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Polk Audio Speakers :: Music playback awesome, move playback not so awesome .. Why ?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hey all ... So guys I'm making a home theater in the basement of my new home (some of you probably have seen my other threads), and I had a question regarding audio which I faced today ..

So I went to a company today that deals in Polk Audio Home Theater speakers, and I stayed with their main sales guy for about 4-5 hours. During this time I tested a wide variety of his Polk Audio speakers with a specific playlist I had devised for checking different types of audio.

I was pretty satisfied with the quality of the speakers when I played music audio (iTunes purchased songs from the iPhone, played using a 3.5mm cable), but when gave me a demo of DVD movies and Blu-rays, I was not impressed frankly. He played movies like Fast Five, Iron Man, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and in all of them I noticed that the sound was shallow, or maybe shrilled .. Like the audio coming out from a good line of computer speakers ?!.. I mean I have a basic $300 Sony HTiB in my bedroom, and I thought the sound coming from his top range Polk Audio speakers sounded the same as those from my HTiB !?

The Polk Audio speaker configurations he demoed were the following:

1) TSX-550 (for Front L & R) + CS20 (Center) + 2x DSW-660 (2x Subwoofers)
2) RTI-A7 (for Front L & R) + CSi A4 (Center) + 2x DSW-660 (2x Subwoofers)
3) RTI-A9 (for Front L & R) + CSi A6 (Center) + 2x DSW-660 (2x Subwoofers)
4) LSi (number unknown) (for Front L & R) + CSi A6 (Center) + 2x DSW-660 (2x Subwoofers)

Sound from music was much better though .. Some tracks were *incredible* ... really !

What's the reason for this ? Why did they all suck in movies ?
post #2 of 18
What were they being powered by?

The RTiA line is regarded as a great HT choice. Whichever route you go, you should not buy those subs. They are overpriced and underperformers. You could get a pair of Rythmik LV12R for that money and they would stomp all over those Polks.
post #3 of 18
Ahmadka,

It's going to be tough for anyone to speculated why the systems sounded different for music and movies. What movie experience are you comparing to the demo?. Speakers do not know what they are being asked to reproduce, so it sounds odd that there was a discrepancy. Were all the speakers setup in the same room? Was your seating location the same for music and the movie demo? Did all the speakers use the same receiver / amplifier?
post #4 of 18
Taste, poorly set up avr or processor, bad room acoustics, expectation, no optimized room eq program used, poorly set up manual eq, crappy subwoofers not optimally set up, incorrect dsp in use such as night mode enabled, inproperly set up source....lots of reasons.
post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
Room did not have any kind of treatment whatsoever ! It also had TONS of audio stuff in it. Maybe like 10-12 floor standing speakers, 7-8 subwoofers (heavy type!), 20-25 smaller speakers, like 10-15 receivers/amps/etc .. Lots of equipment lying everywhere ..

It was something like this maybe, but significantly neater looking ..



Everything apart from the subs and floor standing speakers was mostly placed on lots of small shelves on the walls all around ..

The sales rep also said that no equipment had any kind of calibration whatsoever, and everything was as it is out of the box ..

But why was the sound much better for the audio ?

And is it wise to say that they are bad speakers for movies ? Or is it more like that they're just not tuned correctly ? I ask this, because if its just a tuning issue, I can easily consider buying them, and then I can tune them later in my own home ..

However if its a genuine issue with Polk Audio speakers, then I'll reluctantly probably avoid them ..
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by D_M View Post

Ahmadka,

It's going to be tough for anyone to speculated why the systems sounded different for music and movies. What movie experience are you comparing to the demo?. Speakers do not know what they are being asked to reproduce, so it sounds odd that there was a discrepancy. Were all the speakers setup in the same room? Was your seating location the same for music and the movie demo? Did all the speakers use the same receiver / amplifier?

