Polk Audio LSi 15 - are these the REAL DEAL ???

I just came back from a friend's listening room where he has a nice set-up. Some megabuck amplifiers and digital front end, and for speakers, I had not noticed the manufacturer, but I assumed they were the ''esoteric, expensive kind''. After 20 minutes, he left the room to answer the phone, I stood up to check what the speakers were.What's this? Holy smokes ! POLK AUDIO LS i15 !!! I was floored by the sound, but more by the fact that a Polk speaker could find it's way into such ''high end'' company.

They sure sounded good, no make that excellent, but is it because of the excellent surrounding components or are they simply a well-kept secret ?

I am very much interested in hearing if others have also found these speakers to be good sounding for the money and if they really belong in a high-end system, or is the combination I heard just a fluke?

Any input will help as I'm looking for speakers right now, thanks all !
The Polks you heard were actually favorably reviewed by the high-end press, most notably Anthony Cordesman in TAS, I believe. They are pretty good speakers, as you found out yourself with your own ears. And how they sounded to you is what really matters, when you come down to it.
I actually owned these speakers once upon a time. I found them to be just the slightest bit forward, and not quite the last word in microdynamics. Overall, though, I'd say they were a 9 out of 10 (especially at that price point).

I had to upgrade all the way to Merlin VSM-MM's ($8,000) to better the LSi 15's by a truly meaningful margin.

So for many systems, and many sonic preferences, they could really be a quality choice. The near-full rangeness of them was a nice benefit as well.
When I went speaker shopping a few months ago, I promised myself I would not spend more then $6,000.00 for my new speakers. So I set out and listened to ALOT of really nice speakers but, I ended up buying the Polk LSi15's..and im glad I did they sound great with my Accuphase.
I bought them because, for my ears the whole sonic prefomance [sound stage,imaging,etc.]was just better on average then all the others I'd listened to.
they are a 4 ohm speaker so you might want to keep that in mind if you are thinking of buying some. So yeah... I think they are the real deal.
I found them to be lacking in the low end but what can you expect with an unpowered 8" woofer. I was waffling between the LSi25's & B&W N804 - got the 804's for a mere $350 more.
My previous Polks - RT20p - had probelms with internal amp and voice coils on the 8" powered subs. I was concerned about quality but Polk's CS was always a pleasure to work with.
I own the Polk Audio LSi9's and use them with a JW modded Museatex DAC and transport, with decent amplification they can do things that many other speakers in their price point simply cannot. They do tend to shock people when you listen to them. From what I understand Polk Audio tried really hard to bring back an "Audiophile" speaker trying to appeal to a forgotten market when they shifted more downmarket.

The reason their such a secret imho has more to do with distribution networks and not really quality of speaker. Most of the dealers that carry these speakers focus on price rather then quality and usually don't have the quality electronics to really show people what their capable of. I have heard from a person in the industry that remarked the LSi15's embarrassed a number of higher end offerings from B&W, Krell and Thiel 3yrs ago at CES. During that demo I think the LSi's were using all Ayre electronics. Again not the kind of electronic's you'd find at most dealers showrooms who carry Polk Audio.
YES THEY ARE THE REAL DEAL. Real glad to see that this line is getting some of the visibility it deserves.

I have owned these speakers for 2 years, and purchased them in part because of that 2002 Golden Ear award from Absolute Sound on the LSI 15, and partly because ( I admit it!) of their classy looks. I sincerely think that the LSI 15’s are a steal, the best of the LSI series (surpassing the LSI 25 IMHO, and are way under priced. They smoke my previous ‘’ almost $ 4,000.00’’ (name withheld to protect a well-established and much-respected brand...) previous speakers in the area of imaging , mids, and top-end refinement. Their downside is mainly this : They suffer from lack of ‘’audiophile grade’’ prestige, and this is their ONLY flaw at this price point. Polk is one of the larger companies out there and they have finally come out with a line to get the most of their R&D.

To their credit, it is a hard challenge to manufacture affordable speakers that sound good. That’s what they did with their current ,’Circuit City type’ products.

