Review: Polk Audio Lsi 25 Speaker
MSRP: $3,000. Actual price paid: $1,829 (shipped).
I know, I know...Polk Audio is a compnay that has been more closely associated with the likes of Circuit City and Best Buy than with the higher realm of Audiophilia. But before you dismiss full-range floorstanders, you'd be wise to give them an audition, in my humble opinion.
The Lsi 25's, along with their younger siblings the Lsi 15's, have received rave reviews in publications such as TAS and The Inner Ear. The difference between the two is that the Lsi 25's have a powered subwoofer built into them, the path I chose to take over the Lsi 15's with a separate subwoofer. I found the Lsi 25's produced a more extended dynamic range on all kinds of music, and were able to plumb the depths of 20-25 Hz bass better than the Lsi 15's could. As an apartment dweller, I could also do without the sub pounding into the floor all the time.
I have been testing the LSi 25's with a broad array of music, from rock (The Who's "My Generation" SACD, Stevie Ray Vaughn's "Couldn't Stand the Weather" SACD and David Gray's "New Day at Midnight" CD, among others) to jazz (Patricia Barber's "Verse" CD, her "Nightclub" SACD, Billie Holiday's "Lady in Satin" SACD, etc.) to classical "Leonard Bernstein's "Rhapsody in Blue/Grand Canyon Suite" SACD and Helene Grimaud's "Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 2").
Naturally, SACD sounds superior to mere CD, and the sound is far more detailed on the higher-resolution format. Percussion is crisper with clearer "decay" of cymbals and the like, you can hear the guitarists sliding their fingers along the strings, and vocalists sound as if they are phyisically present in the room.
CD, however, sounds excellent as well. Personally, I only own about 12 SACDs, so that will not make up the bulk of my listening. No matter what kind of material I throw at the Polks, they handle it with aplomb; even poorly recorded CDs sound as lousy as they should, exhibiting the accuracy of the Lsi 25's.
Soundstaging is excellent to my ear, although I should admit that this is the highest end speaker I have heard in my own listening room (M&K 125's would be next). The noise floor is quite low. And even though the 9000ES is sometimes accused of being a bit bright, and my silver interconnects probably don't help this, but the speakers sound quite neutral to me. They only reveal brightness on recordings that sound bright in every setup I've heard.
For more details and measurements, please consult Polkaudio.com, where they have listed full reviews from a number of publications (many of these are under the Lsi 15 link).
I encourage AudiogoNers to at least consider these speakers, in part because of the performance and in part because of the consumer's ability to take about 35% off of the retail price by comparing vendors. For $1800+ change, I have a hard time imagining how I could have come up with a better 2-channel system. Should I go to multi-channel, I could just add the Lsi 15's in the back and the Lsi-series center channel (The PSW 650 subwoofer would add even more power to the bottom end). Considering the discounts, that would give me a true full-range 5.1 system for a real-world cost of maybe $4,300 or so.
Not bad, eh?
Sony DVP-S9000ES SACD Player
Musical Fidelity A300 Integrated Amp
Analysis Plus Silver Oval In .5 meter Interconnect
Analysis Plus Oval Plus Speaker Cable