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Polk Legend L200 on-and-off axis measurements (preliminary)

napilopez

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#1
Another speaker for y'all, this time the new Polk L200. This set of measurements is incomplete compared to some of my other ones as I haven't had the opportunity to run vertical measurements yet, because vertical measurements are a pain in the butt.

Still, I thought I'd share as I likely won't be able to perform the other measurements for a while what with the holidays and such.

Without further ado:

L200 Horizontal Prelim.png


Measured at 1m, gated at 6.5ms. Polk doesn't give a recommended ear height, so I measured on the tweeter axis. Bass response is measured nearfield and spliced at 330 Hz, compensated for baffle step using Jeff Bagby's Baffle Diffraction and Boundary Simulator.

Another speaker with an impressively flat on-axis performance, yet it goes to show the importance of directivity that it still sounds quite distinct from the other flattish speakers I've measured recently. Things to note:
  • Nice and wide response to 5K, if a bit messy, after which the response drops precipitously
  • There's some bunching around 3-4Khz until 60-75 degrees off axis. I noticed the speaker has somewhat forward sound without being bright; this hump is probably why.
  • Treble is quite smooth on axis. Feels like just the right balance in my room. I do not think it will offend anyone, though the L200 may not the right choice for a very dead room.
  • Again, note that the response drops super steeply in the last couple of octaves; this is a speaker that sounds best almost completely toed in towards the listening position, otherwise it could be a little dull. I'd say 0-10 degrees off axis is ideal.
  • Note the listening window only includes horizontal data, so take caution when comparing against my other measurements. I expect the hump around 3k to be reduced a small bit with some vertical data due to the crossover at 2,600 hz. There will likely be a dip there due to the crossover, but this just my guess for now. Again, vocals strike me as slightly forward, but overall timbre is still in the realm of neutral.
  • Bass is one of my favorite things about this speaker. It's very linear, before rolling off steeply after 50Hz or so. It sounds 'tight' or 'clean' and seems to be just the right amount with my space/placement, although it doesn't extend quite as low as say the KEF R3 or Buchardt S400.
  • Conversely, I found it easier to integrate with my sub, though i don't know if that means much.
  • Polk's weird port setup might help here, but it also probably helps that it doesn't have the 80hz-ish bump many bookshelves exhibit. This is a speaker that's okay being fairly close to the walls, as I suspect most people will use them.
  • There's appears to be a significant resonance at 550 hz - the peak forming off axis there which remains all the way out to 180 degrees.
  • They're not particularly sensitive speakers, but dynamics and transients strike me as excellent.
  • Soundstage is great in my setup. Balances spaciousness with focus nicely, and I noticed a sense of height too. A bit more spacious/wider than the Buchardt S400, a bit less focused (sighted impressions during a brief very unscientific comparison, so take that with a grain of salt). Takes some care in positioning though.
I have to say, it seems like a pretty great time to be a speaker enthusiast. There seem to be a wealth of options in the $1000-2000 range with solid measurements, with enough subtle variety in frequency and significant variety in the directivity realm to provide ample options for different types of listeners. The flat on-axis impresses here most.

I'll update this thread with vertical measurements when I have them.

Edit: That said, it's worth noting Polk's old flagship bookshelf, the LSiM703, can be had for $600 a pair new nowadays, and those already measured very well (Soundstage Network, Stereophile). I haven't heard those, so I can only judge by available measurements, but the L200 seems more of a case of 'different' than obviously better. Still, I think the L200 hold up nicely among the upper echelon in their price range.
 
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#3
I see a ton of speakers that bunch up ~4kHz, I wonder why it’s so common.
It's pretty much the very definition of directivity mismatch. The frequencies below the bunching are the mid/woofer becoming more directional as it plays higher frequencies, so the response drops as you move off axis. At the 2khz range the woofer crosses over to the small tweeter. Due to its size, the tweeter will have a wider dispersion in the 2 to 5 khz range and becomes directional after that. This means after crossing over suddenly the speaker has a wide dispersion and then starts tapering off again. This effect becomes more pronounced the further off axis you go.

The above example is a generalization. The actual severity and frequencies involved differ between designs.

