Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been discontinued. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
Polk Audio has been in the business of designing loudspeakers and other audio equipment since the '70s. The company's extensive experience has paid off and made it one of the leading manufacturers of home audio equipment. The Polk Audio TSi500 is the flagship set of floor standing speakers in the company's TSi series. For around the same price as these outstanding speakers, we couldn't find a set that we liked better. The five-speaker tower offers a high level of performance and fidelity to make it a good choice for serious musical enjoyment as well as watching movies.
Without listening to the speakers yourself, there are a few indicators to help you understand the performance capabilities of the Polk Audio TSi500. First and foremost is the range of frequencies that the floor standing speakers cover, and their sensitivity. The impedance will let you know the maximum nominal level of audio that the speakers will put out. Also, you need to keep an eye on the required amplifier power and the binding posts just to make sure you have everything else you need to use these in your system.
With that said, the range for the Polk Audio TSi500s is effectively 35 Hz – 25 kHz. That doesn't quite cover the average range of human hearing on the low end, which is roughly 20 Hz, but it surpasses it on the high frequencies side with 25 kHz. The manufacture most likely designed these floor standing speakers to be paired with a dedicated subwoofer, which is why Polk didn't stretch the low-end response more. This is quite common for floor speaker manufactures since it allows them to focus on the midrange and high frequencies. Polk Audio did exactly that by refining and tuning the TSi500s to give you precision audio within its range. Also, if you are curious, the crossover is set at 2500 Hz.
The sensitivity of a driver refers to the amount of sound output that is produced with a given amount of electrical input. In the case of the Polk Audio TSi500 speakers, they produce 96 dB of sound with one watt of input at a distance of 1 meter, which is quite efficient. That output is 8 ohms, which is the nominal level of impedance for these floor standing speakers. With that you can expect a lot of sound output without the need for a powerful amplifier or receiver. Then, while not conducting a signal, there should be almost no noise at all. Polk Audio designed these floor speakers to work with as little as 20 watts of input, but they are able to handle up to 275 watts from an amplifier.
In this four-speaker setup, you may run into the issue of your mid/low frequency drivers pulling more than their share of power to cover those demanding low frequencies. This diminishes your twitter output so, for a cleaner sound, the Polk Audio TSi500 can be bi-amped to ensure that you don't run into this problem. This applies more to those who don't plan to have a subwoofer with a crossover to handle the lowest frequencies.
To reproduce a wide range of frequencies, you need multiple loudspeakers because one just can't handle it all alone. That is why floor standing speakers will contain two or more individual drivers to cover narrower, specialized ranges. The Polk Audio TSi500 contains five drivers to accomplish this. Four are identical low/midrange drivers, and then there is a single tweeter for quality high-frequency output.
The four drivers that cover your low and midrange frequencies have a diameter of 6.5 inches, and they are made of a bi-laminate, organic fiber. These drivers allow for rich and precise midrange sounds. This is critical in that it is where most audio information resides, and an underpowered midrange will result in muddy, loose sound reproduction. It also allows for some pretty impressive bass response, when the rather small size of the drivers is considered. Although the bass produced by the drivers is extremely accurate, the diminutive diameter is also responsible for the speakers' inability to get quite down to the bottom frequencies we'd like to hear.
On the other end of the range, the single 1-inch dome tweeter does a remarkable job of creating the highest tones that the average person can hear. It even goes slightly beyond into the ultrasonic frequencies. This is important even though you may not be able to hear them because it adds a little ambiance to the audio. Also, at the very ends of speakers' frequency range, you are pushing the drivers to their max, and they may not be as precise in their reproduction. That makes it all the more important to go beyond, where people can't hear the difference.
The Polk Audio TSi500 cabinet's size is both a strength and a weakness for it. It is about 44.5 inches tall, just more than 8 inches wide and nearly 18 inches deep, which makes it one of the largest floor standing speakers that we reviewed. A large cabinet like that can be great for design and the acoustics for the drivers, especially for the larger ones that require some room to move. However, the size can look out of place in a small living room at times because the speakers will dominate the space around them.
Ported systems have their flaws, as do sealed systems, but which is best really comes done to what you want out of it. Ported designs require a bit more finesse and tuning to get right, but their bass capability is impressive if done right. The Polk Audio TSi500s do an admirable job with the well-engineered ported cabinet and manage to keep the audio quality quite clean.
If you are looking for well-designed floor standing speakers, you don't have to look any further. For around the same price, you will have a hard time finding anything better than the Polk Audio TSi500. These speakers have a wide frequency range, an impressive amount of audio power output, and they do so with precision. They have met and exceed our expectations in these areas. The design with four mid/low range drivers and a tweeter mesh well and offer excellent sound quality. We recommend adding these to your system with bi-amping and a crossover to a dedicated subwoofer. This setup will give you a well-rounded system that you will enjoy for years to come.