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Audition and comparison: Polk LSi15, LSi9, Klipsch, MBQ... (1 Viewer)


Stunt Coordinator
Jan 26, 2003
I finally got my Polk LSi audition in yesterday. Polk and Rocket were the two major players left to audition on my list. I also posted a few of my previous speaker thoughts here (tried B&W, Thiel, Magnepan, Klipsch, BA, Mirage, Martin Logan...): http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...hreadid=232788 Going into yesterday my favorites were clearly the B&W.

Anyway, I listed for a few hours with various music from U2, Barenaked Ladies, Incubus, Foo Fighters, Green Day, Avril Lavigne. I got quite a range of voices and instruments, and knew the material well. Some of the material is well recorded, some could be considered "junk." The speakers were all driven by a Harman Kardon AVR 525. My real setup will use Parasound amps, so this is actually quite weaker. The "room" had considerable background noise as there was no door to the main floor with hundreds of customers. The LSi9, LSi15, and Klipsch were setup for A/B.

This is my reference from the long drive up and back, so was easy to do comparison. My Q series run off 187.5x2 and are backed up with a pair of JL Audio 12W3s on 400x2. The source is Pioneer Premier, with separate time alignment and 2 channel equalizers. For those unfamiliar with MB Quart Q series, they are among the most accurate car stereo speakers available. The detail rivals anything I've auditioned in home stereo, but is harsh and fatiguing without attenuation in the tweeter. Time alignment is necessary since I do not run kick panels. The tweeters are setup off-axis. This setup is great for detail and dynamics, however I am less pleased with the imaging compared to previous car setups with kickpanels.

I used this as a comparison as well since I listened to it AB with speakers in previous auditions. The dynamics were good, but again separation and high-frequencies turned me off. For more opinions you can read my previous thread, but the main point of this for me was to help reference this experience with the Polks to previous auditions with the B&W since no direct A/B is possible.

Polk LSi15
First impressions were very good. Switching over from the Klipsch, there was slightly less "hit" to rock music. This is of course the major strength of Klipsch. However, the LSi offered a much higher level of refinement to me. Rather than a birage of sound, the instruments became much more separated. The highs were quite detailed, yet not as bright as the Klipsch (to me a good thing). The mids also were very clean and clear. The bass response was slightly muddy, but better than most speakers and dedicated subs. As a trade-off, the LSi15 played rather low through the bass frequencies. Even though I'm quite addicted to bass slam, I could easily listen to these speakers without a subwoofer. I do hate boomy bass, but this was really very flat response.

A good track was Incubus's Are You In. There is a lot of running bass, which was well produced by the LSi15. Also, there is background noise (a party), and the voices were very easy to pick up. So I did like the separation and detail. There also is a string of drum notes that run across the sound stage and back which I now use instead of the IASCA test CD for checking soundstage. The LSi15 allowed a wide soundstage, yet was extremely good at creating precise imaging (Mirage would hate this).

Placement was a big deal with the 15. Without close spacing and toe-in I didn't find good imaging. There clearly was a sweet-spot, and outside of it the experience wasn't nearly as good. However, I quickly found a good position that offered a VERY solid center image. I really enjoy shutting my eyes and being tricked into thinking there could actually be a person singing in a spot in front of me. The 15 easily offered the most solid center image of ANY speaker I've ever heard.

High frequency detail was very good compared to the MBQuarts, but wasn't fatiguing at all. This is something I'm looking for.

I actually expected the LSi9 bookshelf to be preferred with a sub over the 15. However, I quickly decided I didn't want 9's up front. Placement was a little easier, but imaging wasn't the same. I quickly found that even though the speakers look very similar except for the 15's lower section, they are NOT. The cabinet and crossover makes the 9 different. As always, I must suggest someone listens to both these speakers themselves if they want to decide. But to me, the 9 turned me off. The 15 was much more dynamic, and even midrange sounded fuller. The 9 clearly had a boom in the upper bass region before it ran out of steam. Some deep male voices even reached down to this point, which was very disappointing.

Compared to B&W (CDM and 800), I liked the LSi imaging more. I had extreme difficulty placing the B&W to my liking, and even still, sounds that I would expect to be localized were spread out a little on the B&W. I also found the LSi to have less static up high when playing "junk" music, yet still offering good detail in the higher registers. I think the LSi will just be an easier speaker for me to use, but I still hold the B&W with extremely high regard. It is a very refined speaker (particularly the 805 bookshelf).

I've got to run, but for now this is my report. I obviously am leaning heavily towards LSi15 up front now in my system. I also tried the LSiC, and am considering the 9s for rear channel, but more on this later.


Feb 22, 2003
Thanks for the review Derrick. I'm currently trying to decide between the lsi 9's or lsi25's for my mains. I was leaning toward the 9's with a dedicated sub (svs 20-39+) until I saw your impressions of the 15's. I'm waiting for the dealer to break in the 25's, but I should get to audtion those Tuesday. After reading your review though, I may want to wait and hear the 15's. My question to you is would you match a dedicated sub with the 15's, or do they do well in that department? And, if you were to match them with a sub, would you be better off to go with the 9's and save some $$$? Thanks for anything you could tell me.


Stunt Coordinator
Jan 26, 2003
Since you are going to get an audition, you have a good opportunity to make your own preference. However, the LSi25 (essentially a 9 with a powered 10" on the bottom) is extremely close on paper to LSi9 plus a PSW650 sub (dual 10"). I happen to have the 650 already, and it is pretty musical. However, it doesn't extend very low, and getting a ported 15" like SVS/Adire/etc would probably please you more on HT. I took a few minutes to listen to the 25 as well, but I am generally not a fan of powered towers. I turned the amp down on the sub, which helped integrate the lower bass. However, I would have to say that a PSW650/LSi9 vs LSi25 should be a fairly close comparison on music. I personally would take the 25 for shear looks, but I that's a lot more money isn't it? Do note that you might get some very odd bass cancellation/peaks with the dual subs of the LSi25 though, since you can't place them separate from the optimum imaging location for the higher frequencies.

Now the LSi15 is the oddball here, which is exactly why I'm picking it. It adds an 8" driver, instead of the powered 10" driver. The LSi15 offers lower extension than the 9 for music, which is great. The 25 of course gets even more authority at the low frequencies. However, by adding a separate sub to the 15 you can easily obtain that same bass power, and a lot more. Doing the LSi15/sub combo would be much prefered to the LSi9/sub combo because of the cutoff region. The 9 does NOT do as well in the upper bass range as the 15. The 9 has a definite peak in response, so you would need to cut the sub crossover higher than normal (say 120). This makes the sub easier to localize, etc. The 15 would allow you to cross over at 80 or 60 with better results. While the LSi25 would look the best alone, I personally think the LSi15/sub combo can beat it in both price and performance. Some people will argue about sub integration, etc, etc, so this is a matter of personal preference.

But that's just to say if you want a powered sub! I personally thought that the 15 sounded fine for bass, and I was throwing rock and pop music at it. For most music I will probably just use the 15 by itself, but if I want to blast some rap, throw a party, or do home theater I'll probably turn on a sub and cross over at 60 or 80.

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