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If you’re in the market for a new speaker, then my Polk Audio TSi200 review could be useful, especially if you’re looking in this price range.
I firmly believe that this Polk Audio has perfected the art of creating budget-friendly bookshelf speakers that are truly comparable to more high-end speakers.
But is this true for the TSi200?
It does have many unique features and technologies found in all Polk speakers but without the high price point of other brands. In my review of the TSi200, I will outline all of this product’s advantages and drawbacks before rounding up some comparable products and finishing with my own verdict on the Polk Audio TSi200.
Read on to find out if the TSi200 is the best bookshelf speaker for you or if an alternative speaker would be more appropriate.
- Buying Bookshelf Speakers
- Key Specifications of the Polk Audio TSi200
- Polk Audio TSi200 Sound
- Polk Audio TSi200 Build Quality
- Polk Audio TSi200 Features
- Pros and Cons of the Polk Audio TSi200
- Alternatives to the Polk Audio TSi200
- Q Acoustics
- Kef Q350
- JBL LSR305P MkII
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Is the Polk Audio TSi200 Worth it? My Verdict
Buying Bookshelf Speakers
To know if the TSi200 is your perfect bookshelf speaker, it is essential to know what to look for in this type of speaker. Bookshelf speakers aren’t for everyone and won’t produce the meatiest sound, but for people who are short on space and simply don’t have the room for tower speakers, more compact models are the best option.
Bookshelf speakers are capable of creating impressive listening experiences without taking too much from the wallet and the available space in the room. As the name insinuates, this type of speaker should sit on a bookshelf (table, stand, or desk).
There are a few things to contemplate when looking to buy a bookshelf speaker, and these are as follows:
Although you may see the term ‘bookshelf’ alongside a speaker model, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the speaker will fit on a shelf. Obviously, shelves come in all shapes and sizes these days, but to avoid disappointment, ensure you have the measurements of your shelf to guarantee buying an appropriate speaker.
Often a smaller speaker can mean a smaller sound, but this isn’t always so, and there are ways to counteract this with an additional purchase of an amplifier or soundbar.
Suppose you’re looking to buy a bookshelf speaker online and not just review online. In that case, you would depend entirely on previous consumers’ experiences and not test the speaker yourself. Ensure the product has a good number of positive reviews and that these are by verified consumers.
Generally, you will pay between $60 and $200 for a bookshelf speaker. The higher the price goes then usually, the higher the specs, the number of features, and volume. Again, this isn’t always the case, and there are times when you will be paying for nothing more than a brand name. Consider what you’re actually getting for your money and if it is justified.
Even compact speakers have a lot of electrical components within their cabinets, and each one is capable of breaking – which will ultimately break the whole thing. Look for a bookshelf speaker with a comprehensive warranty policy, with a minimum 3-year term, to ensure you’re covered from any faults or damages beyond your control.
Read on to find out if the Polk Audio TSi200 fits the bill.
Key Specifications of the Polk Audio TSi200
|Nominal Impedance||8 ohms|
|Lower and Upper -3dB Limits||50 Hz – 24,000 Hz|
|Total Frequency Response||43 Hz – 25,000 Hz|
|Recommended Amplifier Power Per Channel||20 W – 150 W|
|Speaker Inputs||Pair of 5-way binding posts (Gold-plated)|
|Front Array Driver Complement||5.25-in (13.34 cm) d Bi-laminate organic fiber cone, Mid/Woofer
1-in (2.54 cm) d Silk dome dynamic balance
|Mounting Type||Keyhole hanger|
|Dimensions||D 11.75-in (29.85-cm) x H 15.43-in (39.21-cm) x W 8-in (20.32-cm)|
|Weight||17 lbs (7.71kg)|
|Latest Price||See here|
Polk Audio TSi200 Sound
The most crucial aspect of any speaker is the sound, so I will begin with this.
The TSi200 is a budget-friendly speaker, but it isn’t the cheapest around (see here for the best bookshelf speakers under $100), and you may be concerned that a lower price means a lower-end sound. I have to say; for me, this isn’t so with the Polk Audio TSi200.
