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  1. #1

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    Default Polk Audio DSW MicroPro 4000 Review - It's About Time

    Introduction

    Last January, I was invited to participate in beta trials for the flagship sub in a new line of Polk subwoofers, the DSW MicroPro series. If you have been reading me for a while, you know that I am a true SVS cultist, but I'm not opposed to having a little fling every now and then with other subs. You might also be shocked to learn that, from time to time, I push my revered modified SDA SRS 1.2TL's to the side and audition other loudspeakers [footnote 1].;)

    I figured the MicroPro and I would have a few laughs and then I'd send it back. Sometimes flings turn into longtime relationships.:)

    Some changes were made to the MP4K's digital amplifier and software based on beta tester's feedback and then the improved amplifiers were sent to the testers. Polk's engineering department confirmed that the beta versions, after the initial amplifier improvements, are essentially the same as production versions.

    Figures 1 and 2 show how much fun the UPS handlers had with my DSW MicroPro 4000, which shall hereafter be referred to as the MP4K [footnote 2].


    Figure 1. The good folks at UPS handled my MP4K with their
    usual kind attentions. Thanks UPS.




    Figure 2. The box and styrofoam padding were busted to Hell, but the
    MP4K miraculously made it to me unscathed. Incredible!


    General Specifications

    MSRP: $1770, 1200 watts continuous digital power amplifier, 16-3/4"H x 15-1/2"W x 16-1/2"D, weight: 57.5 pounds, 3 dB limits: 24 Hz and 90 Hz, 12" driver with 12" square passive radiator.

    Aesthetic Considerations

    Under household lighting, I could detect no defects in the finish. It appeared to be perfectly flat with no discontinuities whatsoever. I wheeled it out to my front sidewalk and took another look in bright sunlight. I couldn't find any defects then either.

    I liked the grille-less face. It made the MP4K more sculptural in appearance. It was a perfect aesthetic match with my Samsung plasma, which also has a gloss black finish and a blue LED on the front.


    Figure3. No runs, drips, swirls, bubbles, scratches, cracks or dimples.
    No imperfections at all in the mirror gloss piano black finish.



    Figure 4. Square and black and shiney. You could use the sides and top
    of the MP4K as a shaving mirror.



    Figure 5. With the exception of the microphone input, the MP4K has
    the usual complement of inputs/outputs. I appreciated the detachable
    power cord capability.



    Figure 6. The MP4K blended in seamlessly with my Magnepan MG 12's.


    Figure 7. All the cool blue lights.

    Setup and Accessories

    The MP4K comes with a remote control, microphone and detachable power cord. Figure 8 shows the stock MP4K 18 AWG power cord (good), a Volex 14 AWG power cord (better), and a MagicPower 10 AWG power cord (best). The Volex cord provided a subtle improvement in bass definition over the stock cord. The MagicPower cord provided noticeably more bass definition and weight. However, in order to use the MagicPower cord, the end connectors would have to be changed to 90 degree angled connectors. Otherwise, the power cord ends would cause the sub to sit out too far from the wall. Until I modify the MagicPower cord, the Volex cord will be used. I had to similarly modify the MagicPower cord used with my SVS PB12 Ultra/2 subwoofer. Of course, for beta testing feedback purposes, the stock cord was used.


    Figure 8. The stock MP4K power cord (front center), Signal Cable
    MagicPower cord, and Volex power cord.



    Figure 9. MP4K AutoPRO microphone.

    The user has the option of manual setup or using the AutoPRO (Automatic Polk Room Optimizer) feature which uses a microphone to take sound samples of the listening room and then adjust the amplifier for smoothest response. When using AutoPRO, I clipped the microphone to a camera tripod at ear height at the listening position and let it do its thing. The sub sequenced through a set of test tones for about 90 seconds to two minutes, depending on the location in the room. Some of the test tones exceeded 100 dB-C, so some users might want to wear ear protection or leave the room while the AutoPRO routine completes.

    While I liked the concept of the auto room correction feature, I was not entirely happy with the sound that resulted from it. The frequency response curve after room correction was smoother, but the sound from the sub was less natural sounding and had less definition and articulation. It wasn’t "muddy", but it did sound a bit veiled, as if a sheet had been placed over the sub. Also, after auto correction, the sub did not blend in with the main speakers as well as it did with the manual setting.

    Setting the volume and using one of the manual PRO presets gave me the best sound with fast, tight, natural sounding bass. I realize that auto correction was probably not designed with the tastes and sensibilities of the audio purist in mind. Auto room correction will probably satisfy the vast majority of MP4K users.

