Philharmonic BMR Speaker Kit - A Few Build Notes


2021-08-13 11:56 am
I just finished the Philharmonic BMR speaker kit (the bookshelf version) from Meniscus Audio and thought I would capture a few notes in case it is helpful to someone else building or thinking about building it. I built the cabinets, although flatpacks are available for this kit.
  • The biggest challenge in the baffle is that the BMR driver is not round. It has projections for the screws, and so the usual approach with routing using a Jasper circle jig is not adequate. After searching for ideas, I covered a BMR with plastic, screwed it face down on a piece of ¼ plywood, and used a router template kit I had to make a template for the driver. The template kit is designed to compensate for the router bit width when you create and then use the template. Once I had the template, I routed the hole for the body of the driver in the baffle, carefully placed my template on the baffle so it was oriented evenly over the hole and square to the baffle, clamped it down and then routed out those screw projections. As you can see from the picture, it produced a nice, tight fit. As an only moderately skilled woodworker, I was very happy with the results.
  • Within the cabinet, there is a small box for the BMR – kind of a cabinet within the cabinet. I had trouble visualizing this from the drawings, but found a video of a flatpack being assembled and that made it clear.
  • The inside box for the BMR needs to go right up against the brace – the brace forms one of the walls. I cut slots on the side walls of the cabinet for the brace with multiple passes on the table saw. I made the first pass at the same height as the top of the cutout, then made subsequent cuts until the brace fit into the slots.
  • Routing the irregular shape for the BMR, and getting the inside BMR box in the right place were the only aspects that made this a more challenging build than other speakers I have built. (I have done a few, not a lot).
  • From other posts, including from Dennis Murphy – the designer of the BMR - I made sure the little BMR box was very well sealed, including the hole for the wires, and stuffed that little box very full of eco-core. Much more stuffed than I would have had I not seen his posts.
  • I did not do the fancier joinery which came with the plans. My panels were all straight cuts which I joined with my Festool Domino.
  • I made the woofer crossover layout to look like the pictures of the built crossovers Meniscus has on their site. They are a little different from the orientation in the drawings that come with the kit. If I didn’t do this, the woofers were longer than the inside width which would make placing them a good distance from both the mid crossover and the woofer driver a challenge.
  • The overview is that the sound stage is large, and I am hearing things I’ve never heard before in songs I have been listening to for a long time. So far, nothing has been disappointing, and I have had multiple moments of sheer joy hearing new things.
  • Some song-specific impressions:
  • All For You – Sister Hazel – (live version) – The width of the sound stage helped with the “you are there” feeling as the crowd responds to the intro. With a compressed sound stage the two singers can feel on top of each other, but they help distinctly separate spaces.
  • I haven’t Been Me – Once Blue – I had never heard her breaths before. So cool.
  • Rich Mullins – Sometimes By Step – This is a poor recording which I expected to sound poor because these speakers are revealing. It didn’t, it sounded great. The intro to this song is some moderately fast piano playing. What I had never heard before is that the drummer is hitting his high hat in synch with those notes. Listened to this song a hundred times and never heard that before.
  • I’ll take you There – Sapphires – Heard ghost notes from the drummer I had not heard before. It is a much more complex beat he is doing that I ever realized. I enjoyed the song much more hearing that.
  • Quanta Qualia – Hayley Westenra – I love this song. It is beautiful. And it’s a good tweeter test as she hits outrageously high notes and I have heard it sound a bit shrill on lesser speakers. No shrillness at all. In addition, my wife remarked that there were a pair of voices in one place where she thought it was single before. In general, as she is singing notes of accompanying instruments, it was much easier to hear to them both separately.
  • Songs by Chicago also sounded better than I expected – great music not very well recorded.
  • I love these speakers. They sound great to me and I am anxious to finish work each day so I can go downstairs and listen to more music.
My setup
  • Raspberry Pi with a Digi SPDIF HAT feeding digital flac into a Topping E30 DAC.
  • Dac into an SP14 tube preamp.
  • From the SP14 into 2 down-firing Rythmik Audio DS1200 subs.
  • And into M-125 tube monoblocks. And out to the wonderful BMR bookshelf speakers.
Thanks for posting your review - and thank you for listing your components and posting a picture of your room. That really helps with putting everything in context. The BMR's are excellent speakers as measured by Erin:

Enjoy the music!

Thanks for this write-up. I've been interested in building a pair of BMR's. The first speaker I ever built was Dennis Murphy's MBOW-1. It was such a great sounding small pair of speakers. I wound up building three pairs and giving them away to friends. I'm sad I no longer have a pair. The second model speaker I speaker built was the Ellis Audio 1801B - crossover designed by Dennis Murphy. Also a great sounding speaker, which I never gave away. I'd love to get a chance to hear the BMR at some point.