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Polk ES60 Tower Speaker Review

Rate this speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 17 6.7%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 72 28.2%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 139 54.5%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 27 10.6%

  • Total voters
    255

amirm

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This is a review, listening tests, equalization and detailed measurements of the Polk ES60 tower speaker. It was purchased new and kindly donated to the forum by a member. ES60 costs US $511 on Amazon and has 4.5 start average review (1925 ratings):
Polk ES60 Home Theater Tower Speaker Review.jpg

The ES60 is in entirely different class than other budget towers with good bit more weight and fit and finish. It uses the down firing port that Polk has in other speakers in the series.

I measured the ES60 on Klippel NFS without the grill with acoustic center of the tweeter. Temperatures in the measurement "chamber" was on the cool side at 57 degrees F/14 C.

Polk ES60 Speaker Measurements
As usual, we start with our suite of frequency response and directivity measurements:
Polk ES60 Home Theater Tower Speaker frequency response measurement.png

I like the deep bass extension and high sensitivity. On minor side we have a resonant peak around 550 Hz and generally elevated treble response. The latter is shared with other Polk ES series using identical tweeter. Polk doesn't state the configuration of the speaker or even its crossover frequencies. My guess from near-field measurements is that it is a 2.5 way design with the top midwoofer allowed to go farther up in frequency range:
Polk ES60 Home Theater Tower Speaker near field driver frequency response measurement.png

Would be nice if Polk ironed out the response of its tweeter some. Zooming into the port, we see some resonances that show up clearly in its distortion plot:
Polk ES60 Home Theater Tower Speaker percentage distortion THD poprt cabinet measurement.png

Distortion around 500 Hz has higher chance of audibility as it will travel up to where our hearing is most sensitive. Fortunately we will be applying EQ in this region and what is there is second harmonic so less reach as far as audible distortion.

I was surprised at the strong dip in early window response:
Polk ES60 Home Theater Tower Speaker early window frequency response measurement.png

So do as I have and put a thick carpet on the floor between you and the speaker. That should reduce the energy of floor reflections in blue and help with that dip. As is, the predicted in-room response shows elevated treble response and lack of smoothness:
Polk ES60 Home Theater Tower Speaker predicted in-room frequency response measurement.png


The peaking at 500 Hz may act as some compensation to counteract the brightness that treble response brings by boosting lower registers.

With three midwoofers handling bass, it is no surprise that distortion in that region is quite low:
Polk ES60 Home Theater Tower Speaker distortion THD measurement.png



In relative terms we see more midrange distortion due to lowering of the fundamental energy:
Polk ES60 Home Theater Tower Speaker percentage distortion THD measurement.png

Pulling down the resonances in that region using a PEQ filter should help both fix the response and lower distortion.

As a test of robustness of this speaker, I swept it up to 105 dbSPL and it still hung in there with only slight amount of audible distortion increase during the sweeps:
Polk ES60 Home Theater Tower Speaker spl response measurement.png


Directivity is impressively good in horizontal axis:
Polk ES60 Home Theater Tower Speaker horizontal beam width measurement.png

Polk ES60 Home Theater Tower Speaker horizontal directivity measurement.png

I didn't expect that given the dip in early window response. Vertical response is quite uneven so best to point the tweeter to your ear:
Polk ES60 Home Theater Tower Speaker vertical directivity measurement.png


Impedance is around 4 ohm and stays there for good bit of the frequency response:
Polk ES60 Home Theater Tower Speaker impedance and phase measurement.png

Just noticed that it dips to 3.1 ohm above 5 kHz but fortunately there is not a lot of energy there.

Waterfall display shows the resonances we have talked about and some more around 3 to 6 kHz:
Polk ES60 Home Theater Tower Speaker CSD Waterfall measurement.png


Finally, here is the step response for fans of that measurement:
Polk ES60 Home Theater Tower Speaker Step Response measurement.png



Polk ES60 Listening Tests and Equalization
Three things immediately stood out on first listen:

1. Deep and clean bass, even more so than I expected! This thing plays with authority that no bookshelf/standmount speaker can ever dream to do. With bass level accounting for some 30% of our preference in speakers, this is a major plus.

2. Large image. This is another major advantage tower speakers have over bookshelves but once again, the impression was even more positive than I expected. Images are almost life-sized which I really appreciate (compared to miniatures with bookshelves).

