Polk L200 Speaker Demo Reviews

245

Comments

  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 23,454
    We're a pretty erudite lot.
  • BlueFoxBlueFox Posts: 12,180
    Well, this thread has been derailed.
    Bud - Silicon Valley

    Lumin X1
    Sony XA-5400ES SACD
    Pass XP-22 pre, X600.5 amps
    Magico S5 MKII Mcast Rose speakers, SPOD spikes

    Shunyata Triton v3/Typhon QR on preamp, Denali 2000 (2) on amps
    Shunyata Sigma XLR analog ICs, Sigma speaker cables
    Shunyata Sigma HC (2), Sigma Analog, Sigma Digital, Z Anaconda (3) power cables

    Mapleshade Samson V.3 four shelf solid maple rack, Micropoint brass footers
    Three 20 amp circuits.
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,642
    Any more first impressions by those who got these first ?
    HT SYSTEM-
    Sony 850c 4k
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    SVS SB-2000
    Polk Sig. 20's
    Polk FX500 surrounds

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Acoustic zen Matrix 2 IC's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable

    Kitchen

    Sonos zp90
    Grant Fidelity tube dac
    B&k 1430
    Tad 803 speakers
  • I'll try to refrain from further levity. Proceed, all, with the matter at hand.
    Main: Polk Rti-38
    Center: Polk Csi-40
    Rear: Polk Fxi-30
    Sub: SVS PB10-isd
    Receiver: Marantz SR-5007
    Buttkicker Mini Concert x 4
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 23,454
    edited October 2
    BlueFox wrote: »
    Well, this thread has been derailed.

    oh, yeah. Dang. Sorry.
    When (!) we get a moderator @F1nut can ask that the (my) extraneous junk be deleted.
    In fact, I'll flag them myself.
    Sorry!

  • TEAforONETEAforONE Posts: 133
    How did you find the imaging on the L200's? I realize the less than optimal placement,but I'll ask anyway.
    First Watt,Monarchy Audio,Aric Audio,Promitheus Audio,Pro-Ject,Hornshoppe,Nola,HSU,Onkyo.
  • EmlynEmlyn Posts: 2,511
    edited October 5
    Steve uses the words voluptuous and luscious to describe the sound. That was always my impression of the big old SDAs. Always a pleasure to listen to. Not Klipsch.
    1. Polk LSiM707, 704C, 703; Dual SVS SB2000 subwoofers; Marantz SR7011 receiver; Parasound A23 amp; Oppo 205; Sony 65" 4K TV; FIOS; PS Audio Power Plant Premier; MIT S2 cables
    2. JM Labs Electra 920.1; Sonic Frontiers Line 3 Preamp; Classe Model 25 amp; Sony HAP-Z1ES; Oppo 105D; Music Hall MMF7 and Acoustech phono pre; PS Audio Power Director; MIT S1 Cables
    3. Polk LSiM703; Parasound JC2BP and A21; Sony 48" 4K TV; Wyred4Sound DAC 2; Oppo 203; Squeezebox Touch; MIT S3 cables
  • dromundsdromunds Posts: 8,334
    edited October 13
    L200 Review


    I.
    It seems the first thing everybody wants to know about the L200: “Should I spend my hard-earned pimping money on these?” Not so fast, Quickdraw – you may be inventing new curse words to mentally hurl in my direction before I get to that answer, if I ever do.

    Like most of you, I’ve been reading the reviews trickling out. After spending two weeks with these bookies, I can say that I am in agreement with the principal points in Steve Guttenberg’s video review, posted in a Speaker thread on the forum recently. He’s right that the L200s are very agreeable speakers; wonderfully full sound; open and relaxed. I also rather agree that these are on the “relaxed side of neutral.” (They are not bright - to quash the suggestion of another “reviewer.”) The only point on which I disagree with Steve is his statements that vocals are somewhat recessed in the L200. Quite the contrary in my opinion, on my gear, as I will explain below.

