Polk Audio Blackstone TL3 review

ClipdatClipdat Posts: 3,565
edited May 28 in Speakers
I picked up a refurb pair of the Polk Audio Blackstone TL3 satellite speakers back in February from A4L. After spending several months listening to them, I'm finally ready to write a formal review and share my thoughts on them.

g107TL3B-F.jpeg

The fact that these are relatively inexpensive at ~$100/each, and are small enough to fit nicely on my computer desk is what initially piqued my interest. Additionally, the design elements and drivers reminded me of a smaller shrunken down version of my beloved LSiM 703s.

They feature a 3/4" ring radiator tweeter in a time aligned enclosure with a 3-1/4" aerated polypropylene woofer. Seeing the similarity to the 703s now? They also have a cloth grille with a built in waveguide that helps to focus and smooth out the treble. I can attest that this works exactly as designed, this is one speaker that actually sounds better to listen to with the grills in place!

g107TL3B-o_grilloff.jpeg

They also have their very own power port, made out of a dense rubber material not unlike the material on the front of the 703's tweeter and midrange section. You can actually feel this working as intended if you put your hand back there when playing at louder volumes. It really helps kick out the "midbass" frequencies.

81VIr87-EsL._SL1500_.jpg

The way it's been implemented also doubles as a sort of an acoustic isolation platform, so that the speaker is only resting on it's "heel" and a small rubber dimple in front. The speakers themselves also have a bit of heft to them at 3lbs each. According to the specs, they have a "steel-plate reinforced cabinet that fights internal resonances"! Clearly a lot of design and engineering has gone into these speakers, as you would expect from Polk.

So, moving along to how these sound. I'm using them in a desktop nearfield environment, powered by a Klipsch Promedia V.2-400 system. I simply swapped out the Klipsch satellites for these TL3s. They're getting 60wpc from the BASH amp and the subwoofer is a dual 6.5" driver ported enclosure getting 160w. The crossover frequency of the sub is listed as 120hz which seems to align perfectly with the TL3s claimed low end response limit of 115hz.

Like the my 703s, these TL3s seem to have a slightly laid back treble presentation that is in no way harsh or bright. In my opinion, they have that "Polk-ish" sound to the highs - not too bright and not too dark, but just right. Midrange is well represented and has a nice neutrality to it. Low end bass performance is mostly absent, but that's obviously what the sub is for. I wouldn't recommend these without a subwoofer in the mix unless you primarily listen to classical!

Going back to the power port and mid-bass kick that I mentioned earlier, these definitely have the ability to belt out some satisfying midrange bass frequencies. I listen to a lot of electronic music and this was a pleasant sensation for house/techno and drum n bass. They're fast and articulate as well as having a very coherent and smooth presentation. They kick out a much larger sound than you'd think could come from their small physical size. Also they seem to love it when you turn up the volume and really give them some juice. You just get more of that accurate and crisp music, they never sound jumbled or strident.

Another "Polk-ish" quality that they have is the ability to sound good across several different genres of music. From KMFDM to Miles Davis, Mozart to Depeche Mode. Everything I play on them sounds great. They just have a really pleasant musical presentation that makes you want to keep listening for extended periods. The obvious engineering prowess that went into these and their resulting performance contradicts their inexpensive price!

I did have to experiment a little with toe in to get them sounding their best. Also, they seemed to require a modest break in period of 50 hours or so. After this I noticed the stereo imaging improved quite a bit. They're also quite revealing to changes made upstream, good for people like me who like to experiment with DACs or USB cables!

Overall, I'd highly recommend these to anyone looking for an inexpensive desktop nearfield listening setup. Combine them with a nice ~40wpc integrated that has a subwoofer output and a punchy 8-10" powered sub for a damn good sounding system!
Got Dayens?