    The blue LED on the front does more than just indicate that the sub is turned on. It also confirms, through a number of blinks, volume and other settings sent from the remote. For example, volume level 24 would be indicated by two long blinks and four rapid blinks. The blinking LED is much easier to read from across the room than an alpha-numeric display would be. Most subs make you do a reach around to the rear to access the controls.


    Figure 10. The MP4K remote is the same size as a standard credit
    card.


    Listening Evaluations - Master Bedroom A/V System

    Subwoofer performance will vary depending on the type of floor the unit is sitting on. All the floors in my home are either 3/4" thick hardwood glued to slab or ceramic tile glued to slab.

    The MP4K was first evaluated in my master bedroom system, where it replaced an SVS SB 12 Plus subwoofer (MSRP $749 in rosenut veneer finish) and was paired with a set of Magnepan MG12 speakers. During listening evaluations, the preamp/processor volume control was adjusted to maintain an average sound level of 85 dB-C.

    After manual set up, the MP4K totally disappeared and huge bass sounds seemed to come from the area between the planar magnetic panels. The bass was fast and articulate and presented a degree of impact and realism that was unattainable with the SVS SB12 Plus.


    Figure 11. Two compact bass radiators prepare to square off.

    Immediately after the MBR system trials were over, the SVS was retired to the confines of my audio closet and a decision was made to purchase an MP4K when they came on the market. Fortunately, for my wallet, Polk, Inc. offered the beta testers the opportunity to keep the production samples in appreciation for our assistance. Such good audio largess.:)

    ---------------------------------------------------------------

    [Footnote 1] Once, I even replaced a set of SDA's with another loudspeaker type and brand. Don't believe me? See it for yourself here.

    [Footnote 2] Polk, Inc. prefers the acronym "uPro4k".
    Last edited by DarqueKnight; 05-06-2008 at 08:54 PM.
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
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  2. #2

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    Default Part II - Listening Evaluations - Home Theater System

    Listening Evaluations - Home Theater System

    I expected the MP4K to do well on music, but not so well on movie soundtrack low frequency effects. I certainly didn’t expect it to go 12 rounds with the PB12U2.


    Figure 12. The relatively diminutive MP4K was placed in an arena
    ruled by a ferocious 190 pound bass beast.



    Figure 13. David and Goliath. The MP4K goes up against a subwoofer
    3X its size and weight.


    Speaker levels (front, center, surround, sub) were set in the range of 71 to 73 dB-C using the test tone sequence generated by the Sony TA-E9000ES preamp/processor. The MP4K achieved an SPL of 73 dB-C at a volume level of 23/40 and a preamp volume setting of -28 dB. This matched the volume level of the SVS PB12 Ultra/2, which was set at a level of 4/9. I generally adjust the sound of movies so that dialog has an average SPL of 75 dB-C. This typically means the volume on the preamp will be in the range of -35 dB to -28 dB. My voice at a normal speaking level in this room measures an average 65 dB-C. For all listening evaluations, the MP4K was set at a volume level of 23/40.

    I started listening evaluations with the Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith DVD. The first 30 seconds of the star destroyer scene at the beginning of the movie was put on loop repeat. This scene has a significant engine rumble sound effect. First, I listened with the SVS, then with the MP4K. The other speakers were turned off.

    The PB12 Ultra/2 was able to produce strong tactile sensations at normal (75-85 dB-C) listening levels. The MP4K was capable of producing the sound of LFE’s, but not the strong tactile sensations associated with them, unless the volume was turned up to uncomfortable levels.

    On the opening scene of Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones, with a pre/pro volume of -35 dB, dialog measured 76 dB-C, music measured 80 dB-C, and LFE’s as the large silver starship passed by measured 95 dB-C. Turning the pre/pro volume up to -30 dB produced 98 dB-C for the LFE’s. These low frequency effects were high in sound level, but were only mildly felt when reproduced by the MP4K. The same LFE’s caused a disturbance in the force when reproduced by the PB12U2.

    With music, in the home theater system, I heard the same seamless blending with the main speakers that I heard in the master bedroom system. With the PB12U2, there was more growl on acoustic and electric bass, and more vibrations though the walls, floor, furniture, and my body. Adding the MP4K to the SRS’s filled out their low end a little more. Adding the PB12U2 to the SRS’s filled out their low end a lot more, but with tactile bass that was felt as well as heard. By the way, on music, the SRS’s don’t actually need any “help” in the low end. I’m just greedy…sometimes.

