea of having a "real" setup, but everyone seems to confirm the bad feeling I've had in the back of my head - it's probably not really possible.
 

tifune

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I looked at, e.g. the KEF R3 - great review here, similarly good feedback like the BMR. But I don't like any of the finishes. It seems when you get into the higher budget tiers, the finishes tend to get too fancy for our tastes. (Don't mean to knock anyone if that's their thing, we just tend towards more traditional/understated looks.)

Also, they are finished in black Duratex, which is nicely understated, but a bit too "utilitarian" for the living room, and my wife wants to get away from black.

As many have suggested, LS50 Meta is probably best bet if you just want to buy something and get it over with. Lots of colors to choose from.

Not mentioned so far is KH80. If you're trying to get away from black/Duratex-ish finish, they have a white offering. They measure very well vertically so putting them on their side will probably be OK. The DSP may also help with some of the other issues you're bound to see with that layout.

Beyond that would be Genelec 1 series (big price jump), sound bar, or maybe the Sony HT-A9. HT-A9 takes things in a different direction, but probably the highest WAF score of the bunch simply due to it's minimal real estate requirements. I'm sure you already know, sub required for any of these to really impress.
 

TurtlePaul

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Not the direction you were going, but I would get Genelec 4020c or 4030c installation speakers. They come in custom colors, so I would get one custom done to match the light blue for the right wall and one brown for the left wall. Then I would wall mount them to the sides and slightly above the TV (high enough to clear the fire mantle and other furniture). They have boundary correction switches to address some of the bass issue. I would pay for an installer to install the power and speaker wires in wall. If you need extra bass, a Genelec F1 or F2 sub could hide behind the new console.
 
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