Comments

  • verbverb Posts: 2,570
    Nice write up Drew! I remember when I just missed out on the A4L deal!
    2CH: Polk SDA 1C's, Micro Seiki MB14 TT, Rotel 1580 Pre, Marantz CD6006 CDP, Carver TX8 Tuner, Conrad Johnson MF2300A Amp, Furman 15PFi Power Conditioner, AQ Diamondback (version 1) RCA IC's, MIT Terminator2 Cables
    Office: PC, Marantz AMP-1, Acoustic Technologies Classic Speakers, Polk PSWi225 wireless sub, MIT AVt2 cables, IFI Purifier2, AQ Cinnamon USB cable
  • cfrizzcfrizz Posts: 12,910
    Congrats! I knew you would be happy with them. :)
    Sunfire TGP III PrePro, Sunfire Cinema Grand Signature 405wpc 5 ch. Amp, Oppo 103 BluRay, Rotel RCD-1072 CDP, Sony Bravia KDL-40R510C TV, Polk S60 Main Speakers, Boston VR-920 Center Channel, SVS NSD-12 SB12 Subwoofer, Polk DSW 400 Subwoofer, Polk FXi-3 Surround Speakers
  • honestaquarianhonestaquarian Posts: 1,934
    I talked a friend into getting these from A4L and he was very happy with them. Oh and yes they were revealing of upstream changes. When he got some better Audioquest speaker wire we heard the difference immediately! B)
    Living room Home theater: Upgrade Company modified Onkyo PR-SC5509,Sunfire Cinema grand Signature 5 channel amp(1st gen),Carver TFM-45,Carver M-400a,Panasonic TC-P50ST60 50" Plasma(last gen before Plasma production stopped)Pioneer Elite DVL-91,Meridian 519 Dolby AC-3 RF Demodulator,Oppo Digital UDP-205,TiVo Bolt VOX,Nakamich BX-300,Technics SL-1200MKII,Shure V15 Type VxMR cartridge,Polk SDA-SRS 3.1 TL(with RD-0198 tweeters, upgraded with Larry's rings, black hole5,an Avel-Lindberg 1000VA isolation transformer, VR3 customer crossovers and internal wiring),Polk CS-1000P(with SL-6506 tweeter),Polk Monitor 5jr(with RD-0194 tweeters),Polk RT-35i (1),Polk Mini Monitor,Polk PSW150(3),Monster Power HTPS 7000 MKII Signature series,Monster Power AVS 2000 Signature Series,Various MIT,Monster,Upgrade Company and Belden interconnect,power,HDMI,Coax and Toslink Digital and speaker cables.

    Bedroom 2 channel system:Integra DTM 40.4,Nakamichi BX-100,TiVo mini,Musical Fidelity X-LPS,X-PSU,Carver TFM-25,Sony KV-34XBR970(last of the widescreen tube sets before production stopped)Technics SL-1200MKII,Shure V15 Type V MR cartridge,Polk RT-55(with SL-6506 tweeters),Polk PSW-200 in plexiglass(2),Sony Playstation 3 slim.Monster Power HTPS-7000,Monster AVS-2000, PowerVarious Kimber,Audioquest and MIT interconnects and speaker cables.
  • K_MK_M Posts: 1,015
    awesome review!
    I heard the TL2's and thought they were pretty nice sounding. Can only imagine these would be even a bit more refined....
    Lsi15, Lsi9, LsiC,Rta11t,M5jr+,M4,SDA 3.1TL, SDA SRS 2.3TL, Rti6....Still listing stuff, a work in progress.
    B+W-
    Epos-
    Infinity-
    Advent-

  • msgmsg Posts: 4,046
    Nice review, Drew. I really didn't realize these were so technical. I never really gave them a second look, really, and had just assumed they were like every other cheapie, lightweight plasticky satellite type speaker. I'm curious now and would be interested to see how they do for a computer setup, or workshop type space. That little Power Port is neat, and I'm impressed with the use of metal binding posts. Nice detail.

    Your sub is hard crossed at 120Hz? Not adjustable?

