Polk R150 Main / Stereo Speakers Reviews
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Polk R150 Main / Stereo Speakers

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Acceptable Sound from Value Priced Speakers

May 14, 2008
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  • User Rating: Excellent

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Pros:Solid construction and acceptable sound reproduction at normal listening volume.

Cons:Bass response suffers for orchestral music.

The Bottom Line: A good choice for stereo or front and surround speakers where value and space is at a premium.

While not an "audiophile", I do like good, clean sound from my stereo speakers, and wanted to upgrade from my remaining speakers from an inexpensive "Home Theater in a Box" system. I long ago abandoned the surround, rear and passive sub-woofer on that system due to muddy, confused sound, but kept the two front speakers in a stereo configuration. When the receiver died, it was time to start building a new system.

Bookshelf speakers were the order of the day to fit in with our decor. The range of choices is large, very large, but I wanted to keep costs down and that limited my choices. I don't like the sound from the mini-speakers such as the Bose, and besides, they cost a fortune. I heard good things about the Polk Audio R150 as providing acceptable sound for value speakers. I found the speakers for $49 a pair at Frys.com, and snapped them up.

At 10 5/8" high x 7" wide, the speakers fit nicely on the shelf above our TV. They are about 6 1/2" deep, and fairly hefty ... about 9 pounds each. Connections are made through "5 way binding posts", a superior method to the normal spring attachment that can pull loose.

Paired with a new Onkyo TR-304 AV receiver in a 2.0 (stereo) configuration, I was surprised at the sound. Pop and classic rock music sounded as good as on much more expensive systems, although I suspected some of the low range might be missing. The sound reproduction was good enough to encourage me to re-rip my MP3s to a much higher bit rate (using Exact Audio Copy and the LAME music encoder), as the deficiencies not heard on my prior system were really evident now. CD sound is much better than my old system, albeit with some distortion at higher volumes.

The laws of physics apply, and you can't expect miracles from bookshelf speakers. The R150's have a 3/4" silk dome tweeter and a 5 1/4" mid-woofer, with a rated frequency response of 60Hz to 24 kHz. The lowest sounds in classic rock or pop music are usually no lower than about 32Hz; but most of the sound is above that 60Hz. In orchestral music, tympani and bass drums don't have that "oomph", and instruments that go lower ... cello, pipe organs, etc. ... have less "fullness" than you hear on a better system.

For movies, where dialog is important, a center speaker such as the Polk Audio CSR is nice; we added one and it helps "bring out" the dialog. But it isn't necessary for good music listening; in a stereo recording very little sound (if any) is directed to the center speaker.

Future plans include a powered sub-woofer for home theater and more demanding classical music played directly from CDs. You won't get the "thumping bass" effects to simulate that Jurassic Park dinosaur headed your way without a sub-woofer.

But still, with just two Polk Audio R150 bookshelf speakers and our A/V receiver, music sounds much better than it ever did with our 8 speaker "Home Theater in a Box" system.

Recommend this product? Yes

Amount Paid (US$): 49.00

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