By Don Lindich
Week 15, 2020
Q. My husband has large planar speakers (6 feet high, 3 feet wide) and we are moving to a condo. It will be impossible to use them in the smaller space. Can you suggest small speakers that would provide the same quality when he plays his classical records? We are willing to spend up to $3,000 total for the speakers and amplifier.
-C.S., Minneapolis, MN
A. The answer to your question came to me immediately. I unhesitatingly recommend Polk Audio Legend series bookshelf speakers, and I assure you that you won’t be disappointed.
Polk’s high-end LSi and LSiM speakers have always held a special place in my heart, going back to the Polk LSi9 speakers I purchased over 10 years ago. I still have them, and they still sound wonderful today. I was going to buy their replacement, the LSiM703, when they were on clearance and add them to my collection, but Polk’s PR guy Paul kept raving about the new Legend series. He kept saying how wonderful they sound and how they draw him in to the point where he can’t turn them off. So, I held off on my purchase and he loaned me a pair of Legends to try.
I requested the Polk Legend L200 speakers ($1,799) but the Legend L100 speakers ($1,199) showed up at my door instead. Initially I was disappointed given I wanted to try the bigger speaker, but once I had the L100s connected I realized it was a stroke of good fortune. For example, though they are noticeably smaller than the Emotiva T-Zero towers, at lifelike listening levels the L100s have noticeably deeper and more accurate bass. If you had told me this beforehand I would have had a hard time believing it. Small speakers are not supposed to sound as big as the L100s do.
Audio reviewers often discuss how a good speaker can separate the different performers as well as recreate the space between them. The Polk Legend L100 took this to a new level in my listening room. It was as if there were dozens of tiny speakers spread across the soundstage, each one independently reproducing a single vocalist or instrument perfectly. Along with this incredible stereo imaging comes tremendous precision and definition, and the ability to effortlessly recreate the ebb, flow and tonality of a musical performance. No matter how hard I drove the L100s with CDs and LPs playing all kinds of different music, I could not get them to smear a single note.
This performance makes some demands of the owner. You can’t just pair the L100s with an inexpensive amplifier and a mediocre turntable and expect them to sound good. They will reveal every flaw in your system, and they are 3 ohm speakers that need a lot of good, clean power. I used them with the Cambridge Audio CXA81 and Emotiva A-150 amplifiers and the L100s sang with both of them. And please, do not put them on a shelf. Put these wonderful speakers on stands, where they belong.
Choose your components carefully, position the Legends properly and you will hear magnificent music reproduction typically associated with the most expensive, esoteric equipment you can buy. I enjoyed these speakers immensely and whenever I drove home from running errands or working out at the gym (before the lockdown and isolation practices were put in place) I found myself anxiously anticipating listening time with the L100s and deciding what records and CDs I would try with them. Now, well, I am spending a lot more time enjoying them because I rarely leave the house! polkaudio.com/legend