    The frequency response curves for manual and automatic settings were close to identical, although the sound resulting from the two settings was very different. With auto PRO, speed, detail, and clarity were diminished, although I did not experience the decrease in overall sound level that resulted when I used auto PRO in the master bedroom system. Auto PRO took 1 minute 52 seconds to complete. The near corner placement had a flatter response curve, but I preferred the sound in the corner placement. Of course, that particular corner was right by a door, so permanently placing the subwoofer there would have been impractical.

    I was pleasantly surprised, and impressed, by the MP4K’s performance in a moderately large space. The MP4K rivaled the PB12U2 in terms of detail, articulation, speed, and clarity. As long as I did not over exert the MP4K’s amplifier or over extend the driver, it produced adequate amounts of crystal clear, articulate, and well defined bass for both music and movie low frequency sound effects.
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
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  3. #3

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    Default Part III - Listening Evaluations - Two Channel System

    Part III - Listening Evaluations - Two Channel System

    Just for cheap thrills on a Sunday afternoon, I set up the MP4K with my two channel system electronics and two models of bookshelf speakers: Polk Audio LSi9’s and Polk Audio SDA CRS+’s (1989 version, upgraded SDA interconnect, upgraded crossovers with “TL” modification, and RD0198 tweeters).

    The X0.2 preamp has four sets of outputs, two each of XLR and RCA. A monster cable Z200i interconnect was run from one of the RCA outputs to the line level input of the MP4K. Another Z200i cable was run from the line level outputs of the MP4K to the RCA inputs of the JC 1 power amplifiers. The MP4K volume level was set at 26/40 to match the level of the LSi9’s for an average SPL of 85 dB-C. For the SDA CRS+’s, the MP4K volume level was set at 29/40 to match their volume level for an average SPL of 85 dB-C.


    Figure 14. The LSi9's had a little trouble keeping up with the MP4K.


    Figure 15. Such Good Sound. The MP4K blended in seamlessly with the SDA CRS+'s.

    The MP4K was first set up with my LSi9's, and then with my SDA CRS+'s, in front of my two channel system as shown in figures 14 and 15. This was less than optimal placement, but I am somewhat lazy on the weekends and I didn’t feel like pushing and shoving the 1.2TL’s around. I did not have much flexibility in subwoofer placement because I did not have very long RCA interconnects that would have permitted placing the MP4K to one side of the electronics cabinet and close to the rear wall. Suboptimal placement notwithstanding, I achieved very good to excellent sound with both bookshelf speaker systems. Of the four PRO settings, the mid-wall setting sounded best with the fullest sounding and most natural bass.

    I had the perception that the LSi9’s had a bit of trouble keeping up with the MP4K. Switching the MP4K in and out using the mute button revealed that the bass of the LSi9’s was a bit sluggish and less defined and articulate than that of the MP4K. Adjusting the MP4K’s crossover to 120 Hz helped a lot, but I never could get the seamless blending that I achieved with the Magenpan MG12’s and the SDA's.

    I was able to get seamless blending between the MP4K and the SDA CRS+’s, with the crossover set at 80 Hz. Perhaps this had something to do with the fact that SDA’s and the MP4K are both passive radiator designs.

    I did not try AutoPRO with the two channel system.

    The LSi9/MP4K combination sounded very good. It is a combination that I would be very happy with in a secondary audio system. As I have stated in some of my forum posts, I have never been a big fan of the LSi series bass rendering. It’s just a matter of taste. On the other hand, the SDA CRS+/MP4K combination sounded as if they were meant for each other and for my tastes. The MP4K added just the right amount of bass weight to make the CRS+’s sound “full grown” and provided bass that was fast, articulate, and nimble. Neither the LSi9/MP4K nor the SDA CRS+/MP4K combination had the visceral bass impact of the 1.2TL’s, but a reasonable person shifts to smaller speakers knowing that something will be lost in the translation. The SDA CRS+/MP4K combination came closer to the level of detail and articulation, not to mention imaging, that I am accustomed to with the 1.2TL’s.
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
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  4. #4
    Stronzo
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    Great review! I'm sure that took some time to put together.

