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-   -   Polk S15s sound better than S50s (https://www.avsforum.com/forum/89-speakers/3082082-polk-s15s-sound-better-than-s50s.html)

Vikram Iyengar 08-02-2019 08:13 AM

Polk S15s sound better than S50s
 
I am using a Sony STR-DN1080 to power a pair of Polk S50s in 2.0 mode. Music (blues) lacks bass, presence, and body. Can't hear bass guitar. When I connect a pair of Polk S15s instead, the sound dramatically improves: more bass and presence.

The speakers are sensitive, so I can turn the volume knob only 33% of the way up on my AVR. The AVR is rated 100 wpc so I guess, it's putting out 33 wpc at 33% volume?

The S50s have max rated 150W while S15s have max rated 100W. I wonder if this is the reason S15s sound better?

For S50s, ratio of [input power from AVR] to [speaker rating] is 33W/150W = 18%.
For S15s, ratio of [input power from AVR] to [speaker rating] is 33W/100W = 33%.

I wonder if the S50s will sound better if I turned the volume way up? But I'll go deaf.

cacophonix 08-02-2019 09:28 AM

The only thing I can think of is breakin time. S50 uses an additional 5” driver which you’d think makes the speaker dig deeper/louder. How much is the play time on those speakers?



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pase22 08-02-2019 09:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vikram Iyengar (Post 58372656)
I am using a Sony STR-DN1080 to power a pair of Polk S50s in 2.0 mode. Music (blues) lacks bass, presence, and body. Can't hear bass guitar. When I connect a pair of Polk S15s instead, the sound dramatically improves: more bass and presence.

The speakers are sensitive, so I can turn the volume knob only 33% of the way up on my AVR. The AVR is rated 100 wpc so I guess, it's putting out 33 wpc at 33% volume?

The S50s have max rated 150W while S15s have max rated 100W. I wonder if this is the reason S15s sound better?

For S50s, ratio of [input power from AVR] to [speaker rating] is 33W/150W = 18%.
For S15s, ratio of [input power from AVR] to [speaker rating] is 33W/100W = 33%.

I wonder if the S50s will sound better if I turned the volume way up? But I'll go deaf.

Something isn't right. The S15's should not have more depth a better dynamics. Try different positioning either further apart or further out from the back wall. Then again you can just keep the S15's and spend the money on good sub instead.

ratbuddy 08-02-2019 09:50 AM

Are the towers missing the bridging plates that go between the upper and lower inputs? If so, and you connected your wire to the upper inputs, that would explain it.

gajCA 08-02-2019 11:51 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vikram Iyengar (Post 58372656)
I am using a Sony STR-DN1080 to power a pair of Polk S50s in 2.0 mode. Music (blues) lacks bass, presence, and body. Can't hear bass guitar. When I connect a pair of Polk S15s instead, the sound dramatically improves: more bass and presence.

That is just plain weird but let your ears decide.

gajCA 08-02-2019 12:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vikram Iyengar (Post 58373966)
I agree, thanks. Tonight, I'll compare the S15s, S50s, bi-amped S50s, and S10s and take some notes. The S50s and S10s are scratch n dent from Crutchfield. The S15s are new from Crutchfield. I will not be unhappy keeping the S15s (cheaper than S50s) and maybe later trying a sub. It must be I'm somehow providing too little power to the S50s. I have 16 gauge oxy-free wire. I don't seem to need a sub with the S15s for my preference. Watched an action movie and it sounded great (for me) on the S15s.

Consider yourself lucky that the S15 ticks all your boxes! :p

Russdawg1 08-02-2019 01:28 PM

Polk S15s sound better than S50s
 
Power should have almost no effect on how they sound. Unless you are at 11/10 on the volume at which the amp will be clipping and distorting.

I doubt you are using more than 10 watts on the bookshelf and less for the towers.

I think your S50’s may be defective.