3. Detailed and rather bright treble response. This has the usual effect of helping with imaging and giving the feeling of "resolution." This, I expected and while I appreciated its pluses, it was too much for my ears (but likely a design goal as part of sounding good in a "showroom").

I pulled out the EQ tool in Roon and it only took two filters to give me what I wanted:
Polk ES60 Home Theater Tower Speaker equalization eq filter.png

Note that both are approximate/quick filters. With a couple more you could a more perfect job. As is, the 550 Hz got rid of some extra upper bass energy but then brightness stood out more. I put the quick and dirty shelving filter there which fixed that. In AB tests I could see someone may prefer the stock tuning better if they were not bothered by the extra brightness. To my ears though, I liked the more balanced response.

Once there, the ES60 aced all my reference tracks with deep bass extension that was essentially distortion-less. Combined with a large halo (despite me playing a single speaker), the overall experience was excellent. For grins, I pushed the speaker hard with my 400 watt/channel (8 ohm) amplifier and I got scared before the speaker did! It kept getting louder and sounding nicer and nicer. :)

Net, net, the subjective experience is more positive than cursory look at the measurements. It is easy to miss the bass extension there, or not consider the fact that this is a tall speaker so can portray a more realistic image. Or how clean it can play even down to lower notes.

Conclusions
For probably $200 more, the ES60 easily separates itself from rest of the competition in budget tower speaker category. It feels substantial and delivers on that in considerable amount of bass response and high sensitivity (which translates into more usable SPL with less amplification). You could convince yourself that it is not as good as it is by focusing on its flaws in objective measurements, missing some positives that were quite evident in listening tests.

If this is a 2.5 way design, I am even more impressed as these are so hard to get right when all the drivers and ports contribute to mid frequencies, usually creating a mess. This is avoided for the most part.

I am going to put the Polk ES60 on my recommended list if you can tame its brightness with some filtering. Personally, I like it more than I should! :)

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

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

Attachments

  • Polk ES60 Frequency Response.zip
    62.5 KB · Views: 75

GXAlan

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Nice review. Do your comments about bookshelves vs. floor standard represent “in the same price range” or do you find that budget floorstanders have a different image and different bass experience than even the JBL 708P and Neumann KH150?
 
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amirm

amirm

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Mostly in that price range. As you say, there are powered monitors that despite being small, have impressive SPL and bass extension.

Here are the Specs and features:

IMG_0568.jpeg


IMG_0569.jpeg
 
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napilopez

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Nice! Refurbished units seem to be going for $699 a pair.

I wouldn't be surprised if they were designed to be listened some 20 degrees off axis or so, as is often the case with these more mass-market speakers, although it does seem a too hot overall regardless. Probably that showroom effect; the higher end polks aren't tuned quite so bright. The manual has ambivalent language.

Very pleasantly surprised by the horizontal directivity. It's better than on either the Reserve R600 or Legend L200, especially for those who hate the beaming above 6kHz (I don't mind it too much, though it's not my favorite).

In fact, I can think of very few speakers that maintain a such a wide and even beamwidth up to 9Khz; most of these no/small waveguide speakers will begin to beam around 5-6khz. That extended width up to the 10khz region really adds to soundstage width in my experience, so it's nice to see that small plastic waveguide isn't just for show.

I really appreciate Polk. They consistently seem to design sensible speakers at sensible prices. Even when I don't agree with their design choices (MTM center channel) they at least seem competitive in their price bracket and market.
 
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Maiky76

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Here is my take on the EQ.

Please report your findings, positive or negative!

The following EQs are “anechoic” EQs to get the speaker right before room integration. If you able to implement these EQs you must add EQ at LF for room integration, that is usually not optional… see hints there: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...helf-speaker-review.11144/page-26#post-800725

The raw data with corrected ER and PIR:

Score no EQ: 3.5
With Sub: 5.4

Spinorama with no EQ:
  • some resonances
  • Not horrible
Polk ES60 No EQ Spinorama.png


Directivity:
Better stay at tweeter height
Horizontally, better toe-in the speakers by 10/20deg and have the axis crossing in front of the listening location, might help dosing the upper range.
Polk ES60 2D surface Directivity Contour Only Data.png

Polk ES60 LW data.png

EQ design:

I have generated two EQs. The APO config files are attached.
  • The first one, labelled, LW is targeted at making the LW flat
  • The second, labelled Score, starts with the first one and adds the score as an optimization variable.
  • The EQs are designed in the context of regular stereo use i.e. domestic environment, no warranty is provided for a near field use in a studio environment although the LW might be better suited for this purpose.