    Out of the box, there may be a difference of opinion on the “look.” Real wood cabinets, brown walnut or black ash. (Our review pair is black ash) Impressive and flawless fit and finish. Polk calls them “Large Premium Bookshelf Speakers,” but they are smaller than the LsiM 703’s. The L200’s are “classic” in their bookie design, lacking the swooping curves of the 703’s. Not exactly ordinary looking, but you will probably either like their styling or not. The L200 is 4 ohm nominal, 85.5 sensitivity, with a stated frequency response of 46Hz-38KHz. Hi-rez certified. Pinnacle ring radiatior tweeter with stiff cones and pointy tips for you Madonna fans. The woofer has the “turbine cone” - which for all us Game Of Thrones fans looks exactly like the pattern those White Walkers kept making everywhere. (If you’ve never seen GOT you will spend your remaining days in a pain amplifier.) Magnetically attached grills like the 703’s. Quality dual metal binding posts. Packaging? Let’s just say its false economy in this day of shipping monkeys to scrimp in any way on the packaging and confront damage returns like with the LsiM’s. When you look at the packaging of the L200’s you may initially think the box would easily survive the freight carriers - but we all know the reality of shipping these days. Regardless, Jesse beefed up the packaging in his characteristic impeccable style and they arrived to me in flawless condition.

    By the way, I’ve read a couple of the other reviews posted on the forum concerning the L100. Once I see a bunch of other products “linked” in a review I’m out of there. Hot dog in too many campfires is one way to put it. Corporate shill may be another way to look at it. And some of these “reviewers” don’t even realize Polk had power ports before the Legend series.
    Post edited by dromunds on
  • dromundsdromunds Posts: 8,334
    II.
    In any event, I’ve had quite a few bookies come and go from this psychological Siberia I call home, including some of quite decent pedigree. Some were as memorable as the Crop Report on an Iowa radio station. Some were nearly as screechy like a cat at snip time at the vet. Lots of the two-way bookies seemed to vary between thin and lifeless, with the bass throb of a wet green tea bag, and were best listened to while curled up in a modified fetal position.

    I’ve always liked the Monitor 4 Peerless. Those little boxes put out amazing low end for their size, but the overall fullness of the sound is also quite remarkable. For many the Monitor 7 was the sweet spot of that iteration, and I am in agreement. I have a pair of Monitor 7 Peerless and a pair of re-done 7C’s with 194’s and they are very easy to listen to, very good all-around speakers. I am also a fan of the Lsi 7’s and 9’s, and their successor the LsiM 703. The 703’s image well, especially the center image, with a surprising amount of clean and articulate low end for a bookie. The 9’s and the 703’s have remained in the rotation so to speak, to the ultimate exclusion of many other brands. My GF is now using the 9’s and loves them. I also currently have a pair of Taylo Reference Monitors that will be discussed later. A few of my other bookies lasted a long time and I had trouble parting with them - DALI Zensors for example were noteworthy for such small devils. The Polkie I purchased them from brought them back over from Scandanavia with him that’s how much he liked them.

    Why is any of this more interesting than sticking your ear next to a lawn mower? Evolution perhaps. Progression may be a better term. Sometimes we take for granted that Polk has been making wonderful, full sounding speakers for more than four score and five – and the design principles and signature set down during the development of the original Monitors can still be discerned in the L200’s – even though Polk itself describes them as revolutionary. The next time you get bored watching them tar the road, take a look at the Technical Brief written for the LsiM series – redesigned from the ground up as they say. Insight into the engineering that went into them. I’ve heard the Legends were three years minimum in the making. Serious work by teams of dedicated professionals with deep institutional memory and experience. We take too much for granted.


  • dromundsdromunds Posts: 8,334
    III.
    For this strictly two-channel evaluation, I used three different amplifiers in my main rig. First, a Carver M500t modded to Mark II by Dennis Miller. Bigger power supply, lots of mods, everything blessed by Carver. IIRC, it puts out 385 watts/ch at 8 ohms. Then I went to a vintage Marantz SM-80 amp with a beautiful champagne finish. Specs says 100 watts/ch at 8 but in true vintage form it kicks way beyond its stated specs and with authority and weight. The L200’s liked both but especially the Marantz. However, the L200’s really shined with my 1950s Heath W5M tube monoblocks rebuilt by Gary Dodd and Charlie Cocci with new parts to Heath specs. Holy grail 1950’s RCA black plate 6L6GC’s and mid-50’s CBS JHY 5814 black plate square getters.