However, for once, they put the same objectives in an ‘’no-excuses’’ design with the LSI series. The results are even more impressive. I would have to spend 3 times the price, in my opinion, to better them, and then not necessarily on every parameters.

So yes, they are ‘’the real deal’’, but for real folks only. If you need boutique prestige brands, look elsewhere! The LSI-15 should satisfy even jaded audiophiles. I hear the recent upgraded lacquer finish and real wood cabinetry makes these even better looking.

Too bad that Polks are only available in chain stores – that in turn do not carry this more expensive LSI line because high-end audio is not their typical market.....Polk, if you are reading this – Get in the specialty stores or sell direct ( but keep the price reasonable will you? !)
Ok my mind is made up! I'M getting the LSI 15 ! Just back from a business trip where I had a chance to take some time off to go for an audition (no used LSI 15 available on audiogon, unfortunately, they seem scarce).

I had the opportunity to do some critical listening of the LSI 15 against the LSI 25. Not the best setting, I may add. The LSI 25 is a fine speaker, but I think the LSI 15 is a more neutral and coherent speaker. It is the more accurate speaker in my opinion. I am paying almost full retail for mine, but what can I say, they are worth every penny, and I'M buying them with a smile. I hope I won't get too many laughs for buying a ''Polk Audio'' speaker ( I can just hear them...) It's a no brainer for me, and I can afford more expensive gear but I see no reason for paying more. They truly are excellent for the money.
Thanks for all the replies, this is a great site to share ideas and experiences. I hope they will sound as good in my home...
AudioKicks, take that money you saved on the speakers and buy the best electronics you can afford for them. Every single upgrade you do from now on, you'll hear with those speakers. As for people laughing at you, pay no attention, or better yet...if it still bugs you let them come over for an audition.

My Uncle owns $8k Oskar Kithra's with Blue Circle amplification and Sony ES source, his jaw dropped when he heard my modest setup with those speakers, the speakers are actually the cheapest part of my equation, but he stuttured the words Polk, a few times. Even a few dealers that have heard them don't deny there a stunning value, its that stimga which makes them hard to sell, that and the fact that some yahoo could come walking over from Circuit City and ask for a crazy discount.
LSI 15....what type of amplifier / preamp or integrated would work best with this speaker ?

YBA Passion
SimAudio i-7
Classe CAP 151
Portal Panache
Blue Circle N series

among others

Pairing LSI 15 speakers, I guess you are just recommending these amps because there are pretty good, I am actually hoping to hear from actual experiences of using electronics with these amazing speakers. I agree that all of the above amps are outstanding, save the Moon product - Moon gear never did it for me sonically.
I agree with the assessment that the LSI 15 is better than the LSI 25, in many aspects. The 25 can probably produce more bass but it doesn't sound better, IMO.
The LSI line does need good gear and a decent high current amp, I've seen some setup being driven by mass market receivers that don't do it justice.
As for best bang for the buck, here I think you might be able to do better on the used market, with some research and luck. It's hard to get a chance to listen to all the gear that's available used, though, since most of the high end stuff has limited distribution, and not everyone gets to go to CES or THE type shows. You got to listen to the LSI 15 and you liked it, so go with it, I'd say.
audiokicks - It's funny you mention SimAudio because I use one of their intergrateds to drive the LSi9's and a buddy I know online uses a W-3 with Anthem pre with great results...but hearing and audio is subjective, I wish you luck
Lush, thanks for your comments. Concerning the Moon products by Sim Audio, I wish I could go into details but I better not...I have owned a couple of Moon I-5,s ( 5 years apart) and sonically, I could never get to like that sound. I guess I was a sucker for good looks. Furthermore, I had issues with them. The first had a faulty volume control that would take a sudden discharge of static electricity from me touching the knob (from walking on carpeting). My volume control went from 15 to 50 in a snap, and blew my speakers at the time. The second unit had been under servicing a few times. The Moon units look nice, but it's nothing to me if it's not reliable. I'm sure they corrected the problems, but in all honesty, for gear this expensive Sim's service/claims dept need to treat their customers better. Above all, it has to sound involving enough - and that's where they just didn't do it for me....but try, I sure did!

