By Don Lindich
Week 4, 2020
Q. I just purchased an Outlaw RR2160 receiver and want to upgrade my old Klipsch Forté II speakers.
I recently read your “Product of the Year” award for the $399 Emotiva Airmotiv T-Zero speakers and was intrigued by their low price. I am considering the top model, the $999 Airmotiv T-2+. I know you have recommended Ohm Walsh speakers in the past, but they are significantly more expensive.
The room is quite large. Which would you recommend to pair best with my receiver and make the most improvement for the money?
-S.J., St. Paul, MN
A. Your Outlaw Audio RR2160 is the most powerful, highest-quality receiver on the market and will work well with almost any speakers. Before I make my recommendations we must first discuss what it will take to make a meaningful upgrade.
The Klipsch Forté II speakers, along with the original Forté, were some of Klipsch’s best ever. They are old school Klipsch with generously-sized drivers and real wood cabinets, all handmade in the USA. These “Heritage Series” speakers are nothing like the Klipsch speakers found in big-box stores, with sound and overall quality that is in a completely different league. They were around $2,000 per pair when they were sold new in the 1980s.
I have not heard the Airmotiv T2+ speakers so I don’t know how they would compare. They use the same exotic technology as the T-Zero speakers so they could indeed represent an upgrade, but given what you have now I think you may want to go upmarket to ensure you are making a worthwhile step up.
Ohm Walsh speakers would definitely do the job, and their unique patented design creates a beautiful-sounding 3D soundfield that must be experienced to be appreciated. The $4,000/pair Walsh 3000 is what you need for your room but as you said yourself, they are significantly more expensive. If you want to go in that direction though I would not blame you a bit!
I believe your answer lies in the Polk Audio LSiM series. I have been a fan of these high-end Polk speakers since the original LSi series of the early 2000s. Just as the Klipsch Heritage series bears little resemblance to run-of-the-mill Klipsch speakers, the LSiM speakers bear little resemblance to Polk’s mass-market offerings. Sold only through selected retailers, both in looks and sound quality these speakers can compete with almost anything in high-end audio but at much lower prices. Not that the LSiM speakers are cheap, because they are not. The LSiM703 bookshelf speakers list for $1,500/pair, the LSiM705 towers for $3,000/pair and the top-of-the line LSiM707 towers, $4000/pair. LSiM surround and center channel speakers are also available to create a superior-sounding home theater.
Polk LSiM speakers are currently on clearance for 50% off, meaning the LSiM703 bookshelf speakers are $750/pair, the LSiM705 mid-sized towers are $1,500/pair and the top-of-the-line LSiM707 towers, $2,000/pair. Given your room size I would go right to the top and get the LSiM707 for $2,000. It’s the kind of deal you only see once in a decade, and in fact the last time I remember seeing a deal this good was on Polk LSi when it was replaced by LSiM, almost 10 years ago. The LSiM is being replaced by the Legend series, hence the big savings, but that does not make LSiM any less wonderful.
I hope a lot of readers jump on this and get themselves something special that they thought was perhaps out of their reach before. I may get a pair myself. polkaudio.com