Polk S15 - Measurements - Testing - Review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 28 Old 08-24-2018, 01:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Polk S15 - Measurements - Testing - Review

Sorry for the delay gents, I planned to have this one published Tuesday 21st but, I’ve had some personal issues arise that pushed it back.

Today we have the beautiful Polk S15’s. Now I purchased these on sale for $136 to replace a pair of Polk Monitor 40’s which started the snowball effect in spending thousands & thousands of dollars this year..which I’ve enjoyed quite much.

At this point I wasn’t big in audio, the Polk Monitor 40’s along w/ yesterday’s BIC FH6-LCR replaced an LG soundbar, which to its credit for having 4 .75” soft domes & 6 2” drivers sounded decent for a soundbar. From the soundbar to the Monitor/FH6 combo was a major stepping stone, I could turn the volume up without distortion, it was louder but, not the ear piercing kind of loud the strained sound bars create. It was incredible not having to specifically turn the volume up just to hear a dialogue only scene.

After a month or two here I felt unproven & residing within the very bottom tier of audio which lead me to a budget friendly upgrade but, still an upgrade.

The Polk S15’s are definitely an upgrade. A comparison between them & the Monitors revealed an uneven treble line within the Monitors that the Signature series accurately corrected. Not to mention aesthetically they are much more pleasing.

At first before the break in period I’ll be honest, it was lacking something; bass, midbass, I wasn’t sure at that time what but making that change I did notice something was different for the worse. Now the bass isn’t an issue as I’ve learned throughout training for what to listen to. The measurements below will show my conclusion.

It’s definitely the midbass, crossover region but, I do not believe that this is a cast of negatives towards Polk as depending upon placement will change the frequencies drastically. For anyone that does not know Polk has designed a new “Power Port” which is a rear port with..well idk how exactly to describe it so just look at the picture below. As we know most rear ported speakers want space away from the front wall but, having a non-direct rear port this reacts a little differently with boundaries. To get a full sound signature they (in my room/setup) like to be approximately 6-8” away from the front wall. If you like accentuated midbass you could pull them out a couple inches but IMO this would not result in having a flat crossover area. If you are looking for speakers for a desk setup (extremely nearfield w/ a wall directly behind them) I would recommend the S10’s if you cannot accommodate the 6-8” spacing.

The tweeter is my favorite part of this particular speaker although if this was the S20 I would call it a complete budget friendly speaker as it goes down to 38Hz I believe. I listen to a wide variety of music - rap, hip-hop, R&B, rock, classic rock, some blues, occasional jazz if I’m drinking, rarely some classical, movie scores. I absolutely adore Hans Zimmer & the one who done Sicario... Johann Johannsson, the name escaped me. It plays vocals with authority & clarity with only one recommendation from an AVS user that had screeching with a female pitch. It will play cymbals & horns clear & sharp but, at the same time being pleasant & non-shrill.

Power port


Here is the specs for the Polk S15
Spoiler!


All measurements were measured in half space @ 1m with the dB level & crossover specifically noted in each graph

I measured the -3dB at 58Hz & the -6dB point at 51Hz. I have a null which is a reaction with the room at 1-2kHz so those sips can be ignored.

Placement along with sub distance makes a huge difference in making the crossover area completely flat but, a few sweeps & tweaking settings it was a breeze.
















I will be reviewing the SVS Prime Elevations next

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Last edited by DaBateman; 08-24-2018 at 03:05 PM.
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post #2 of 28 Old 08-24-2018, 01:49 PM
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Nice review! Wish I weren't so lazy about getting the gear and learning how to take measurements, lol.

The Power-Port is something that Polk has had on their RTi (and possibly LSi, not sure) series for a while. The S series is just their replacement for the RTi series, of which some models (like the smaller RTi4) were sometimes criticized as sounding "thin" or "bright" especially at volume. Judging from the overwhelming amount of positive feedback about the S series, it appears that Polk has finally fixed this problem.

The Polk Monitor series (like the R and T series) is pretty awful, however...congrats on the upgrade!

Are you keeping the BIC center, or going with the Polk S30 center soon?

