Choosing Speakers and Components

• It seems that the RTS 100 and 105 do not match your name scheme, how did you come up with them?

The LCi range now includes 3 separate lines of product for diffent applications. The RTS line is specifically designed as the Reference Theater Series for ultimate home theater use, which will be THX Ultra2 certified.

The LCi-IP series is designed for ultimate performance networking solutions.

Finally the current LCi range is our high versatility group for multi-room audio of full rangehome theater use.

• Can you use a smaller grille with the CSW200? Does it affect the performance?

10x10-inch is fine, 8x14-inch is also acceptable but anything smaller will restrict air flow and the bass performance.

• On the new in-floor, in-wall, and in-ceiling subs why are we not shipping the drivers separately?

The CSW200 is shipped with a protective MDF cover over the woofer which is removed at the time the flooring or drywall is installed. If theft is a concern the woofer can be unscrewed and then reinstalled easily. The CSW100 also comes with a protective cover over the 2x12-inch vent. The woofer is internal and less prone to theft problems. However, the cabinet has a removable back for field service and the driver can be removed and replaced as above.• Can you remove amps on IP speakers for remote mounting? How far away?

Yes, the amp can be removed from the speaker and remotely located. You'd use the same common sense when running speaker wire from an amplifier to a speaker, the shorter the better. Just be sure to keep any insulation away from the amplifier. Anywhere that you'd mount a speaker is likely to be fine for the amplifier. The IP speakers can be mounted into our performance enclosures, for example with no problems.

• Are the amps in the IP speakers all digital? Does it contain D-A converters and A-D converters?

The amps are 100% digital. That's the only way to offer 200wrms (LC265i-IP in such a small package. When used with an IP network system the signal is kept digital all the way from input to the output stage where they are converted to analog to the individual woofer, midrange and tweeter wires. When used in analog mode, they take the analog signal and convert it to digital. Then it's the same as the IP network system all the way to the output stage.

• Do the IP speakers have an internal memory such that if the power goes out the system will not reset?

Yes. When you save the settings after setup they are memorized in the firmware of the DSP, which is inside the amplifier.

• Does room optimization software for the IP speakers reside in the speaker or on a separate disc?

A CD-ROM containing the Performance Optimization Wizard software is shipped with every IP speaker. It is also available for download via our website. The Netstreams Dealer Setup includes a NetStreams version of our software so the installer can transition easily from DigiLinX system setup to our IP speaker setup.

• Do the IP speakers fit into performance enclosures?

The LC265i-IP fits in the current enclosure. The LC80i-IP enclosure is new, called the ENCL LC80IP which is deeper and will replace the current ENCL LC80, working well for both passive and IP version.

• Has Polk ever tired to run analog inputs into our IP speakers? If yes, how so?

We've run both speaker wire terminated as above and RCA. The speakers sound fantastic and you realize 95% of the sound quality of the digital connection, minus the control of course

• With IP speakers how long can the cables be without any signal loss or degradation

We've used 100 feet of 14 gauge speaker wire terminated with matching transformers (to change the speaker wire to line level) with minimal effect on the sonics. Shielded RCA cable can also run over 100-150 feet without significant degradation. Longer lengths will increase background noise but may be satisfactory.

Can the Netstreams PowerLinX power Polk IP speakers? If yes, how many?

The Netstreams PSS750 model can drive up to 2 pairs of the LC80i-IP to moderately high listening levels. To reach the full dynamic range of the LC80i-IP the Polk SPS-1 power supply is required. The Netstreams power supplies are not compatible with the LC265i-IP because the Polk speaker requires 48 Volts which our power supply delivers. The LC80i-IP requires either 48 or 28 Volts to achieve optimal performance. The Polk power supply can power up to two pair of LC80i-IP and one pair of LC265i-IP speakers.

• I've never heard of Polk Audio. Is your company reputable?

We'd like to think so. Polk Audio was founded in 1972 in Baltimore. Today, Polk Audio is considered one of the leading audio companies in the world. Our headquarters are still located in Baltimore.

Baltimore, Maryland based Polk Audio is an award-winning manufacturer of high performance audio products. Founded by Chairman Matthew Polk and CEO George Klopfer in 1972, Polk Audio holds over 50 patents for advances in audio design and technology. Polk products include loudspeakers and electronic components for home, auto, marine applications, the first XM satellite home component tuner, the world's first active IP-addressable loudspeaker, and in the winter of 2005-2006 the I-Sonic the first entertainment system to include HD radio, XM Connect and Play capability and a DVD player. Polk products are available through authorized specialist consumer electronics retailers worldwide.

