What We Like
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You would be forgiven if you are not familiar with Polk, but they’ve been going strong since being founded in Maryland, USA in the 1970s. Specialists in surround sound, their consumer audio is renowned for its attention to detail.
Available in a choice of two finishes—an elegant, sleek black, or a bright, woody cherry that looks a little like an upright piano got confused about its shape—, the TSi100 certainly looks the part. The design is simple, modern, and effective, and while small in stature is absolutely not lacking when it comes to quality and build.
Unlike many other options in this price bracket, the enclosure used here is comprised exclusively of a well braced, extremely solid MDF with ¾ inch baffles. As Polk Audio say themselves, this “virtually eliminates internal resonances and damps energy stealing vibrations” which, to cut through the jargon, means that the sound you hear from the speakers will be clean, clear, and free from any background interference that may otherwise stem from the boxes themselves.
Given their size and compact nature, the TSi100s will fit well in a variety of settings, and are well suited for users who like to change up their audio system at the drop of the hat.
As you would expect from most products around this price range, Polk Audio have included your standard low frequency driver alongside a high frequency tweeter to complement the sound. Built from a high quality polycarbonate, the silk dome tweeters are said to deliver an exceptionally clear and detailed performance across the high response area, and should not distort at high volumes.
Another nice touch is the flared port venting system which serves to reduce what’s known as ‘chuffing’—the interference you sometimes hear as a result of mismanaged air flow within the chamber of the speakers—by smoothing the flow of air throughout the device and reducing turbulence even when you are blaring your tunes towards the higher end of the volume scale.
So how do they hold up? Well, the first thing to note is that the physical scale of bookshelf speakers—even at the top end of what is available on the market will always limit to a greater or lesser extent their capacity to produce a truly earth shaking, ear thumping bass response. That said, the bass performance which Polk Audio has managed to squeeze out of such a comparatively small unit is admirable and vastly exceeds expectations, although it is just about outperformed by others in this category.
The treble performance is where the TSi100s really shine, and you can almost hear the attention to detail which has gone into the crafting of that tweeter. The result is an unmistakeable clarity of tone which soars above the mix without ever becoming piercing or unpleasant to listen to. The detail, too, at the higher end is especially good and this makes a world of difference.