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Polk Atrium 4 Review (Outdoor Speaker)

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Polk Atrium 4 speaker. It was kindly sent to me by a member and costs US $177 from Amazon including Prime shipping.

As the saying goes, you have seen one outdoor speaker, you have seen them all:

Polk Atrium 4 review outdoor speaker.jpg


I don't know if the owner had it outside or not but there are a few specs that seem to have lost their color or started to rust.

Binding posts point down so take that into account when deciding where to mount them relative to your wires:

Polk Atrium 4 review sealed outdoor speaker.jpg


Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than an anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room.

I performed over 500 measurement which resulted in error rate of around 2%.

Testing temperature was around 58 degrees F but speaker however was kept warm indoors prior to measurements.

Reference axis was that of the tweeter.

Measurements are compliant with latest speaker research into what can predict the speaker preference and is standardized in CEA/CTA-2034 ANSI specifications. Likewise listening tests are performed per research that shows mono listening is much more revealing of differences between speakers than stereo or multichannel.

Polk Atrium 4 Measurements
Acoustic measurements can be grouped in a way that can be perceptually analyzed to determine how good a speaker is and how it can be used in a room. This so called spinorama shows us just about everything we need to know about the speaker with respect to tonality and some flaws:

Polk Atrium 4 Measurements frequency response.png


The elevated highs stand out as does sudden directivity error around 4 kHz. Polk specs this as 89 dB. That is only true of the peak output of the tweeter. Bass response at best is 85 dB dropping to 82 dB so quite insensitive. We see the response variation in near-field measurement of each driver:

Polk Atrium 4 Measurements speakler near-field response.png


Perhaps they are counting on back wall enhancement of the bass region.

Our early window and predicted in-room response don't quite apply to a speaker mounted to a wall outdoor but here they are anyway:

Polk Atrium 4 Measurements predicted in-room frequency response.png


Polk Atrium 4 Measurements predicted early window  frequency response.png


Beamwidth is uneven:

Polk Atrium 4 Measurements Horizontal Beamwidth.png


Polk Atrium 4 Measurements Horizontal Directivity.png


It is not too bad up to 10 kHz though so maybe in practice, it would be better than it seems.

Vertical directivity is typical:

Polk Atrium 4 Measurements Vertical Directivity.png


Impedance is low:
Polk Atrium 4 Measurements impedance and phase.png


I was surprised at low level of distortion at 86 dBSPL:

Polk Atrium 4 Measurements relative THD distortion.png



Polk Atrium 4 Measurements THD distortion.png


Polk Atrium 4 Listening Tests
I first had them on a stand away from walls, i.e. same place I test all speakers. The sound was almost all tweeter. So I placed it in front of my LCD TV and that brought in much needed bass response. On some tracks it was a bit boomy but otherwise, what you heard was exaggerated highs but pretty clean. I think this is due to the exaggeration being at the top of the frequency range and distortion being low. Try as I did, I could not hate the sound. :)

A lot of power was required to get good volume. Good news was that the sound was clean with no break up when I was pushing it. Sub-bass did not impact the speaker due to its sealed design.

Conclusions
Clearly this is an imperfect design both objective and subjectively. It might however work better in its intended application of being mounted on a wall and not listened to necessarily on-axis. It definitely sounds better than a driver in cheap plastic box.

I can't bring myself to put the Polk Atrium 4 on my recommended list but per above, I could not hate it either.

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

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Doodski

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Reminds me of the JBL Control 1. A speaker that some like and others hate while it's mounting options, durability and quasi outdoorsy nature are hard to beat.
 

Doodski

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Can we really apply a Harman house curve to an outdoor application?
Lol... with all weather outdoor 4.5" woofs and 3/4" tweets stuffed into a lil plastic cabinet and meant to be mounted outdoors it's amazing they sound decent at all. :D The mounting bracket does mean they should be mounted on a wall though.
atrium4_3-duplicate1_26102020_new.png

747192118792_studio_side.png
 

daftcombo

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Thanks for the review!

Why do all those outdoor speakers have no bass?
 

Doodski

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Who is using such speakers? I would never buy this system, maybe, when I don’t like my neighbor I would give him this gear
Back in the day these would be considered high end car speakers or bookshelf units. We are spoiled for choice these days. :D
 
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amirm

amirm

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Who is using such speakers?
They are quite popular in US as "patio speakers." I have a pair in our boat (different brand).
 

sweetchaos

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Thanks for the review Amir.

I always wondered how they would perform...since this model is the #1 most rated outdoor speaker at BestBuy, in Canada.
The bigger brother, Atrium 5, is the #1 most rated outdoor speaker sold at Visions Electronics.
 

Helicopter

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Thanks Amir. Your impressions are consistent with the pair on my back deck... all tweeter.

This pair has never been installed. I stored them in the garage for less than a year in Michigan. For an outdoor speaker, if that degraded anything, then the product is certainly flawed.

Too bad about measured performance. I was hoping the sound of mine had to do with the placement at the top of a hill, etc. I figure these must be in the very top tier of popularity for outdoor speakers, so I was still hoping for a gem. This should be good data on a speaker for others to avoid anyway.
 
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Helicopter

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Reminds me of the JBL Control 1. A speaker that some like and others hate while it's mounting options, durability and quasi outdoorsy nature are hard to beat.
I don't love or hate it. It was easy to install and blends in with the house aesthetically. It sounds OK outside, but obvously weak and thin in the lows sub 100Hz and a little bright above the crossover. It could be a lot better sounding, and now that I know this isn't just my outdoor space, I wouldn't recommend it.

I will probably leave the pair I have installed up by the deck, ditch this pair, and get Focal or Revel for the pool... or maybe just get a pair of JBL party speakers.
 

MediumRare

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All these mediocre reviews lead me to the conclusion that the current crop of boom boxes and party boxes is, somehow, superior. Portable, surprisingly loud, apparently plenty of bass. @amirm, with Spring around the corner, could you test a couple of those?
 
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Helicopter

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All these mediocre reviews lead me to the conclusion that the current crop of boom boxes and party boxes is, somehow, superior. Portable, surprisingly loud, apparently plenty of bass. @amirm, with Spring around the corner, could you test a couple of those?
That would be cool. JBL Partybox 310 looks like a good one. I probably wouldn't buy it without a sale though, knowing how Harman prices things through the year. A glance at Best Buy shows this is a huge segment of consumer audio now, with full product lines from Samsung, LG, Sony, Bose, JBl, and others.
 

RobL

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Thanks for the review. I wouldn’t buy these myself but I do have outdoor speakers (PSB CS1000) on my deck and at my cottage.
 
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