I don't have any prior HT speaker experience whatsoever ... This will be my first. Because of this, its not like I have any high end HT speakers which I'm comparing them to. If at all, I'm just comparing them to the general audio you hear in commercial cinemas. And yes I know that is like a 'perfect' audio, but still, what I heard for movies wasn't any better than an average Sony HTiB or something like that ... Music was super though ! Not perfect, but about 7.5 ~ 9 out of 10 on average. I spent 3 hours playing the same 5-6 songs on all speakers, and graded their bass, high frequency playback, low frequency playback, vocals playback, overall enjoyment, etc .. I created a scorecard sheet for all my results too ! smile.gif It lacked a little in vocals playback at times, but everything else was top notch, even without any calibration.

In the start, the music at first sounded a little low quality too, but then the rep switched a single 500 sub with 2x 660 ones, and boom ! A whole different game ! smile.gif

Also, the seating position, speaker position, etc was the exact same for both music and movies. Basically it was all the same setup, and the sales rep just switched to playing a movie instead of me playing music through my iPhone.
post #7 of 18
Ahmadka,

If the dealer will let you take the speakers home for a demo, that would be ideal. Maybe you can work something out with the dealer. There are countless happy polk owners. It might be best to describe your listening space at home and your ideal system. Providing members with more details about your listening habits, budget, and room layout might spur other speaker suggestions.
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
More pictures which help describe the state of the demo room:



post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by D_M View Post

Ahmadka,

If the dealer will let you take the speakers home for a demo, that would be ideal. Maybe you can work something out with the dealer. There are countless happy polk owners. It might be best to describe your listening space at home and your ideal system. Providing members with more details about your listening habits, budget, and room layout might spur other speaker suggestions.

Treat that option, but he won't allow tongue.gif

But I really wanted to buy these because the music quality was just awesome ! Is it more likely that they're basically audio speakers, and are just not a good match for movies, or is it more likely that its a calibration issue ? Because if its the latter, I can buy them and calibrate them later on.
As far as my room is concerned, here's a layout:

V9x6L.jpg
Edited by ahmadka - 11/22/13 at 11:59am
post #10 of 18
Ahmadka,

I searched on your name and found your other threads. Did you enjoy listening to music with all the polk setups or was one better than the other? In one of your other threads, members suggested other speakers. Did you already cross those speakers off your list? From your diagram, it looks like you will be seated about 15' - 18' back from your front sound stage. I believe you indicated that you wanted to just use a AVR. You need to look for high efficiency speakers. How far away from the speakers were you seated during the demo?
post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by D_M View Post

Ahmadka,

I searched on your name and found your other threads. Did you enjoy listening to music with all the polk setups or was one better than the other? In one of your other threads, members suggested other speakers. Did you already cross those speakers off your list? From your diagram, it looks like you will be seated about 15' - 18' back from your front sound stage. I believe you indicated that you wanted to just use a AVR. You need to look for high efficiency speakers. How far away from the speakers were you seated during the demo?

No I haven't crossed anything else off my list. I'll try listening to a few other brands from other stores, but the reason why I went with Polks first was because they're the best known and most common speakers in my locality ..

I have located demos of KEF and Focal too in my locality, and will try to listen to those tomorrow, but I really like the music sound of these speakers, which is why I'm kind of stunned as to why they had a mediocre result when it came to movies.
post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Transmaniacon View Post

What were they being powered by?

The RTiA line is regarded as a great HT choice. Whichever route you go, you should not buy those subs. They are overpriced and underperformers. You could get a pair of Rythmik LV12R for that money and they would stomp all over those Polks.

I don't remember who receiver he was using, but he kept changing the amp too, whenever I changed to a different set of speakers. He said it was to properly drive the speakers based on their requirements.

And will 2x XV15's also stomp over those Polk subs ? .. Because I just ordered dual XV15's moments ago .. wink.gif
post #13 of 18
First some issues with regards to the music demos.

Was it in stereo with only the mains playing or was it processed into 5 channel stereo or the like?

Were the subs running when demoing music? If so what was the crossover? And if so, it makes it very difficult to judge the speaker itself. The RtiA7 and 9 would sound very similar with subs in the mix.

And if they sound good with music and you like the sound then they would and should sound good for movies. Sound is sound. Most movies have a lot of music in the sound track.

And if you buy the speakers, pass on the subs and go internet direct like SVS, PSA, HSU, Rythmik etc...