• Can I buy Polk products direct from the factory?

Most Polk Audio products are available for sale on this website such as the I-Sonic®.

Other products and accessories can be purchased from the Polk Online Store.

We also have an eBay store where you can get great deals on Polk Audio product.

Some models are not available for direct sale. In some cases the product may require professional installation or other professional assistance that we cannot provide. Of course Polk speakers are available through a wide variety of storefront and on-line retailers. Use the dealer locator to find the retailer that is best for you. For more info, call Polk at 1-800-377-7655, or send us an email.

• How do Polk's subwoofer/satellite systems compare to other leading brands?

Polk's Blackstone® TL and RM satellite systems use a separate tweeter and midrange in each satellite. The tweeter reproduces a clear and detailed high frequency range without sounding harsh. The midrange used in each satellite provides a rich, full sound much like a large floor standing speaker. Some brands use only a full range driver to reproduce mids and highs.

Polk RM systems use powered subwoofers which offer maximum performance and control. Some competitive products still come with passive (non-powered) subwoofers that pale in comparison.

The satellites in the palm of hand sized Polk Blackstone and RM Series satellites are made from a high tech polymer materials that are heavy and acoustically inert for better sound. Pick up a Polk satellite, feel its heft, feel its quality. Then pick up the competition. Be careful not to let it float away!

The bottom line is that Polk subwoofer/satellite systems sound better than the competition. Compare them side by side and hear for yourself why Polk Blackstone and RM systems have won the Audio Video International Grand Prix award for best satellite/subwoofer system eight years in a row.

• What floorstanding speakers match in-wall speakers?

While Polk speakers have evolved and improved over time, some basic signature Polk sound traits have remained constant. Clear, projected midrange, open, airy highs and wide soundstaging are all hallmarks of the Polk sound, past and present. Therefore, Polk center channel speakers are the best match for older Polk main speakers.

Our speaker series are timbre-matched, they sound very similar, that is why we have three lines of loudspeakers, LSi, RTi, and Monitor and three lines of in-wall speakers LCi, TC, and RCi.

If you require any additional help of any sort, contact Polk customer service 1-800-377-7655.

Floorstanding/Loudspeaker Series

Inwall/In-ceiling Series

RTi TCi (more info)
Monitor (more info) RCi (more info)
RM (more info) RCi (more info)

• What center speaker matches with my older Polk speakers?

While Polk speakers have evolved and improved over time, some basic signature Polk sound traits have remained constant. Clear, projected midrange, open, airy highs and wide sound staging are all hallmarks of the Polk sound, past and present. Therefore, Polk center channel speakers are the best match for older Polk main speakers.

The CSiA6 makes a great match for top of the line Polk speakers of the past such as the legendary SDA-SRS. It is a large full range center channel speaker that works superbly with larger Polk Monitors, S Series, and RTA models as well as all SDA loudspeakers. The CSiA4 matches well with mid sized mid sized Monitors (5jr., 5 & 7), S Series and the RTA 8. The CS1 is perfect for the smaller Monitor and S Series models.

Find your vintage Polk model on the chart below to see which center model is the right choice for you. If you can't find your main speaker model on this page, or require help of any sort, contact Polk customer service.

Center Model

Matches With:

LSiC No vintage matches.
CSiA6 SDA-SRS, SDA-1, SDA-2 (all versions), SDA-CRS, RTA-15, RTA-12, RTA-11, Monitor 5, Monitor 5jr, Monitor 7, Monitor 10 and Monitor 12, LS90, LS70, LS50, RT20p, RT16, RT12, RT10, RT3000p, RT2000p, RT2000i, RT1000p, RT1000i, RT800, RT800i, RT600, RT600i, RT55, RT55i, RT35, RT35i, AB855, AB805, AB800, AB755, AB705, AB700
CSiA4 RTA-8T, RT8, RT7, RT5, RT15, RT15i, RT25, RT25i, Mini Monitor, 'Monitor', Monitor 6 satellite, Monitor 4
CS2 R30 R40 R50, S8, S6, RT400, M5
CS1 S4, R1, R2, RT3, R20, R15, R10, M3, M3ii, M2, M1

• Which in-wall subwoofer is right for me?

