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  1. #1

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    Default How Do Newer Polk Models Stack Up vs Vintage?

    You know, I haven't really heard too many of the newer Polk speakers out there lately. I purchased my RT5000 system 9 years ago and couldn't be happier and that's probably why I haven't really gone out of my way to check them out.

    Like a lot of manufacturers, it seems Polk has steered away from their more expensive "Flagship" strategy and is focussed on more affordable units?

    How are they nowadays? Can they match the performance Polk was famous for with their higher end vintage speakers?
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    I see your thought process when you compare $$$ for $$$, Polk's flagship/statement days are over. The LSi/LSiM line are great lines, but hardly compete with their past speakers for the status. They bring great sound for the $$$, but think about SDA 1.2 Signature models over $3k in the 80s and $10K for the SRT in the 90's. Nothing they make today compare flagship status. Better sound for your money, but less cache.

  3. #3

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    I disagree to a point.
    I think Polk has done a wonderful job upgrading the Rt line. They sound better today then ever in the past.
    The Ls line was replaced by the Lsi line which in my opinion was a much better refined line. I hold a candle to the LS series of the past but they don't compare to the Lsi's of today.
    The SDA series has been disco for many years and never got replaced. It would have been nice to see Polk make a new version in a modern body.
    All in all polk is a strong company , always has been , always will be one of America's premier speaker companies.
    I have not heard the new LSIM series but I'm hoping they are the best Polk has ever built in overall sound quality. It's been 2 long since Polk ruled my room. They rule my house but not my listening room.
    Dan
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  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis Gardner View Post
    I see your thought process when you compare $$$ for $$$, Polk's flagship/statement days are over. The LSi/LSiM line are great lines, but hardly compete with their past speakers for the status. They bring great sound for the $$$, but think about SDA 1.2 Signature models over $3k in the 80s and $10K for the SRT in the 90's. Nothing they make today compare flagship status. Better sound for your money, but less cache.
    I remember when the SRTs were around. I wanted a system bad back then but couldn't afford it. I thought they went for more like $20K though? The RT5000 system was close to $10K when it came out.

    I guess I'm going to hang-on to mine (I was going to anyway). lol

    But that's why I didn't know how the Polk models compared nowadays. Haven't even really considered replacing the 10 year old ones I have now and still love them today - probably more than I did back then since I have a newer ICE receiver now. But I'm always curious.

    I think Polk should consider re-entering the higher end mid-market with a flagship system. I can't imagine there wouldn't be a market for one - especially after the economy picks up a little more steam.
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  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by mantis View Post
    always will be one of America's premier speaker companies.
    Too much sourced from Communist China for me.

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    Default old vs new

    I know a guy at his audio shop he has been reconing speakers for 30+ years I would say he had every brand apart and has plenty of knowledge, he has been telling me for years now the build quality and reliability has gone downhill bad in the newer polk stuff , polk is still a awesome product but the old stuff will be cherished for many years and should be repared versus buying the new polk .

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    Apples and oranges. While I like what Polk has done in recent years with the LSi and now the LSim lines they don't hold a candle in my opinion to the SDA line at all. But then again the price point isn't even in the ballpark of SDA's.
    Quote Originally Posted by Timothy Smith View Post
    WOW!

    That's like working your way through Katie Perry in order to get to Rosie O'Donnell.

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    Have any of you heard these? I have not. Sandy Gross' latest company. They seem to be getting good reviews.

    http://www.goldenear.com/

  9. #9

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    What does goldenear have to do with the sound of Polk's?
    Quote Originally Posted by Timothy Smith View Post
    WOW!

    That's like working your way through Katie Perry in order to get to Rosie O'Donnell.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe08867 View Post
    What does goldenear have to do with the sound of Polk's?
    The guy in charge of Goldenear had a lot to do with the sound of earlier Polks!

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    Y'all need to get your ears on the LSiM series. They are, without a doubt, the most detailed sound I've ever heard from a Polk. I've got a pair of TL'ed CRS+, and even they don't begin to compare to the level of detail from the new line.
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  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Schurkey View Post
    The guy in charge of Goldenear had a lot to do with the sound of earlier Polks!
    I did not know that.

    It would have helped if he explained that.
    Quote Originally Posted by Timothy Smith View Post
    WOW!

    That's like working your way through Katie Perry in order to get to Rosie O'Donnell.

  13. #13

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    This is a fairly 'subjective' thread. Example, I remember attending a Polk Mini-Fest where a number of high quality bookshelves were auditioned with some pretty good equipment. I had a friend in tow. After hearing about 4 or 5 pair of speakers I remember my friend saying, 'is that all there is...that stuff doesn't sound much better than my system--in fact none of those sound as good."

