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Polk Makes Broadest Launch In Decades

1/08/2007 02:00:00 AM Eastern

In one of its broadest product launches in decades, Polk is unveiling at least 21 new home speaker models that include the company's first DSP-equipped freestanding subwoofers and its first custom install speakers designed specifically for center-channel and surround-sound applications.

The DSP-equipped subwoofers appear in two series, the top-end MicroPRO and high-value DSW PRO series. The custom installed speakers dedicated to center-channel and surround use appear in the LCi series.

The company is also:

  • revamping its RTi series of freestanding left-right speakers, which occupy the better position in the company's good-better-best selection of three freestanding-speaker series;

  • expanding its selection of THX Ultra2-certified custom speakers in the RT group; and

  • redesigning the freestanding center-channel speakers and freestanding surround speakers intended to sonically match the RTi series of left-right speakers.

The MicroPRO subwoofers are all compact, grille-less models promoted as Polk's best-ever powered subs at prices of $950, $1,180, $1,450 and $1,780. They ship in June.

All MicroPRO models use DSP to:

  • perform crossover, volume and phase functions in the digital domain,

  • reduce distortion by active means through a proprietary "zero-latency system that maximizes dynamic output" and doesn't rely on what Polk called "slow-responding feedback [servo] techniques" — servo-feedback techniques optimize the ability of a woofer to reproduce steady-state signals, Polk claimed, but do little to enhance the quality of transient response; and

  • perform boundary-compensation functions to allow for flexible placement options without affecting sonic performance. The subs use digital EQ to compensate for response changes when a subwoofer is placed in a corner, in the middle of a room, along a long wall, or along a short wall.

Until now, the company hadn't offered boundary compensation in any subwoofer, freestanding or custom-installed, in either analog or digital form. Polk does, however, offer full-range freestanding and custom-installed speakers with boundary compensation.

All MicroPRO models except for the opening-price model also incorporate automatic room-error correction. Polk said it used a proprietary method of automatic digital room correction to preserve dynamics and transient response, "optimizing the in-room time response of the system rather than simply equalizing the steady-state response." The company declined to elaborate until it completes a patent application.

All four MicroPROs feature 1,200-watt continuous digital amp and bottom-mounted square-shaped passive bass radiators to use as much surface area as possible augment output. They join six other new powered subwoofers in Polk's largest-ever subwoofer introduction.

Three new replacement subs in the DSW PRO series offer the same DSP features as the MicroPRO models except for automatic room correction. The PRO models ship in June at prices from $480 to $700.

In custom install speakers, Polk announced the first dedicated center and surround channel models for the LCi Series, the top of a three-tier series of custom speakers.

The LCi-C center and LC65FX and LC80FX bipole/dipole surrounds due in the spring will join four LCi in-wall and in-ceiling speakers.

All LCi speakers feature response-compensation switches to optimize speaker response when they are placed in less-than-ideal locations. The LC65FX and LC80FX surrounds, for example, use a low-Q pass-band filter to compensate for the bass boominess and heavy, thick voices that occur when the speakers are placed close to adjacent room surfaces, Polk said. The filter lowers output only in the low-midrange/upper bass area, attenuating boominess without lowering deep-bass output.

The LC65FX and LCi-C center channel feature a "tweeter attenuation" switch to compensate for overly reflective rooms.

THX Custom speakers: The RTS group of THX Ultra2-certified custom speakers, part of the LCi series, is expanding with a center channel and surround speaker. The RTS-C and RTS-FX models are due in the spring to join the RTS105 in-wall and RTS100, which is the only in-ceiling speaker available in 2006 with THX Ultra2 certification.

The RTS-C and RTS-FX also feature response-control switches.

RTi freestanding speakers: In freestanding speakers, the company revamped its RTi Series, which occupies the better position in the company's good-better-best selection of Monitor, RTi, and LSi series. The five-SKU RTi series of left-right speakers now features all-new drivers, new tapered enclosure, and in the three floor-standing models, an enhanced venting technology called Power Port Plus.

The tapered enclosure, computer designed tweeter faceplate radius, stand-off grilles and baffle edge radii minimize diffraction to create more open and spacious imaging, the company said.

RTi-matched centers, surrounds: In another complete redesign, Polk revamped its CSi series center-channel speakers and FXi surround speakers, all freestanding models tuned to match Polk's new RTi Series of floor-standing and bookshelf loudspeakers. They're due in May with all-new drivers and cosmetics.