~ Are you a "geek hobbyist" obsessed with squeezing out that last 5-10% improvement? The economy will thank you...especially the Chinese one. Or are you more of a get-set-and-forget "casual user" who simply wants to increase your enjoyment of movies, TV and gaming? Relax, HT isn't rocket science, nor does it have to cost an arm and a leg---especially if you ignore the aforementioned vocal minority. And remember to smile...it's just a silly hobby, after all. :)
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post #3 of 28 Old 08-24-2018, 02:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Zorba922 View Post
Nice review! Wish I weren't so lazy about getting the gear and learning how to take measurements, lol.

The Power-Port is something that Polk has had on their RTi (and possibly LSi, not sure) series for a while. The S series is just their replacement for the RTi series, of which some models (like the smaller RTi4) were sometimes criticized as sounding "thin" or "bright" especially at volume. Judging from the overwhelming amount of positive feedback about the S series, it appears that Polk has finally fixed this problem.

The Polk Monitor series (like the R and T series) is pretty awful, however...congrats on the upgrade!

Are you keeping the BIC center, or going with the Polk S30 center soon?
To be honest I’ve enjoyed the process quite a bit, it took a week or two to learn the software properly which I admit there’s still plenty knowledge to soak in.

You are correct about the powerport, I believe the picture above is from an LSi series speaker guessing from the binding post. It does seem that the RTi series is brighter than both series making them more of a favorite for HT but, I think the Signature series is a great compromise for both music & HT as it does both well for a budget bookshelf.

I haven’t heard the R or T series but, I do agree with the Monitor series, they’re junk.

I will probably keep the BIC center but, if the price stays the same at $150 for the S30 it’s kinda hard to pass up. I’ve wanted to get the Emotiva C2 but, the S30 may very well be my next purchase. Currently I have the FH6 on my desk setup with the Polk’s but, unless I’m directly off axis for long periods it doesn’t get much use nowadays.

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post #4 of 28 Old 08-24-2018, 02:57 PM
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How did you decide the -3 db point, relative to what frequency point

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post #5 of 28 Old 08-24-2018, 06:20 PM - Thread Starter
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How did you decide the -3 db point, relative to what frequency point
I started with a 75dB compression sweep (-30dBfs) & ignoring the comb filtering starting around 100Hz to 250Hz present from in room measurements I counted down from the first peak to where the frequency meets 72dB which is 58Hz from all measurements I conducted. Polk list the S15 specs at 50Hz to 40,000kHz which seems to correlate as its -6dB is 51Hz & they do not list -3dB points.

Also I forgot to mention above that the internal crossover between the woofer & tweeter is 2,500kHz which seems be point on.

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post #6 of 28 Old 08-25-2018, 09:11 AM
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I'm using the S15's for rear surrounds and quite pleased with them.
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post #7 of 28 Old 08-25-2018, 09:23 AM
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the polk's spec out pretty nice .. the graph with sub/ypao is downright impressive for a true entry level speaker...
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post #8 of 28 Old 08-25-2018, 10:35 AM
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The power port is interesting. Instead of leaving boundary compensation to the user, they built the boundary into the speaker somewhat.
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post #9 of 28 Old 08-25-2018, 02:26 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm using the S15's for rear surrounds and quite pleased with them.
Yes very nice speakers especially for the price of $199 retail. Unless just completely size restricted I’d recommend the S15’s over their little brother because the performance definitely out-jumps the price difference.

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the polk's spec out pretty nice .. the graph with sub/ypao is downright impressive for a true entry level speaker...
Absolutely agree. I know Polk gets a bad rap especially here recently for being a “lower tier budget” brand but, the Signature series has seemed to tamed that notion.

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The power port is interesting. Instead of leaving boundary compensation to the user, they built the boundary into the speaker somewhat.
Yes very intriguing. Assuming the user has some knowledge about speaker placement it’s a very unique idea to bring to life.

I’d like the hear the towers firsthand to see how they play with the power port.
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It's good to see they're still plugging away. I don't have any recent experience with their products, but did have some in the past. T'was well built.

I bought a sub/sat system for the kid's system years ago and each one of the sats was like 8-10 lbs.

Thanks for the measurements. I know it takes alot of time, but at least it's fun. The older I get, the lazier I get about doing it.
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post #11 of 28 Old 08-26-2018, 10:51 AM
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I’d like the hear the towers firsthand to see how they play with the power port.
S50 towers on sale for a remarkably low $200 each at BB at the moment.
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post #12 of 28 Old 08-26-2018, 12:05 PM
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S50 towers on sale for a remarkably low $200 each at BB at the moment.


