Polk Audio LSiM703 Listening Tests
Listening tests were performed in a nearfield formation, with the speakers approximately 6’ apart and the listening position 7’ away. I ran analog cables out of my Oppo BDP-93 directly into a pair of Anthem M1 Monoblock amplifiers and connected the speakers using Monster M series M2.2s speaker cables. This setup made for a very clean signal path, short cable runs, and very low noise floor.
I absolutely LOVE this album. Not only does it remind me of days long past sitting with my father and playing a game of cribbage with smoke slowly rolling off his pipe and a fiery Cash singing in the background; it shows the progression of a music legend. The American collection shows an aged man. The songs wrestle with getting past vanity, seeking peace, moving past pain, and coming to terms with the inevitability of death. Track 1, “Ain’t No Grave” is a simple sound, much like the rest of the CD. Johnny Cash’s voice floated in the middle of the soundstage, with a few guitars plucking notes and a kick drum in the background. There’s also a repeating sound of a chain dropping to the floor. Through the 703’s the chain sounded strong and heavy. In comparison, through my MartinLogan LX16’s the chain had no heft (ie. lots of treble, lack of midrange). Track 2, “Redemption Day”, starts with twin guitars, one out of the right speaker and the other out of the left. All of sudden Cash’s voice came out of the middle of the soundstage, with miles of dead space in between the three instruments (yes, the voice is an instrument!). My favorite song on the entire CD is “Satisfied Mind”, and the LSiM did it more than justice. It felt like Johnny Cash was sitting right in front of me, providing a sense of realism every speaker strives for. The LSiM sucked out every drop of detail in this song, so much so that I could clearly hear every time his lips came together and the saliva split apart when he opened his mouth again.
This entire CD normally has a very subdued feeling, but the LSiM’s made it more of an in-your-face experience, which I actually appreciated. I always thought this album was missing just a little something on the top end, but the 703’s added it back in. The cymbals in “Sweet Potato Pie” seemed to decay for an eternity, and James Taylor’s voice felt rich and powerful. Track 4, “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” is my favorite song on the entire album, mostly because it’s a duet between Ray Charles and the legendary Elton John. Elton John’s voice comes in at about 40 seconds into the song and sits just to the left of Ray Charles. This was probably the best I have ever heard this track reproduced. The drums were tight, the voices were lifelike, and the bass was authoritative. The opening of track 5, “Fever”, has a simple bass rift that smaller bookshelf speakers balk at, but the 703’s stood up and handled it with ease. So, I pushed them a little farther, and a little farther, but they never lost composure. At this point I was pretty impressed.
Santana – Supernatural
I’ve never been a big Santana fan, but I picked up Supernatural a while back after seeing that Gene had used it for listening tests, plus, it was only $.99 at a local used record shop. I have been pleasantly surprised with the quality of the recording, immense musical talent, and variety among the tracks. One of Santana’s most popular songs, “Smooth”, is a track rich with a plethora of musical instruments layered one on top of the other. The 703’s pulled out every bit of detail, with a slight bit of brightness on some of the artificially distorted vocals. “Do You Like the Way” has a rapid, yet delicate interplay between Lauryn Hill & Cee-Lo. Both voices sounded natural, separate and clearly delineated in the mix, in their own space. They didn’t end up muddled together or intelligible, as can happen with other speakers. “El Farol” starts out with an interlude of drum, bass guitar and bongo. Each instrument sat perfectly in its own space, something I kept coming back to with this setup. The low noise floor of the equipment, power of the M1 amps, and abilities of the LSiM703s came together to create a deep, wide soundstage. All I could hear were the instruments, not a hint of distortion or noise. It’s like each musician was standing in a black hole, with an infinite amount of space around them. I think it’s safe to say that I will be adding Santana to my list of commonly used test discs.
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Recent Forum Posts:
English210, post: 963235
I am SO with you on that!!! 25yr old Kappa's with failing polydomes. The end of an era….'sniff'….I know I should upgrade, but all the listening I've done tells me it's gonna take north of $3K to improve on them, and even that will involve compromises…
I hear ya. Mine were Infinity Interlude, IL60, IL40 and IL36C center (the sub died long ago). I used them for 12 years, and 5 years ago I decided I would upgrade. Every year I would do my pilgrimage to B&M stores to listen, walked away dissatisfied. I ultimately settled in Philharmonic Audio fronts and center, keeping the IL40s (my favorites - great speakers) for surrounds. I gave the others to an old friend who was a bit down on his luck. I gotta say, I was a little verklempt driving away from the UPS store.
jinjuku, post: 963167
Maybe for Polks next round they will bring back a truly large, no holds barred, forget about being skinny speaker. Just charge what you have to charge and make small production runs of it.
Might be a cool idea.
Klipsch has certainly embraced it.
Pyrrho, post: 963244
If you don't mind refurbished, you can get LSi speakers direct from Polk starting at $399.99/pair delivered with Polk warranty:
Pair LSI7 Cherry Bookshelf Loudspeakers Polk Audio 047192108671 | eBay
Frys has been known to carry some of their refurb stock as well. I got mine for less than that, and I bought 3 pairs Sold mine, but my brother still has one of those pairs.