, auditions the new Polk RT2000P loudspeakers, can they offer great 'bang for the buck' home theatre performance while also making beautiful music?
Many thanks go to Mr. Paul DiComo for his help and for providing the review sample.
Polk RT2000P Specifications:
Three way tower speaker system with powered woofer section
|(All specifications as per manufacturer)|
Polk On Speakers
Wow, what a great time to be in the market for speakers! For a long time prices of electronics have been falling. Each year, as technology marches on, you either see lower prices or you get more for your money. Unfortunately, prices of speakers have not kept pace with electronics. As speakers are both capital and labor intensive, and as each year prices of materials and labor get higher and higher, so too have prices for speakers. Until recently that is.
With new production techniques, and computer aided design, the performance/price ratio seems to be on the rise. More than ever you have a wide range of truly excellent speakers to choose from among the affordable ranks. Who would have thought 10 years ago that today the market would be flooding with speakers with bass extension approaching true sub-woofer levels with built in amplifiers that over come the need for large expensive amps and receivers.
The Polk RT2000 is a new design from the house of Polk. To be frank, its been some years since I have been a huge fan of Polk. To my mind, some years ago they seemed to loose their way in the quest for the "big bang for the buck" title. Well, I think what we have here is a great comeback. What we definitely have here is an exciting new product that serves a variety of purposes in todays market dichotomy. I speak of the split in the market between the home theater buyers and the good old fashioned two speaker music enthusiasts.
For the Home Theater buyer, the RT2000 is, in my opinion, a real home run and a best buy. With a street price around $1,700, its a tower speaker incorporating Polks Tri-laminate tweeter, their best midrange driver and two 8 inch woofers per speaker augmented by Polks patented "Power Port" venting system (I wont get into the science behind the Power Port here, you can visit their website for that!). From a lot of the competition, that would be enough for the price, but Polk throws in a pair of 100 watt amps (one in each speaker) to drive the bass system. And drive it they do!
Polk On the Movies!
When I first heard the new Polks in my dealers showroom, I was impressed by their musical performance, but its in the theater where the Polks really shine. Dont get me wrong, they are no slouches on music and Ill get to that later, but for the home theater, these speakers offer several attributes I want to get into. First, they effectively eliminate the need for a separate sub-woofer with the attendant complexities involved as well as the extra floor space required. No longer do you need to spend the extra money on a sub-woofer to lug it home, spend hours arranging and rearranging the room trying to find the best place to put it. Polk has done that for you. They put it in the speaker where it belongs! Then, as if that were not enough, they did away with the need for all the adjustments, the high and low pass filters and the phase adjustments- all as likely to mess up the sound in the hands of the inexperienced as they are to make it right. All you have to do is adjust the level of bass you desire. You cant go wrong here because you adjust it to your taste. You can make it as polite or as bombastic as your heart desires.
Quality of the bass is outstanding too. Those puppies, uh, excuse me, woofers, can move some air! On video I found them the equal of most of the subs Ive heard in terms of articulation, slam, weight, authority and impact, if not in ultimate extension. But as good as the bass is, the performance of the speaker as a whole was better. These speakers are not for the faint of heart either! If you live in a paper walled apartment and have to worry about considerate listening levels, you are going to miss the point of this speaker. These speakers love being played loud. As a matter of fact, they really come into their own when pushed a bit. They can bowl you over with a shock wave of sound. Dialog articulation is excellent. The midrange is clean, clear and energetic, if a bit forward-all of which serves the theater experience. Treble is smooth, clean, non-fatiguing and in excellent balance. Again, thanks to the self amplified woofers, these speakers do not need a ton of power. A 60 watt per channel amp is more than adequate to rattle the rafters.
I inserted the Polks into my video system. As I didnt have matching Polks all around, I wasnt sure what to expect. Well, the Polks blended nicely with my NHTs which only serves to testify to their neutrality. What can I say about the two movies I watched? The soundtrack on "Independence Day" was a true test for the Polks bass system and it passed with flying colors. I admit to enjoying cranking the bass levels a bit on video, and even when exaggerated a bit, the Polks didnt flinch. Then I watched Star Treks "First Contact" with equally pleasing results. As a matter of fact, I have a suspicion that the reason the Borg want to assimilate our culture into their own is just so they can get their hands on the Polks!