Whoa. They're not my favorite but that's a crazy good price!!!


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Whoa. They're not my favorite but that's a crazy good price!!!


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The Adorama package deals are even better, if anyone out there ever needs the spare parts. Don't think any are going on now, but one ended about a week ago.

One thing I'm unsure about regarding the Polk S towers is if the S50/S55 are 2 or 2.5-way (or if it even matters). It appears that the S60 is the only 3-way version (and of course more expensive).
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post #14 of 28 Old 08-26-2018, 12:14 PM
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The Adorama package deals are even better, if anyone out there ever needs the spare parts. Don't think any are going on now, but one ended about a week ago.

One thing I'm unsure about regarding the Polk S towers is if the S50/S55 are 2 or 2.5-way (or if it even matters). It appears that the S60 is the only 3-way version (and of course more expensive).
On the Polk Signature thread the only "knock" on the S55 and S60 IIRC is that the bass tended to overpower in 2.0 so the S50 might actually be the sweet spot.

But, $200 each, holy smokes that is a good deal for a tower speaker with many fans that say the aesthetics are also very good.
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On the Polk Signature thread the only "knock" on the S55 and S60 IIRC is that the bass tended to overpower in 2.0 so the S50 might actually be the sweet spot.



But, $200 each, holy smokes that is a good deal for a tower speaker with many fans that say the aesthetics are also very good.


I remember when we had to wait for sales to get the damn monitor series on sale for that price. It's a good deal at that price, no caveats required.


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S50 towers on sale for a remarkably low $200 each at BB at the moment.
Wow, that's hard to resist...$400/pr = $300/pr bookshelves plus $100/pr stands!
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a tower speaker with many fans that say the aesthetics are also very good.
Yep, Polk seems to have stolen a page from QA with the rounded edges on this new S series!

PS. I see that Crutchfield and Amazon are now showing the same price on them as BB.
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~ Are you a "geek hobbyist" obsessed with squeezing out that last 5-10% improvement? The economy will thank you...especially the Chinese one. Or are you more of a get-set-and-forget "casual user" who simply wants to increase your enjoyment of movies, TV and gaming? Relax, HT isn't rocket science, nor does it have to cost an arm and a leg---especially if you ignore the aforementioned vocal minority. And remember to smile...it's just a silly hobby, after all. :)
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Whoa. They're not my favorite but that's a crazy good price!!!
Agree, would not be my first choice -- but still a serious good price
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post #19 of 28 Old 08-27-2018, 11:41 AM
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Yep, Polk seems to have stolen a page from QA with the rounded edges on this new S series!

PS. I see that Crutchfield and Amazon are now showing the same price on them as BB.
Another pair of new towers from Wharfedale at $200 each.

Too new for any reviews but impressive that price gets you a 3 way speaker with a 6.5" main driver.

Available in 2 finishes.

https://www.crutchfield.com/p_336CR4...od.html?tp=185

Very reasonably priced raised tweeter center channel.

https://www.crutchfield.com/p_336CR4...ut.html?tp=189
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Another pair of new towers from Wharfedale at $200 each.

Too new for any reviews but impressive that price gets you a 3 way speaker with a 6.5" main driver.

Available in 2 finishes.

https://www.crutchfield.com/p_336CR4...od.html?tp=185

Very reasonably priced raised tweeter center channel.

https://www.crutchfield.com/p_336CR4...ut.html?tp=189
Wharfedale has had that budget "Crystal" line for a while, it just had never been sold in the US. I remember someone from overseas asking about it as much as 2-3 years ago. It's definitely a step down from the Diamond line, hence the low prices. I personally would be a bit concerned since previous Wharfedale budget models have been fairly crappy (Zaldus and Valdek I think), but Crutchfield does have that flat rate return shipping policy so it's no sweat to try out.

~ Are you a "geek hobbyist" obsessed with squeezing out that last 5-10% improvement? The economy will thank you...especially the Chinese one. Or are you more of a get-set-and-forget "casual user" who simply wants to increase your enjoyment of movies, TV and gaming? Relax, HT isn't rocket science, nor does it have to cost an arm and a leg---especially if you ignore the aforementioned vocal minority. And remember to smile...it's just a silly hobby, after all. :)
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Wharfedale has had that budget "Crystal" line for a while, it just had never been sold in the US. I remember someone from overseas asking about it as much as 2-3 years ago. It's definitely a step down from the Diamond line, hence the low prices. I personally would be a bit concerned since previous Wharfedale budget models have been fairly crappy (Zaldus and Valdek I think), but Crutchfield does have that flat rate return shipping policy so it's no sweat to try out.
Nothing out there, not even owner reviews yet and even if I just google Wharfedale Crystal generically I get bupkus.

