Let me start off by saying that this comparison is an unfair one from the getgo so no one better get their panties in a wrap and send me hate mail. It's not fair and it shouldve never been done (this comparison), but for the sake of a good audio read, I've decided to write my thoughts on the subject after I unconsciously compared the 2 speakers even when it was never in my itinerary to do so.
Well well... you know how many of reminisce about the old days? How our first speakers were the best in the world and how we were all into the music back before all this madness with regards to upgrades engulfed us? Ok, so that may just be me and Sean.:p
But, I bought a pair of the Polk LSi9 again a few weeks ago to try and fill the void in my computer area. I had it all planned out - LSi9s for the computer, and Summits in the living room.
Well, plans have their ways of crumbling before your very eyes.
Anyway, long story made short, I have brought my Summits back into my room and made them handle my PC audio needs and my reference audio needs. It's funny though, seeing these speakers beside my PC setup... it really doesnt belong here. But this is where I spend the bulk of my time when I'm not at work, working out, or hanging out with my beloved princess, so I figured I'm entitled to the best sound accessible at all times, period.
Now, I compared the Summits and the LSi9 head to head.... and though the 9s hold their own in certain aspects of the reproduction, price kept in mind, the Summits were just undeniably far superior in every sense imaginable. Duh, I bet you're saying.
The real kicker is how much my taste in sound has changed in the last year and a half... when I started to look at what else was out there besides my original pair of 9s.
Vocals - This is generally the strength of the LSi series and it's reknowned Vifa tweeter. There is warmth, there is palpability. This is the aspect of the LSi house sound that draws people to it at first listen.
When I first turned the 9s on, I concentrated on the vocals and I thought they were even better than when I first had them a year and a half ago, since this time, they were powered by the Rotel 1090 powerbeast. There was palpability, there was warmth, there was the appropriate weight.
However, when I quickly switched over to the Summits, there was a sense of awe in the ease of vocal reproduction. It was far superior. No longer did the vocals sound reproduced or contrived (though I wouldve never guessed the 9s were anything but), but the vocals sounded as real as the source allowed. It was truly glorious, for lack of a better word. There was less sibilance (can you believe that??) and it was far more neutral than the 9s had reproduced.
Mids: There is no substitute for an electrostat, period. You cannot beat the mids of the Summits. This was without a doubt, an easy KO. The 9s sounded like speakers, while the Summits sounded like a guitar, or a piano, or a trombone, or a saxophone, or a trumpet, or a snare. You get lost not only in the sound, but in the "correctness" with regards to the image size. The guitar was of appropriate size on the Summits while feeling a little cramped and compressed on the 9s.
Bass: I wont compare this aspect since one is a bookshelf and the other is full range with a sealed cabinet for 2x dual 10" woofers each powered by 200watts of ICEpower digital amps (total of 4 woofers and 4 amps) and an onboard EQ for the 25hz and 50hz tunes (which really works well if you want to bass out with some hiphop bass heavy tracks or turn it back a bit when listening to Patricia Barber). It isnt a fair comparison.
Anyway, in the end, I decided that I had to bring the Summits back to my bedroom and save the whole cockamamie "I need to have a listening room" garbage for later... a whole lot later, when I can afford to hang a Plasma between the speakers so I'm not staring at a blank wall type of a deal. I'm going to rearrange the room a little so I can situate the PC setup and the Summits better.
In the end, you truly get what you pay for. The 9s are great speakers, and at the $1K retail price - they're a good bargain (moreso when you account the fact that they can be had for under $700 on ebay). Are the Summits at $10,000 TEN TIMES BETTER?? No way. Are they significantly better at removing the veil of a speaker and giving way to just the music? Oh yeah! How much is that worth to you? Only you know for sure.
Wrapping things up:
At this moment in time, I'm going to sell my 9s (again :( )... though I have been thinking about having them right next to the Summits for a second interpretation of the music.
Thanks for listening/reading about my little adventure.