I also am a Polk LSi15 owner, and I also find it to be superior to the LSi25. Getting that active sub to mix well with the rest of the speaker its a bit of work.

Having said that, I drive my speakers with a Perreaux Radiance R200i integrated and love the sound. The one thing about the LSi15s is that you need an amp with a high damping factor to control the woofer on the speaker, otherwise they may sound a little loose on the bottom end. So, you almost certainly want to drive them with a solid state amp. Prior to having the R200i, I drove them with a Perreaux 200iP. That produced a slightly different sound, one that seem to be, not as neutral, but seemed to have a little bit of more body to it (I'm talking about very minimal differences here). That is a very satisfying integrated amp that won't cost an arm and a leg, and will make your speakers sing.
Say the words "Polk" amidst a hifi crowd and prepare to be given a duncecap or in some extreme cases - whippings.

Ok, so maybe it is not that dramatic, duncecap’s are only given half of the time. Bottom of the line is that the LSi series was and still is a very well built, great sounding series that continues to offer solid value in the market. The LSi series has also managed to stay under the radar for 5 years now. Recent representation in the chain Tweeter has given this half a decade series some exposure and finally, people are starting to get a chance to know that these products exist.

Unfortunately, Polk has a stigma in hifi (be it car audio or home audio) and many people will listen to the name first. Secondly, the LSi series truly requires very specific positioning and high tone electronics many (mostly salesmen) would think un-necessary for a speaker of their price range. While it is great to see Polk’s series being exposed, there are still issues of people getting half-way decent demo’s. This is certainly an instance that Polk does not stand alone in, and is the price of mass exposure.

Yes, Virginia, they are the ‘real deal’.
I talked with one of the heads at Polk Audio, off the record. In Canada at least, they had presented the entire line to many independants. The number 1 response given upon listening? "These are great speakers, tremendous value...but if I carry these, B&W will yank there line from my store". Politics play a big part. It could be considered Polk Audio's own fault when they decided to sell more downstream and leave many independants out to hang many years ago with the SDA's.
LSi 15, the continuing story! I feel that Lush has some perfectly valid points about the Politics of Audio. I personally know of a strong Totem dealer who had to get rid of QUAD'S L series loudspeakers for one main reason.

Whenever a potential buyer would audition any of the QUAD offerings (mainly the 21L and 22L), it would make for a harder sell to spend the extra green for a Totem product. This does not make Totems any less of a speaker, but speaks volumes for QUAD value.

I am absolutely convinced that if the LSi found it's way in High-End Audio Snob Shops, it would be exaclty the same story. The LSi series would hold its own agains twice-the-price comptetition, and smoke a few in the process. Someone in this forum mentionned that for a bit more money ($300.00?) he gladly went for a B&W 704. It is a fine speaker indeed, and all a matter of taste...but for my taste at least, I feel that the 704 is very expensive...

I think this Polk Audio LSi series, along with the ''L'' series from QUAD, deserve better exposure. But let's face it, it will never happen. At least for Polk - imagine, a Polk speaker next to a B&W, JM Lab or Sonus Faber speaker - in the the SAME ROOM !! Rags do not hang out with the riches in Audioland...except when clearly identified as budget gear, and placed in the ''lifestyle'' corner of the shop alongside the theatre-in-a-box systems and Bose wave radios. Too bad, dealers (and manufacturer's reps) might learn a thing or two about going back to just plain having fun with audio, instead of this *%$@/?? analyzing the ''sound'' all the time. Tapping your feet because it sounds good without having to break the bank, and getting connected with the music and the artists are the only way to go, in my book !!!! I'm open to comments here, tell me I'm wrong on this one!
There are a few factors that come into play here.

First of all, Polk Audio is a fantastic company that unfortunately carries virtually no respect in the hi-fi world. Lush listed just one of many reasons why that is so. I have asked numerous dealers on why they would not carry Polk’s Lsi line, and the answer is the same harmony; “Because…, its Polk”.

