|Polk Audio LSi9 Bookshelf Speakers|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Bookshelf/Monitor Loudspeakers|
|Written by Bryan Dailey|
|Tuesday, 01 June 2004|
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Polk. It’s one of those brands that almost anyone who has ever stepped foot into an electronics store chain to shop for new speakers has heard of. Their product line is immense and they make everything from micro-satellite systems for your computer to equipment racks to Earth shaking subs, floor standing loudspeakers and car audio products. Their top of the line LSi series features two floor-standing models, the LSi15 and LSi25, the LSiC center channel, LSiFX bi-pole/di-pole surrounds, the LSi subwoofer and two bookshelf models, the LSi7 and LSi9.
Cracking open the box of a pair of LSi9 bookshelf speakers, the first thing that I noticed about the speakers was their distinctive smooth black high-gloss finish on the top and rich cherry wood sculpted side panels. I’ve seen Polk speakers countless times in retail mega-stores, but it was usually smaller satellites or computer speakers. When I learned that I was going to be reviewing a pair of Polk bookshelf speakers, I was not expecting to receive such a large box at my front doorstep. Normally when you think of bookshelf speakers, the image that comes to mind is that of plain, square small boxes with cheap woofers and tweeters. However, Polk’s Lsi9s are not your typical bookshelf speaker. Packing technology and slick design elements into a pair of bookshelves that are more reminiscent of high-end bookshelves like Wilson’s dramatically more expensive CUB IIs or Revel’s Gems than those from Bose or Klipsch, these Polks can actually be the foundation of a surround system or a two-channel set-up, rather than just speakers that sit unassumingly on a shelf in someone’s office.
These are not small bookshelves by any means, measuring in at 14.875 inches tall, 8.625 inches wide and 15.25 inches deep. You’ll want beefy stands for them, as they weigh just a shade over 32 pounds each and could easily maim a pet or small child should one of them be knocked over. The density of the speakers is obvious, based on the size-to-weight ratio. Much of the speaker’s weight comes from the 1.5-inch-thick solid wood side panels. This keeps the speaker cabinets from coloring the sound with unwanted overtones. According the Polk, the LSi9s have a frequency response rating of 38Hz to 27kHz, –3dB.
On the back of the speaker is a black plastic plate that is about an inch away from the cabinet that has a foam pad on it. At first glance, I thought the purpose of this plastic bracket was to act as an isolator, should the speakers be mounted against a wall or on a shelf. However, I noticed that this bracket covers a bass port. Knowing this, I made a mental note to do some listening sans the subwoofer to see what kind of bass the LSi9s could produce. High-quality dual (bi-ampable) gold-plated five-way binding post inputs allow for an array of wiring options and have a solid feel that lets you know you are getting a good solid connection.
The LSi9s are also available with ebony side panels, for those who prefer the all-black look, priced on the Polk website at $519.95 each. Why would the speakers be priced individually, rather than as a pair? In some applications, a single LSi9 could be used as a center channel or as a rear center. However, most users will be purchasing then in pairs to use as either mains or surrounds in a surround speaker system, so the retail for the set comes in at $1,039.90. On the surface, $1,039.90 sounds pricey for a pair of small speakers, but I must emphasize the fact that these are much more advanced than your typical pair of bookshelves.
Choose among a variety of front bookshelf speakers that can go along with your center channel speaker and subwoofer.