Polk Audio is a US company recognized as a manufacturer of quality audio equipment for the home and the car. They were formed in 1972 in Baltimore. And they did all their early design and development there until they moved part of their operations to California. By this time, they had been acquired by DEI Holdings.
As part of the Sound United development team, Polk engineers joined the ARAD development center. Here they work alongside people from such elevated companies as Denon and Marantz, who are also owned by Sound United. They now manufacture a wide range of audio systems for just about every environment. Design and manufacturing divisions include Polk Marine and Polk Speakers Car.
They can diversify their designs to suit different environments. One thing that remains a constant with Polk, though, is that they like their volume. And whilst they can be subtle with their designs, some of their products are quite brutal.
This Polk Audio PSW505 Review focuses on their powerful subwoofer, which has been designed for the home for music, home theater, or TV. It is loud and created, as we shall see, to thump your chest when necessary. But it is also a very nuanced speaker that handles all low frequencies with style.
Polk Audio is known to be able to build a speaker that packs a lot of punch. With the Polk Audio PSW505, you get exactly that. It is a well-designed subwoofer that is basic in its concept. However, it doesn’t carry too much in the way of bells and whistles and is simplistic. It is definitely a ‘what you see is what you get’ speaker.’
And yes, it follows in the Polk traditions of producing power. 300 watts of output that is continuous with a peak of 460 watts. More on this later. So, let’s take a closer look…
Introducing our Polk Audio PSW505 Review – A Polk speaker for home theater and beyond.
If you are going to build a subwoofer at all, it has to have solid construction. However, if you cut corners in this area to save money, you will have a problem. If you are going to build one to handle a peak power of over 450 watts, it better be good.
The Polk Audio PSW505 is built from a toughened MDF that includes a front baffle that is one inch thick. Resonance from the enclosure is therefore reduced by using a tough material. Further, it delivers a distortion-free and accurate sound.
It is now one of the most used materials for speaker cabinets and is a composite of resin mixed with fibers from real woods. It has a very dense form and is an excellent material for speaker enclosure construction. Besides being a tough material, it helps to dampen out any unwanted vibrations leaving you with just the sound. As a material for speaker design, it is generally accepted as being ideal.
You can’t just leave it at that though, over the MDF is a carefully installed real wood black veneer to finish the look, which is impressive.
It is quite a large enclosure measuring 16 ⅛” high y 15 ⅛” wide by 18 ⅛” deep. It is also quite heavy at 48 pounds. The speaker is front-firing and has a 12” cone. The cone itself is made from a polymer composite. It is fitted with a shielded hi-roll surround.
The frequency range of this speaker is 23-160Hz. The commonly accepted depth of unassisted human hearing is 20Hz. In that case, you won’t be missing that much. The bass response is assisted by a rear long wide vent placed at the bottom of the cabinet.
Very close to a wall would not be a good idea. This would certainly disturb the sound. There is no real scientific answer as to how far a rear-ported speaker should be from a wall. If you want to study fluid dynamics in an attempt to discover the perfect position and sound, that’s fine. But it depends on other issues as well.
The key really is to keep them at least eighteen inches away, and it will usually be fine. This will reduce any turbulence that collects in the cabinet and assist with excluding unwanted noise and distortion. This leaves you with just a deep, uncluttered bass sound.
Going back to the design of the subwoofer, it has a front grille that is detachable. Leave it on or take it off, your choice.
There is no doubt that the performance of this speaker is improved immeasurably by the Klippet long-throw woofer. This is an interesting concept and one that throws up some confusion. The ‘long-throw’ woofer is supposed to ‘throw’ the bass sound over the listener’s heads. Thus they are not affected so much by the Sound Pressure Level.
In the case of a subwoofer being floor-mounted, this does not apply because the listener is now in direct ‘line’ of fire’ and the speaker cannot project over their head. The sound, though, does not reach levels where it is unpleasant, as some do, so this design clearly has some positives.
The system is designed using the Klippet Distortion Analyzer. This evaluates the performance at high levels. There is a lot of technical input into this speaker that produces results and a high-performance level.
The performance of this 12-inch speaker is impressive. It is a big sound but also a tight sound. This is assisted by the slot vent on the rear, which reduces any lingering turbulence and gives a tighter response.