    Another member who owned some larger SDAs was thoroughly unimpressed by the newer more expensive tech and preferred his SDAs to everything he heard.

    Some of the younger guys, though, were oooing and ahhing at the variety of equipment and speakers (only one pair (LSI-9s) were Polks.

    We also got a chance to hear some SDAs which almost all the older guys including my friend thought were just that much better than everything else.

    I must admit, that I was not particularly impressed with 'anything' I heard that day either. I kept shaking my head at the price tag of some things, and even the SDAs were not up to snuff that day? Room, weather, electrical power--who knows!

    I have a pair of SDA 2Bs and on some days they sound pretty good (they are stock). On other days the 'highs' sound muddy compared to the 035ti tweeters in my vintage JBLs which blow the SL2000 out of the water. I've heard its replacement (RDO-194) also, but the JBL titanium is just that much better on the highs IMO (and that's subjective here too because some guys just 'hate' the JBL sound period!).

    I will say one thing though. We got a chance to hear the LSI-M towers at Lou's in October and even in the prototype stage the imaging and the detail up high were, IMO, better than any Polk speaker I have heard or owned and that's saying something for the NEW Polks. They may not have that SDA effect, which BTW, can sound quite 'artificial' on some (perhaps few) but some recordings but they have 'everything' else.

    So, if you're an SDA guy we're not going to convince you! But if you want to hear some of Polk's very BEST. Get your ears on some new LSI-Ms!!

    cnh

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    Honestly, I really don't see what people mean when they talk about build quality going down. I guess it's relative to the time period, but I wouldn't say I'm more impressed with the build quality of 20-30 year old Polks versus today. The build quality on the vintage stuff is fine, but I'm not as impressed with it as some apparently are.

    And I don't understand the complaints about the build quality in modern lines. Sure, some of what goes into the lower-end lines is cheap and comes from somewhere else. Welcome to the 21st century American economy. I've got a pair of Monitor 70's that cost me $170 each shipped to my door. They're put together very nicely and sound way better than they have any right to for that price.

    If I was setting up a dedicated listening room I'd definitely be looking to audition the LSi-M's. I like the LSi's a lot and would be happy to use those to replace my SDAs but for the fact that they are more picky about positioning (got rid of a pair of Vandersteens for the same reason).

    Maybe it's true that Polk isn't as interested in creating "statement" speakers as they might have been in the 80's since the market for and notion of what a statement speaker is seems to have changed very dramatically since then. But I think that in terms of creating some pretty amazing value for the money they are as good as they ever were.

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    Quote Originally Posted by On3s&Z3r0s View Post
    I think that in terms of creating some pretty amazing value for the money they are as good as they ever were.
    "Value for the money" is a meaningless phrase when a company is willing to subcontract to China in order to bypass environmental, labor, and ethical issues.

    The only Polk speakers I've got access to (other than my own, archaic pair) is what was sold at Best Buy; there's no way in hell any of that is coming home with me.

  16. #16

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    Don't Polk vintage speakers from the 80s have parts from Mexico in them? When was the last time a Polk speaker was 100 percent made in America? This is not a challenge but an honest question.

    It is my understanding that economics have played a part in Polk manufacturing for decades as they have for a lot of other American companies.

    And this is not to excuse the fact that I believe that we should have more manufacturing in the U.S. But just to state the reality of what has been happening?

    cnh

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    Quote Originally Posted by Schurkey View Post
    "Value for the money" is a meaningless phrase when a company is willing to subcontract to China in order to bypass environmental, labor, and ethical issues.
    You're entitled to your opinion, but it's not especially germane to the question about Polk products then and now. If you're saying the components that come from China are of a lower quality, that's one thing, but it doesn't sound like that's your argument, and I doubt it's accurate if it is. If you're unhappy because of the mere presence of Chinese components in Polk products, then I wonder what you cook dinner on, whether you drive or travel by plane, if you've watched TV in the last 20 years, whether you wear clothes...
    Last edited by On3s&Z3r0s; 06-20-2011 at 01:19 PM.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe08867 View Post
    Apples and oranges. While I like what Polk has done in recent years with the LSi and now the LSim lines they don't hold a candle in my opinion to the SDA line at all. But then again the price point isn't even in the ballpark of SDA's.
    Exactly, how much would it cost for people to buy similar quality and technology today? Would people be willing to pay the price tag of such? I am convinced Polk has done their homework in that regard...

    Quote Originally Posted by Schurkey View Post
    1. "Value for the money" is a meaningless phrase

    2. when a company is willing to subcontract to China in order to bypass environmental, labor, and ethical issues.

