Question: A year or so ago you recommended Polk LSi25 speakers as a great value on closeout for $1,299 a pair. I managed to find a like-new set on eBay for $750 and they were local, so I picked them up.
I think I need a new receiver to power them. I have a vintage Pioneer SX-828 that drove my vintage EPI HE21’s beautifully. When I hooked up the Polks, they sound fine up to about ¼ volume. Higher than that, the amp clips on and off. I am thinking this is not good for my receiver. I believe the EPI’s are 8 ohm and the LSi25’s are 4 ohms. Should I get a new receiver or amplifier for my new speakers?
Answer: Whatever you do, don't use the SX-828 with your Polk LSi25 speakers anymore! It is true that driving the receiver until it clips and shuts off is not good for the receiver, but it is even worse for those beautiful new speakers. Clipping creates distortion that damages speakers, especially tweeters. The Vifa Ring Radiator tweeters used in your Polk LSi speakers are pretty special, and you want to keep them performing their best.
In the past I would have recommended the Harman/Kardon HK3490 receiver. Selling for under $400, it had tons of clean power and could drive your 4-ohm speakers effortlessly. Sadly, it has been discontinued and replaced with a much inferior model.
Your best bet is to get an integrated amplifier, or a separate amplifier and preamplifier. Here are three options to consider.
The first is the Emotiva mini-X A100. It provides 80 watts per channel into 4-ohms and sells for 219 at www.emotiva.com.
A midpriced option is the NAD C 326 BEE for $549. See it at www.nadelectronics.com.
The third choice is a bit off the beaten path. The Neuhaus Laboratories T-2 integrated amplifier uses vacuum tubes, and though it is only 20 watts per channel, it will drive your LSi25 speakers very well. In fact, I used the T-2 to drive the Polk LSi9 speakers and they worked wonderfully together. The T-2 has three stereo connections. a digital optical connection and a USB connection. It is perfect for use playing back digital files and makes them sound nice and warm. I highly recommend it — www.neuhauslabs.com.
Home TV recording
After my recent column about home television recording and the Channelmaster DVR+, I received quite a few emails from readers with suggestions for alternatives. One of them, the Mediasonic HW-150, looks to be a standout value and does most of what the DVR+ does, but for $35 instead of $249. It only has one tuner and lacks the fancy program guide, but given the price of $35 vs. $249, I doubt people will complain too much.
Needless to say I am excited about this prospect and ordered one from Amazon immediately. It recently arrived, and I have commenced testing. I will have more about it next week, so if you are interested in home recording, stay tuned … and don’t buy anything until you see next week’s column!
Read product reviews by Don Lindich at soundadviceblog.com.