Kini62 08-02-2019 01:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vikram Iyengar (Post 58373966)
I agree, thanks. Tonight, I'll compare the S15s, S50s, bi-amped S50s, and S10s and take some notes. The S50s and S10s are scratch n dent from Crutchfield. The S15s are new from Crutchfield. I will not be unhappy keeping the S15s (cheaper than S50s) and maybe later trying a sub. It must be I'm somehow providing too little power to the S50s. I have 16 gauge oxy-free wire. I don't seem to need a sub with the S15s for my preference. Watched an action movie and it sounded great (for me) on the S15s.

Bi-amping does little to nothing, mostly nothing. The S50s should have quite a bit more bass due to the extra driver and much larger cabinet. Maybe somethings wrong with them since they're scratch and dent.

The "volume" on your AVR is not linear so you can't go by how far you turn the "dial".

You always need a sub. ;)

Russdawg1 08-02-2019 03:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vikram Iyengar (Post 58374830)
I agree on the defective. Can't understand. Regarding power, many articles tout the fact that Polks sing when given more power? Hence I thought power was the reason the S50s are not singing. Gotta wait for when wife is out of the house and give the S50s more volume and check. So, one-third of the max volume on the AVR knob is just 10W? Wow.


Without a microphone or dB meter, we can’t really be sure how loud or how many watts are coming through.

Every volume knob is different but almost all of them are on a logarithmic scale meaning turning the knob “a notch” should increase by a multiplier not by a certain amount (linear scale).

So for example, on a knob that has 4 notches, with the 4th notch being max output (we’ll say it’s 100), the 3rd notch could be 10 watts, the 2nd 1 watt, and 1st a measly 0.1 watts.

The difference between 1 watt and 10 watts is just twice as loud. 10 to 100 is also twice as loud. (Every time you multiply wattage by 10 it is heard as twice as loud)

Just some cool info.

And regarding amplifiers making certain speakers sing, most of it is confirmation bias. Meaning fabricated in their mind. They should sound the same at 1 watt as they would at 100 watts, albeit 100 watts should be 4 times as loud.

MIX_MASTER_ICE 08-02-2019 05:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vikram Iyengar (Post 58375070)
This is really helpful, thanks! I just re-tested the S15s again and they are good after just 2 hours of playing - I can live with them. I tried the S10s in front 2.0 mode and they are slightly better than the S15s but much better than the S50s. I think the S50s are defective. Unlike the S15s, the S10s are not too bright and have slightly better bass. I bought the S10s open-box from Crutchfield so maybe they've been broken in already by a previous owner who had them for 60 days. I'll keep testing and maybe just use four S10s and a sub.


Something wonky going on if the smaller the speaker you go in the line the better they sound and perform. :confused:

RayGuy 08-02-2019 08:50 PM

Replace the S50s with S55s. Word on the street is that the 55 is a much better speaker.

cocrh 08-02-2019 09:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vikram Iyengar (Post 58373320)
>>

>>Are the towers missing the bridging plates that go between the upper and lower inputs?
Very good point. The bridge plates are there and I connected to bottom inputs.

I would double check to make sure they are really screwed in tight as we've seen some with loose connections that seemed ok just looking.

pase22 08-03-2019 01:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vikram Iyengar (Post 58373966)
I agree, thanks. Tonight, I'll compare the S15s, S50s, bi-amped S50s, and S10s and take some notes. The S50s and S10s are scratch n dent from Crutchfield. The S15s are new from Crutchfield. I will not be unhappy keeping the S15s (cheaper than S50s) and maybe later trying a sub. It must be I'm somehow providing too little power to the S50s. I have 16 gauge oxy-free wire. I don't seem to need a sub with the S15s for my preference. Watched an action movie and it sounded great (for me) on the S15s.

Are you running room correction every time you switch from one to the other?

The speaker wire has absolutely nothing to do with it. A better AVR/amp could helpful for 2 channel playback.

pase22 08-03-2019 11:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vikram Iyengar (Post 58377806)
I've run room correction a few times, not every time. It doesn't seem to do anything. It sets distance from each front L/R to the same 10.2 ft and sets center to -6.5 dB (which makes dialogue very soft). I then make the center 0dB manually. Correction doesn't do anything to the EQ so I set treble to -5 dB since the S50 is so bright.