    For a preamp I also exlusively a Dodd battery-powered selectable gain preamp with 1950’s Amperex Holland 7308 D-getter. Other associated gear was a Dodd battery phono preamp with 1958 Amperex Holland 6DJ8 D-getters; a Sony XA-5400ES SACD player; and a vintage Yamaha YP-211 TT with a Grado cartridge. Later, I went to a rig with a Pioneer Elite SC-27 receiver and OPPO 205. Both rigs have PNF Audio Symphony SC’s re-terminated by Douglass Connections with Furutech FP-202R locking bananas. The main rig is bi-wired. PNF Audio and MIT Shotgun SC-3 IC’s.

    I used 24 inch stands. They worked well for my sitting position. The only other stands handy were 28 inch and they were too high for my application. I also tried some low stands inclined back approximately six degrees, essentially like the original Monitors used. I preferred the 24 inch stands, but the low stands also seemed to work acceptably. (I considered that perhaps 22 inch stands may be appropriate for other applications, or 26 but I was limited in my experimentation in that regard) My room is small-ish and I would consider it near-field. I didn’t really experiment with placement. I found the initial positioning astride a Salamander three-bay to be quite enjoyable.

    The majority of my listening sessions were spent with SACD’s. I also played some redbook CDs and vinyl. I would have preferred to play vinyl on my Denon DP-72 with Jelco 750 arm, but it is in dry dock at the moment. Nevertheless, I got the taste of vinyl with the L200’s in my rig. As mentioned, I also utilized the OPPO 205 for some Blu-rays. I will leave to others to report on streaming and other means of musical transport.
  • dromundsdromunds Posts: 8,334
    IV.
    I initially considered putting the Lsi-9’s in the evaluation, but the LsiM 703’s are superior to the Lsi 9’s and I felt a better use of my time would be to begin the evaluation with the LsiM 703’s in the main rig and then go to the L200’s. As mentioned, I like the 703’s. Surprising low end for a bookie, yet a real good fun and pleasing overall presentation. My first impression of the L200’s following the 703’s was “That’s something even better, more refined – and that top end!”

    Some of my notes are as follows: Simon and Garfunkel’s Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme Mo-Fi SACD is a somewhat less robust production and remastering. The L200’s displayed an extended top end and yet retained that excellent low end, and the vocal presentation was clear and articulate. Mark Knopfler’s Shangri-La SACD is a very well recorded and engineered album. It has long been one of my reference discs and I was again reminded why I enjoy this album so much. “Back To Tupelo” allowed the L200’s to more adequately show their full dynamic range. “Our Shangri-La” was very pleasing throughout, and on “Whoop De Doo” the detail of Knopfler’s strumming guitar and the keyboards was stunning, yet the bass lines were deep and sustained. “Donegan’s Gone” is perhaps my favorite song on the album, and the L200’s brought out keyboards that are almost veiled on some bookies. Knopflers slide guitar notes sounded par excellence.

    Beach Boys Pet Sounds SACD is another leaner production, but the L200’s still presented full and focused vocals. Rage Against The Machine’s debut album Audio Fidelity Steve Hoffman master SACD is not as complex as Knopfler’s stuff but the L200’s also displayed excellent imaging and clean definition of all instruments, especially Tom Morello’s guitar notes. “Bullet In The Head” especially showed fast and clean bass notes. “Know Your Enemy” and “Fistful Of Steel” showed the L200’s ability to put forth clean instrumentation, separation and excellent imaging.

    Norah Jones’ Come Away With Me SACD is not as full from a production standpoint and perhaps more forward in its production, but on “Seven Years” the L200’s had outstanding accuracy and separation of the instruments. “Come Away With Me” showed detail extracted from the vocals that was noteworthy. “Turn Me On” had a clean and defined keyboard without being overpowering or in your face. The acoustic guitar’s notes on “Painter Song” were full, and the accordian realistic and “organic.” The keyboards virtually “floated” in depth and range.

