I wanted to report on my experience with Sean and Skiing Ninja. My speakers are LSi15s and an LSiC.
I'd been perusing all of the crossover mod threads for quite some time. I started pulling together a parts list, determining a strategy for installation, choosing between the different xover brands, etc. The problem I ran across was that there wasn't one single, straightforward how-to somewhere. It felt very bleeding edge, and error-prone--at least for my level of electronics know-how.
Here I'd like to emphasize that I am getting absolutely nothing from Skiing Ninja for this write-up. I told him I'd post a review, but there was no explicit or implicit agreement between us.
I started by probing him with a few emails. He said that he was working on creating upgrades for Polk, and to hang tight. I gave it a couple of months, and a few emails later, he agreed to set me up. I believe I'm actually the second Polk upgrade he did. The first was praedet's (?) LSi9's.
Through the ordering process he was very helpful, realizing that the paint was still drying, so to speak, on the Polk upgrades. I decided to go with Ninja Master (his best), with the crossovers in external enclosures. Initially I ordered Sonicap Gen2's as the bypass caps, but later upgraded to Sonicap Platinums for the tweeters. So, more or less, I ordered his ultra-premium product. Incidentally, I'd strongly recommend external enclosures because these new networks are enormous.
He told me that the build-time would be 4-6 weeks. These babies are hand-build with point-to-point solders between components--no PCB traces anywhere. I hoped he was just giving me a high estimate time-wise, but it took the full six weeks to arrive. Granted, it was during Christmas time, and there were a couple of parts that arrived to him out of spec or damaged, so a lot of it was out of anyone's control. Regardless, about six weeks later, they made it. Incidentally, Sean kept me updated all along the way and gave me a call a couple of times to talk me down from a ledge. :)
Once they got here, packaged extremely well, I couldn't help but notice how incredibly well built they are. I struggle to describe them in words. They're like hand-crafted works of art. Gorgeous, shiny, furniture-grade cabinets. Inside, they're meticulously built and lovingly arranged. Yes, I paid a lot of money for them, granted. However, on looks alone, I was already impressed.
But how do they sound?
Well well well. I've always liked my LSi15s. They're fantastic speakers for the price, and they have great balance and punch. They take a lot of power to drive, but if you've invested in a nice amplifier, they do well. I've never really been in love with my LSiC, but it is still clearly the nicest center channel I've ever owned.
As of this moment, and I'm listening to Disintegration by The Cure, I am astounded that I'm actually listening to the same drivers I had before. People talk about "soundstage" all the time in forums. I know what they meant, but I can't say I've ever really heard a proper soundstage before the upgrade. I had Norah Jones on last night, and I would close my eyes and point to where the instruments were coming from. That's probably the most satisfying part of this upgrade--the feeling of having "live" music right in front of me.
I was also, after reading all about bypass capacitors, worried about the fatigue factor. Granted, I ordered the Sonicap Platinum bypass caps--so I can't say how the Gen2 caps would fare--but there is absolutely no fatigue. I've had fatiguing speakers in the past, and I know exactly how it feels to be exhausted after cranking up my favorite CD for a while. It sucks. But these LSi15's, and high and low levels, are liquid smooth, articulate, and revealing without a hint of fatigue. Brilliant. I credit the Vifa tweeter for that. It's amazing.
I can crank up my stereo LOUD now and feel like the drywall is going to come off the walls. But the speakers don't shout at me. They just get BIG and spacious. Voices sound natural, like they're coming from a person's throat, with phlegm, saliva, and regular breaths in and out. They are revealing now. Not analytical, but revealing.
For instance, my favorite young band, Silversun Pickups, have a new album called Swoon. They're a pretty informal crew, and their recordings have a somewhat live feel. At the start of the song Growing Old is Getting Old, you can hear a couple of the band members whispering to each other. I had no clue this was there, and I bet the engineers didn't even realize it. I'd listened to this song probably 50 times before playing it on the upgraded Polks. I cracked up laughing and called my wife in to hear it too.
Finally, movies are brilliant now. Brilliant. The LSiC has fully come to life, and I can't believe how much dialog I was straining to hear. I went to the movie theater last weekend, and was a little disappointed at the sound compared to what I've gotten used to at home. As I re-read that sentence it sounds a little over the top, but it's the honest truth. The LSiC is an awesome center channel.
The bottom line to this review is this: The LSi line of speakers are brilliant, but they're limited by their electronics. I feel like I have the best of both worlds now. I spent a reasonable amount of money for the LSI15's and C several years ago. Now, I've spent a bit more to upgrade them without having to buy completely new speakers (and sell the old ones). It's perfect. And I feel like I would have to spend an OBSCENE amount of money to outclass these speakers. Sure, I'd take a pair of Wilson Alexandria's over these Polks any day. That's not the point. For the money I have invested in these, I feel like they are untouchable.