    3. The only Polk speakers I've got access to (other than my own, archaic pair) is what was sold at Best Buy; there's no way in hell any of that is coming home with me.
    1. At the price point, regardless where they are actually manufactured it is good value for the money.

    2. Please, enlighten us and provide us with substantial North American companies which offer speakers at such price point that does not subcontract some manufacturing oversea.

    Matter of fact, please provide us with 10 companies that provide FULL North American manufacturing (please make sure that the smallest of component is NA made) and please provide price offering while you are at it.

    3. Heh, if you shop at BB, IMHO there is NOT a single speaker that will not be China made, not a single one. If you want high end speakers shopping for them at the average Joe store well, you are in for big disappointment. IMO, not too many of the upper scale Polk (or any other brands) speakers are available at BB. If you want to get FULL USA manufactured speakers, you are shopping in the wrong store, you better start shopping at the right places (specialized boutiques) and get your check book out.

    I am with you on Chinese manufacturing but the news is just about every companies that produce just about every product nowadays use Chinese manufacturing. We as consumers are partly to be blamed... Don't we buy the crap? What have we/you done for this NOT to happen? If North American didn't want the oversea manufacturing we would simply NOT have bought the products and would have encouraged the companies that that still manufactured in North America. Am I to be believe that while shopping at BB you are actually buying genuine US made products???

    Quote Originally Posted by cnh View Post
    1. Don't Polk vintage speakers from the 80s have parts from Mexico in them? When was the last time a Polk speaker was 100 percent made in America? This is not a challenge but an honest question.

    2. It is my understanding that economics have played a part in Polk manufacturing for decades as they have for a lot of other American companies.And this is not to excuse the fact that I believe that we should have more manufacturing in the U.S. But just to state the reality of what has been happening?

    cnh
    You are correct on both counts cnh.

    1. IMO, the 80s was also a decline in quality with Mexican manufacturing. I speak from personal experience since I was a repair shop owner at the time. Probably not so obvious with speakers since the electronic is far from being extensive but Mexican manufacturing was used by most companies.

    Gear using extensive electronics would have issues within 5 - 6 years which older gear would more likely be at the 10 - 13+ years mark. Look at speakers issues with magnets coming apart from the frame. IMHO, such issue comes from the Mexican manufacturing era as I never heard much of such issues during the good old days of North American manufacturing.

    Some people do not realize what is affecting quality big time is surface mount technology. Surface mount is great for miniaturizing our electronics but plays a big part in piss poor quality of our equipment (unreliable soldering & smallish components that are vulnerable to spikes). Thank god most speakers still use thru-hole component technology (NOT talking about combo such as powered surround bars or other toys of the sort).

    Welcome to the throw away technology era folks. The market provides for cutting edge technologies more than ever, provide for decent SQ and VQ while the equipment last but face it, China manufacturing is also here to emphazise the throw away era as this is what drives the economy. Manufacturing companies don't want you to fix your gear or pass it down to the next generation, the only way for them to make money is to provide gear at lower cost for mass ownership with short lifespan so you can keep the buying cicle going.

  19. #19

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    errkknnm1 reported,
    Quote Originally Posted by Timothy Smith View Post
    WOW!

    That's like working your way through Katie Perry in order to get to Rosie O'Donnell.

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    lucian1123lu reported
    Quote Originally Posted by Timothy Smith View Post
    WOW!

    That's like working your way through Katie Perry in order to get to Rosie O'Donnell.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by cnh View Post
    Don't Polk vintage speakers from the 80s have parts from Mexico in them?

    cnh
    Most of the Polk Speakers from the 80's were made in Baltimore. There are a few exceptions. Components from Mexico didn't start being used until after I started working there, late in 1988. HTH. Cheers.

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    I'm in the build quality has not gone down camp. The Rti series. Lsi and lsim cabinets are built damn tough. Incidentally. I am one of the few that liked the lsi's over some of the smaller to mid size sda's. (went lsi over sda 1b and never looked back )

    Are the big sda's awesome? Yeah. But so are the new Lsim. Run what ya like. And listen to your ears more than others opinions
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  23. #23

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    I have had 4 different SDAa RTA 12Bs and RTA 12Cs, RTA 15TLs, Monitor 7s ,Monitor 10s, LS90s (twice) LSI 15s twice.

    My take is the newer units. (RTA 15TLs and more so LS 90s and LSI 15s seem to be geared more toward home theater. I wanted DESPERATLY to get out of the early 80s and go with the very nice lookningh RTA 15TL, LS 90s or LSI 15 but in side to side conmparisons with Monitor 10s RTA 12Cs an.d SDAs the older stuff seems more musical. Bass goes deeper more open stages Sure there are things that are better about the later stuff but as an overall package to myself and other brought in for the testing the older stuff won.