I thought correction would detect that the room has a wall on the left but open floorplan on the right of the room. But correction doesn't do anything to the level in response. The left front thus plays louder. So I manually change level on left front to -2.5dB.

Is there way to reduce high frequency hiss when using dolby surround upmix on a 2ch input signal from TV?

If you're setting the treble at -5, find them bright and don't seem impressed with them in general, do yourself a favor and return them ASAP. The Polks are not for you so you should move on to something else.

Ryan Statz 08-03-2019 11:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vikram Iyengar (Post 58377806)
Is there way to reduce high frequency hiss when using dolby surround upmix on a 2ch input signal from TV?


that tells me there's something wrong... ? my cable provider has a whole bunch of music "channels", and if I go to any of them it switches to 2ch Audio. I have it set to Dolby Surround for that in my Listening Mode settings, and I get no high frequency hiss.

RayGuy 08-03-2019 11:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vikram Iyengar (Post 58376936)
Thank you. You know I agonized over that a lot even before purchasing the S50s, and even talked about it with Crutchfield. The issue is I'm worried (from my own experience) that at lower volumes such as the 10W stated above can provide, the S50s are too big to power already. I understand the points you're making but my experience worries me. Also, I'm afraid S55 will be too large for my 12X10 ft room. And if I finally get a sub, then the S15 or S10 should be enough for highs and midrange, right? After my extensive tests on the S15/S10 last night, I finally understand why folks on this forum are so insistent on a sub. Music was great for me, but the action movie was meh. It felt like a drama movie. But today, I'll test the S50 with and without bi-amping by playing the same music/movie/FM as yesterday.

Then stick with bookshelf speakers and sub. No reason to keep the towers if they are not performing well. S15s should be satisfactory for fronts in that scenario, S10s for surround duty. However, there are lots of speakers at Crutchfield, and only $10 to return, so you might consider getting another pair or two in-house to compare. I know it seems to be money thrown in the dumpster, but it isn't. It gives you peace of mind that you did your homework and kept the right one.

If your room is stark (bare walls, hard floor, glass), that may be contributing to the brightness issue. Also, you say the room is 10x12, yet say there is space beside one of the speakers? Is this room open to another room or is one speaker in the corner and one not?

Often forgotten in setting up a new system is that positioning is your most powerful weapon in getting the best from your investment. Speakers evenly placed is a far better scenario than what you describe. Some distance from the wall behind is often helpful in curing boomy bass. Distance apart and toe-in matters greatly with imaging and soundstage. Even the seating position has a huge effect (especially if you are against a wall or sitting at the 1/2 or 3/4 point of the room).

The more you "fix" with positioning, the less your receiver has to cope with (and it is already very limited in what it can do).

Vergiliusm 08-03-2019 12:17 PM

Quote:

Now I'm convinced the way most AVSForumers go: 4 speakers and a sub! I wonder if "standing waves" from larger woofers in my particular room are the problem. But 5" is not a large woofer.
It's more like subs(plural/multiple). :)

Standing waves come with the territory in rooms at low frequencies regardless of woofer size. It's more about proper integration so there's a smooth transition between the speakers and the subs, and multiple subs for efficiency gain and smoother frequency response.

Vergiliusm 08-03-2019 01:22 PM

No it doesn't make a dramatic difference. In 3 months you will be broken in to the S50s. :)

Ryan Statz 08-03-2019 01:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vikram Iyengar (Post 58378496)
I'm beginning to agree more and more. Today the S50 sounded slightly better than 2 days ago. It may be I'm just getting used to them?

Does breakin make a dramatic difference such that I should wait 3 months to behold a much improved S50?


There are people that think break-in is somewhat of a myth (some would also argue that matching timbre on your front stage is also unnecessary - which I don't necessarily disagree with at all). I personally can't tell the difference in the sound of my speakers now than when I first fired them up, really, only that the Polk RTi A1's and CSi A4 were both clearer-sounding that the Pioneer BS22's/C22 I had previously.

Could be that your ears just got used to them.


