Trusted name, trusted performance, but cheap looks

Oct 31, 2010
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Good frequency response, balanced sound, well constructed, trusted name

Cons:Cheap silver face & silver cones, not intended for small spaces

The Bottom Line: If you already have Polk Monitors up front, this is the obvious choice. Don't bother with the CS1 unless you have space constraints.

The CS2 is the "matched" center speaker for the Monitor 60 and 70 loudspeakers. It is timbre-matched by using the same cones and tweeters in the same cabinet. I just wanted to preface this as my review is based on its performance in a setup consisting of Monitor 60s.

I bought the CS2 as an upgrade to my older CSi25. The CSi25 was matched to my original R50 speakers that I sold; it also seemed to make the dialogue muddy and difficult to understand. I was always fiddling with the center channel level (boosting it by 5 or 6dB) and trying to find a new spot for it in the room. No matter what I did, I could not get good dialogue. I bit-the-bullet and snagged a factory refurbished CS2 directly from Polk via eBay for about $120 shipped to my door. I went for the cherry finish to match my front speakers.

Other reviews have already stated this, but I will say it again: this is a large speaker. Measure before buying! The cabinet is nearly 8" tall and almost two feet wide. It is about a foot deep as well (make sure you have adequate clearance behind for the cabling and port). It's also quite heavy, probably about 15lb. That's because Polk has used a dense fibreboard and avoided the cheap low-density stuff or plastic. Overall it feels very solid. The 5-way posts in back are offset and are sturdy. The grille is nothing to write home about, though I suggest leaving it on...the gawdy silver cones and silver paint up front look horribly cheap. Sadly, some of the silver still shows with the grille on. Perhaps if I get bored I'll figure out how to paint it black.

I won't spend much time discussing the specifications because they're not always representative of the product's performance. On paper, Bose stuff looks phenomenal but versus the competition sounds cheap. Needless to say, the CS2 has two 6.5" woofers and a 1" tweeter. This provides a wide dynamic range for most scenarios. My recommendation is to set your receiver's crossover to about 60 or 80Hz. Polk claims the -3dB limit is 60Hz, meaning that the performance drops off rapidly starting at 60. And in my experience, too low of a crossover for a center channel results in muddy dialogue.

Compared to my CSi25, the CS2 was a welcome improvement. There was an immediate improvement in accuracy and clarity. It was not a huge transformation but it was significant enough for me to say "money well spent". I went back to watch some films that I had grown frustrated with before. The first was "The Empire Strikes Back". Say all you want about THX and high-quality mastering...the dialogue mixing is not very good in this film. After jumping to a few scenes I felt very relieved. As I spent the next few weeks listening to my Netflix and TiVo'd movies, I grew to love the CS2 even more.

A secondary benefit was that I could listen to music in Neo6 Music without having a dead-zone and muffled sound. Even in "all channel stereo" there was a nice improvement in soundstage. I would probably attribute this to the larger cabinet and timbre-matching.

For me, this was money well-spent. I would have gladly paid MSRP ($349) for this. Dialogue is a key part of movies and why cheap out and miss the bulk of the audio?

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