Polk On the Music!
Looked at as a music first speaker, they are a bit harder to evaluate. By any measure, you get a lot of bang for the buck, but they are not perfect (you didnt expect perfection in this price class, did you?) and I want to get the things they dont do out of the way so I can get back to the things they do very well..
Fortunately, their errors are ones of omission and to be honest, the speaker gives you so much for their price, its an exercise in nit-picking to go into them, but I feel that I must for the benefit of the ultra critical out there. My criticisms of the speaker are actually only two. First, the midrange, as clean and clear as it is, is less detailed than some. It doesnt have the magic of some truly high end music transducers. Secondly, the tweeter is a bit dry. As smooth as it is, and its in great balance, there was a distinct lack of air and space surrounding instruments.
Now that Ive performed the duties of the bully reviewer and weeded through all the great things these speakers do to focus on what little they dont do, let me try to put their shortcomings in perspective.
As a total package, these speakers are outstandingly enjoyable. Bass performance is excellent, dynamics are terrific, and they are a truly fun speaker. They have excellent rhythm and pace and can really boogie. For the buyer who does not sit in the darkened room, with the perfectly positioned listening chair consumed by the listening, none of my complaints will amount to a hill of beans. Most people will not even notice them, let alone be bothered by them. They are easy to set up and live with and they sound great as you move about the house doing "your thing". As a matter of fact, if my quibbles were addressed, Polk could charge double for them and then where would we be?
On Talking Heads' "Stop Making Sense" (sire25186-1) the RT2000s had things jumping. The presentation was energetic with the bass lines cleanly projected above the mix as they ought to. David Byrne was placed solidly between the speakers and the sound stage extended a touch beyond the width of the speakers, which is pretty good for this record.
Kraftwerks "Electronic Cafe" was great fun on the Polks. "Techno Pop" was visceral in its bass. Everything was crisp and clean with no fatiguing treble edge. The sound stage extended smoothly well past the boundaries of the speakers on this one. The louder the better here!
On "Dogs A Best Friends Dog" from Tears For Fears "Elemental" (Mercury P2-14875) the RT2000s showed the disc for what it is, a little overly crisp. But the driving guitar and rhythm sounded great and Roland Orzabals voice was clean and natural with no added chestyness despite the excellent bass presentation. In other words, thankfully, the punchy bass performance does not intrude on the midrange. The sound stage on "Fish Out Of Water" extended wall to wall and I was immersed in a pool of sound. The opening bass line from "Gas Giants" went right through me and excited the whole room with energy.
GRPs excellent live studio CD "GRP-Live In Session" (GRP-D-9532) was reproduced as well as Ive ever heard it. Dave Grusins piano sounded natural, Diane Schuurs voice projected with all the power that is she, Lee Rittenours guitar varied from biting and rhythmic to ethereal. Percussion was fantastic. Bass drum was fast and visceral, cymbals shimmered with no superfluous splash or hardness. And wait till you hear what the Polks do to Abe Laboriels bass lines! Like he needed any more help!
Polk On Your Audition List!
To sum up, the Polk RT2000 is a fun speaker. Its dynamic, doesnt shy away from higher listening levels, has terrific bass response and is made whole by a clean midrange and a smooth treble. It has a slightly forward midrange presence that made it more inviting than some very highly thought of speakers I compared it to in the dealer showroom. On music I would rate it way above average and on video I would give it an A (I have to reserve the A+ for Polks much more expensive SRT system!). And perhaps best of all, you dont need a powerhouse amp to get any of this. I highly recommend you check them out for yourself if you are in the market for speakers for the listening room or the theater.
Wow! What a great time to be in the market for speakers!
Good luck and listening,
More information about Polk products can be found at the Official PolkWeb Site.
Text © John R. Potis Jr.; HTML © SMR Home Theatre and Images © Paramount Pictures, John R. Potis, Polk Audio & SMR Home Theatre cannot be reproduced without permission.
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