The Full Polk Audio T15 Review: Are These Bookshelf Speakers Worth It?
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Polk Audio has a wide range of speakers, all made to deliver exceptional quality at the lowest price possible. These bookshelf speakers deliver on the low price, coming in at less than $100 for the pair (check this listing for the latest live prices), but they lack in the sound that would truly make them special.
If you’re looking for a low cost bookshelf solution, the T15s are an excellent choice, with decent quality, a nice build, and, of course, a low price tag. However, true audio enthusiasts may find that the speakers lack the midrange, leading to a clear, but far overhyped sound.
T15 Specifications Up Front
|Frequency Response||45 Hz – 24 kHz|
|Nominal Impedance||8 ohms|
|Sensitivity (1 watt @ 1 meter)||89 dB|
|Lower and Upper -3dB Limits||65 Hz – 20 kHz|
|Recommended Amplifier Power Per Channel||20 watts – 100 watts|
|Speaker Inputs||(1) Pair of 5-Way Binding Posts – Gold-Plated|
Design and Build Quality
The T15s are about as simple as they come in terms of looks. The all black cabinet features a removable cloth grille, revealing a slightly grey woofer on the inside. The back of the cabinet features speaker inputs and a wall mount, but that’s it. The design is straightforward, not meddling in any trends imposed by the audio industry.
The cabinet is made out of MDF and comes in just over eight pounds. The dimensions measure 7.2 x 6.5 x 10.6 inches, making even the size as timeless as the design. The look may be a little boring, but these are budget speakers. It’s nice to see Polk put the money into the components and not into the flair.
There are three components driving the speakers. The first is a 5.25” polymer composite cone driver that takes care of the midrange. This is the area that’s finished in grey with a nice black accent on the nipple of the cone.
Next comes the .75” soft dome tweeter. Honestly, this isn’t anything surprising. The tweeter is recessed, making a pseudo waveguide for the speaker. While this adds some protection, it would’ve been nice to see some sort of metal bracing so the tweeter doesn’t get pushed in.
Lastly, there’s a front port sitting in between the two drivers. I like front ported designs, and I’m glad Polk opted for one here over a rear port.
The look of the T15s may not offer much, but they really don’t need to. Polk kept it simple, and, at this price, that’s a good thing.
Key Features of the T15
Keeping with the build, the feature set on the T15s is pretty barren. These speakers feature little else outside of actually producing sound. However, they do have a few features that help produce sound well.
The first is Polk’s Dynamic Balance technology. This tech improves the crossover areas of the speakers, giving you a wider sweet spot and more accurate sound. While most speakers have some sort of tech like this, it’s nice to see a premium feature at such a low price point.
Next is the front ported design of the speaker. Many low-cost speakers have a rear ported design that becomes problematic when pushed up against a wall. Polk seems to have thought this through, giving you both a wall hook in the back and front port to ensure that the bass never loses its punch.
Outside of that, there’s really not much else. These speakers are straightforward, and they should be at the price. While it would be nice to see more features in them, I can’t complain considering the value they offer.
Before we dive into the sound of these speakers, something needs to be said. These aren’t meant to be exceptional sounding speakers and they certainly aren’t. They’re meant to provide an insane value for the money. While the T15s don’t sound amazing, they sound pretty great considering the price.
Polk easily could have used the cheapest components on these speakers and listed them at the same price. There’s a laundry list of other companies that do so. They didn’t, though. While the components aren’t super high-resolution audio quality, they’re a tick above what the norm is at this price point and Polk should be commended for that.
Due to their small size, the speakers lack in the low end. The rated frequency response barely touches 50Hz, and in the real world, I would venture to say that there isn’t much below 100Hz. This isn’t shocking for bookshelf speaker whatsoever, just don’t expect them to crank out the low end if they’re your only speakers.
Mids are good but very recessed. The speakers definitely hold a scooped character. While the dialogue in movies comes through clearly on them, you may be left wanting more if you’re using them to listen to music. For that, make sure you have a larger setup that can properly fill out the midrange.
The top end is what shines with these speakers. The highs are crisp and sparkling, even at high volumes. Depending on your amp, they will distort if turned up too loud, but you have other problems if you ever reach that point. The highs are pleasant and clear from low to high volumes, a marvel at this price.
The sound of T15s isn’t anything to write home about, but it’s not supposed to be. The lows lack a bit, and the midrange is scooped, but the exceptional top-end make these some great speakers to add to a 5.1 or 7.1 setup.
Polk Audio T15 Alternatives to Consider
At around the same price, these bookshelf speakers are a great alternative. A slightly smaller woofer will produce less low-end, but that’s little to no problem considering the T15s have little low end to begin with.
For the extra $10, you’re missing out on wall hooks and the front ported design. These speakers aren’t meant to be pushed up against a wall, so you may want to consider that before purchasing. At any rate, they sound great for the price, and, at only $90 (check this listing for the latest live prices), it’s hard to go wrong with them.
Stepping up in price are a pair of bookshelf speakers from Klipsch. These speakers are almost double the cost, but they sound much better than the T15s. The beautiful copper spun woofer and exceptional Klipsch sound put these in a class of their own.
If there was one word to describe these speakers, it would be “natural”. Klipsch is known for their natural sound from their speakers, and these are no exception. Everything seems right in place, as opposed to the T15s which are slightly scooped in the midrange.
If you want to stay within the Polk line, these speakers seriously step up the sound for only a little more. The look is spruced up to match Polk’s LSi series of speakers, adding some nice flair to your setup.
On paper, the two are almost identical. However, the midrange on these speakers is much more refined. As opposed to a solid scoop, the curve seems more natural, nipping at the heels of the Klipsch’s, but falling just slightly short.
Final Thoughts on the T15
At the price, these speakers are really difficult to beat. For $99 (check this listing for the latest live prices), the build quality and sound are more than enough to justify the price. For some extra speakers in a surround setup, these are great, giving some clear dialogue and crisp highs.
However, if you’re just starting your setup, these aren’t the best speakers to go with. While they’re inexpensive, they don’t provide enough in frequency to really satisfy your needs. If you’re starting, look into some floor standing speakers or a soundbar.