Systems Showcase

Wall of Sound

I guess I am reasonably close to being in mid-fi heaven with this system, cobbled together over lo these many years. As I am a professional music reviewer (jazz), music is very important to me. This photo isn't completely up to date. There is a Playstation 2 now, which the kid plays the daylights out of, of course, and I watch the occasional movie on. Basically you see my east-facing living-room wall. (A burglar came through that window a few years ago, but that's another story.) This is a very basic but quite serviceable two-channel stereo/video system. The TV is a decidedly non-Wega Sony 27, with the VCR in the little cubbyhole below it. To its right is the Polk 450 sub with my wife's little Sony boombox on top of it. The equipment rack features a VERY minimal-quality turntable (I hardly ever listen to vinyl and NEVER get vinyl for reviews); a workhorse Onkyo stereo receiver; an oldie-but-goodie Kenwood CD player; and another fine oldie, an Aiwa cassette deck. It hardly ever gets any use anymore. Record companies don't send cassettes any longer, and my existing collection doesn't measure up to the crystal clearness of CDs. The speakers, of course, should be very recognizable - the Polk RT 800s. The system truly delivers. Jazz, of course, for the most part, is a music of subtlety. My favorite CD to demo this system on is the Jacques Loussier Trio doing Ravel's "Bolero." Just piano, bass and drums, but the recording is totally transparent and the soundstage/imaging nothing short of perfect. I have NEVER heard a cymbal sound this lifelike, thank you Polk. You should hear this disc. Of course, sometimes I'm not in the mood for subtlety, and listen to kick-butt big bands, and that is when the volume goes up, up up and the sub starts to do its work. Can you say BASS DRUM? I do have a big collection of boomer-type rock, also, and I must say that the 800s will reproduce everything I feed them and quite convincingly. I love to play with the sub, too, especially enjoying it on such showoff pieces as Emerson, Lake and Palmer's "Tank."


  • Onkyo TX 8511 (100 watts)
  • Aiwa cassette deck F660
  • Kenwood CD player DP 3020
  • JVC VCR HR643U
  • Technics SLBD20D
  • Sony 27 KV something-or-other


  • Polk RT 800s
  • Polk PSW 450