It still doesn't explain the high frequency hiss you're experiencing, though...

Ryan Statz 08-03-2019 01:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vikram Iyengar (Post 58378524)
I tried doing that: I played 2ch FM radio on Dolby Surround and got no hiss. The hiss we found was from playing a rerun of Friends using YoutubeTV. The hiss came only during periods of silence when no character was speaking. The hiss sounded like road traffic and got suppressed as soon as someone on the screen spoke. It may be older soundtracks like Friends that's the issue?


If it only happens with that one, specific thing, then I would argue that it's the YouTubeTV. Have you tried other 2ch sources?

Ryan Statz 08-03-2019 02:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vikram Iyengar (Post 58378802)
Thanks, yes I'll most probably stick with the s15 and sub and s10 for surround as you say. Even today, the s50 alone did not sound as good. I'll just do one last bi-amp the s50 and then return it.

My room is carpeted. The wall on the left has large glass windows. There's little wall on the right -- it opens to the rest of the house. The s10s don't sound bright so must not be the room. But the open floor plan may contribute to the general bad sound for me. Shouldn't room correction detect this?

Each speaker is 1 foot from the sidewall next to it and 9" pulled away from the front wall. My couch is at the rear wall so my ears are 2 feet from the rear wall. But even without much tinkering, the s15/s10 sound better so I don't think positioning is the reason for bad s50 sound.


When you are doing the room calibration, are you setting up the mic at your listening position or in the centre of the room? It should be the former if you're not doing that.

RayGuy 08-03-2019 03:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vikram Iyengar (Post 58378802)
Thanks, yes I'll most probably stick with the s15 and sub and s10 for surround as you say. Even today, the s50 alone did not sound as good. I'll just do one last bi-amp the s50 and then return it.

My room is carpeted. The wall on the left has large glass windows. There's little wall on the right -- it opens to the rest of the house. The s10s don't sound bright so must not be the room. But the open floor plan may contribute to the general bad sound for me. Shouldn't room correction detect this?

Each speaker is 1 foot from the sidewall next to it and 9" pulled away from the front wall. My couch is at the rear wall so my ears are 2 feet from the rear wall. But even without much tinkering, the s15/s10 sound better so I don't think positioning is the reason for bad s50 sound.

Yes, but what will it do to fix it? Probably just bump up the volume of the speaker next to the open room, and that's about it. Some things are just not correctable. Folks generally expect more out of room correction software than it is able to give ...

It might be beneficial to toe-in those speakers quite a bit, to lessen the effect of the closeness and disparity in their side reinforcement. Try toeing them in, such that the a line drawn perpendicular to the face of each speaker results in those lines crossing about two feet in front of your seated head. Then, play with the toe-in, varying both speakers 5 degrees outward for each iteration. Listen for a time at each position, and keep playing until you find the best overall sound. Then, fine tune with lower incremental changes, inwards or outwards.

As you can see, it takes effort and persistence to get what you want. Sometimes you are rewarded and sometimes the room conspires against you. Nature of the beast!

Zorba922 08-04-2019 12:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vikram Iyengar (Post 58372656)
I am using a Sony STR-DN1080 to power a pair of Polk S50s in 2.0 mode. Music (blues) lacks bass, presence, and body. Can't hear bass guitar. When I connect a pair of Polk S15s instead, the sound dramatically improves: more bass and presence.

Did you already run Audyssey or whatever room correction system that Sony has?

If so, turn it off and listen in "Pure direct" mode and see if it makes a difference.

Sometimes the room correction tools can completely screw up the sound, despite all the breathless sales hype and enthusiast/geek talk.

gajCA 08-04-2019 12:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vikram Iyengar (Post 58381684)
You're right. I tried an experiment setting the AVR to 2.1, font LR to small, and crossover to 80HZ even though I have no sub. The s50 sound cleaned up. No longer muddy. The s50 bass is somehow interacting with the walls, glass windows, and furniture to make sound muddy. The s15 likely doesn't put out enough bass to make sound muddy and hence sound better in my situation than s50!!! Is this confirmation bias?

Smart.