Consider these factors

First, consider the application. Speakers meant for a less then critical application, such as a bathroom probably do not need the top of the line. But a quality home theater system would be deserving of higher end subwoofers.

Second, consider your budget. The better the speakers, the more they are going to cost.

Finally, don't forget to take into account your expectations. If you're a very serious and very critical listener, then go for the best you can afford. But if you're a less critical listener, you may be satisfied with a less costly system.

• Does room size have an effect on the sound your subwoofer produces?

Yes. The larger the room, the more air volume there is for the sound system to pressurize. A larger room places greater power requirements on both main receiver and subwoofer. And if the room has a great deal of hard surfaces (in addition to being large) you may encounter slap echo (think empty gymnasium), which can muddy and smear sound. You may need to address this phenomenon with special acoustic treatments.

• Will the loudspeakers I use for my new home theater system sound good when listening to music?

If you have Polk, absolutely! Polk loudspeakers are designed first and foremost to be natural and accurate when reproducing all kinds of material. The materials and technologies used in Polk loudspeakers allow them to faithfully reproduce only the sounds or tones that they are asked to reproduce. They faithfully and accurately reproduce the original recordings. Polk loudspeakers are truly able to meet the demands of home theater as well as music.

There are speakers on the market which are billed as designed for home theater which are brassy, boomy and shouty, designed more for quantity of sound than quality. Listen to a wide variety of music, as well as movies, before you buy any speaker. If a speaker doesn't sound good on all kinds of program material, it isn't a good buy.

• Are small speakers as good as large ones?

It depends! If you don't mind large speakers in your room and you have the space to place them properly, then choose large speakers. They'll sound great. If you have a small to moderate size room and you don't have the space to place large speakers properly, then small speakers will sound better. It's easier in this instance to place small speakers in locations to provide superior imaging and it's also easier to place a subwoofer for better bass response. You might be pleasantly surprised how good small speakers can sound.

But there are some tradeoffs with tiny speakers. They won't play as loud as large speakers (although plenty loud enough for most people and rooms). Those little satellites cannot reproduce bass of their own, making it tough to achieve a seamless blend between satellite and sub. There is often a hole or weak response in the lower midrange area (bottom range of a male voice) where the satellite's response leaves off and the subwoofer takes over. When evaluating sub/sat systems listen closely to male voices, if they sound thin the system suffers from this midrange suck out problem.

The other issue is bass response. Some of the so called subwoofers in these systems are passive (not amplified) and should really be called woofers because they don't reproduce the truly deep bass with authority. If the system is to be used for only music, that may not be a problem. But if the primary use is home theater, you may later find the need for an additional powered subwoofer. Many sub/st systems now come with powered woofers that are worthy of the name subwoofer. As always, listen before you buy and trust your ears.

• What receiver or amplifier works best with Polk loudspeakers?

Amplifiers or receivers that use a high current design in the power amp section work well with Polk loudspeakers and generally sound better. Unfortunately, electronics manufacturers do not publish the current capabilities of their products. The best way to determine whether a given model is high current or not is to look at the wattage specs. High current models have much higher wattage ratings into 4 ohms than into 8 ohms. If there is also a wattage rating for 2 ohms which is higher than for 4 or 8 ohms, so much the better.

The following brands are by no means the only high current amplifiers or receivers on the market, but they generally work well with Polk loudspeakers. Models from Yamaha, Denon, Onkyo, Harmon-Kardon, B&K, Adcom, NAD, Rotel, and Pioneer Elite should provide a good starting point. Your Polk retailer can help you select a receiver or amp that is suitable for your speakers.

For more information on amplifier power ratings, click here.

• What is dipole and bipole and how are they different?

Dipole and bipole refer to speakers that have drivers on opposite baffles. To put it crudely, they squirt sound out of both ends. Our feeling is that this type of sound radiation isn't desirable for front channel speakers. You get a spacious soundstage but at the sacrifice of image specificity. Soloists sound as big as the room. Pavorotti may be a large guy but he's not 10' wide. Orchestras may be large but you should be able to precisely locate individual instruments within the group. If not done properly, dipolar or bipolar speakers may also exhibit frequency response problems due to phase cancelations (particularly true with narrow baffle designs). Polk front channel speakers use wide dispersion drivers to provide open, spacious sound staging while maintaining pinpoint localization.

But the lack of image specificity of dipolar or bipolar speakers is just the ticket for rear channel use, especially in Dolby Pro Logic systems in which the surround channel is mono.

