Just in – Polk Lsi7

Polk Lsi7

Polk Lsi7

These were too good of a deal to pass up, so home they came. The Polk Lsi7s are the smallest in the Lsi family, which debuted in the early 2000s as a return to Polk’s 2-channel audiophile roots. Using a 5.25″ midbass woofer and a 1″ ring radiator tweeter, the 7s have a very tigh, accurate sound. The ring radiator tweeter is very interesting – it’s suspended at the outside ring and in the inside, with the voice coil between. it sounds like a complicated and expensive design, and my research indicates it’s usually seen in higher-end brands.

Also interesting are the ports- there’s a 1″ port next to the offset tweeter on the front and another 2″ port on the back hidden behind a special diffuser, which allows you to hang the Polks or place them against the wall without losing the benefit of the rear port.

Polk Lsi7 Power Port diffuser

Polk Lsi7 Power Port diffuser

Polk Lsi7 rear panel

Polk Lsi7 rear panel

the Polks are also mirror matched for more precise imaging. each one says ‘left’ or ‘right’ on the back. Neat.

For small two-way monitors, they’re also pretty heavy – easily 20 lb apiece. This is likely due in part to the hefty drivers, but the cabinet is also very sturdy. It’s made of MDF with beautiful piano-black finish on the top and bottom, and two real wood veneer panels on the sides, ostensibly to damp the cabinet, and definitely to class it up. My pair is in the ebony finish – they also came in cherry.

Polk Lsi7 Speakers. Mirror-Imaged

Polk Lsi7 Speakers. Mirror-Imaged

When I picked my pair up, the wooden sides were scratched and dented but some Howard’s Restore a Finish cleaned up most of the abuse. Then they went on for a demonstration with my NAD 7100 Monitor receiver. I was seriously impressed.

I am always brought back to the original Polk Monitor 7 speakers because they do everything pretty well – great imaging, decent bass, good highs, at least with the Peerless tweeter. The Lsi7 is more of the same. The imaging and soundstage was cast very wide and these speakers disappeared much better in my small space than the Klipsch Epic Cf-4s behind. That’s the advantage of placement flexibility that a small speaker affords.

Bass was also surprisingly full – the dual ports and my placement far from the rear wall allowed for good resonance and extension. There may have been a upper bass bump fooling my ears into being more impressed than they should be but it was very nice all the same- controlled and hefty.

Detail of ring radiator tweeter and front panel

Detail of ring radiator tweeter and front panel

The tweeters did sound like ‘ring radiators’ – no harshness or metallic twinge, no softness or laid-back character that I sometimes found with my Peerless Monitor 7s. Just right.

I then tried them on my new Marantz Nr1403 receiver as a point-counterpoint to the Cf-4s I had hooked up there. Big mistake. The Polks sounded really lifeless and dull on the Marantz. So much so I was pretty down on the Marantz, which I had bought expecting sound quality to surpass my 20 year-old NAD. It was only later I looked on the back of the Polks and saw their strict 4-ohm rating – my Marantz is only rated at 50 watts per channel into 6 ohms. While it seems to do fine with the big and much more efficient Klipsches, I’m think it was likely the Marantz just couldn’t push the little Polks hard enough to open them up. I’ve since used the Marantz’ pre-outs for the front channels to hook up an Adcom GFA-535 which is stable down through 4ohms, which seems to open up the Klipsches and the Polks alike just fine.

Polk Lsi7. Hefty ebony side veneers. Top and bottom are piano-black

Polk Lsi7. Hefty ebony side veneers. Top and bottom are piano-black

Overall, these Polks are very impressive. I’m kind of in love with them. They’re actually just right for my living space and where I could place them. I’m not sure I’m ready to move the Klipsches, my ‘forever speakers’ (more on them later) but these Polks definitely deserve a rotation somewhere in the house. They also deserve more testing than I’ve given them. Hopefully soon when I have some more suitable stands I’ll give them that chance.

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~ by silverfacestereo on February 4, 2015.

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