|Polk Audio Monitor Series 5.1 Speaker System|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems|
|Written by Bryan Southard|
|Monday, 01 August 2005|
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In the world of affordable to moderately-priced speaker systems, there are dozens of major players, yet few have a more recognizable name and longstanding reputation for quality sound than does Polk Audio. The reason for this is simple. Polk has been producing great-sounding speakers for better than three decades. You will find Polk speakers in the largest retailers around the world, with a speaker in practically every price class they carry.
The review package consists of two Monitor 60s, a four-way floor-standing speaker that I used for the front left and right speaker positions, the Polk CS1 center channel speaker, a pair of Monitor 30s, two-way shelf or stand-mounted speakers that were positioned as surround monitors and the PSW10 subwoofer. This 5.1 package is available in either black or cherry wood grain finishes and sells for $1,330.
The Monitor 60 is a floor-standing speaker that measures 37.5 inches tall, seven inches wide, 13-and-one-quarter inches deep and weighs 31 pounds. The speaker complement consists of three five-and-one-quarter-inch diameter bi-laminate composite cone drivers that are magnetically shielded to avoid interference with your display device, and a one-inch diameter silk/polymer composite dome tweeter to handle the high frequencies. The Monitor 60s have a rated response of 38Hz to 25kHz and are 90 dB efficient, making them an easier than average load to power. This makes them candidates for even lower wattage surround receivers, depending on the overall volume you desire to achieve. As with each of the speakers in this package, they are available in either black or cherry vinyl wood grain finishes. The Polk Audio Monitor 60s retail for $650 per pair.
For surround speakers, I used the Polk Monitor 30 shelf-mounted speakers. Although this was a great choice for surround information, the Monitor 30s can also be used as front main loudspeakers if you are working with a smaller budget. The Monitor 30s measure 11 inches tall by seven inches wide and eight-and-three-eighths inches deep. Weighing a mere nine pounds each, the Monitor 30s have a single five-and-one-quarter-inch diameter bi-laminate composite cone driver and a one-inch diameter silk/polymer composite dome tweeter. The Monitor 30s have a rated response of 55Hz to 25kHz and are slightly less efficient than the Monitor 60s at 89 dB. The Monitor 30s retail for $240 per pair and are available in black or cherry finishes.
The Polk CS1 served up the center channel information for this system. The CS1 is three-way speaker with a rated response equal to the Monitor 30s. They have a pair of five-and-one-quarter-inch diameter bi-laminate composite cone drivers and a one-inch diameter silk/polymer composite dome tweeter. The CS1 measures seven inches in height, 18 inches wide and is nine-and-five-eighths inches deep. Shielded like the other speakers in this line, the CS1 can either sit atop your video set or be stand-mounted without interfering with your TV display. The CS1 sells for $200 and is available in either black or cherry wood grain finishes.
No system is complete without some low-frequency reinforcement. For this, we used the Polk PSW10 subwoofer. The PSW10 measures 14-and-three-eighths inches high by 14 inches wide by 13-and-one-quarter inches deep and weighs 26 pounds. It has a 10-inch bi-laminate composite cone driver and is powered by a 100W, 50W RMS amplifier. The PSW10 is rated down to 35 Hz, is available in both black and cherry finishes and sells for $240.
Unpacking the Polk system was a breeze. The speakers were manageable in size and weight and were packaged well. The speaker finishes were quite good for the price. Although the wood grain is a vinyl laminate rather than real wood, they looked and felt like wood. In fact, I needed to examine the Monitor 60s very closely to convince myself that they were not wood veneer. The review models were finished in cherry, which had a nice light wood look. I suspect that these finishes will be welcome alongside any home décor. Perhaps what stuck out the most, however, were the metallic silver faces (baffles) on all of the speakers in this package. These gave the speakers a modern race-like elegance. It kind of reminded me of a wood dash on an elegant sparkle-silver luxury car – a very nice touch. The grilles on this line are black and bowed outward. When the morning light shone through the grilles, you could see the silver faces, which looked cool. The Monitor 30s and 60s have spike-like feet for grounding to your floor or carpet. Although I question their ability to properly ground your speaker from vibration, they are much better than rubber feet and will stake their position in a carpeted floor. All of the speakers in this package are bi-wirable. This is a feature most often reserved for speakers costing much more and one that will provide better performance if you choose to run two sets of wires to each speaker. The five-way binding posts were very adequate for a good connection and were positioned so that it was not a chore to connect like other speakers.
Once the Polk speaker package was set up, I allowed them to break in for a couple of weeks before my critical evaluation. The Monitor 60s were placed on the floor at the front of my theater and the Monitor 30s on stands to the rear of my room. The CS1 was stand-mounted beneath my projection screen.