Q: My husband has large planar speakers (6 feet high, 3 feet wide). We are moving to a condo where it will be impossible to use them in the smaller space. Can you suggest small speakers that would provide the same quality when he plays his classical records?
A: I unhesitatingly recommend Polk Audio Legend series bookshelf speakers (polkaudio.com/legend), and I assure you that you won’t be disappointed.
Polk’s high-end LSi and LSiM speakers always have held a special place in my heart, going back to the Polk LSi9 speakers I purchased over 10 years ago. I still have them, and they still sound wonderful. I was going to buy their replacement, the LSiM703, when they were on clearance recently, but a Polk rep kept raving about the new Legend series. So I held off on my purchase, and he lent me a pair of Legends to try.
I requested the Polk Legend L200 speakers ($1,799), but the Legend L100 speakers ($1,199) showed up instead. Initially I was disappointed because I wanted to try the bigger speaker, but once I had the L100s connected, I realized that it was a stroke of good fortune. Though they are noticeably smaller than the Emotiva T-Zero towers, at lifelike listening levels the L100s have noticeably deeper and more accurate bass. If you had told me this beforehand, I would have had a hard time believing it. Small speakers are not supposed to sound as big as the L100s do.
Audio reviewers often discuss how a good speaker can separate the different performers as well as re-create the space between them. The Polk Legend L100 took this to a new level. It was as if there were dozens of tiny speakers spread across the soundstage, each one independently reproducing a single vocalist or instrument perfectly. Along with this incredible stereo imaging comes tremendous precision and definition, as well as the ability to effortlessly re-create the ebb, flow and tonality of a musical performance. No matter how hard I drove the L100s with CDs and LPs playing all kinds of different music, I could not get them to smear a single note.
This performance makes some demands of the owner. You can’t just pair the L100s with an inexpensive amplifier and a mediocre turntable and expect them to sound good. They will reveal every flaw in your system, and they are 3 ohm speakers that need a lot of power. I used them with the Cambridge Audio CXA81 and Emotiva A-150 amplifiers and they sang with both of them. And please, do not put them on a shelf. Put these wonderful speakers on stands, where they belong.
Choose your components carefully, position the Legends properly and you will hear magnificent music reproduction typically associated with the most expensive, esoteric equipment.
Send questions to Don Lindich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.