    What do you think about the TL3s vs the oe Klipsch(es?)?
  • txcoastal1txcoastal1 Posts: 9,603
    I used the TL3's for my near field PC rig and replaced them with the LSi7's
    They did very well and blow the TL2's away
    2-channel: Modwright KWI-200 Integrated, Dynaudio C1-II Signatures
    Desktop rig: LSi7, Polk 110sub, Dayens Ampino amp, W4S DAC/pre, Sonos, JRiver
    Gear on standby: Melody 101 tube pre, Unison Research Simply Italy Integrated
    Gone to new homes: (Matt Polk's)Threshold Stasis SA12e monoblocks, Pass XA30.5 amp, Usher MD2 speakers, Dynaudio C4 platinum speakers, Modwright LS100 (voltz), Simaudio 780D DAC
  • mdaudioguymdaudioguy Posts: 4,363
    I setup a 5.1 system with these a few years ago, and was shocked at how good it sounded. The owner's jaw hung open when I put on a music video. Not critical listening good, but way more sound than one would expect from this size. The ring radiators are smooth. Not every company does satellites right, but Polk's Blackstone and Definitive Technology's ProMonitor series are two fine examples.
    7.1 - polk RTi10 x 3 (LCR) : FXi3 x 2 : RTi4 x 4 : Sunfire SDS-12 : Yamaha Aventage RX-A2040 : Adcom GFA-7500 : Squeezebox Touch : DIRECTV : Roku SE : Panasonic PT-AX200U PJ @ 120"
    5.1 - Definitive Technology ProMonitor 800 x 4 : ProCenter 1000 : Klipsch Sub-10 : Pioneer Elite SC-91: DIRECTV : LG OLED55B6P : Roku Premiere+
    Garage Duty - polk Monitor 10s : Pioneer A-717 Integrated Amp : Squeezebox Classic
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 3,565
    Thanks, you were right! They're really nice speakers, definitely satisfied with the purchase.
    cfrizz wrote: »
    Congrats! I knew you would be happy with them. :)

    I'm just using Monoprice 14ga OFC wire with them right now. Been thinking about Blue Jeans or Douglas Connection cables at some point, but not in a rush. They'll need to be 6' or less with a bare wire or pin termination on the amp side, and spades on the speaker side. Just haven't felt a need/rush to get some nicer aftermarket wires since they're sounding so good to me as is.
    I talked a friend into getting these from A4L and he was very happy with them. Oh and yes they were revealing of upstream changes. When he got some better Audioquest speaker wire we heard the difference immediately! B)

    They definitely sound better than their pricetag would have you indicate. Seems like Polk has quite the history of doing this very thing. :)
    K_M wrote: »
    awesome review!
    I heard the TL2's and thought they were pretty nice sounding. Can only imagine these would be even a bit more refined....

    I want to say it's hard set. There's no crossover frequency adjustment on the preamp control pod, just a subwoofer level knob. Versus the Klipsch sats, the Polks are more fleshed out in the midrange, and the treble isn't as bright/forward. They just sound more natural and have more "ease" to them. There's no reason to ever hook up the Klipsch sats again, imo.
    msg wrote: »
    Nice review, Drew. I really didn't realize these were so technical. I never really gave them a second look, really, and had just assumed they were like every other cheapie, lightweight plasticky satellite type speaker. I'm curious now and would be interested to see how they do for a computer setup, or workshop type space. That little Power Port is neat, and I'm impressed with the use of metal binding posts. Nice detail.

    Your sub is hard crossed at 120Hz? Not adjustable?

    What do you think about the TL3s vs the oe Klipsch(es?)?

    Got Dayens?
  • Toolfan66Toolfan66 Posts: 13,636
    Why do you answer on the top of quotes? It ruins the flow of reading...
  • TopperDudeTopperDude Posts: 33
    Nice review!

    Have you had a chance to try out the Polk Signature Series S10 satellite/mini bookshelf? I find it amazing for the size. Prefer it over the Blackstone if size and form-factor isn't too much of an issue.
  • mdaudioguymdaudioguy Posts: 4,363
    Toolfan66 wrote: »
    Why do you answer on the top of quotes? It ruins the flow of reading...