In a dipolar speaker, the two sets of speakers are out of phase with each other, while the drivers are one side are pushing, the opposite side is pulling. The result is that there is a null or a dead zone of sound in the area along the 90 degree axis of the speaker (see illustration on right). Why is that good? When properly set up, a pair of dipole speakers used as surround speakers will provide a very open, enveloping rear effects soundstage without allowing you to pinpoint the location of the speakers themselves. That's a good thing. But for all this to work properly, the speakers need to be positioned in-line with the listening position as shown on the illustration. If you are sitting out of the null area, the effect is ruined. What if you can't or don't want to place your surround speakers and listening position as required? That's where bi-poles come in handy.

In a bipolar speaker, the two sets of drivers are in phase with one another - both sides push air at the same time. The result is greater sound output where the dipolar speaker's null would be. Theoretically, a bipolar speaker approaches a 360° sound field - it disperses the sound all around the room. That's a good thing if you need to position your surround speakers behind your listening position or anywhere outside of the null area. Some people prefer the greater localization of bipolar speakers when used in digital discrete (Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS) systems.

Polk F/X speakers give you the choice of either polar pattern so you can choose the one that's sounds best to you in your setup.

• What speaker should I buy for the surround channel?

There are a few factors to consider when selecting a surround speaker. The first step is to decide where you want the speakers to be placed. Choose between on-wall, in-wall, shelf, or floor-standing. Look at the placement guidelines and select a location for the surround speakers as this will partly influence your choice.

If you've opted for an on-wall location, look for speakers that are easy to mount and offer mounting flexibility. Polk's Atrium® Series speakers have built in wall mount brackets that accommodate a variety of mounting angles. The Polk F/X® Series models and most of our bookshelf models mount right to the walls with built-in keyhole slots. If there isn't an ideal placement location, or running wires is a giant hassle then the Polk Audio F/X Wireless is a perfect choice. Just like the name implies, no muss no fuss, just provide a power source and the speaker does the rest.

In general terms the surround speaker should be as close as possible in tonal balance to your front three speakers. The better the front speakers you have, the better your surround speakers should be.

The type of surround processing you are using will affect which surround speaker will work best. If you're building, or plan on having in the future, a Dolby Digital (AC-3) system, you'll need a better quality speaker than if you will be using Pro Logic only. In the early days of home theater, the prevailing attitude was that the surround speakers didn't need to be very good because the rear channel signal was not a full response signal. With discrete digital systems like Dolby Digital (AC-3) and DTS, the rear signal is full range, thereby placing greater demands on the surround speakers.

There's a lot of talk about surround speakers with diffuse sound-field radiation, such as dipolar and bipolar type speakers. We recommend that you do not consider diffuse sound-field speakers that sell for less than $400, because the basic audio quality will suffer too much for the sake of the diffuse polar pattern feature. Under $400, get the best sounding speaker you can get which fits the location you have chosen and is easy to mount.

The Polk F/X model surround speakers offer terrific performance and the greatest degree of placement flexibility thanks to their switchable bi-pole/di-pole feature. For state of the art performance, we recommend the LSiM702F/X The F/XiA6 and F/XiA4 match the RTi and RTiA models. A very popular choice for surround channel use is the RTiA1 If you really want to push the performance envelope, add a powered subwoofer to the surround channels! For more specific surround speaker recommendations for systems with Polk front speakers, please refer to the front speaker product page.

• Why don't some systems include subwoofers?

There is no consensus of how much bass is the correct amount for everyone's personal taste. There are some listeners who find the level of bass performance produced by Polk's award winning bookshelf style speakers more than sufficient. To another listener they would prefer to augment the bass performance of even Polk Audio's ultimate top performing floor standing tower speakers. It all becomes a matter of individual choice based upon the type of music/movies and individual expectations. Rest assured there is a Polk solution for every listener's need.

• How do I choose between all the different home audio speakers?

It is a good question and one that understandably can be confusing. The first thing to do is decide on what factors are most important to you and your family. Think about how the system will be used. Will it be a system primarily used for music listening or will it be used mostly as part of a movie watching experience? Or, will it have to do double duty? How important is the invisibility of the speakers? Should they be completely invisible or a real statement or somewhere in between? Try and estimate the size of the listening areas and look to see where speakers potentially could be placed.

Now that you have some fundamental information contact your friendly neighborhood Polk Audio dealer. Or, telephone Polk's professionals directly for a recommendation on what Polk products fill your audio needs.