    Also, congrats on the freebie. :)

  5. #5

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    DK - great review. I had the MicroPro 2000 for review, and concur with many of your comments. The 2000 blended very nicely with my Magnepan 1.6's, with nice tight, fast bass that kept up with the panels. I didn't feel the 2000 faired quite as well against my SVS SB12+ as you did, but it sure gave it a run for the money! These are amazing subs and show that Polk Audio is serious about marketing very competent and competitive subs.

    And Polk must of given UPS special instructions on handling the shipments. Your box looks good compared to what mine looked like when it arrived!
    Last edited by dkg999; 05-06-2008 at 08:03 PM. Reason: typo'd the sub model!
    DKG999
    -----------------------------------------
    HT System: LSi9, LSiCx2, LSiFX, LSi7, SVS 20-39 PC+, B&K 507.s2 AVR, B&K Ref 125.2, Tripplite LCR-2400, Cambridge 650BD, Signal Cable PC/SC, BJC IC, Samsung 55" LED

    Music System: Magnepan 1.6QR, SVS SB12+, ARC pre, Parasound HCA1500 vertically bi-amped, Jolida CDP, Pro-Ject RM5.1SE TT, Pro-Ject TubeBox SE phono pre, SBT, PS Audio DLIII DAC

  6. #6

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    Nice Reveiw I was lucky to review the 1000. and dam you have a PIMP ASS house and audio gear
    - This your Bush?
    Harman Kardon AVR-2600.
    Polk LSI9's, PSW1000

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by dkg999 View Post
    Polk must of given UPS special instructions on handling the shipments. Your box looks good compared to what mine looked like when it arrived!
    Maybe Polk wanted to test the strength of their packaging.


    Quote Originally Posted by dkg999 View Post
    Your box looks good compared to what mine looked like when it arrived!
    Well, the pic above is the "pretty" side. The pics below tell the rest of the story.


    UPS handlers took the "fragile" label as a challenge.


    Such expert, professional handling buy one of the world's premier parcel carriers.
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
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  8. #8

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    Now that's what I'm talkin about!
    DKG999
    -----------------------------------------
    HT System: LSi9, LSiCx2, LSiFX, LSi7, SVS 20-39 PC+, B&K 507.s2 AVR, B&K Ref 125.2, Tripplite LCR-2400, Cambridge 650BD, Signal Cable PC/SC, BJC IC, Samsung 55" LED

    Music System: Magnepan 1.6QR, SVS SB12+, ARC pre, Parasound HCA1500 vertically bi-amped, Jolida CDP, Pro-Ject RM5.1SE TT, Pro-Ject TubeBox SE phono pre, SBT, PS Audio DLIII DAC

  9. #9

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    They need to seriously think about the packaging of this new lineup. I picked mine up FROM Polk and it was already beat up.

  10. #10

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    Mine arrived like it left the factory, only the box was nasty dirty. No dents, dings, broken SF, nothin'. Just a dirty box. BTW, nice evaluation DK. Thanks.

    More to come. For now, if you want a Polk product to hit those low frequencies that you want.....THIS is the sub. She will not disappoint.
    In search of accurate reproduction of music. Real sound is my reference and while perfection may not be attainable? If I chase it, I might just catch excellence.

    The best way to enjoy digital music reproduction is to never listen to good analogue reproduction.

  11. #11

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    Really nice review. Thank you.

    I have a question. How is the MicroPro DSW series different from the regular DSW series? Which one is better? All these acronyms sound really confusing.

  12. #12

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    Agree on the special instructions to UPS....and quality of pakaging.

    Very nice review. Agree that the days when Polk's subs were known for how bad they were, are long gone.

    Here's how my Micro Pro 3000 arrived.







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  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by mightymouse View Post
    I have a question. How is the MicroPro DSW series different from the regular DSW series?
    Good question.
    In search of accurate reproduction of music. Real sound is my reference and while perfection may not be attainable? If I chase it, I might just catch excellence.

    The best way to enjoy digital music reproduction is to never listen to good analogue reproduction.

  14. #14

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    You guys know that the information is available on this website right? It's not just a user forum.
    Last edited by dorokusai; 05-06-2008 at 11:12 PM.

  15. #15

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    I didn't until you said something......Here you go! From Polk.

    http://www.polkaudio.com/homeaudio/p...oofers/series/

    Real world differences may be what he is.........???
    In search of accurate reproduction of music. Real sound is my reference and while perfection may not be attainable? If I chase it, I might just catch excellence.

    The best way to enjoy digital music reproduction is to never listen to good analogue reproduction.

  16. #16

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    And you're a Polkologist? Slacker.

