Over the past three decades-plus, Polk
has continued to build upon its excellent reputation for providing affordable, sensible, high performance loudspeakers. Some forget that Polk helped put the satellite-subwoofer concept on the map with its RM series, after doing the same with the affordable monitor loudspeaker. These guys have been around, had their share of ups-and-downs, and still here they are, pushing on making solid, very competitive products.
Polk offers a bunch - sixteen to be exact - of different traditional powered subwoofer models as well as wireless and in-wall versions. The second from the top (price-wise) in its entry-level PSW series, the PSW125 ($349.95/MSRP) employs a 12-inch Dynamic Balance composite woofer driven by a 150 watt continuous/300 watt peak Class A/B amplifier, within a vented enclosure utilizing a downward-firing port, intended to keep the woofer's profile as low as possible. Developed in conjunction with Johns Hopkins University, Dynamic Balance resulted from a laser interferometry research project that enables Polk to analyze the entire surface of a vibrating driver in real time, in order to determine the right composition of driver materials for the particular product. Measuring 16.5 inches high by 16.25 inches wide by 19.125 inches deep and weighing in at 40.1 pounds, the PSW125 is pretty big and heavy but has a very solid feel for its affordable price. The non-magnetically-shielded PSW125 provides volume and low pass (60Hz - 110Hz) controls, a phase control, low-level inputs via RCA (stereo or LFE/mono), and high-level inputs and outputs via pin terminals. The unit's fit and finish is very good, with nice rounded edges and a solid, fully-rounded grill design that allows for more wood grain on the baffle. The PSW125 comes in either a Cherry or Black vinyl finish, and offers a solid set of feet that provide good grip.
The PSW125 provided a solid blend of speed, detail, and overall thump and impact, with a nice level of versatility. On movies and games, it added the required level of impact and substance, and only occasionally sounded strained and distorted. It seemed the amp came up a bit short every now and then when things got really large, not entirely unexpected as the driver is not exactly small and demands a lot. That said, the unit's limitations with this material didn't detract in any way from the experience. It speaks more towards the need to keep the room smaller as a whole - despite the unit's large size - to prevent overtaxing it. On music material, the PSW125 sounded very good, adding good slam and warmth to a wide variety of material. It reproduced large scale classical tracks wonderfully, and delivered quite a bit with hard rock, metal, and rap. Overall, the blend stayed on the polite side, but the unit offered just enough sizzle to keep things lively and fun. The PSW125 sounded just as good away from walls as next to them, offering good placement flexibility.
Read the High Points, Low Points and Conclusion on the next page