    It's been noted here before, but he insists on doing it his way... I think he likes being a non-conformist, so I don't expect him to change. Frustrating to scroll through a thread and be thrown off by one poster who just has to be different.
    7.1 - polk RTi10 x 3 (LCR) : FXi3 x 2 : RTi4 x 4 : Sunfire SDS-12 : Yamaha Aventage RX-A2040 : Adcom GFA-7500 : Squeezebox Touch : DIRECTV : Roku SE : Panasonic PT-AX200U PJ @ 120"
    5.1 - Definitive Technology ProMonitor 800 x 4 : ProCenter 1000 : Klipsch Sub-10 : Pioneer Elite SC-91: DIRECTV : LG OLED55B6P : Roku Premiere+
    Garage Duty - polk Monitor 10s : Pioneer A-717 Integrated Amp : Squeezebox Classic
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 3,565
    Thanks Topper. Unfortunately I haven't had the opportunity to listen to anything from the Signature Series line, but all the feedback I've read about them has been positive!
    TopperDude wrote: »
    Nice review!

    Have you had a chance to try out the Polk Signature Series S10 satellite/mini bookshelf? I find it amazing for the size. Prefer it over the Blackstone if size and form-factor isn't too much of an issue.

    Got Dayens?
  • AsSiMiLaTeDAsSiMiLaTeD Posts: 11,672
    I’ve got a pair of the Polk S15 on my desk since moving th KEFs to the stands full time, in a near field configuration these sound very good.
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 3,565
    Cool! Nice to know that the S15s are also small enough for desktop nearfield use!
    I’ve got a pair of the Polk S15 on my desk since moving th KEFs to the stands full time, in a near field configuration these sound very good.

    Got Dayens?
  • msgmsg Posts: 4,046
    Yikes. I do this sometimes too. I didn't know it was Clipdats way. Crap. Maybe I shoulda asked permission.
    mdaudioguy wrote: »
    Toolfan66 wrote: »
    Why do you answer on the top of quotes? It ruins the flow of reading...
    It's been noted here before, but he insists on doing it his way... I think he likes being a non-conformist, so I don't expect him to change. Frustrating to scroll through a thread and be thrown off by one poster who just has to be different.
    And sometimes I like to mix it up.

    I didn't realize it made things difficult for people.
    Sometimes it makes more sense to me to respond above, depending on the content. Also kind of like how it works in email messages when replying? Your response is at the top. But I couldn't define for you any specific examples of why sometimes it seems more natural to me one way or the other. It's just a feel thing for me.

    What I hate is when people quote an entire post for no reason, especially if it's got multiple full size photos in it.
  • txcoastal1txcoastal1 Posts: 9,603
    When you reply above a quote, especially a multi-reply to multi-quote, it's difficult to read on phones because you're constantly scrolling up and down vs scrolling in one direction
    2-channel: Modwright KWI-200 Integrated, Dynaudio C1-II Signatures
    Desktop rig: LSi7, Polk 110sub, Dayens Ampino amp, W4S DAC/pre, Sonos, JRiver
    Gear on standby: Melody 101 tube pre, Unison Research Simply Italy Integrated
    Gone to new homes: (Matt Polk's)Threshold Stasis SA12e monoblocks, Pass XA30.5 amp, Usher MD2 speakers, Dynaudio C4 platinum speakers, Modwright LS100 (voltz), Simaudio 780D DAC
  • msgmsg Posts: 4,046
    edited May 30
    I see where that would make sense. I usually try to trim quotes a bit, since I only try to quote to give a little reference/context to my response without duplication.

    Actually, that situation you describe, Ron, is one of the times I'd respond below a quote. That's also how I do it in email with Thunderbird if responding throughout a message.

