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KEF R3 vs. Philharmonic BMR Grudge Rematch to the Probably not Death Thread

SuperDave

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Thank you for all of this, Steve. My personal takeaway is that I'm going to need much more experience listening to my R3's before taking on the task of building BMR's (it's in my skillset and has been a goal for a while), because I don't yet think my ears have the skill to hear any difference, or even care. And as you've so clearly qualified, sometimes the effects of age (raises hand, I'll be 63 soon) make some of these differences kind of academic.

I will say that the KEFs seem to care a whole_lot_less about their own positioning and my personal positioning WRT them in their ability to vanish as sources, than anything in my previous experience, and these aren't my first coaxials.
 

ryanosaur

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It’s been my experience as a Philharmic owner since the end of 2018 (may as well call it 2019) that the differences between Speakers are minimal where it counts. The old Zaph Audio MiniPhil and the BMR Monitors match well on the top end, and the BMR Monitors match exceptionally well with the Phil3.
Certainly, one can make the claim that there is more difference between the BMR Monitor and Phil3 than BMR Tower and Monitor.
While I have not heard the new Tower, Dennis himself has stated there is very little difference in SQ as he hears it. I don’t get much on the Mid and Treble of the Phil3 (and that’s with the 70-10 and BG Neo-8)) and again Dennis says there are far more similarities than differences.
Where the distinction becomes much more apparent is in the low end. Of course, below 300 (convenience number, Schroeder Frequency more properly) Placement and your Room dictate the response.
The 8” Revelator is an absolute beast of a driver. I have had zero complaints about its performance in any way. Perhaps the only critique is I want it to go lower!

At the end of the day, there is always a reasonable claim for YMMV. What that causes that when even the Designer says the two should perform the same in the most sensitive parts of the FR is a question worth asking to be certain.
When it comes to the low end response, on the other hand, I think there are a lot more Room and set-up issues to discuss before saying commenting on the Driver.
 
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Steve Dallas

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Again, I enjoyed reading your thoughts.
I had a suspicion you might lean toward the R3 this time, even though it seems you favored the BMR slightly across your checklist.

I definitely agree that you want to be withing +5/-10º on the vertical axis with the Raal. It is a little better below, but the directivity on that driver is shallow to be certain.

Thanks again for your write up and exploration!

I wouldn't say I am favoring one or the other at this point. They are both excellent standmount speakers, each with its own trade-offs and environmental dependencies. Deciding which set of trade-offs I prefer has proven much more difficult than I thought it would.
 

killdozzer

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I wouldn't say I am favoring one or the other at this point. They are both excellent standmount speakers, each with its own trade-offs and environmental dependencies. Deciding which set of trade-offs I prefer has proven much more difficult than I thought it would.
What impressed me about all this comparing is the fact that a big scale product came close to what I consider a SOTA small manufacture speaker coming from a designer virtuoso. Similar topic always arouse when talking about TL design. MOst will say it can be really good, but it's almost impossible to go true large scale production because of its complexity.

With R3, we have an accessible (price-wise and geography-wise) speaker that compares to small series wonders. Let's not forget that buying BMR in Central EU is all but impossible, while R3 is available in at least 4 small audio shops in my town.
 

pjug

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What impressed me about all this comparing is the fact that a big scale product came close to what I consider a SOTA small manufacture speaker coming from a designer virtuoso. Similar topic always arouse when talking about TL design. MOst will say it can be really good, but it's almost impossible to go true large scale production because of its complexity.

With R3, we have an accessible (price-wise and geography-wise) speaker that compares to small series wonders. Let's not forget that buying BMR in Central EU is all but impossible, while R3 is available in at least 4 small audio shops in my town.
I see it the opposite way. A small manufacturer with limited resources compared to those of KEF has made a speaker that seems to hold its own against the R3, and at a lower price even without having the same kind of economy of scale.
 

ROOSKIE

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I see it the opposite way. A small manufacturer with limited resources compared to those of KEF has made a speaker that seems to hold its own against the R3, and at a lower price even without having the same kind of economy of scale.
Philharmonic is awesome though it is run almost as a hobby by dedicated enthusiasts.
The profit margins they accept would not be tenable for many buisnesses.
Also they are direct sales only and difficult to find in most of the world. Imagine having to pay dealers and keep stock around the planet.
The economies of scale also involve tremendous initial investment and risk to get into large scale in 1st place.

The BMR, as a really bespoke & extremely low volume design, by a very talented engineer and team for $2k, is a massive bargain. So is the R3 as a product that has the benefits of global access and the backing of the resources of an enormous company (by speaker company standards) .
 

killdozzer

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I see it the opposite way. A small manufacturer with limited resources compared to those of KEF has made a speaker that seems to hold its own against the R3, and at a lower price even without having the same kind of economy of scale.
I don't. You can go wild on a prototype, but to start a large scale production means huge investment and a lot of cut-backs. The whole difference between an intricate design and final product is due to cost cut-backs. That's why you can still easily make DIY TL, but almost all companies gave up on them despite some obvious advantages.
 

alexis

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I don't. You can go wild on a prototype, but to start a large scale production means huge investment and a lot of cut-backs. The whole difference between an intricate design and final product is due to cost cut-backs. That's why you can still easily make DIY TL, but almost all companies gave up on them despite some obvious advantages.
Given BMR Tower and Monitors use many identical production facility as many premium audio names, I understand the cost cut-back you are referring to. However, these are not the difference in pricing and value people are seeing. KEF has a much bigger marketing budget than us. They need to stock with all dealers and dealers would need to recoup these costs. (I use the word "cost" not "profit". In this business long enough, I understand the challenge of being a dealer) BMR users will lose the convenience of ordering from Amazon or Crutchfield or go into a store in EU, they also need to wait for our production time. In Taiwan, people paid up front and wait for 3-4 months. In return, if you can be "patient", you can enjoy the benefits.

