Sound advice: Old receiver may not drive new speakers

  • Article by: DON LINDICH , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 3, 2012 - 2:54 PM

Start by checking the back of your receiver.

Q Could you please advise me on the Polk LSi25 speakers you mentioned in a recent column? I still have my 150-watt Realistic stereo receiver from 1972. It was costly at the time, so I feel all I might need are speakers. Given that the LSi25 speakers are about 50 percent off, the deal sounds great.

A Since the column on the Polk LSi speakers ran, I have received many questions similar to yours.

I don't know much about your particular receiver, but the Polk LSi speakers are world-class products and my gut tells me they deserve something newer.

We also don't know if your receiver can handle the 4-ohm rating of the Polk LSi speakers. The 4-ohm rating means the speakers need an amplifier capable of delivering high current, and there are plenty of receivers with 150 watts that don't have high current to match.

There are 30-watt receivers that can handle a 4-ohm load, and 100-watt receivers that can't.

Start by checking the back of your receiver, and see if it is rated for 4 ohms. If it doesn't say, you can simply hook up the receiver to the speakers and see how it works. Just start with low volume levels and look and listen for signs that the receiver is being overworked, such as strained sound or if the receiver gets much hotter than normal.

If you do need a new receiver, you can get a tremendous amount of power for less than $300. The Harman/Kardon HK 3490 stereo receiver delivers 120 watts per channel into 8 ohms and 150 watts per channel into 4 ohms. It sounds great and looks great, too. Audiophiles praise it as one of the best values in audio. I've paired its immediate predecessors with expensive speakers to my readers' great satisfaction. You can read one of these stories at www.startribune.com/a1586.

Other readers wondered where they could get the Polk LSi speakers at the prices cited in the column.

If you have a local dealer that carries Polk, see if it can order you the speakers at the closeout pricing. If not, you will have to buy them online. Amazon has all of the LSi models at the closeout prices, and the Polk Audio eBay store (stores.ebay.com/polk-audio-direct) has ample stock of the LSi models.

We have winners

Congratulations to the winners of my 10th anniversary giveaway. Miles Kennedy of Coon Rapids won the Marantz/Definitive Technology home-theater system, and Randy Mogle of Homer City, Pa., won the Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB turntable. Denon headphones went to Bill Yavorn of San Jose, Calif., Michael Rock of Pittsburgh and Rick Lenz of Medina.

Send questions to donlindich@gmail.com. Get more recommendations and read past columns at www.soundadviceblog.com.

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