  17. #17

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    I assume these came packed direct from the factory. Many Chinese contract mftrs. use really soft cardboard. I had the same thing happen with an 85lb sub I received, broken, corners crushed, torn...it's a shame. Someone will have to step in or there will be many unhappy customers.

    Combo rig:

    Onkyo NR1007 pre-pro, Carver TFM 45(fronts), Carver TFM 35 (surrounds)
    SDA 1C, CS400i, SDA 2B
    PB13Ultra RO
    BW Silvers
    Oppo BDP-83SE

  18. #18

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    [QUOTE=Ricardo;853055]Agree on the special instructions to UPS....and quality of pakaging.

    Very nice review. Agree that the days when Polk's subs were known for how bad they were, are long gone.

    Here's how my Micro Pro 3000 arrived.



    Dear lord --- was the sub OK ?? did you have to send it back ???

    DK Thank's for the great review

  19. #19

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    that's good to hear...at least polk listened to their subs and people who own it.
    Video: LG 55LN5100/Samsung LNT4065F
    Receiver: HK AVR445
    Source: OPPO BDP-93
    HT: POLK SPEAKERS RTi6, FXi3, CSi5 - Sub SUB-1200
    2Ch system: MC2105, C-26, AR-XA, MR-80, AR-2A, AR9, BX-300

  20. #20

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    Good review. Your set up is very impressive.

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    Very nice review. I think that this sub would work real well with a pair of RTA 8 TL's that I just picked up. They have great mid bass detail but lack the low end punch and weight that a musical sub would add IMO YMMV.

    Scott
    I like speakers that are bigger than a small refrigerator but smaller than a big refrigerator:D

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    I think it would be overkill as the smaller models would be just fine for low end re-enforcement.

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    DK,

    Very good review!

    One thing to consider is the price difference of the SVS SB12 that you compared it to. The SB12 in Gloss Black can be had for $800, compared to the Polk which is twice the price. Look at the PB13/Ultra, I don't think this sub could hang in that category and the Ultra is about $1300-1400 bucks. Of course there is a major size difference between the two. IMHO; I still believe the bang for the buck remains in the "on-line" cateragory. However; from this review, I'd come to believe that Velodyne has some great competition on their hands...

    Mike

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    This message to directed at "DarqueKnight" In fig. 6 on your post, I was wondering if you could tell me where you purchased the A/V credenza? Thank you.

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    The Furnitech FT76RL Audio Credenza was ordered from www.racksandstands.com in January of 2007. It has since been discontinued. MSRP was $1335, but I got a much better price because it was on closeout.:)
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
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    Quote "I started listening evaluations with the Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith DVD. The first 30 seconds of the star destroyer scene at the beginning of the movie was put on loop repeat. This scene has a significant engine rumble sound effect. First, I listened with the SVS, then with the MP4K."


    I know this is an ancient thread, but I laughed when I read that - I've probably listened to that scene a hundred times..I use it as my baseline test when I make changes that might affect my sub.

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    Great review DarqueKnight. Based on your evaluation, I have a couple of questions for you and thank you in advance for your time.

    We are finishing our basement and like many others searching for that perfect subwoofer. Here's some baseline information. This system will be used for 70% movies and 30% music. The main and center channels are polk rci85's and the rear channels are polk rci80's.

    Due to space constraints, we can either get 2 Polk MicroPro 4000 subs or 1 SVS PB13-Ultra sub. Which option would give us the better home theater and music experience we can both hear and feel??? Thanks again for your help.

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    Advantage,

    You mentioned space constraints, so I assume you have a small room. Using a large sub, such as the SVS PB13/U, with small speakers like the rci85's and 80's would mean that you would need to turn the sub's volume down considerably to blend in with the other speakers.

    I think a single MicroPro 4000 would suffice...unless you like your sound to be bass heavy.
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
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    Thanks for the reply. Would you recommend larger in-wall and in-ceiling speakers to take advantage of the SVS? If so, what speakers would blend seamlessly with that sub given a similar RCi85 footprint (framing and sheetrock already complete)?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Advantage View Post
    Thanks for the reply. Would you recommend larger in-wall and in-ceiling speakers to take advantage of the SVS? If so, what speakers would blend seamlessly with that sub given a similar RCi85 footprint (framing and sheetrock already complete)?
    How big is the listening room (Volume HxWxD) and what db do you normally listen at? Are you interested in hitting reference levels cleanly (105db for the speakers, 115db for the subs)?

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