Sound Advice: High-quality Polk speakers call for a receiver that can power them

  • Article by: DON LINDICH
  • Updated: May 30, 2014 - 1:46 PM

Polk’s LSi25 speakers require a good receiver or amplifier.

Q: A year or so ago, you recommended Polk LSi25 speakers as a great value on closeout for $1,299 a pair. I managed to find a like-new set on eBay for $750. I think I need a new receiver to power them.

I have a vintage Pioneer SX-828 that drove my vintage EPI HE21 speakers beautifully. When I hooked up the Polks, they sounded fine up to about one-fourth volume. Higher than that, the amp clips on and off. I’m thinking this isn’t good for my receiver.

I believe the EPIs are 8 ohms and the LSi25s are 4 ohms.

Should I get a new receiver or amplifier for my new speakers?

A: Whatever you do, don’t use the SX-828 with your Polk LSi25 speakers anymore.

It’s true that driving the receiver until it clips and shuts off isn’t good for the receiver, but it’s even worse for those beautiful new speakers of yours.

Clipping creates distortion that damages speakers, especially tweeters. The Vifa Ring Radiator tweeters used in your Polk LSi speakers are pretty special. You want to keep them performing at their best.

In the past, I would have recommended the Harman/Kardon HK3490 receiver. Selling for less than $400, it had tons of clean power and could drive your 4-ohm speakers effortlessly. Sadly, it has been discontinued and replaced with a much inferior model.

Your best bet is to get an integrated amplifier, or a separate amplifier and preamplifier. Here are three options to consider.

• Emotiva mini-X A100 (www.emotiva.com): It provides 80 watts per channel into 4 ohms and sells for $219.

• NAD C 326 BEE (www.nadelectronics.com): This midpriced option goes for $549.

• Neuhaus T-2 (www.neuhauslabs.com): ­Neuhaus Laboratories’ T-2 integrated amplifier, for $795, is a bit off the beaten path. It uses vacuum tubes. Although it produces only 20 watts per channel, it will drive your LSi25 speakers very well.

In fact, I used the T-2 to drive the Polk LSi9 speakers, and they worked wonderfully together. The T-2 has three stereo connections. a digital optical connection and a USB connection.

It is perfect for playing back digital files and makes them sound nice and warm. I highly ­recommend it.

Home TV recording

After my recent column about home television recording and the Channelmaster DVR+, I received quite a few e-mails from readers with suggestions for alternatives.

One of them, the Mediasonic HW-150, looks to be a standout value and does most of what the DVR+ does, but for $35 instead of $249. It has only one tuner and lacks the fancy program guide. Given the price, though, I doubt people will complain too much.

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