You also won't see us "on sale". We run small operations - well - at this moment, I'd say relatively small. For example, if you compare our BMR Towers, we sell more than several premium Tower produced in the same production facility. The sale volume for 6K - 20K Tower speakers is "relatively low". We are also much lower priced if you compare and we almost never (be afford to) provide "discount / on sale".

We stay true to our production goals. For example, you can never convince the "talented" designer to simplify his crossover "to save costs". Every speaker shipped from the USA are all hand assembled here and at least one of the founding partners will hear a success test tone before we pack it. We can afford premium components that no big name manufacture can use. For example, we are the biggest Scanspeak Revelator 8" woofer customer in the world. I saw Wilson Audio once used the same 8" Revelator in their 14K speaker, not anymore, they changed to another driver that can fit their design goal. If we could find a more affordable woofer for the BMR Tower, we would do that same. But we'd probably reflect our reduced costs in the pricing.
 

Rufus T. Firefly

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@Steve Dallas Have you had any observations on how these speakers behave with placement closer to a back wall? I'd love to have them out a couple of feet, and could of course for critical listening sessions, but I'm pretty sure my better half would no find that acceptable for everyday aesthetics.

And am I correct that you mentioned that the R3's have an advantage in dialogue for TV/movies? Is it a big difference over the BMR? I'd like to run my 2 channel on the regs for my AV pleasure instead of having a dedicated center channel or sound bar..it's just less things to buy and takes up more space.
 
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Steve Dallas

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@Steve Dallas Have you had any observations on how these speakers behave with placement closer to a back wall? I'd love to have them out a couple of feet, and could of course for critical listening sessions, but I'm pretty sure my better half would no find that acceptable for everyday aesthetics.

And am I correct that you mentioned that the R3's have an advantage in dialogue for TV/movies? Is it a big difference over the BMR? I'd like to run my 2 channel on the regs for my AV pleasure instead of having a dedicated center channel or sound bar..it's just less things to buy and takes up more space.

By "these speakers" I assume you mean the BMRs? I worked with speaker placement with both speakers extensively. Both do exactly what you would expect and are similar in overall bass energy. See this post. BUT, this is HIGHLY dependent on the modes in your particular room. (My room is basically a cube, which is terrible for acoustics.) If you have digital room correction (DRC) or parametric EQ (PEQ) available, the issue is largely moot.

I locate my speakers very close to the front wall, generally speaking, because that pushes the speaker boundary interference (SBIR) frequency higher, where it is easier to treat with broadband absorption behind the speakers. Doing this also moves that null well out of kick drum impact range. I use DRC in every room to knock the bass peaks down.

You have to move speakers VERY far away from the front wall to eliminate SBIR. At 3' from the front wall, the SBIR frequency is 93Hz, for example.

I do not believe I commented on dialog in this thread. I did evaluate the BMRs for stereo movie and television duty in my other review, and I found them equal to the task to my Revel F206s. That is to say they handled the job perfectly well. I imagine they are also equal to the R3s in this respect.

The difference in horizontal dispersion is the difference between 120 degrees (R3) and 160 degrees (BMR). The R3 casts a narrower, deeper soundstage. The BMR casts a wider, more enveloping soundstage. Which you like is a matter of personal preference. Neither has much, if any, impact on intelligibility of dialog.

You may be thinking of this post in another thread--an opinion with which I do not happen to agree given that I have first-hand experience with both:


[I edited this post to correct an false recollection I had about bass energy between the two speakers.]
 
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Rufus T. Firefly

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By "these speakers" I assume you mean the BMRs? I worked with speaker placement with both speakers extensively. Both do exactly what you would expect and are similar in overall bass energy. See this post. BUT, this is HIGHLY dependent on the modes in your particular room. (My room is basically a cube, which is terrible for acoustics.) If you have digital room correction (DRC) or parametric EQ (PEQ) available, the issue is largely moot.

I locate my speakers very close to the front wall, generally speaking, because that pushes the speaker boundary interference (SBIR) frequency higher, where it is easier to treat with broadband absorption behind the speakers. Doing this also moves that null well out of kick drum impact range. I use DRC in every room to knock the bass peaks down.

You have to move speakers VERY far away from the front wall to eliminate SBIR. At 3' from the front wall, the SBIR frequency is 93Hz, for example.

I do not believe I commented on dialog in this thread. I did evaluate the BMRs for stereo movie and television duty in my other review, and I found them equal to the task to my Revel F206s. That is to say they handled the job perfectly well. I imagine they are also equal to the R3s in this respect.

The difference in horizontal dispersion is the difference between 120 degrees (R3) and 160 degrees (BMR). The R3 casts a narrower, deeper soundstage. The BMR casts a wider, more enveloping soundstage. Which you like is a matter of personal preference. Neither has much, if any, impact on intelligibility of dialog.

You may be thinking of this post in another thread--an opinion with which I do not happen to agree given that I have first-hand experience with both:


[I edited this post to correct an false recollection I had about bass energy between the two speakers.]
Yes, I was indeed referencing the BMR's but also the Kef R3. And I may have been thinking about another thread as I have been reading everything I can about these speakers.

Thanks
 
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