Polk’s Reserve speakers promise hi-fi sound at affordable prices

Polk Audio built its reputation on providing hi-fi sound to a wider audience, typically dealing at reasonable prices rather than the sticker shock many hi-fi manufacturers are known for. In that spirit, the company today announced its Reserve series of speakers. Although the company positions them as a ‘premium’ line just below its Legend series, the Reserve bookshelf speakers start at just $600.

Notably, Polk is using the very same woofers and tweeters it developed for the flagship Legend series — speakers I enjoyed in my own listening tests and which offered solid measured performance. Not only that, but Polk has also added a few more tricks, since the Legend line including a new ‘X-port’ filter in the rear, as well as new cabinet construction with internal bracing techniques in order to minimize resonances — artifacts that can color a speaker’s sound.

Indeed, a few resonances were one of the few issues I had testing the Legend L200, so if the new series is actually better behaved in this regard, it would be an impressive achievement for the company.

I also appreciate the wide line-up of speakers which should be flexible enough to fit most home theater needs. The lineup consists of:

  • R100: a small bookshelf speaker – $599/pair
  • R200: a large bookshelf – $699/pair
  • R300: a compact ‘normal’ center channel – $399
  • R350: a long and slim center channel – $549
  • R400: a large center channel – $599
  • R500: a small tower speaker – $599 each
  • R600: a medium tower – $799 each
  • R700: a large tower – $999 each
  • R900: a height module for Dolby Atmos- $599/pair 

That’s a lot of speakers, but the variety means you should be able to find a combination that works for your own audio or home theater setup.

Despite being cheaper than its flagship line, Polk says not to call the series ‘Legend-light.’ Indeed, it almost seems like the company is cannibalizing its own flagships, considering the Reserve series offers the same drivers for much less (the legend L100 started at $1,199). But I’ve got to appreciate that the company doesn’t appear to be skimping on R&D for its more mainstream series. Not only that, but I personally much prefer the more minimalist look of the new series as well.

There’s a lot to like here, but of course, the proof is in the pudding. Hopefully, I’ll be able to put one of the Reserve speakers through the test bench soon.

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Published March 24, 2021 — 02:22 UTC

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