Thanks to the silk tweeter, these speakers are capable of producing natural-sounding sparkling highs that are crystal clear. At times, the sound can feel a little sharp with some early decay, but overall I found it to have excellent clarity and be pretty captivating.
The Polk Audio TSi200 will never fill an arena, but there’s punchy and realistic bass with good extension. The detailed and smooth top end offered by this model blends nicely into lower or higher frequencies, and I found rich and deep tones that surprised me from a compact model.
Considering the price point and the size of the TSi200, the sound is more like what you’d expect from the sub-200 price range.
My only real critique of the sound would be that the tonal balance isn’t quite there. But, if you’re looking for a speaker to fill a small room, the TSi200 is undoubtedly capable of that.
Polk Audio TSi200 Build Quality
Where the Polk Audio T15 falls short, the TSi200 shines (for the price point, anyway). The speaker cabinet is made from MDF which has a pretty bad rep and is often mistakenly likened to less durable plywood. MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) actually can perform much better than solid wood in some areas.
Made from wood fibers and resin, MDF is robust and a composite material of high quality. When it comes to speaker cabinets, this construction can really reduce maintenance and improve longevity; and is a definite pro for the TSi200.
I particularly like the high gloss piano-finish top plate on the speakers and how this isn’t continued on the front, as this would be a magnet for dust, debris, and finger marks that would drive any house-proud music lover crazy!
Narrow baffle geometry is a design that creates a genuinely sleek-looking speaker, ideal for bookshelves. Taking up less than a square foot, the Tsi200 is a sturdy piece of kit that ticks the boxes for those wanting something small, affordable, and fantastic.
Polk Audio TSi200 Features
One of the finest aspects of the TSi200 is the critically-tuned flared ports. These greatly minimize any kind of chuffing (port noise) and guarantee low distortion, with a good low-frequency extension.
The flared ports ensure a natural, realistic, and full-bodied sound and are certainly worth mentioning.
The TSi200 speakers come with four self-adhesive rubber feet for additional security on your bookshelf or speaker stand.
Pros and Cons of the Polk Audio TSi200
As with any product, the Polk Audio TSi200 has its own set of pros and cons. I have rounded these up here:
Pros of the Polk Audio TSi200
- Consistently good performance, regardless of the musical genre
- Performs incredibly well dynamically for a bookshelf speaker
- Accurate tonal balance
- Good soundstaging; especially with classical music; instruments clearly defined and showcased
- Aesthetically pleasing
- Low maintenance
- Generous warranty
- Affordable price
Cons of the Polk Audio TSi200
- Midrange can be pretty nasally
- Rock and electronic genres slightly lacking
- 8-10-in placement required (not suitable for standard shelving)
- No on-board mounting capability
- Placement options limited for CTR TV owners due to no magnetic shield
Alternatives to the Polk Audio TSi200
If you’re not convinced that the Polk Audio TSi200 is the best speaker for you, then here are some comparable products.
The Q Acoustics 3010i and Q Acoustics 3020i are excellent alternatives to the TSi200, and are seriously impressive for their price points. There’s a great deal of impact and punch, and instruments spread deep and wide – considerable improvements on the non ‘i’ models.
The sound produced is genuinely not what you’d expect from such compact boxes.
Measuring 25-cm x 25-cm, the 3010i is the smaller of the two by 3-cm squared. While both produce a balanced, refined sound, the 3020i delivers a bit more scale, deeper bass, and all-around wallop than the 3010i. Although amplifiers would help increase the power, I don’t believe you’d need to spend a fortune to gain excellent results.
The compact sizes of these speakers means they’re both suitable to sit on shelves, sills, tables, or desks. Additionally, the brand sells compatible wall mounts which could be used to incorporate the speakers into your home cinema system. To go the whole hog, you could purchase an additional pair and subwoofer to gain 5.1 surround sound.
Either pair of these speakers are adequate to fill a room of most sizes.
- Marvelous minis can be placed almost anywhere with ease
- Refined, detailed sound
- Likable balance
- Sound able to fill a room of most sizes
- Lack the scale and dynamic reach of some (larger) rivals
- 3020i is particularly pricy
I have been a fan of the eye-catching Egg desktop speakers by Kef for some time, but with the Kef Q350 and its more conventional design, they’re a superior option when you need a more room-filling sound.