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Nothing out there, not even owner reviews yet and even if I just google Wharfedale Crystal generically I get bupkus.
Yeah, not a good sign IMO. Especially given that most establishment reviewers will only review speakers that they like, since they usually avoid writing anything truly negative (probably for fear of alienating advertisers).

~ Are you a "geek hobbyist" obsessed with squeezing out that last 5-10% improvement? The economy will thank you...especially the Chinese one. Or are you more of a get-set-and-forget "casual user" who simply wants to increase your enjoyment of movies, TV and gaming? Relax, HT isn't rocket science, nor does it have to cost an arm and a leg---especially if you ignore the aforementioned vocal minority. And remember to smile...it's just a silly hobby, after all. :)
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Yeah, not a good sign IMO. Especially given that most establishment reviewers will only review speakers that they like, since they usually avoid writing anything truly negative (probably for fear of alienating advertisers).
Seems to be a new global product; I'm sure reviews will pop up over time as the pricing is very good on the face of it.

At the moment the Polk S would seem the safer bet for sure.
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post #24 of 28 Old 08-27-2018, 07:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Zorba922 View Post
Yeah, not a good sign IMO. Especially given that most establishment reviewers will only review speakers that they like, since they usually avoid writing anything truly negative (probably for fear of alienating advertisers).
That’s another reason that I’ve enjoyed posting my opinions. I agree that the majority of paid reviewers will sway from the truth..or their absolute opinion; to please that specific company for long term relationships which in return makes owner reviews that much more important.

The majority of negative reviews you see are absolute bottom tier products or products sourced from an unknown company/manufacture. Just a heads up, my next review isn’t nowhere near as glowing as the Signature series.
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post #25 of 28 Old 08-28-2018, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by DaBateman View Post
That’s another reason that I’ve enjoyed posting my opinions. I agree that the majority of paid reviewers will sway from the truth..or their absolute opinion; to please that specific company for long term relationships which in return makes owner reviews that much more important.

The majority of negative reviews you see are absolute bottom tier products or products sourced from an unknown company/manufacture. Just a heads up, my next review isn’t nowhere near as glowing as the Signature series.
One of the reasons I like WhatHiFi subjective reviews; they aren't afraid to pan a speaker.

They also nailed the positives and negatives of two speakers I tested in home a few years back.
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post #26 of 28 Old 07-09-2019, 12:53 PM
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Great review, though some of the technical stuff went over my head.

Thinking of getting the S50 Towers myself, and though this review wasn't for the towers, it was helpful being the same Signature line-up.
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post #27 of 28 Old 07-12-2019, 10:11 AM
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Thanks for the review.... I'm another Signature series owner that has been very pleased with the performance. For the price to performance value, its hard to argue a better line up. I started with the S-15's and eventually upgraded to the S-20's since I wanted the better bass. Been happy ever since. Its a great speaker for people that are new to home audio and home theatre and don't want to break the bank just yet.
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TV: 65'' Samsung KS8000; AVR: Denon AVR X-4500H; Center Channel: Polk Signature S-35; L/R Channels: Polk Signature S-20; LFE: SVS-SB3000; UHD Blu-Ray Player: Sony UBP-X800; Gaming: PS4 Pro; Streaming Device: Apple TV 4K
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post #28 of 28 Old 07-13-2019, 10:58 AM
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How would this speaker compare to their RTi A1 speaker? I just picked up a pair of the RTi A1's a week ago, but had been mulling over them as well as the S15's. I *think* the RTi's are a step up as far as the hierarchy of their lines go, but sometimes that doesn't always mean better. Because I don't exactly have the means to be able to audition, I generally have to go by looking at the specs (which I haven't quite gotten a handle on interpreting just yet), and word of mouth/great advice from people here.

I may have to clarify that I am not disappointed with them (they sound really nice, and are a definite upgrade form the Pioneer BS22's I've had for a tiny bit), nor am I regretting the purchase, but I would be curious as to how they compare. I do gravitate towards the look of the S Series, though...
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