With the recent acquisition of my tube power amps, I’ve been looking for speakers that might be an easier load for them over the next several years. Specifically I wanted better efficiency and an 8 ohm impedance or higher. And of course if I was going to change speakers, I’d want to go up in sound quality, not down. This is hard to do on my budget. After a couple of recent false starts with other speakers, I was prepared to keep my LSi15’s for a while
Enter the Polk LSiM705.
These speakers have been on my watch list since they came out a few years ago. At $3,000 a pair they’ve been a bit out of my price range. When a recent sale from Polk presented itself, I snapped up a pair!
Wow, these puppies are heavy. At 78 lbs these are about 20% heavier than the LSi15s at 66 lbs. All of the internal bracing and separate driver chambers makes for a heavy speaker. They are 1.5 inches taller than my LSi15s and seem to be quite top heavy. The front feet look narrower than those on the LSi15. I’m pretty concerned about these getting knocked over accidentally. I’ve got “outriggers” on order from Sound city:
I hope they are of good quality as they aren’t inexpensive.
Fit and Finish
This is an area that Polk has really outdone itself. These speakers look like hand built custom speakers. Believe me, the pictures do not do them justice. All of the hardware used is top quality. The veneer is flawless and looks painted on. All joints are barely even visible. There are no parallel surfaces in these cabinets and I doubt they are cheap to produce.
The grills are held on with hidden magnets. The speakers therefore look great with or without the grills installed. This is a really neat feature. I know that some other high end speakers use this method, but I’ve never owned any and it really works great.
The binding posts and plate are higher quality than any I’ve seen on a Polk before. In some other reviews, positive comments have been made about the use of jump wires versus jump bars on the binding posts. This is a step in the right direction. However, I feel the wires and connectors used are slightly cheesy and not up to the overall quality of the rest of the speaker. I replaced mine with some better ones I had laying around.
In order to level the speaker, the spikes/feet are adjustable from the top, which is a very convenient feature. The speakers are adjustable where they stand. There’s no need to tilt the speakers to get under them to make adjustments. The adjustment hardware is of high quality and gives the speaker an expensive high tech look. Too bad this area will be modified on my pair to accept the new outriggers I have ordered. It’s pretty dumb to have a speaker this top heavy with such narrow feet. This is one of the very few flaws of these speakers.
I’ve read people who’ve raved about the overall looks of the LSiM’s versus the LSi’s. I do not agree. I prefer the LSi15’s aesthetics. I am aware that I am in the minority here.
In my opinion the color on the Mahogany models is way too dark. These speakers might as well be black paint. In fact everybody whose seen these so far believes they are black, until I shine a flashlight directly on them. Only then can you barely see these are VERY dark brown. And mine are directly in front of a window! The veneer is also sanded down too smooth IMHO. None of the grain of the wood is visible. Why use real veneer if you can’t even discern it’s authenticity?
I also prefer the unique and contemporary shape of the LSi’s. I understand and appreciate the sonic benefits of the LSiM’s curved cabinet, but I don’t think they look as “clean” and they don’t fit my decor quite as well. Please understand the LSim’s are beautiful speakers. The above comments are based on them in my home vs the LSi’s only.
In the last few years I’ve had a number of different speakers in my two channel rig for extended listening:
Paradigm Monitor 9
MartinLogan ElectroMotion ESL
Zu Audio Soul Standard
Of these, I’ve liked the LSi best by far. They gave me the best balance of clarity/imaging and dynamics and overall value. The LSiM705’s are a great leap forward in every regard.
In his Model 7, Richard Vandersteen claims to have produced the world’s first “truly pistonic” drivers, with cones so stiff that they can’t breakup. I can’t speak to that claim, but the model 7 is the best imaging speaker I’ve personally heard. The imaging and clarity of these 705’s approaches that of the Vandersteen Model 7 and easily bests the Model 3 in my opinion. The “aerated polypropylene” cones are said by Polk to provide for a very lightweight and very stiff driver. I believe them. I really can’t say enough concerning the accuracy and precision and clarity of these loudspeakers. Polk has really done their homework on the design. And unlike other highly accurate speakers such as Thiel and Vandersteen, these speakers aren’t bashful. Throw on some Led Zeppelin or Rush, turn up the volume, and they’ll provide an instant party. They have a bigger soundstage than the LSi’s and much bigger than the previously mentioned brands.
Lots of audio enthusiasts are aware of the phenomenon of better speakers being less forgiving of poorer recordings. The LSiM705s display this characteristic to an extent. The 705s can sound a little cold when asked to reproduce bad material. This is an unfortunate aspect of hyper accurate speakers. This pair seems to be doing less of this as they get broken in.
I mentioned that one of my goals was for a more efficient speaker than my Lsi’s. With my 15’s and these 705’s both being rated at 88db it appears I haven’t accomplished that, and I was prepared to accept that. However, these speakers seem significantly louder that the LSi’s at any given preamp volume setting. I can only guess that my tube amps are happier with the 705’s higher impedance and being operated off the 8 ohm versus 4 ohm taps.
For me these speakers are Keepers. Big time.
Truth be told, I could have remained happy with my Lsi’s. When auditioning other speakers, I would at times find a pair that gave me more of a certain aspect of sound quality. Maybe better resolution, or better dynamics. Possibly better sound stage, or better efficiency. But I’ve never found a speaker that provided the overall balance of the LSi’s. At least none I could afford. Until now.