Score EQ LW: 5.0
with sub: 6.9

Score EQ Score: 5.8
with sub: 7.6

Code:
Polk ES60 APO EQ LW 96000Hz
February082024-125544

Preamp: -2 dB

Filter 1: ON HPQ Fc 41.99,    0.00,    1.28
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 87.19,    -2.82,    1.29
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 564.14,    -3.61,    3.50
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 946.71,    1.68,    1.26
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 2459.33,    2.35,    1.28
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 4609.94,    -1.82,    1.03
Filter 7: ON PK Fc 11823.26,    -1.86,    4.07

Polk ES60 APO EQ Score 96000Hz
February082024-125544

Preamp: -2.5 dB

Filter 1: ON HPQ Fc 41.99,    0.00,    1.28
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 112.74,    -2.51,    1.35
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 546.44,    -3.70,    3.32
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 1025.24,    1.55,    1.21
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 2068.50,    2.09,    1.81
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 5279.66,    -2.83,    0.83
Filter 7: ON PK Fc 11769.25,    -2.41,    2.73


Polk ES60 EQ Design.png


Spinorama EQ LW
Polk ES60 LW EQ Spinorama.png


Spinorama EQ Score
Polk ES60 Score EQ Spinorama.png


Zoom PIR-LW-ON
Polk ES60 Zoom.png


Regression - Tonal
Polk ES60 Regression.png


Radar no EQ vs EQ score
Nice improvements
Polk ES60 Radar.png


The rest of the plots is attached.
 

Attachments

  • Polk ES60 APO EQ Score 96000Hz.txt
    388 bytes · Views: 32
  • Polk ES60 APO EQ LW 96000Hz.txt
    381 bytes · Views: 35
  • Polk ES60 2D surface Directivity Contour Data.png
    Polk ES60 2D surface Directivity Contour Data.png
    335 KB · Views: 36
  • Polk ES60 3D surface Vertical Directivity Data.png
    Polk ES60 3D surface Vertical Directivity Data.png
    395.2 KB · Views: 32
  • Polk ES60 3D surface Horizontal Directivity Data.png
    Polk ES60 3D surface Horizontal Directivity Data.png
    394.5 KB · Views: 39
  • Polk ES60 Normalized Directivity data.png
    Polk ES60 Normalized Directivity data.png
    530.2 KB · Views: 38
  • Polk ES60 Raw Directivity data.png
    Polk ES60 Raw Directivity data.png
    766.5 KB · Views: 42
  • Polk ES60 Reflexion data.png
    Polk ES60 Reflexion data.png
    319.4 KB · Views: 56
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GXAlan

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Mostly in that price range. As you say, there are powered monitors that despite being small, have impressive SPL and bass extension.
Got it — just wasn’t sure if there was something else where anechoic results differ from in-room due to woofers being close to the ground with floorstanders reinforcing the bass in a different way like ground plane reinforcement, etc.
 

pierre

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Good tower for the price. What would happen with an EQ?

I generated 2 EQs, the first one optimise for a flat listening window and may be what you want if you are close to the speaker. The second one optimise the PIR and try to make it as flat as possible. Since this is a tower, you are likely far away and should use the second one. You still need to EQ the bass in your room on top.

Score: 3.5 (5.4 with a perfect subwoofer)
EQ LW: 5.3 (7.2 with a perfect subwoofer)
EQ Score: 6.2 (7.7 with a perfect subwoofer)


The eq is working well, flattening all curves and esp. the PIR.
filters_eq.jpg


Code:
EQ for Polk Audio Signature Elite ES60 computed from ASR data
Preference Score 3.50 with EQ 6.17
Generated from http://github.com/pierreaubert/spinorama/generate_peqs.py v0.26
Dated: 2024-02-08-09:33:28