    To save even more space, sometimes I'll write in a smaller font, or use a really light color to save screen ink.
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 3,565
    I got tired of paying the exorbitant retail prices they demand for screen ink, so now I'm just buying bulk ocean squid from seafood suppliers and manually harvesting their squid ink. Works like a charm!
    msg wrote: »
    To save even more space, sometimes I'll write in a smaller font, or use a really light color to save screen ink.

    Got Dayens?
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 3,565
    edited May 30
    Like Carlito's Way, but without all the drugs and violence.
    msg wrote: »
    Yikes. I do this sometimes too. I didn't know it was Clipdats way. Crap. Maybe I shoulda asked permission.

    Got Dayens?
  • msgmsg Posts: 4,046
    I was thinking more like (Jersey) Mike's Way, but without too much oil and vinegar.
  • Viking64Viking64 Posts: 2,540
    msg wrote: »
    What I hate is when people quote an entire post for no reason, especially if it's got multiple full size photos in it.
    Yes. This should be punishable by death.
  • HermitismHermitism Posts: 1,658
    msg wrote: »
    Yikes. I do this sometimes too. I didn't know it was Clipdats way. Crap. Maybe I shoulda asked permission.
    mdaudioguy wrote: »
    Toolfan66 wrote: »
    Why do you answer on the top of quotes? It ruins the flow of reading...
    It's been noted here before, but he insists on doing it his way... I think he likes being a non-conformist, so I don't expect him to change. Frustrating to scroll through a thread and be thrown off by one poster who just has to be different.
    And sometimes I like to mix it up.

    I didn't realize it made things difficult for people.
    Sometimes it makes more sense to me to respond above, depending on the content. Also kind of like how it works in email messages when replying? Your response is at the top. But I couldn't define for you any specific examples of why sometimes it seems more natural to me one way or the other. It's just a feel thing for me.

    What I hate is when people quote an entire post for no reason, especially if it's got multiple full size photos in it.
    2f98yr2733ce.jpg


    2.0 - Marantz NA8005 | Polk LSiM703 | PS Audio: Duet, Power Port Classic, PerfectWave AC5 x2 PC | Wireworld Equinox 7 IC | Sanus UF30 | OC703 Panels

    6.1 - Pio Elite SC-05 | Pio BDP-51FD | Polk: RTi8, CSi5, F/Xi3, CSi3 | HSU Research VTF-2 MK4 | Monster HTS 5000 | DCF124BW x3 SC | Pangea: AC-9SE x2, 14SE, 14 PC | AQ Chocolate x2 HDMI | M850SW | PS Audio Power Port Classic x2 | OC703 Panels
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 3,565
    giphy.gif

    Hermitism wrote: »

    2f98yr2733ce.jpg

    Got Dayens?
  • txcoastal1txcoastal1 Posts: 9,603
    He wants to be different although....
    He knows it's difficult to read
    He knows it's annoying

    He enjoys being a PITA
    2-channel: Modwright KWI-200 Integrated, Dynaudio C1-II Signatures
    Desktop rig: LSi7, Polk 110sub, Dayens Ampino amp, W4S DAC/pre, Sonos, JRiver
    Gear on standby: Melody 101 tube pre, Unison Research Simply Italy Integrated
    Gone to new homes: (Matt Polk's)Threshold Stasis SA12e monoblocks, Pass XA30.5 amp, Usher MD2 speakers, Dynaudio C4 platinum speakers, Modwright LS100 (voltz), Simaudio 780D DAC
  • Toolfan66Toolfan66 Posts: 13,636
    edited May 31
    I guess I didn't realize/know he was just being a PITA... Sorry I asked...

    Thanks for being a member that's willing to work with others, I will strive to be just like you when I grow up...
  • Tony MTony M Posts: 5,364
    edited May 31
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    Most people just listen to music and watch movies. I EXPERIENCE them.
  • Tony MTony M Posts: 5,364
    dxuhtha6r1cs.png



    Most people just listen to music and watch movies. I EXPERIENCE them.
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