The Q350 combines the woofer and tweeter, sitting directly in the driver unit’s center. This creates a single point source that accurately reproduces original sound recordings.
I found the sound of the Q350 to be warm, to have great detail on the frequencies, and to be beautifully and precisely controlled with bass and mid-range. A drawback to these speakers is their fairly chunky size – at 362mm high and with a weight of 7.6kg, they’re less portable and roomier than most in this category.
Another downside to these speakers is their price, which is considerably higher than the Polk Audio TSi200. However, with excellent specs, precise sound, and impressive volume, the cost will be justifiable for some.
- Stunning levels of clarity and detail
- Huge scale
- Good timing
- Even balance
- Stock can be erratic
- Lack some punch and drive
- Not best at low volumes
I am fully aware that the JBL LSR305P MkII isn’t the most attractive speaker you will ever see; however, when looking for a loudspeaker at an affordable price, this is a solid choice.
There are dedicated 41-w class-D amps for the tweeter and for the driver, which results in an even-handed and balanced sound that I would expect from a speaker that costs significantly more than the JBL LSR305P Mkll. In comparison, even the Q Acoustics, which are indeed capable, sound rather dull and bass-like after experiencing these speakers.
Part of the secret of the LSR305P Mkll is the scooped-out area around the tweeter, which is pretty unusual. This waveguide contributes to dispersing frequencies evenly around the room and aids them to integrate more smoothly with the lower frequencies. Wherever you sit in the room, the sound is impressive.
The casing isn’t top-notch, but somehow this really works well. The plasticky, inexpensive wooden box adds audible resonances resulting in fantastically delicate sounds across the room.
There are more expensive speakers out there with much higher quality casings, but often that can produce poorly imitated sounds, whereas this is not how it is with this speaker. Although these speakers are sold separately, they’re still pretty affordable and, for my money, an absolute steal.
- Balanced, detailed sound
- Built-in EQ is useful
- Huge sweet spot, great imaging
- Outrageously affordable
- Struggle with deep bass at high volumes
- Not as open-sounding as pricier speakers
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: When did bookshelf speakers become popular?
Answer: In the 1950s, bookshelf speakers began their journey and have been popular ever since. However, it wasn’t until the 60s and 70s that bookshelf speakers really overtook their sizable floor-standing counterparts. As mass production and modern technology advanced during the 90s, these speakers reduced further in size to replicate the ones we see today.
Question: What are Passive Bookshelf Speakers?
Answer: Classic bookshelf speakers are normally considered passive speakers, which means they won’t work without an amp. Increasingly, more active speakers are coming onto the scene, which are self-powered and work without an amp. They are ideal portable sound devices to be used inside or outside the home.
If you’re looking especially for outdoor speakers, check out this guide to the best outdoor Bluetooth speakers currently available.
Question: Should I Look for Wireless or Wired Bookshelf Speakers?
Answer: There’s an unfair stigma around wireless bookshelf speakers, with some consumers adamant that they won’t reach the quality of wired speakers. Today, technology is so advanced that decent wireless speakers are indeed possible. I, personally, wouldn’t base my decision on whether a speaker was wired or wireless as other things are far more critical.
Is the Polk Audio TSi200 Worth it? My Verdict
Polks TSi series offers the advanced technologies of the brand, such as flared ports, dynamic balance drivers, and narrow baffle design, and at a great price.
I have found that the speakers perform well with all musical genres. With electronic material and jazz, the TSi200 excelled dynamically, while with jazz and classical, it presented perfectly well. To balance, I found the performance a tad nasally at times, but overall it blended well.
While it is typical to experience some placement issues with rear-ported speakers, the bulk of the TSi200, in addition, may prove to be extra challenging to fit on standard shelves. Measuring will be a must for these speakers!
I believe that the Polk Audio TSi200 offers a sonic performance that is above average and comes in a highly attractive cosmetic package, complementing the interiors of most modern interiors.
Although the TSi200 aren’t home theater sound systems, they do provide high-quality sound at a highly competitive price, and this is why I feel that they are one of the better budget bookshelf speakers on the market today.
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