Very few manufacturers actually demand or request a dealer to drop another line if they are to bring in their own. This is almost always up to the dealer, whether they want to admit it or not. Of course, every manufacturer expects a dealer to bring in worthwhile business, some very few even setting stipulations per year. The question is can that dealer satisfy all manufacturers that he represents? If not – then something has to give and something has to be dropped. Dealers may claim they ‘had’ to drop a certain line to bring in another – which can sometimes paint a mis-leading picture.

It all just comes down to the bottom line and ole fashioned business. It is up to the dealer to listen to his/her customers and to provide them with different exciting options that feed the craze. Any dealer with their salt will try different avenues and never lose sight of what they are doing and the difference they make in peoples lives…, but its ultimately up to the customers to keep the flow going, to control demand and to make demand.

Anyway, back to the LSi series. This is certainly an admirable series that is one of the many under-appreciated products in this hobby. I am glad to see you (audiokicks) and many others have discovered them and can hopefully expose them to others as opportunities present themselves.
Rumadian, you are right on the money here. After all is said, it is up to the dealer. How many are truly listening to clients out there ? A few I'm sure, but for the most part, they are elitist and look at you the wrong way if you do not speak ''their'' language. I have been around, and owned obscenely expensive gear myself, but it's all personal. I would never judge on ones knowledge - or lack of- the audio scene. Again, most of them would never carry Polk Audio. And this is pretty stupid as this should be a business decision, as these babies should sell well, especially if you can A-B them with other, more expensive speakers that the store carries. - I would surely carry this line if I was a dealer - if only to make it more affordable to get a whole new group of potential audiophiles, in this great hobby. Then, if they liked it, they would be back for cables, cd players, you know, the works. And with the Polk LSi series, many would stop right there and be done with it for speakers and just enjoy the music. Not a bad scenario if you asked me, because there are so many other opportunities to spend in audio it's not even funny. Sure there are good dealers. The one close to my place ? Never a smile, and they follow you around as if you were about to steal something...so much pressure.Sooo unpleasant. On the other hand, this very situation makes Audiogon a welcomed and justified place in audiophilia. It's not all bad after all.
Man it is so old hearing people bash speakers like Polk, some guys that need to feel good about their purchase wont allow themselves to admit a speaker can be good and not break the bank, this is such a snobs hobby...if a guy owns an ultra elite product...just laugh it off, or laugh at them, guys who own a bragging rights speaker like a Wilson, or some 40K Dali wont give anyone props that didnt by the hype.........it takes all kinds. This ofcourse will piss those type of folks off, but they never worry about bashing others for less expensive gear, plus if they have that much money to blow then who can actually feel sorry for them in the first place?
The Polk Audio LSi 15 is equipped with a Vifa ring radiator tweeter, and I can attest to a giant killer value with this speaker. Not because it sounds riveting with this tweeter, but because the whole package is a bona-fida work of art. I own some expensive Totem Mani2 speakers in my ''high end''system . I purchased a pair LSi 15 as the first building blocks of an upcoming Home Theater system to be used with an (also upcoming) ARCAM AVR 300 HT receiver. The other day, just for the fun of it, I installed the LSi 15's in my ''serious'' rig. The sound is HUGE maybe a side effect of the high position of the drivers. Better yet, it was FUN and I could crank it up and get extremely good bass to complement the refined high frequencies and midrange. Let me tell you. I'm done with monitors. Once you get them on proper stands, they take up as much space, if not more than many speakers. Their imaging is legendary, but now that ''full range'' speakers are slim and deep, that advantage is no longer obvious. And I couldn't care less about the ''prestige'' branding anymore. I mean, there are so many ''High end'' manufacturers having their gear made in China right now, that a name no longer means the same as before. And I'm not knocking chinese products, some of them are well made and are incredible values. I'll take a beautifull, well made, and nice sounding speaker like the LSi 15 any day over the flavor of the month speaker. AS nice as those Totems are,(and they ARE exquisite) I just cannot justify keeping them after hearing what a huge sounding and near full-range gem like the LSi speaker can do for the equivalent of the price of some speaker cables. And there are many other speakers that are just as good just waiting to be discovered. To make a long story short, yes, the LSi 15 are a major real deal,(so is the rest of the line, but not by such a wide margin) at least for me.
