Polk TSi100 Bookshelf Loudspeakers Reviewed

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Located in the middle of Polk's loudspeaker lineup, the TSi series offers many of Polk's advanced technologies like Dynamic Balance drivers, flared ports, and narrow baffle design, at affordable prices. The TSi series offers two bookshelf models (TSi 100/200), three floorstanding models (TSi 300/400/500), and two center channel models (CS10/20).

The two-way TSi100 utilizes two Dynamic Balance drivers - a 1-inch silk-dome tweeter coupled to one 5.25-inch Bi-Laminate Organic Fiber cone woofer, crossed over at 2.5 kHz with a 2nd order (12db/octave) filter. 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. The TSi100 employs one rear-firing port, and provides a handy keyhole mounting bracket. The TSi100 also is not magnetically-shielded, so it can't be placed very close to a CRT television. The TSi100 provides a single set of five-way binding posts, and weighs a solid 10 pounds (please note that earlier versions provided dual sets of binding posts; Polk changed the design to simplify connection for its owners.). The TSi100 offers a choice of ebony or cherry wood grain finishes to complement its gloss black top plate. At $199.95 per pair (MSRP), the TSi100 offers a very good level of fit and finish, just like its sibling, the TSi200. The port blends well with the cabinet, as does the driver array (the "sliced" tweeter design, also used on the TSi200, looks particularly neat and clean on the two-driver, TSi100), the top plate lends a glossy touch, and the wood grain finish stays smooth and even throughout.

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Just like its big brother, the TSi100 presents a nominal 8 ohm load with an 89db efficiency. The speaker was a little easier to drive than the TSi200, but still benefited from better quality receivers and amplifiers. However, you could use these speakers with just about any good quality receiver or amplifier. For its size, the TSi100 presented a very nice soundstage, with good depth and width and precise imaging over a wide array of electric and acoustic material. The highs veered towards the crisp side, but never overly so, and the smooth blend into the midrange created a very listenable, even presentation. The midrange strangely lacked the semi-nasal quality of the TSi200, instead sounding a bit hollow occasionally but still very fast and coherent. Overall, the TSi200 did very well on vocals and piano, and kept things rich most of the time. Moving down in frequency, the TSi200 lightened up a bit and could have used a bit more depth and punch, but overall the bass stayed detailed and nicely in rhythm with the whole, and never detracted from the experience. Of course, one can't expect the compact enclosure to deliver earth shattering bass. The TSi100's bass simply didn't have quite the extension and punch of other, albeit more expensive, monitors available. For its price, its low end performance ranked solidly amongst its competition, and only a bit behind the rest of its performance. The port didn't seem to make too much noise, and stayed pretty much out of the way. The TSi100 did sound just a touch richer and fuller when placed closer to the rear wall.

Overall, the TSi100 left a terrific impression as a sort of budget version of a good British mini-monitor. Balanced, listenable, crisp, a bit lightweight, but very coherent and enjoyable, it also seemed to retain its overall character regardless of material. While it excelled with classical, jazz, and acoustic material, rock and electronic music sounded very good, as the design's overall musicality stole the show and made the design's absolute bass limitations seem irrelevant - which, incidentally, is exactly what quality small speakers do.

Competition and Comparison
In order to compare the Polk TSi100 loudspeaker against its competition, read our reviews for the Bose 301 loudspeaker and the Boston Acoustics CS 26 loudspeaker.  You can also find more information available in our Bookshelf Speaker section.

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