Sound Advice: Polk speakers are great quality, price
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Question: I am looking for audiophile quality tower speakers for around $1,000. I have a powerful amplifier and my top priority is great sound, but my wife gets to pick the finish and she wants high quality wood. Any recommendations?
Answer: You can certainly get great tower speakers for $1,000, but most of the brands that provide very high sound quality on a budget, such as Arx, put all the money into the speaker parts and house them in simple cabinets with a black or simulated wood finish. Your timing is good, as an exceptional value is waiting for anyone looking for speakers with high-end sound and a premium wood finish to go with it.
Polk Audio has traditionally been regarded as a high quality but mass-market brand. Years ago, Polk decided to invest its considerable financial resources to develop speakers with the looks and sound to compete with very expensive high-end speakers, but at much more affordable prices.
The result was the LSi series, which played to universal critical acclaim. They have a very attractive finish with gloss piano black surfaces contrasted with beautiful ebony or cherry wood side panels. Most importantly, they have a sweet, detailed sound that makes you sit up and take notice.
Years ago, a friend who does not work in the industry accompanied me to an audio show. We heard a demo of the Polk LSi9s and then heard a different demonstration in another room. When we left the second demo, he mentioned he much preferred the Polks. He didn't know that the LSi9 speakers were $999 per pair and the speakers he had just heard were $20,000 per pair. It goes to show how good the LSi speakers are and also that not everything with a high price tag is worth the money.
The LSi series is being replaced by the new and improved LSiM series, which is also getting rave reviews but is more expensive. There is still a lot of LSi inventory available and, at current prices, they are a steal. I spoke with Polk Audio's PR representative, and he said when they are gone, they are gone -- so don't wait too long.
The Polk LSi9 has long been a favorite of mine. It is best considered a stand-mounted speaker because not only do they perform best on stands, they are a bit large for any bookshelf and weigh 39 pounds each. The LSi9 retails for $999 and are worth every penny. I have seen them selling for $599 per pair online, though they are getting scarce now.
The LSi15 is a tower speaker with side-firing woofers. The LSi15 towers list for $1,700 per pair but are currently selling for $900 to $1,000 per pair, which is right where you want to be. The king-of-the-hill LSi25 is larger than the Lsi15 and has built-in powered subwoofers. Listing for $2,799 per pair, they are currently available for $1,300 per pair. Finally, those of you looking for something small can get the LSi7 bookshelf speakers for under $375 per pair, reduced from $799 per pair.
Anyone considering Polk LSi speakers should note that they are a 4-ohm speaker and require a high quality, powerful amplifier. You said you have that already, so you should be all set.
First Published July 22, 2012 12:00 am