• Where do in-wall and in-ceiling speakers go?

When thinking about where to place your in-wall or in-ceiling speakers consider your potential listening audience location. Imagine where the majority of listeners will be and try and place the left and right speaker so a convincing sound stage is created. For in-wall speaker placing at audience ear level is suggested. In-celing speakers should give a broad sound pattern to cover where most of the listeners will be. The in-ceiling speakers can be used as in-wall speakers and the other way around. However some in ceiling speakers do require a larger mounting depth and may not fit into in-wall locations. Always double check your mounting dimensions (Height, Width, and Depth) before selecting any in-wall or in-ceiling speaker.

• Can outdoor speakers be exposed to water?

Yes, they're designed to withstand direct contact with water. However, permanent submersion will damage them.

Polk Audio multi-application loudspeakers, such as the Atrium® Series, meet or exceed military specifications for environmental endurance. The tests have coded names like 'ASTM D5894-UV Salt Fog,' 'Mil standard 810 Immersion' and 'Mil standard 883 Method 1009 8 for salt and corrosion.' But passing them means that Polk multi-application loudspeakers can withstand some of the worst that Mother Nature can dish out. In addition, stainless steel, brass and aluminum hardware ensures years of rustproof reliability.

• How should I pick a system?

Probably the first thing you should do is think about what things about your system are important. Maybe even make a list. For example: is this primarily a sound system for enjoying listening to music? Or, is this a system that will also support a video or computer gaming requirement? Do you want your sound system to be just about invisible? Or, is this not so much a concern, as long as the speakers are attractive and not too large? Think about all of the people who might use the system and try and determine the general types of music and movies they'll enjoy. Lastly, make some rough measurements of the listening room, including the ceiling height.

Now that you're armed with this wealth of information telephone Polk's online Customer Service wizards and they'll help you pick just the right combination of speakers to satisfy your specific needs.

• Does room size matter?

Yes it does. In general terms, the larger the room the harder it is to fill with sound energy. Usually this means that more amplifying power will be needed from the receiver that you power your speakers with. It may also mean that the speakers you choose may have to have larger components in them to handle the increased power.

• Where can installers find PDF cut sheets for our RTS and IP products?

They are available now on our website on the right side of each product page.

CSW Subs and SWA500 Amplifier FAQ
  • On the new in-floor, in-wall, and ceiling subs why are we not shipping the drivers separately? Is there reason for concern about theft and damage?

The CSW200 is shipped with a protective MDF cover over the woofer which is removed at the time the flooring or drywall is installed. If theft is a concern the woofer can be unscrewed and then re-installed easily. The CSW100 also comes with a protective cover over the 2x12-inch vent. The woofer is internal and less prone to theft problems. However, the cabinet has a removable back for field service and the driver can be removed and replaced as above.

  • Can you use a smaller grille with the SWA200? Does it affect the performance?

10x10-inch is fine, 8x14-inch is fine but any smaller will restrict air flow and the performance.

  • Will all models come with a basic grille?

The CSW200 does not come with a grille. There are too many size and design options available for the opening, which can be 10x10-inch, 12x12-inch, 8x14-inch and so on. Polk will offer a metal grate as an option that may be used where there is concern about foreign objects dropping thru a grille onto the woofer which would make noises during operation.

The CSW100 will come with a grille, because is a unique size and acoustically it has special needs due to the high velocity air flow.

  • Why not hard wire the subs to a speaker wire instead of using terminals?

Some dealers mentioned that if a wire connection becomes lose on a terminal they will not have access to fix the lead.

We use the same terminals as the LCi/TCi which are heavy duty gold plated spring clips. We have never had a report of wires coming loose on those products in the 2 years they have been available. This is also not possible for the CSW100 where the wires go thru an internal enclosure, which needs to be factory sealed.

RTS-Reference Theater Speakers FAQ

• How far on the RTS do the Stud Lock mounting brackets stretch?

RTS105 will open to 16 1/4-inches and the RTS100 can be adjusted to accommodate 24-inch ceiling joist spacing.

On the RTS systems how do the Stud Lock Mounts actually work? Screw nut? Wing nuts? Bolt?

The STL105 (Stud Lock mount for RTS105) is screwed into the side studs with standard drywall screws in 3 places on either side. You then tighten down the captured screws and lock washers threaded into a welded capnut to lock the left and right sliding pieces in place.. The STL 100 scr