As you may be aware, Polk (polkaudio.com) has released a new line of loudspeakers, the LSi series, aimed at audiophiles. The company will not distribute these products through their usual chain superstore vendors. Polk apparently desires to sell the new line via selected shops that can properly demonstrate the new speakers (at present there are about 30 such dealers in the United States; I found it necessary to contact Polk to find one in my area). Last week I had an opportunity to audition the LSi-9, a stand-mounted speaker that retails for $1,040/pair. (There are four different front speakers in the LSi series, ranging from $810/pair for a stand-mounted unit to $3,000/pair for a large tower speaker; a center and a dipole/bipole surround are also offered.) The LSi-9s were about 8 feet apart, mounted on 24-inch stands, and angled inward toward the listening position about 9 feet away. Using three reference CDs, my wife and I listened for about 40 minutes. Our reaction? We were, quite frankly, astonished at the sheer musicality of these new speakers. A Polk representative told me over the telephone that the new LSi's are aimed to compete with top European brands, among others, but at a much lower cost. They hit their mark on the bulls-eye. The LSi-9 reminded me of products offered by Sonus-Faber and Vienna Acoustics. The Polks had the same slightly laid-back quality, with buttery smoothness, exceptional inner detail, complete driver-to-driver coherency, and superb soundstaging. They never shout at you like so many of today's speakers, yet manage to provide micro-details. They were never fatiguing throughout the audition. The two 5.25" bass/midrange drivers provided fast, clean, well-defined and surprisingly deep bass performance (a subwoofer was not used during the audition). Also, they played very loud in a large room, so they are certainly suitable for home-theater use. All the models in the series share the same tweeter (a ring radiator, no less!) and bass/midrange driver. They differ only in the number of bass/mid drivers for the stand-mounted units and the addition of an 8" or 10" woofer for the two tower models. Polk told me that the tweeter is obtained from Vifa, and that it is the same driver Krell uses in their new $37,500 LAT loudspeaker. We had decided to obtain Sonus-Faber Concerto Homes ($1,900/pair, plus stands) for our upcoming new "den" (a 13' x 12' A-V room in which to relax, read, and listen to music). But now we're pretty sure we'll buy one of the new Polk models instead--we were that impressed. I wish the dealer had the LSi-25 floorstanders to audition, but alas it may be awhile before he has them available. They will receive serious consideration for our new theater room (in our new house presently under construction). The Vandersteen 3A Signature is our present top choice, but, thanks to the new Polks, it is now hanging onto that spot by its fingernails. For anyone considering the purchase of a refined, musical, high-resolution loudspeaker, try to audition one of the new LSi models. It is worth the effort.