Try other lower crossover points.

50hz might be the sweet spot.

By limiting the amount of bass it is being asked to produce it is showing less distortion.

gajCA 08-04-2019 12:43 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by Vikram Iyengar (Post 58381738)
Thanks, I sit at my listening position and hold the mic at my nose. An audiophile friend came over today and listened. He says the s50 is producing bass but it's muddy not tight so I think I can't hear it. The s15 bass is tighter. He thinks s50 is interacting with floor, walls, or glass window in a way that the s15 is not. He suggests s15+sub instead of s50. But, the s15/s10 sound fine to me by themselves. Will s15+sub dramatically improve the sound of Blues vs s15 alone? Are there any Blues instruments or voices in 30-80Hz range? And won't a sub have the same muddy issue as s50 in my room?

No a good sub is designed to play low, some smaller towers struggle with what they are asked to do in the bass departments so setting them to small as you have done can improve things.

Here's frequency response of instruments.

Note that a piano keyboard is noted as the keyboard pictured goes higher and lower than a piano.

RayGuy 08-04-2019 01:03 PM

The Bass is a huge part of blues music, and it extends down to 30 Hz. So, yes, having a sub would be to your advantage.

https://proxy.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=h...%3D594x594&f=1

Just as an experiment, move the s50 speakers so they are about 18-24" from any boundary and see how they sound. Clearly, they are positioned way too close to the walls.

pase22 08-04-2019 01:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vikram Iyengar (Post 58381738)
Thanks, I sit at my listening position and hold the mic at my nose. An audiophile friend came over today and listened. He says the s50 is producing bass but it's muddy not tight so I think I can't hear it. The s15 bass is tighter. He thinks s50 is interacting with floor, walls, or glass window in a way that the s15 is not. He suggests s15+sub instead of s50. But, the s15/s10 sound fine to me by themselves. Will s15+sub dramatically improve the sound of Blues vs s15 alone? Are there any Blues instruments or voices in 30-80Hz range? And won't a sub have the same muddy issue as s50 in my room?

Some speakers are built to meet a certain price point so compromises are inevitable. A good subwoofer will play the low end much more cleanly and efficiently that most towers. By not being tasked with the low end, you'll get much better clarity thus improving the listening experience.

From personal experience, I'll advise to get a good sub in the $500 range or not get one at all, especially for music. The RSL Speedwoofer 10s being the exception at $399.

gajCA 08-04-2019 01:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vikram Iyengar (Post 58382010)
Thanks, all I have for 2 ch sources are YoutubeTV, FM, and Youtube. Listened to The Intern movie (newer than Friends) and it does not appear to have the shhhh sound that Friends has. I wonder if it is because Friends is an older show having more artifacts when up-scaled to 5.0.

Do you have a DVD player or playstation to try a music CD?

gajCA 08-04-2019 01:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vikram Iyengar (Post 58382036)
Thanks, I just did and Pure Direct makes no difference to s50/s15/s10.

RayGuy, I'll try the "toeing them in, such that the a line drawn perpendicular to each speaker ... crossing about two feet in front of your head" you mention. But if they cross in front of me, won't L become R?

The only speaker I know that recommends that much toe in is the HSU CCB8.

Try different angles but generally aiming them at the main listening position should be good but some speakers like to be straight ahead.

This is all your manual says and the illustration shows them at least twice as far from the side walls as the back wall.

Listening in 2.1 System
Get the most realistic stereo image by placing speakers as far
apart as the listeners are sitting from them. If room conditions
require that you place the speakers farther apart, you may
choose to angle the speakers toward the middle to support a
more solid center image.

RayGuy 08-04-2019 02:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vikram Iyengar (Post 58382036)
Thanks, I just did and Pure Direct makes no difference to s50/s15/s10.

RayGuy, I'll try the "toeing them in, such that the a line drawn perpendicular to each speaker ... crossing about two feet in front of your head" you mention. But if they cross in front of me, won't L become R?

Haha. No, L won't become R, but it will change how the reflective sound (vs direct sound) interacts with the room. Give it a try.


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