Polk Audio LSi7 Bookshelf Speakers

LSi7

Vifa drivers, 5.25" aerated polypropylene cone driver, 1" Ring Radiator tweeter, 53Hz-26kHz ±3dB, 4 ohm impedance, 88dB sensitivity, 42lbs/pair.

User Reviews (11)

Showing 1-10 of 11  
David Cronin   Audio Enthusiast [Jul 21, 2009]

These Speakers make me melt:)

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Writer2   Audio Enthusiast [Nov 24, 2008]
Strength:

Effortless high end
Natural mid-range

Weakness:

Bass is what you expect for a high quality bookshelf

I have been building two complete systems for the last couple years. I rarely write a review, but I feel motivated to do so in this case.

When I first acquired a pair of Lsi-7s, I thought they were frankly a little underwhelming--certainly not on a par with the Lsi-9s and things higher up the food chain like Dynaudio. Recently, however, I happened to acquire a pair of used Channel Island VMB-1 monoblocks to replace a Rotel amplifier. To make a long story short, the sound is now positively captivating. Great range and detail without being at all analytical.

From this, I have learned an important lesson. The match between the amplifier and the speakers is enormously important, and we all need to think long and hard about reviewing a single link in the chain. To my ear, the combination with Channel Island is ridiculously good. So, I sold my little Dynaudio Contour 1.1s. I think that pretty much says it all.

Similar Products Used: Polk Lsi-9
Paradigm Titan
Dynaudio 1.1
Dynaudio Focus 140
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
lmg4   Audio Enthusiast [Nov 09, 2008]
Strength:

These speakers excel at piano music and jazz, especially with female vocalists. Female vocalists sound extremely natural and phrasing comes through clearly. To my ear, male vocalists do not fair as well, and this may represent a shortcoming of this speaker in the low midrange and bass range. Though some have noted that with 4 ohms, these speakers are power hungry, I have had no trouble driving these speakers with even an inexpensive 100W amp, though they truly sing with a higher quality Denon receiver.

Weakness:

As noted above, male vocals seem to lack the same vitality as female vocals with these speakers, though they are certainly still quite good. As others have noted, the bass is relatively thin, which is to be expected for a speaker of this size. For many months, I enjoyed these speakers immensely without a subwoofer, but after adding a high quality subwoofer, I feel that they are nearly perfect (for their price range)!

I bought a set of these bookshelf speakers to use as main bookshelf speakers for a 15 x 20 family room. I auditioned their big brothers (Lsi9s), and really like them, but they were way too deep for the space I had. The Lsi7s are not too deep to put on a standard bookshelf and are designed to be placed close to walls. Especially considering their small size, I have been amazed at the sound they produce. They give a broad, natural soundstage and reproduce midrange and higher extremely well. When I auditioned these speakers in stores, they always sounded quite warm to me (especially compared to, for example, Klipsch) and I was concerned that it would translate into distorted sound in my home. Perhaps because the room is sparsely furnished and lacks curtains, the speakers sound very natural in the room. The biggest testament to my satisfaction with these speakers is that I bought a second set for my home office!

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
seaan   AudioPhile [Mar 15, 2007]
Strength:

Imaging, Smooth treble, Mid-range

Weakness:

Bass - both deep (not to surprising) and mid-bass (disappointment)
Picky about electronics

I purchased the Lsi-7 as a factory refurb. I first heard the LSi line at a HE2003 and was impressed with the Lsi-9, but was unable to find any local retailers. When I saw the great price at Frys I bought them without further audition. They have become my knock-about speakers, normally they reside in my bedroom system - but I've trucked them around a fair amount.

My initial impression of the Lsi-7 was quite good - I found it very easy to set them up with a very nice sound stage. In some ways I preferred the treble to my long standing reference speakers (25 year-old ADS L810). From midrange on up, these are great speakers! They defiantly imaged better than the L810 (to be fair the L810 did not image well compared to even it's contemporary speakers - I bought them for different reasons - had to double the price or more to get good imaging out of the ADS line).

The Lsi-7 mid-bass was the big let let down. I'm not talking the deep bass, after all this is a bookshelf model with a small woofer - a good sub can fix that type of problem. My disappointment was more in the mid-bass area - say 200-400 Hz. I'm very sensitive to bass micro-dynamics (part of the reason I love the L810 so much - two very light-weight 8" woofers with strong magnets - unusual when built in the 70's but luckily much more common technology now). The Lsi7 mid-bass was noticeably lacking in dynamics - things just came out kind of fuzzy (ironically this is the same area that finally turned me off the inexpensive Martin Logans ES speakers - loved everything else about them). This type of bass problem can't be fixed with a sub! I never got a chance to A/B these with the Lsi-9, but from my more limited listening to the 9's they don't appear to have the mid-bass problem of the 7's.