We can only say that the performance is impressive. The Polk Audio PSW505 is a force in the speaker world to be reckoned with.
Sometimes when you listen to a subwoofer in a home cinema setup, the low frequencies are just too much. We mean there is bass, and then there is silly bass. You get the same thing in the cinema sometimes. With some companies, there seems to be this battle about who can get you to spill the most popcorn. Bass presence is vital, especially for movies, but it hasn’t got to be unpleasant. Sometimes it is.
They have produced with the Polk Audio PSW505 a subwoofer that is a ‘bass speaker for all seasons.’ We understand that in some movies, there are all the booms and bangs, and they need depth. Polk understands this, too, because they are able to produce that when needed.
But this is a balanced subwoofer. It has a subtle side that just shines when it is used for music. Whatever the style, it will produce a great bottom end. The subtle nuances of a string quartet or big band jazz. Led Zeppelin at full throttle or a Neil Young or Leonard Cohen in a thoughtful mood. It excels in every area.
So in movie terms, this will handle a noisy assault by Aliens or the latest attempt by the Dinosaurs to get their own back. But it will also bring out the grace of Beethoven or Mozart. And it does this to a very high quality.
What controls and connectors there are have been located on the rear. These include a power switch and the 180-degree phase control. The Phased toggle switch is for when you might be operating multiple low-frequency speakers. There are dial knobs for Volume and low-pass crossover. These will help you create the perfect sound blend with other speakers in the setup, including the best bookshelf speakers.
There are also Line in and LFE in sockets. The LFE input has a magnetic shield to avert noisy signals. Finally, a mains off/on switch and speaker connections. The speaker binding posts are 5-way pro level.
The controls are basic, and as we said earlier, there are no bells and whistles to worry about. The controls do their job or providing optimum performance from the subwoofer.
Having them placed on the rear of the cabinet, in our view, is a good idea. It leaves the front visual aspects of the unit in place and uncluttered.
As we have said, this subwoofer has not got a lot of what you might call extras. One useful inclusion is that it is magnetically shielded. This means it can be placed near a TV or video monitor with safety.
Also, a good idea that is included is an automatic off/on control. This will sense if there is a program signal and turn the subwoofer on. If there is no signal, it can detect, it will shut itself off after 15 minutes.
Other Options From Polk Audio
If your a fan of Polk and want to find out about their other products, please check out our in-depth Polk Audio T15 Review.
Polk Audio PSW505 Pros & Cons
- Superb sound for the price point.
- Simple to set up and adjust.
- Excellent value for money.
- Some will want more power than the 450 watts it provides.
- Quite heavy.
- The red logo is not the most attractive, but that’s a personal perspective.
What Polk has achieved with this subwoofer is to build a speaker that is suitable for a variety of uses. It will, of course, be quite at home as part of a home cinema system. In that environment, it will perform well and deliver a deep bass response that will enhance the viewing pleasure.
Thankfully what it won’t do is make the neighbor think there is an earthquake. In a music-only environment, it scores heavily. A warm, rich sound will provide great depth, especially to orchestral pieces. Across the board, though, all music will benefit from its increased low frequencies.
It gives you a wide frequency range, and the big 12-inch cone delivers some power if needed. It is also a very cost-effective subwoofer and is not going to break the bank. All of what is included as features are provided at a very reasonable price point.
For the sake of balance, we ought to mention some things we don’t like so much. Some of the more exclusive features you will find on some subwoofers are not included. If they had been, the price would have gone up dramatically. Some though may want those features.
Some people will just want more power than the 450 watts it can provide at the peak. If you have a very large room or maybe using it at a venue, then that may be the case. It is also quite heavy, weighing in at 48 pounds. This, though, is just an observation, not a criticism as most subwoofers are not lightweight. Also, we were not particularly keen on the red Polk logo on the front of the speaker grille.
Apart from these issues which we believe to quite trivial, we can find very little to complain about. The sound is rich and warm and not too oppressive. The quality of the build is secure and stable, and the design is acceptable.
For the price point, this represents a great bargain. The Polk Audio PSW505 is a good buy for any environment.