Edit- didn't see that you already ordered a pair of XV-15s. One would stomp all over TWO of the Polk subs eek.gif So you're good there. smile.gif
post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
The songs were definitely stereo (iTunes M4A files), but I'm not sure if they upgraded it to surround or not. I don't think I noticed any surround in the mix when playing audio. They did have subs connected, and yes you're right, I didn't notice much change when going from A7 to A9. But I did feel some improvement (significantly more noticeable in music) when going from A9 to LSi ..

The rep was very nice .. He served me lunch, kept the store opened beyond their normal open times. But still, now I'm not sure if the Polks should be purchased or not.

The music which I used for testing, was mainly rock/pop/retro/metal .. Stuff which had a lot of Bass use in it. But I also played other acoustic songs, and songs which had a lighter mood. They all sounded very good to me, especially the heavy music. Vocals seemed a little artificial in about 40% of the songs, but even vocal wise, I would rate them about 3.5 ~ 4.5 out of 5.
post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by ahmadka View Post

The songs were definitely stereo (iTunes M4A files), but I'm not sure if they upgraded it to surround or not. I don't think I noticed any surround in the mix when playing audio. They did have subs connected, and yes you're right, I didn't notice much change when going from A7 to A9. But I did feel some improvement (significantly more noticeable in music) when going from A9 to LSi ..

The rep was very nice .. He served me lunch, kept the store opened beyond their normal open times. But still, now I'm not sure if the Polks should be purchased or not.

The music which I used for testing, was mainly rock/pop/retro/metal .. Stuff which had a lot of Bass use in it. But I also played other acoustic songs, and songs which had a lighter mood. They all sounded very good to me, especially the heavy music. Vocals seemed a little artificial in about 40% of the songs, but even vocal wise, I would rate them about 3.5 ~ 4.5 out of 5.

If you have the time go back and listen again without the subs in the mix. Chances are you'll end up wanting the LSis. They are definitely a step up for sure. Very nice mids and highs. As they should considering the step up in price.

Of course the former versions seem to still be available online for half or less than retail.
post #16 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by ahmadka View Post

The songs were definitely stereo (iTunes M4A files), but I'm not sure if they upgraded it to surround or not. I don't think I noticed any surround in the mix when playing audio. They did have subs connected, and yes you're right, I didn't notice much change when going from A7 to A9. But I did feel some improvement (significantly more noticeable in music) when going from A9 to LSi ..

The rep was very nice .. He served me lunch, kept the store opened beyond their normal open times. But still, now I'm not sure if the Polks should be purchased or not.

The music which I used for testing, was mainly rock/pop/retro/metal .. Stuff which had a lot of Bass use in it. But I also played other acoustic songs, and songs which had a lighter mood. They all sounded very good to me, especially the heavy music. Vocals seemed a little artificial in about 40% of the songs, but even vocal wise, I would rate them about 3.5 ~ 4.5 out of 5.

It's gotta be the way they were set up and the room acoustics because the RTI line are great for HT and I find them outstanding for music. They are very "true" sounding and that may be why you find the vocals sometimes sounding artificial...mainly due to the way they were recorded. One thing they are absolutely kick butt on is live music. Sounds like you're right there in the front row.
post #17 of 18
I totaly agree D_M,
How come good CDs, Blurays and DVDs shows and movies sound so diferent?
Speakers are designed to reproduce a signal and that's it, right?
All I know is that the better the receiver the bigger are the diferences in terms of sounds.
Take some time to set your HT and keep improving.
It's a good addiction.
Regards
JB
post #18 of 18
I currently have the rtia7's for left/right and csia6 for center running off an onkyo 818 and these things are amazing for movies, they blow everyone away when I have people over. There considered better for HT than for music but I find music equally epic.
Its a shame that a professional store would spend all that time with customers and not have any time to setup any room correction on any of their speakers. It supposed to make a huge difference especially for movie watching.
I just setup the fxia6 as surrounds and watched G.I Joe retaliation and was in audio heaven, I'm no audiophile and my listening area is much smaller then yours but I doubt you would be disapointed in the rtia9 and up models from polk. They say at the a9's and up you will need a decent amount of power for them tho.
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