    For some blues, I played Junior Wells’ Chicago Blues Band – Hoodoo Man Blues (Kevin Gray mastered) SACD, with a young Buddy Guy on guitar. Electric blues with amazing musicianship, and incredible playing by Buddy Guy. “Ships On The Ocean” showed off the L200’s clean and defined guitar stylings. “In The Wee Wee Hours” is a slow blues with outstanding harp and the L200’s sounded great, with good decay on the cymbals and hi-hat while imaging superbly.

    One of my favorite recent vinyl acquisitions is the fantastic “keeper of the lore” Sam Lee. The Fade In Time allowed me to once again be struck by the imaging of the L200’s. The stringed instruments especially violin and cello were again full and “organic.” Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris’ All The Roadrunning on redbook CD – another very well produced album – really highlighted the L200’s capabilities. “Dug Up A Diamond” showed truly dynamic imaging and impressive top end but the lower end was also surprisingly good for bookies. “Rolling On” displayed Emmylou’s vocals spot on. Same thing on “Love and Happiness” - with instruments defined and separated. “Beyond My Wildest Dreams” - Emmylou’s superb vocals again handled with absolute authority and definitive low end that extended to an impressive top end.

  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,642
    Excellent review my man, and dig the comic relief. So in the end, is it safe to say that the new Boss is indeed better than the old Boss ?
    HT SYSTEM-
    Sony 850c 4k
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    SVS SB-2000
    Polk Sig. 20's
    Polk FX500 surrounds

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Acoustic zen Matrix 2 IC's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable

    Kitchen

    Sonos zp90
    Grant Fidelity tube dac
    B&k 1430
    Tad 803 speakers
  • dromundsdromunds Posts: 8,334
    That’s my humble opinion boss. B)
  • dromundsdromunds Posts: 8,334
    Unfortunately, my photo skills with an iPhone leave much to be desired (especially in less than optimal lighting conditions) so likely will leave to others to post more photos. Besides, most Polk aficionados have seen L200 photos on the other previously posted threads.
  • VR3VR3 Posts: 23,486
    I want to see detailed drivers crossover and internal bracing pics
    - Not Tom

    "No, that's silly talk. Dude, you can't possibly be this audio dumb so quit the act." - Doro
  • dromundsdromunds Posts: 8,334
    VR3 wrote: »
    I want to see detailed drivers crossover and internal bracing pics

    Lol. I would’ve had to pledge that black spot where my soul should be as security to Jesse before that would happen. >:)

  • NightfallNightfall Posts: 8,505
    Finally, a shout-out to the Peerless Monitor 4s! ;). Thanks Don. Your review is going to make the rest of us look bad.
    afterburnt wrote: »
    They didn't speak a word of English, they were from South Carolina.

    Village Idiot of Club Polk
  • pglbookpglbook Posts: 1,761
    Very nice review. Thanks.
  • indyhawgindyhawg Posts: 1,341
    Very nice review Don. You inspired me to listen to Shangri-La.
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 23,454
    VR3 wrote: »
    I want to see detailed drivers crossover and internal bracing pics

    Me, too, but even I have a sufficiently high moral & ethical standard not to have gone after the "Eastern" demo pair with prying and screwdriving implements.

  • Best write-up I've read yet, although I'm not very familiar with much of the music used for the review. I especially appreciate the needed comparison to the Lsim 703.
    Main: Polk Rti-38
    Center: Polk Csi-40
    Rear: Polk Fxi-30
    Sub: SVS PB10-isd
    Receiver: Marantz SR-5007
    Buttkicker Mini Concert x 4
  • Mike ReeterMike Reeter Posts: 3,533

    EXCELLENT Review Don! To say that the L200's can hang with the Taylo Reference Monitors and the Dyn's is quite substantial and intriguing.

    Cant wait to get my hands on a pair!
    SDA SRS 2.3TL's/SDA SRS 3.1TL's/SDA CRS+4.1TL's and some other stuff
  • Holy smokes what a review! Really can't wait to get my ears on them :)
  • Gerres26Gerres26 Posts: 484
    Heck of a review Don, you may have missed your calling.
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