Things got worse when I moved the speakers into my bedroom. It became evident that my 30 year-old mid-range JVC receiver was a leak wink, especially when compared to the main system (Lexicon/Carver). The top end was rougher, and the bass was less controlled (also the speakers were now wall mounted). Later I replaced it with a 10 year-old Sony receiver (best non-ES receiver of the time), which improved things. Safe to say that this speaker is very sensitive to electronics.

Perhaps the most interesting part of my review came when I started shopping for home theater speakers (a two year process). I was looking for bookshelf speakers approximately around $1000/pair (max $2k). The ADS were harder to schlep, and more valuable (I liked them better and replacement parts are not easily come by), so I ended up hauling around the Lsi-7 as kind of a portable reference point when comparing speakers in different locations. I was able to A/B them with most of the speakers on my short list, and tried them out with a good variety of different electronics (high-end receivers and mid-priced separates).

This is where the individual nuances of the reviewer come in. I'm a "front row" person, and I love to listen to the details of different sounds. I do a lot of listening to live un-amplified music (both small ensemble early music groups and long time symphony season ticket holders). Over the years I've found that I prefer sitting in the first few rows where you get dynamic (and louder) sounds and the ability to hear lots of details. My father-in-law by contrast (a former musician) liked to sit in the back of the hall where he could listen to the combined sound of all the instruments. Nothing wrong with either approach, but you can see how this might effect the aspects that you really care about vs. the faults you can live with. The ADS L810 became my reference (limited by cost of course) because it's strengths (decent bass, very accurate transients and micro-dynamics, ability to resolve fine details) were more important to me than it's weaknesses (imaging).

To cut the suspense short, I ended up with the Klipsch RB-75 speakers (although the Paradigm 20v3 and NHT M5/M6 were close). Both the Klipsch and the NHT have a reputation for brightness, and there may be some element of truth to that. But for me the details these tweeters presented were worth any potential treble brightness. By contrast the Lsi-7 treble was more laid back, the details were still there - but harder to hear. The Klipsch tweeters also had an "air" about them (probably micro-dynamics) that really complements live recordings. I can live with the way the Lsi-7 presents treble, but ultimately I several comparably priced speakers that I preferred.

To wrap up this overly long review, hauling the Lsi-7 out to a bunch of different show rooms was very instructive. I never found a location where they did not present a nice spacious sound stage with good imaging - definitely a strength and nice that it is not too hard to leverage (noticeably better than Rb-75, the 20v3 was more competitive). The mid-bass continued to be a noticeable weakness, and it came out second to every speaker I directly compared it too (including some $300-400 pair Boston and Definitive speakers). This was despite the use of decent electronics (Aragon, Parasound, and Adcom amps; Denon receivers).

Similar Products Used: I did extensive auditioning in 2006 with these speakers as I was shopping for a new HT system. From the short list of my top preferred speakers during this time period: Klipsch RB-35/75, Paradigm 20v3, NHT M5, B&W 705.

I also listened (although not with direct A/B comparisons) to various Energy, Monitor, Boston, Canton, Vienna, Martin Logan, and Definitive models.

My long term reference speakers include (including friend's system - I don't own all of these): ADS L810, KLH 9, Bozak Concert Grands, Klipsch La Scallas, Klipsch Reference
OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
3
Paldiel   Audio Enthusiast [Mar 20, 2005]
Strength:

High's are sweet and cleen, Mids are as acurate as it gets, drum bass is authorative and fast.

Weakness:

Sub low bass is missing but these speakers are not intended for that so i guess its not realy a weakness

WOW , when hooked to a good amplifier they sound great. I have mine hooked to a Krell Kav-500 and I am so immpressed with them that I am now looking for the larger LSI-9 for front speakers and these for rear speakers. Great for small apartments or small listening rooms. You will need a Sub for the very lowest frequencies.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
vetrano   AudioPhile [Oct 29, 2004]
Strength:

Perfect diffusion. Solid range. In playing with Sub settings - there are times I had the sub turned off and they still carried a solid bass range.

Weakness:

none

I have usually thought of myself more of a home-theather dobly-digital movie watcher up until I bought these speakers. After taking the time to listen to a few audio CDs, I now do more music listening than TV/Watching - that's how incredible these speakers are. My litmust test for all speakers is how clear the sound is reproduced at increased volumes and I have to say at the loudest I would ever play music the music/voice is still crystal clear - I can almost hear the breath of the singer. These speakers have turned me into a pure music listener. I really struggled between getting the lower Polk series, but after hours of listening ot the LSi series - I definitely made the correct choice.

Similar Products Used: B&W 601 Polk 600i
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
arc80   AudioPhile [Aug 20, 2004]
Strength:

Everything but deep bass. Fantastic tweeter!

Weakness:

No low bass and like others have reported the glue around the edges of the front panel is a little sloppy. The 15's do not have this problem so it leads me to believe their finish was designed with cost saving methods.