I have auditioned the Polk Audio Lsi-15 speaker and agree that it is a great speaker. I have not always understood the bashing of Polk. I bought the Polk Monitor 10B in 1980 and it still sounds very good today. Robert Reina of Stereophile rated the Polk RT 25i the best small speaker below $1,000 about 3 years ago. And their car speakers sound very good. They have brought good sound to inexpensive systems much like PSB has done. I guess the bashing has something to do with using large merchandisers like Circuit City.
John Dean
Thanks Lush! I was inspired by your comment that ''Every single upgrade you do from now on, you'll hear with those speakers'' Well, I followed the word from the wise and upgraded my speaker cables to Nordost Red Dawn (from an entry-level Kimber cable, not bad in itself). All I can say is that the sound improved in every way. This LSi 15 speaker is indeed stunning, and not just for the price. Main improvements are: Bass is just as tight and low, but know I can actually hear the actual vibration of the strings, and the vocals are just eerie and grab you with emotion. I am set with my speakers for a long time now ''hopefully'' as I can now just relax and enjoy the music. One last thing, I tried this little gizmo called the ''Quiet Line'' that I have been wondering about it's merit for quite some time. It DEFINITELY WORKS in the right direction ! I would like to hear about others who have tried this also...and would appreciated input from other LSi 15 owners and how they got the best of this amazing speaker...thanks!
LSi 15 speakers are the real deal for sure.I love mine. For the first time in 10 years, I have speakers I can finally finally keep for the long haul. Never mind the Polk name, this company is dead serious about this product. Glad to see audiophiles are waking up to them.
I listened to LSi 15 next to Dynaudio Audience 72 and KEF Q 11, all paired with Arcam FMJ 32. When my sales rep switched from the others to the Polk, it was as if a thick quilt was lifted from the speakers and the music came alive. Sales guy nodded and said, "I know". A few months later I learned that the dealer discontinued the line. I own B and W 703 paired with MF A5 integrated, and I am very pleased with my system. Had I heard the Polks first, though, I'd probably have them and an extra grand plus in my portfolio.....
What amp and source are you currently driving your speakers with audiokicks?
Sorry for the late response, my source and amps: Sony 9000ES DVD player for a source and a Unison Unico integrated. Nice match. I am also using Nordost Blue Heaven interconnects, MIT Terminator-2 speaker wire, and a Richard Gray power conditionner. (the conditionner I am not sure about it's benefits).BTW, I just saw an LSi-15 for sale here on A'GON at a real good price. It would make a nice purchase for the holidays at the price it is being offered.
I have the LSI-25 and the matching center and surrounds. They sound great but I easily melt crossovers with my Sunfire amp. For volume abuse I dont like them as much as my cheaper DCM's I bought years ago.
I've owned a pair of LSi15s for a year now. To sum it up: I have NO desire, or even the remotest thought, of looking for a speaker upgrade. I have a very modest rig (I may be the very definition of an audio enthusiast on a beer budget) that includes a Portal Audio Panache and Cambridge Audio Azur 640C cdp. Just like Jndean above, I purchased a pair of Monitor 10Bs in the 80's, and boy, did I enjoy those speakers for almost 20 years! However, the LSi15s are in an altogether different galaxy. I don't have any experience with mega buck speakers, so I can't truly say how the LSi15s compare with higher end, more expensive stuff. However, I deeply love and appreciate music, and the LSi's blow me away every single time I sit down for some critical listening. Properly set up, I've found their bass reproduction perfectly accurate, tuneful, and more than adequate. Yes, these are absolutely the REAL deal, and one of the best kept secrets in audio!! P.S. - I bought my pair locally for $750 -- the previous owner simply had mass market electronics, so he did not realize what he was giving up... The control the Panache exerts upon the LSi's is astounding, and the sound it produces through the Polks is simply exquisite.