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  1. #1

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    Default Short SDS-400 review

    I bought the Polk SDS-400's off of Ebay about 4 months ago out of couriousity. SDS in this case stands for "Stereo Dimensional Surround". These are small bookshelf sized speakers that resemble an old pair of Polks I had but I can't remember the model, someone will look at the pics and be able to tell though. I believe everything is the same but the crossover. which George Grand has stated is a Hafler DynaQuad circuit.
    Thanks to Ken for mailing me a copy of the owners manual. Both outputs from the power amp connect to the right speaker and then the left is sent over via a 1/4 inch plug. All speaker inputs are the generic spring loaded type. Speaker cable is somewhat limited due to the small terminals and then it really gets tight inside the 1/4 inch plug. The best I could do with using Radio Shack plugs is lamp cord since I was worried about the positive and negative ends being so close inside.
    There is a 5 position rotary switch on the back of the right speaker that lets you choose how much effect you want. 4 positions for "SDA" if you will, and 1 to bypass everything and operate like a regular bookshelf.
    Power rating: 20-100 watts/channel
    Freq response: 35hz-25khz
    Impedance 6ohms
    Efficiency 91db
    1" Tweeter, 6 1/2"Driver

    Listening: The SDS-400 was designed for surround but the manual states they may also be used as mains which is how I tested them. Even though they are rated for 100 watts I used my Denon monoblocks that are rated for 250. These have an A and B output so I was able to switch back and forth between my 3.1's. The first thing I did was compare output between the 2 sets of speakers. Using my Ref 50's test generator I measured the 3.1's and 400's from approx 8 ' away on a set volume vice power output as I have no way to check that.
    3.1tl's 87db
    SDS-400
    (bypass position) 80db
    Surround 1 78db
    Surround 2 76db
    Surround 3 75db
    Surround 4 71db
    These speakers need lots of juice to get them going. When they came out I imagine it was all pro-logic where your rear speakers weren't asked to do a lot. These days they just wouldn't cut it for surrounds unless you had plenty of power IMO.
    The bypass mode is well........to be bypassed. Anyone buying these as a bookshelf will be dissapointed. The sound is cluttered and of little clarity. I can remember hearing speakers in the Walmart auto stereo display that do a better job.
    Surround 4 and 3 mode improves over the bypass nicely. The soundstage for 3 and 4 is very narrow sounding though. It also sounds like vocals are coming from 20' behind the instruments while taking quite a bit of power to achieve decent listening levels.
    Surround 2 or 1 is where this speaker finally had me spending some time to AB compare with the 3.1's. I have a strong feeling that some individuals that don't care for the SDA sound may actually prefer the little 400's. The soundstage opened up very well, not quite as wide as the 3.1's but you could still get some of the SDA effect. Mids and highs were very acceptable although not much on the low end until they were fed healthy power. I brought my 20-39pc+ in to help out the bass and it was just what was needed. (an SVS will normally help though)! The first surround setting gives you the most out of these speakers as far as I'm concerned. It still takes a lot to drive them but the quality of sound is enough to satisfy me as long as I have a sub to fill in the bass.
    I've actually been messing around with these speakers for awhile now and some days they just seem to be less fatiguing on my ears than the 3.1's. Strange, I wouldn't get rid of my 3.1's for these but I could survive if the time came for whatever reason. I would like to try a 3000 tweeter in these to see if that would make any difference but I think that would involve some cutting. Maybe one of those Winter projects.
    Attached Images  
    SDS-400, SDA-1B, SVS 20-39pc+, B&K Ref 50, Denon 2900

  2. #2

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    Default

    Pic of right back
    Attached Images  

  3. #3
    Stronzo
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    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Long time Kelly, thought you dropped off the face of the planet. How is good ole Maine treating you? My friend (whom hitched a ride off of you - thanks for being a sport) just sent me some pics from that trip today.

    Hope all is well - enjoy the waters..

    Sean

  4. #4

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    Default

    maybe you need thicker gauge wire?

  5. #5

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    Great review mon! I think Ken Swauger said that they were a Polk Monitor 4 with the surround circuitry installed.

    I should've bought a pair of those new when I had the opportunity to do it for $50. That opportunity arose in New Hampshire in 1990 or so, at a husband/wife owned hi-fi shop that was closing due to owner divorce. I spent $50 on a Parasound passive sub instead.

    The lack of impact or volume that you experienced may just be an artifact of the type of surround being employed here. With Hafler DynaQuad, surround information was never intended to be a distinct source of sound, just the reflected waves and overall ambience at the original recording venue. Using the stand alone passive DynaQuad devices, one can never get the surrounds nearly as loud as the fronts, even if using four of the exact same speaker. They're just not supposed to get that loud.

    I still think that for video, it can provide 90-95% of the desired surround effects for very little money. For music reproduction, using good speakers and amplification, it can be a real "you are there" experience, bettered by nothing.




    George Grand (of the Jersey Grands)
    Last edited by George Grand; 08-22-2004 at 08:56 AM.

  6. #6

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    Sean, the Summer up here has been a washout for the most part. I went to the trouble of installing Sirius on my boat and only get it out about 2 times a month. Too much rain. If you get up this way again give me a yell. Mitch

  7. #7
    Stronzo
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    Mitch,

    This summer has been a cool one, but at the expensive of consistant rain. The story is simular down here, as I imagine it is for most of the east coast. We have three major projects going on in the home that should have been complete long ago - we are fortunate to get even two days worth of work in one week.

    Bummer to hear that you haven't been able to enjoy the boat. Judging from your posts recently, it looks like you are going to be changing out a few things in your system. Don't hold back man, whats on your mind? :)

    I will definately let ya know if I worm my way back up there.

    Cheers,

    Sean

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