Polk LSi9 Main / Stereo Speakers Reviews
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Polk LSi9 Main / Stereo Speakers

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Quite Possibly the Best $1000 Bookshelf Speakers Available!

Sep 23, 2008 (Updated Sep 23, 2008)
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  • User Rating: Excellent

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Pros:Incredible bass, warm midrange, crystal clear highs, huge soundstage, quality, fit and finish, bargain price

Cons:HEAVY for bookshelves, also very deep. Requires a good amp to really make them sing.

The Bottom Line: Don't let the name Polk dissuade you, these are true audiophile speakers.  Bottom Line:  there is simply no better bookshelf speaker available at this price point.


I've owned many speakers in my time and auditioned some high-end numbers from Paradigm, B&W, Axiom, among others, and believe the Polk LSI9 to be the class-leading bookshelf speaker in the $1000-1500 price category.

External: The first thing you will notice when you get these speakers out of the box is how incredibly heavy they are. To give you an idea, they feel twice as heavy as Polk RTi6 bookshelves (commonly available at box stores). The construction of the cabinet is absolutely top-notch and fit and finish is truly impressive. The top and bottom have a beautiful piano black, high gloss finish and the side panels have rich, dark oak wood paneling. The back has Polk's standard diffusing bass port that allows placement of this speaker right up against a wall (or on a bookshelf) without degrading the sound or creating boomy bass. The gold-plated 5-way binding posts have been upgraded on this line to be more robust and replaces the red and black plastic binding post nuts common on most speakers and receivers with robust metal versions. The dual binding posts allow for use as a full range speaker with included jumpers in place or as a bi-amped or bi-wired unit. Nice touch. After you remove the front grill, you are greeted by that beautiful piano black surrounding two 5 1/4" poly woofers, a rare ring-radiator tweeter (seen in other luxury speakers selling for multi-thousands), and two front resonance ports. Harmonic resonance in this cabinet is minimized with the ingenious use of these tuned ports (these are NOT bass ports, that's on the back). I am very impressed with the build quality, fit and finish. A note about placement: These speakers are over 15" deep and extremely heavy, so they don't actually fit on many shelves. These truly work best on speaker stands or large table/desk units.

Sound: Form must follow function, so do these speakers sound as beautifully as they look? In a word, ABSOLUTELY. These speakers manage to competently handle an extremely broad frequency range. The ring radiator tweeter handles treble with grace and agility, without being harsh or shrill like metal dome tweeters. The ring design is much more acoustically accurate than similarly priced dome varieties and builds an upper-end high above its pay grade. The midrange is very full and warm, thanks to one dedicated woofer. The second woofer is reserved for midbass and bass frequencies and when combined with the rear bass port, accomplishes something stunning. If you close your eyes, you would swear this is a large floorstanding speaker with 8" woofers. The bass impact is so visceral, so low that I thought I still had my sub connected, no joke (I checked). This coming from a 5 1/4" woofer in a bookshelf speaker is an amazing achievement. I have never heard a speaker this size with this amount of quality bass. The frequency response appears fairly linear down to about 60hz, so in combination with a subwoofer actively crossed at 80-90hz, this setup is flat-out unbelievable. The sound stage of these speakers is impressive as well. Properly positioned and with the right recording, these speakers can give the impression of sitting in a large concern hall. They handle depth of soundstage with particular competence, but width is nice as well.

Logistics: We talked already about positioning of these deep, heavy guys, now about power. The LSi9s are rated for 20-200 watts into 4ohms. Make no mistake about it, these speaker love power. I currently run a Denon that puts out around 160 watts into 4ohms (100 watts into 8ohms) and it handles them well. I have them crossed over at 80 hz, which removes a bit of the energy-intense bass frequencies and gives me a bit more efficiency. If you want these guys to really sing, get an amp that can handle them. Additionally, biwiring them has yielded improved frequency separation and a tinge more crispness to the presentation. I can only imagine the kind of improvement you could get from biamping them. One more thing, while these speakers sound fantastic out of the box, you will get a noticeable improvement out of them after about 200 hours of burn-in.

Conclusion: What you have here with the Polk LSi9 is an audiophile-grade speaker that competes well with audio heavy-hitters costing $1500-2000 or more. This is a fantastic bang-for-the-buck speaker that is an immensely satisfying purchase. PLEASE don't make the mistake of seeing the name Polk and thinking these are typical box-store speakers. I have owned many of Polk's other speakers (RTi6, RTi4, RTi55, FXi5, FXi3, CSi5) and this is simply in a different class altogether. That isn't to say anything negative about Polk's other speak lines, I really enjoy them. It's just to say that this is truly something special. Do yourself a favor and audition these speakers, you'll be glad you did.


Recommend this product? Yes


Amount Paid (US$): 650

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