These speakers typically retail for $820 or so. They can be had online far cheaper and I would recommend that you look on ebay or audiogon if interested. I won't delve to deeply into the Lsi series to explain the 7's, other than to comment on how they compare to the 15's. The middle and upper fequencies are very close with the 7's losing only a little more air around instruments. However, I do believe the 7's possess better imaging than the 15's. Bass and overall spl's is obviously no where close. So, how DO the 7's sound? For the price, fantastic. In fact, I would say that for $820 these speakers still sound fantastic. An absolute absurd value at $270. Really it's basically just giving them away. The Scanspeak radiating tweeter employed on all the Lsi series speakers (also used in more costly speakers like Sonus Faber and Audio Physics) has got to be on the short list for world's greatest tweeter. The midrange and upper bass are really good too, but it's the tweeter that really takes the cake! These speakers are stand mounted - although at a rather nice, hefty 21 pounds - so low bass is obviously out of the question. But what bass they do have (probably down to a legit 55 hertz or so) is tight, punchy, and well controlled. In fact the only real weakness these speakers have is there inability to do low bass. But again, they're a standmount and are only $820. They are a ported design, so driving them is really no problem. My Rega Brio's 52.5 Watts into 4 ohms can push these things to LOUD levels. Ultimately, the better your front end, the better these little Polks will sound. Highly recommended.

Similar Products Used: Acoustic Energy, B&W, ATC, MB Quartz, Wilson Audio, Klipsch, Unity Audio, Genesis, and countless cheap speakers
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
ervin   AudioPhile [May 04, 2003]
Strength:

strong bass from small boxes, high build quality and very even and open sound

Weakness:

could be dynamically limited with little low bass due to the small boxes

i must admit i was very surprised by the sound from polk audio. i've tried virtually every british make at the same price point and found the polk to have better treble extension and detail, probably due to its unique tweeter. the midrange is open and has surprisingly good vocals which avoided sounding too thin and the bass is very good indeed considering the size of these speakers. switching them to the rears definitely made multi-channel audio sound more natural

Similar Products Used: kef, b&w, monitor audio, dynaudio, mission, acoustic energy
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
stvnscott   Audio Enthusiast [Feb 24, 2003]
Strength:

Value is incredible--sound is almost as good.

Weakness:

If I must complain it would be about the extreme low frequencies sounding a little punchy at times. However, leaving the bass control flat and using a sub for those frequencies cleans things up beautifully.

In brief, these are some of the best sounding speakers I have heard in this price range. They rival all others to the point that the listener would compare them based upon personal tastes and not quality of sound or performance. These are excellent speakers for musical reproduction and are very good in home theater applications. They make great fronts and surrounds in small rooms, but you may want to step up to the LSi9 for larger rooms. I found these speakers an excellent match with a good quality powered subwoofer to round out the extremely low frequencies. High frequencies are smooth, natural, and transparent. Mids and mid-bass are excellent. Bass can be a little punchy and seem over-projected, but I found this to be more of a matter placement than inherence. Overall, these guys are top performers.

Similar Products Used: Vienna, B&W, Boston Acoustics
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
zippyjuan   Audio Enthusiast [Sep 26, 2002]
Strength:

Smaller size, but still big on accurate sound. Great tweeter gives excelent imaging and dispersion.

Weakness:

A little thin on bass (but you will be surprised at how much and how good bass they do have for a speaker this size). Too few places to listen to them.

I purchased these to use as surround speakers with my LSi7 fronts and an LSiC. They had the mains and center in stock, but had to order the LSi7s so when they came I hooked them up as mains for a while to break them in. While they do not produce as full a sound as the LSi9s, they are one of the best small bookshelves I have heard. I went to the chain stores and heard nothing that pleased me. The LSi series was getting great reviews, so I decided to take a risk on them. I was not dissapointed. Even though these are the lowest in the LSi series, don't think that they are inferrior speakers. They produce a surprising sound for their size. The entire line uses the same drivers and tweeter (a wonderful Vifa tweeter that gives amazingly clear, not harsh, highs). What you don't hear in these speakers is distortion. They will reproduce whatever sound source they are given. Being smaller, they do lack some fullness in the lower end. They can make a great small room set-up. If you want to add more punch, just add a subwoofer. My surround system would still sound great with just these and a subwoofer. If you listen to music in five (or more) channels, you want a full-range speaker for the rears as well as the fronts. This system is really fantastic for that. The sound is well dispersed, so you don't focus on the individual speakers. It just seems to float in the air. These speakers are most suited to either great surround with the rest of the LSi series or for people without a lot of room that want clarity from their speakers. They are not for bass jockeys. They may want to check out the towers. Being only four ohm speakers you do need a bit of power to drive them well. I am using a Denon 1802 with 80 watts per channel at 8 ohms. It works fine and I don't drive them at high volumes. Another possible problem is where to listen to them. There are very few places you can do that and I do recommend that you give them a listen.

Similar Products Used: ADS, Infinity, Klipsch
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 11  

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