Preamp: -3.0 dB

Filter  1: ON PK Fc    33 Hz Gain +2.99 dB Q 2.96
Filter  2: ON PK Fc   560 Hz Gain -4.43 dB Q 2.62
Filter  3: ON PK Fc  1642 Hz Gain +2.24 dB Q 0.30
Filter  4: ON PK Fc  4989 Hz Gain -4.76 dB Q 0.73
Filter  5: ON PK Fc  8694 Hz Gain +2.91 dB Q 2.97
Filter  6: ON PK Fc  9989 Hz Gain -3.44 dB Q 1.38
Filter  7: ON PK Fc 13186 Hz Gain -2.30 dB Q 2.90

It is unclear to me if the Filter 2 at 460 will work or not (it is trying to remove the resonnance). Filter 6&7 are trying to make it less hot.
 
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375HP2482

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If this is a 2.5 way design, I am even more impressed as these are so hard to get right when all the drivers and ports contribute to mid frequencies, usually creating a mess. This is avoided for the most part.
Polk describes it as a "2.5-way cascaded crossover array." Which implies the two lower woofers have progressively larger chokes in series.
 

JSmith

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My guess from near-field measurements is that it is a 2.5 way design
Yep;
You’ll experience a seamless, lifelike soundstage no matter where you’re seated thanks to Signature Elite ES60’s Dynamic Balance mica-fortified, polypropylene woofers and 2.5-way cascaded crossover array.
kindly donated to the forum by a member
Well Kudos to that member and thanks for the testing.


JSmith
 

kemmler3D

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Hmm, at $700/pr, Ps 7.6 with EQ and a sub isn't a terrible deal, especially if you already have a sub and DSP unit sitting around... get a pair of these locally somehow and you might be in good shape.
 

Power Pop 23

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It appears the four bands of Parametric EQ provided by WiiM streaming devices could go a long way to boosting the score of a Polk ES60 tower loudspeaker.
 
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amirm

amirm

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Polk describes it as a "2.5-way cascaded crossover array." Which implies the two lower woofers have progressively larger chokes in series.
Ah, I only tested one so didn't see that.
 

ninetylol

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Thank you so much for measuring that big tower. Sadly I had to sell it for something smaller, but I agree with your subjective experience and its very interesting to see some data to it.
 

dogmamann

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If m not wrong, with a more reinforced cabin this would even have no resonances in the lower mids. May be couple do extra bracing?
 

pierre

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It appears the four bands of Parametric EQ provided by WiiM streaming devices could go a long way to boosting the score of a Polk ES60 tower loudspeaker.
Yes and no, here is what the optimiser find with 4 bands.
If you devote your 4 bands to this eq, then you cannot correct the bass. I would correct the bass first because they are likely to swing a lot.
Maybe keep 1 eq to tame the highs.

1707384985802.png


Code:
EQ for Polk Audio Signature Elite ES60 computed from ASR data
Preference Score 3.50 with EQ 5.84
Generated from http://github.com/pierreaubert/spinorama/generate_peqs.py v0.26
Dated: 2024-02-08-10:34:37


Preamp: -0.7 dB


Filter  1: ON PK Fc   540 Hz Gain +1.97 dB Q 0.56
Filter  2: ON PK Fc   560 Hz Gain -5.30 dB Q 2.23
Filter  3: ON PK Fc  5347 Hz Gain -4.89 dB Q 1.09
Filter  4: ON PK Fc 12301 Hz Gain -4.31 dB Q 1.30
 

YSC

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Curious that the side wall bounce still see the massive treble bump, but isn't that range having narrowing directivity horizontally?
 

staticV3

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Curious that the side wall bounce still see the massive treble bump, but isn't that range having narrowing directivity horizontally?
If you look carefully, both the horizontal directivity and sidewall bounce match in that they drop off above 9kHz.

The treble bump is at 2-8kHz, where horizontal directivity is relatively constant.
 

DanielT

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Thanks for the test Amir.:)
____
If m not wrong, with a more reinforced cabin this would even have no resonances in the lower mids. May be couple do extra bracing?
If you are going to fix that, you might as well construct a curved slot gate/port and mount it there to avoid the problems that seem to exist with its port now. But okay, it will be a lot of work. In addition, it probably loses in resale values, even if it would be better (which is not guaranteed to be the case).

A much less extreme measure you can try is plugg the existing port, as long as it can be restored to its original state.:)
 
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