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Polk Audio SurroundBAR

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Polk Audio SurroundBAR

Polk Audio SurroundBAR

Summary

  • Product Name: SurroundBAR
  • Manufacturer: Polk Audio
  • Review Date: November 29, 2007 19:00
  • MSRP: $949.95
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool

Midrange: 7 - 3-1/2" Diameter (8.89cm)

Tweeter: 3 - 3/4" Diameter (1.91cm), Silk/Polymer composite dome

Lower -3dB Limit: 100 Hz

Upper -3dB Limit: 20 kHz

Nominal Impedance: 8 ohms

Recommended Amplifier Power: 20 - 125 w/channel

Efficiency: 89 dB

Cabinet Size: 4-7/16" H x 42-5/8" W x 5-1/8" D (11.27cm H x 108.27cm W x 13.02cm D)

Product Weight: 25.00 lbs. (11.34kgs)

Total Shipping Weight: 27.00 lbs. (12.25kgs)

Accessories (comes with): 2 piece wall bracket, center channel base, 25' wire bundle, and the Quick Start Guide

Executive Overview

Speakers have made a slow progression from large to small to tiny to invisible. The Polk Audio SurroundBAR is in the latter category. The SurroundBAR is a single (almost) speaker solution that places one speaker up front and simulates the rest of the speakers through digital signal processing. Essentially, it'll have you and your friends wondering how it is that it tricks you into thinking the sound is coming from behind you.

At 25 pounds, the SurroundBAR is no lightweight and needs both the included wall mounts if you choose to hang it. Of course, there is a base if you chose to place it on top of a component cabinet or other piece of furniture. The 25 foot wire bundle provides everything you need to connect your receiver to the five pairs of binding posts on the back of the SurroundBAR. The nice thing is that each of the speaker cables is color coded so that it is nearly impossible to mess up the connection. Personally, I really liked the solid aluminum enclosure - it looks very industrial and at 43 inches it will look perfect under a 42-50' panel. There are seven 3.5 inch drivers (3 on each side and one in the center) with three 3/4 inch tweeters on the front baffle. Of course the SurroundBAR is magnetically shielded just in case you blew your whole budget on the $950 SurroundBAR and are still saving for that matching flat panel.

At the price, the SurroundBAR is really on par with some of the more expensive satellite systems like the Quintet SL. The silk/polymer dome tweeters really give the SurroundBAR an edge in a smoother top end though the surround effects are (because of the compromises inherent in a single speaker solution) more diffuse than a traditional 5 speaker setup. Needless to say, ou are going to need a subwoofer as the SurroundBAR really needs to be crossed over fairly high (Polk recommends 120Hz though you might prefer something a bit higher). You may notice that male vocals sound a thin with this speaker (or coming out of the sub depending on your crossover and sub location) as will other low-mid bass material.

For the most part, we found this speaker to found very clear and natural, especially as low to moderate volumes. As we pumped the volume up, however, the drivers started to breakup audibly indicating that this speaker shouldn't be pushed too hard and should probably be located in a smaller room. Since the Polk SurroundBAR doesn't rely on room reflections like other single speaker solutions, you have a lot more placement option and aren't confined to a square (or nearly square) room.

While it may seem like buying a single speaker should be less expensive than five, in reality it isn't. What you are paying for is the technology that goes into creating the surround effect and the ability to run a single wire to a single speaker without having to crawl through your attic or under your house. There is no doubt that having your friend ask you where your rear speakers are and pointing at the SurroundBAR has its "gotcha" appeal. For $949.95, this may be just the speaker you're looking for. Just remember to pick up a subwoofer at the same time.

For more information, please visit www.polkaudio.com.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

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Recent Forum Posts:

Alamar posts on December 03, 2007 19:56
Well at least nobody said that the speaker bar was “danceable”
gliz posts on November 30, 2007 09:53
For what it is it seems a little pricey to me but all these “bars” are that way. When I set up in my master bedroom I will just run 2.1
Roscoe posts on August 13, 2007 23:51
Thanks…to both posts.
dorokusai posts on August 13, 2007 22:56
Roscoe, post: 295784
I posted a question over there about a 6th speaker (6.1) for rear imaging. Looking forward to your response.

Thanks!

I responded to your question in that dark, evil place I call home

In response to your original query….

I like the Surround Bar. It achieves the goal of Surround Sound but I've found that it will vary with the media involved and most importantly, the levels that are set for your surrounds. The surround channels in my HT are always run hot because I prefer it that way and this is where the SBar is best IMO. The surround channels are created by use of a vintage Polk idea called SDA.

You can find out more on SDA at the homepage forum but if you ever get a chance to hear a vintage Polk SDA rig, you're in for a real treat in regards to soundstage presentation. It's more obvious in the full size versions.

There are tweaks on the SBar idea well under way and the future looks even brighter for the single source solution.

Mark
Polk Audio CS
Roscoe posts on August 13, 2007 22:10
dorokusai, post: 295105
Roscoe - I believe the linked thread has some great pro-con information available for the product. …

Let me catch up on my admin chores and I'll give you my thoughts on the Surround Bar. It isn't perfect, I know that much.

I posted a question over there about a 6th speaker (6.1) for rear imaging. Looking forward to your response.

Thanks!
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