It’s not you, it’s me: Polk Monitor 10s

Polk Monitor 10s in storage

Polk Monitor 10s in storage

I was very excited about these speakers – I got a line on them the same week I picked up the Pioneer HPM-100s. I thought they would be a good match up – both were full-size floorstanding speakers, lauded for their ability to handle all frequencies and put out some serious power.

After being smitten by the Polk Monitor 7s (and preferring the 7’s sound to almost anything else I could find) I was sure that the 10s would simply be more of what I already loved – great imaging and clarity, even frequency response. This pair also came from a nice guy on the Polk Forum who had replaced the original SL2000 tweeters with Polk’s upgraded replacement design, the RD0-194. Heck, they even came with the original stands!

A little about the 10s – Just like the other speakers in the Polk Monitor line, the 10s were a sealed design utilizing a passive radiator for low frequencies. Both the Monitor 7 and 10 used the same size radiator (called by Polk a ‘passive fluid coupling’, where the fluid is air inside the cabinet). Whereas the 7 used one 6.5″ driver and a tweeter ,the 10 used two drivers with slightly different crossover values to produce a wider range of frequencies.

Thanks to the dual drivers and the bigger cabinet, the bass response of the 10 was definitely augmented over the 10s – it’s not clear whether it was ‘improved’ or not. Bass seemed to get lower and there was definitely more of it – harder hitting and more prominent. But is more better?

Playing the 7s back to back with the 10s I found that the stereo image was not as clear with the 10s as the 7s – the 7s seemed to have a clearer image, perhaps with a trade-off in smoothness at the top end and full bottom. But placement and eq could round out the 7s, and I couldn’t get the 10s to really work for me. Moreover, with the bass-heavy vintage systems I was using in my living room (Pioneer SX-9000 and Sony STR-7065) the 7’s bass was sufficient and the 10s got boomy.

In an A/B test with the HPM-100s, the 10s seemed t obe more accurate, clearer, and with improved imaging. But for some reason I kept coming back to the HPM-100s – the sound was just more enjoyable, even if I knew it was technically less accurate.

It was weird – on paper, the 10s were awesome – great bass response, accurate treble and a great new tweeter, good imaging. But I couldn’t get comfortable with them.

So the 10s went in storage while I enjoyed other speakers – you can only listen to one set at a time!

Eventually another great guy from the Polk Forum, Rick, brought over some of his vintage Polk Monitors (7As and 5As) for a demo. We worked out a trade for those 5s and 7s in exchange for the 10s. While we did, I pulled the 10s out for a demo on my new Pioneer VSX-820 home theater receiver.

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Holy cow!! The 10s were amazing! Absolutely breathtaking! Up on stands and set about a foot from the wall, the new Pioneer made those new tweeters sing. All the boominess and laid-back highs of the 10s were gone. They sounded like 7s but MORE, and in a good way! I almost put them back in storage and said ‘no deal’ but I was too into the trade we were about to make ,and off they went with Rick to make some other camper happier than I’d ever been.

Another lesson learned – placement and amp can do a lot to change a speaker’s characteristics. It was only at that last demo that I understood why everyone raved about the new RD0-194 tweeters. The SL2000s in the 7s have a jump in output at certain frequencies (I think around 12khz), which makes them fatiguing and bright on some amps. The new tweeters, which are a drop-in replacement, take care of that – they are more accurate and less in your face than the SLs, and are supposed to be more accurate than the original Peerless tweeters, which are highly sought after themselves (my Polk 7As and 5As have them, stay tuned).

This set of 10s was also in mint condition. The grilles were perfect and the finish, which I would describe at a rosewood veneer, was spotless. I think that this was a textured vinyl veneer but I am not sure. It was definitely different from the kitchen drawer-liner type of covering on the 7Cs I had. In any case it looked great.

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I won’t be tempted to go for another set of 10s, but I would love to mod a set of 7s with the new tweeter. In the future I’ll be recapping my Polk 7As and I can’t wait to hear how they change.

One of the great things about the vintage Polks is the huge community that’s sprung up around them, the great and helpful folks you come in contact with, and the large amount of cheap and easy modifications (and advice on how to do them) that are out there. Loads of fun.

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~ by silverfacestereo on December 27, 2012.

One Response to “It’s not you, it’s me: Polk Monitor 10s”

  1. Found your website tonight. Great info here! I have a pair of 12’s hooked to my Marantz 300 dc amp. Its my favorite system.

    Like

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