Located in the middle of Polk's loudspeaker lineup, the TSi series represents one of Polk's most aggressive bang-for-the-buck propositions in recent years. It offers many of Polk's advanced technologies like Dynamic Balance drivers, flared ports, and narrow baffle design, at an affordable price. The TSi series offers two bookshelf models (TSi 100/200), three floorstanding models (TSi 300 - reviewed here/400/500), and two center channel models (CS10/20). For complete system options, Polk offers an array of powered subwoofers and small surround speakers.
Within what Polk calls an "anti-resonant" enclosure, the two-way TSi300 utilizes three Dynamic Balance drivers - a 1-inch fabric-polymer dome tweeter with a neodymium magnet structure coupled to two 5 ¼-inch Bi-Laminate Organic Fiber cone woofers, crossed over at 2.5 kHz. 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 TSi300 employs a downward-firing port, a feature rarely found in floorstanding loudspeakers. Polk deems its design as a "Critically Tuned Flared Port," which basically means that its design minimizes chuffing and optimizes bass response. The TSi300 provides two sets of gold-plated five-way binding posts for easy bi-wiring/bi-amping. The TSi300 incorporates wide, fat stabilizer feet, which ensure stable coupling to hard floors or plush carpeting. While not as tailored as separate spikes or soft feet, they provide a nice down-the-middle solution for floors of all types and provide a distinctive look. Measuring 36.375 inches high by 7 inches wide by 11.5 inches deep and weighing 26 pounds, the TSi300 occupies a slim, small footprint and has some solid heft. The TSi300 offers a choice of ebony or cherry woodgrain finishes to complement its gloss black top plate, which adds an elegant touch. At $399.90 per pair (MSRP), the TSi300 offers an excellent level of fit and finish. The vinyl finish looks great (especially the Cherry), the meaty feet and connection panel fit nicely into the cabinet, the driver array offers clean seams, and the grill has nice rounded side edges.
The TSi300 presents a nominal 8 ohm load with a 90db efficiency. It sounded very good with average quality power sources, but benefited from better quality ones. The TSi300 threw a deep, wide soundstage, and rendered images crisply. The sound drifted outside of the speakers often, and offered a lot of air and space. This quality was more apparent with classical and jazz material. The high end had some good sparkle and detail, but could have used a bit more bite, especially on rock and electronic music. The midrange had an overall neutral character, and stayed in time with the top end. On some vocals and piano, the sound turned a bit nasally on occasion, but never at the expense of musicality. The midrange had a really nice sense of speed and sounded very good overall. The bass retained much of the character of the top end. It had a punchy quality with some good extension, especially on acoustic music. The TSi300's bass sounded more tight than deep, which had its benefits with small-scale material. Overall, it stayed in excellent time with the rest of the frequency spectrum and rounded out the speaker's overall very musical, coherent character. The TSi300 did not appreciably benefit or suffer from placements closer to walls, which is great news for those with smaller rooms. The TSi300 played loudly when asked without much breakup, but needed better quality to get there.
Read more about the TSi300 on Page 2.
• The TSi300 provides a musical, balanced presentation that sounds good with all types of music.
• The TSi300's midrange sounds terrific, with healthy doses of liquidity and transparency and a sound reminiscent of very good British monitors.
• The TSi300 offers a very good level of fit and finish, with some high-end technology and very handy features.
• The TSi300's overall character was a bit too polite, and needed some zip at the frequency extremes.
• The TSi300's treble sounded a bit rolled off at times and its bass lacked ultimate extension.
• The TSi300 did not sound as good with rock and electronic music as with acoustic material.
The Polk TSi300 offers a compelling value proposition. For its very affordable price (under $400 a pair is really cheap for this level of product), it gives the owner a wealth of technology, some neat little features like all-purpose feet, dual pairs of binding posts, and two finishes, and a well-rounded sound that gets out of the way and just plays. It's not exactly spicy and could use some zip in some individual sonic areas, but the whole is so musical and unobtrusive that you don't much care. This is a great speaker for budding audiophiles, those who know what better sound is but just can't buy their way into it yet.