    The LSI 15s sound great , very clear and focused but the stage is not very wide compared to even monitor 10s. The sound is between the speakers The bass is not right at all, almost like a sub Beautiful looking speakers
    LS 90s really wanted to like these. A warmer sound smaller stage then RTA 12cs and not as clear. Very heavy almost muddy bass. I could live with these over time

    RTA 15TL Not sure about this one. To many drivers. Sounded OK but not near as open as RTA 12c nor as quick. Really nice cabinet

    All comes down to personal taste. Your mileage may vary.

  24. #24

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    I will take circuit boards from old school Polk any day of the week versus the new stuff.
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    Talking about everything in the store, not one type of product in particular.

    I guess I didn't mind Chinese made junk with Chinese made prices; however, now that all the manufacturing has moved there it really ticks me off the Chinese made junk now has American made prices.

    Guess we couldn't see that coming, could we?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vr3MxStyler2k3 View Post
    I will take circuit boards from old school Polk any day of the week versus the new stuff.
    I don't even know if I'd go so far as to make that generalization. Sure the boards themselves (when there were boards) were sturdier, but I don't think that contributes much to the sonic characteristics of the speaker. I've seen some soldering on modern Polk crossovers that I think must have been done by a machine. I only noticed it because it looked a lot better than some of what I've seen on old Polk speakers.

    Quote Originally Posted by aviator View Post
    Talking about everything in the store, not one type of product in particular.

    I guess I didn't mind Chinese made junk with Chinese made prices; however, now that all the manufacturing has moved there it really ticks me off the Chinese made junk now has American made prices.

    Guess we couldn't see that coming, could we?
    Have you seen NewEgg's sale prices on Polk stuff? No one could make money building those speakers in America and selling them for that. And actually the Chinese stuff seems to have gotten a lot better recently. It's not a Polk example but I have a lot of NAD gear and they have been outsourcing forever. (I have stuff from Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, China). The recent NAD stuff from China (say the last 5 years or so) is built very well, not cheap or tinny feeling (or sounding) at all.
    Last edited by On3s&Z3r0s; 06-21-2011 at 06:33 PM.

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    Build quality wasn't even discussed in the OP. Build quality is most likely better in most areas, due to higher levels of QC and newer materials. (PC boards may be an exception). We always discuss here on the board how haphazard the model changes were made with sometimes using whatever they had on hand to fill orders, etc.

    What definitely has changed is the Statement/Flagship models missing from the lineup. The type of speakers the common guy could only hope to ever afford. You know.....those that cost as much as some cars?

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    What would be the point of having them Dennis. They are supposed to sell speakers to the most people that they can, ie the common guy, The statement speakers probably cost a lot to make, and they probably don't get enough of them sold to make back all the R&D that went into them.

    No one on here would ever buy them simply because they are too cheap & obsessed with getting SDA's which they can now get cheap, but that certainly doesn't help out Polk's bottom line any.


    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis Gardner View Post
    What definitely has changed is the Statement/Flagship models missing from the lineup. The type of speakers the common guy could only hope to ever afford. You know.....those that cost as much as some cars?
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    I have owned 2 pairs of Polk Audio spkrs, I had a pair of towers back in the late 80's, not sure what model they were sold them to a friend to buy my first pair of Yamaha 200ma's in 1990. I really dont remember much about them. I didnt have anther encounter with polk's until 2002/03 when I picked up a brand new pair of RTi 150 towers, I heard these on the showroom floor and bought them that day. Im not even sure that these are old enough to be considered vintage yet I have them front and center right now, I rotate them in and out with my ADS L1290 towers, love their sound and as to their build quality well compared to some of what I have seen out there they are very very well made and dont have to take a back seat to any of the other brands.
    Last edited by victor. askew; 06-21-2011 at 11:09 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cfrizz View Post
    What would be the point of having them Dennis.
    Statement/Flagship has never been about bottom line profit. It is about showcasing your design/theory differences from your competition.

    R&D costs are a pass down through the line type of expense. Honda/Toyota/BMW/Mercedes/etc. back race divisions to develop engine lines, parts, theories, just like a speaker company does. Polk did the same with the SRT. The drivers were of similar style that you could buy in your every day RT speaker. It has been done for years as a marketing, advertising, display of talents and design. Just not any more at Polk. I'm not faulting them at all, just responding/expanding the OP line of thought. I could care less personally, as I buy what sounds good to me, not what looks good in a magazine or commercial.

    I think you Cathy, are a perfect example of whether Polk's speakers today are better than vintage. You have upgraded most of your electronics while standing firm on 10-15 year old speakers. Tell us your thoughts on vintage vs. new.

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