These issue can be mitigated using a waveguide to lower the tweeters dispersion at the crossover region and match the woofers directivity off axis
 

digicidal

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#4
As an owner of the LSiM703's I find them fantastic for the price (the new reduced price that is). Definitely don't see a reason to upgrade, but I'm always pleased when a manufacturer doesn't take a step back in the interest of simply pushing a new product out the door. Polk seems to do things reasonably well while keeping relatively inexpensive. At least there's nothing obviously horribly wrong here - unlike some often well-reviewed British mass produced speakers with two names. ;)

Obviously that's my subjective opinion (was referring specifically to the B&W 606's). Some may like that laid-back-yet-brighter-than-all-hell sound, but I'm not those people.
 
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aarons915

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#5
It's pretty much the very definition of directivity mismatch. The frequencies below the bunching are the mid/woofer becoming more directional as it plays higher frequencies, so the response drops as you move off axis. At the 2khz range the woofer crosses over to the small tweeter. Due to its size, the tweeter will have a wider dispersion in the 2 to 5 khz range and becomes directional after that. This means after crossing over suddenly the speaker has a wide dispersion and then starts tapering off again. This effect becomes more pronounced the further off axis you go.

The above example is a generalization. The actual severity and frequencies involved differ between designs.

These issue can be mitigated using a waveguide to lower the tweeters dispersion at the crossover region and match the woofers directivity off axis
Yes but if you're marketing said speaker it's not a directivity mismatch, it's "wide dispersion" lol...
 

aarons915

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#6
As an owner of the LSiM703's I find them fantastic for the price (the new reduced price that is)
I borrowed these from a friend a year or so back and thought they were really good, the main reason I don't use them is I really don't need that much bass from my mains since I use dual subs and the tweeter was a bit too directional for me. Even at MSRP, they compete very well in my opinion, at current prices nothing comes close.
 

maty

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digicidal

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Oh the horror! And here I figured everything would be absolute TOTL for a nicely finished, real-wood cabinet, 3-way stand-mount that costs less than $600/pr shipped! I'm thinking that I will probably only upgrade the nothing on them and enjoy listening to them for however many years they last as they are. ;)
 

maty

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#9

digicidal

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#10
My ears are not nearly that good thankfully. Plus, most of my favorite albums aren't very good - maybe not even good... there are exceptions but other than Steely Dan and a few others... most of what I listen to is metal... and that's not known for dynamics and clarity in the first place. ;)

To me, the LSiM703's are great how they are really. Sure they don't sound like many of my other speakers - but even with those, I don't really care about some subjective level of perfection. I don't believe (at least at the budget I allow myself) that I could truly achieve that through either DIY or commercial avenues. So while perhaps it would bother someone with your record collection, gear, etc. - I don't really even have a "preferred" speaker out of all the ones I own.

About the only reason I would bother replacing the electrolytics would be if I was positive they were going to blow soon... which I've never even seen in a speaker network... but I suppose could happen. As it is, even if that happens - if everything else survives that is - I'll just pull the whole thing and go active if I still care. I'm sure I'll have gotten years of use out of them by then anyway and could give them to someone like you to rebuild in that case.

I noticed in your picture of the crossovers (admittedly I haven't disassembled my speakers) - I only see one input and output pair connected to each. As the speaker is a 3-way it is just harder to see a double wire set on one, or ?? I would expect separate outs to mid/tweeter but I guess not?
 
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maty

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#11
I was also very skeptical, hence I spent the minimum to verify what others insured.

And yes, with bad recordings it does not make much sense to spend a lot of money on the music system, hence the inevitable decadence of the audio business, and the worst is yet to come.
 

gr-e

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#13
I see a ton of speakers that bunch up ~4kHz, I wonder why it’s so common.
Edge diffraction. The wider the baffle, the lower the frequency bunching up occurs at. As @muad mentioned, directivity mismatch does contribute to that too, but not as much as diffraction. You can see the offaxis response is owerpowering the on-axis response up to 3.3k (which is not something driver directivity mismatch would cause). The wavelength of that frequency matches the distance from the tweeter to the edge of the baffle. The bunching up continues almost up to 4k because of the top edge of the baffle, which is closer to the tweeter (about 89mm I'd say).
 
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Edge diffraction. The wider the baffle, the lower the frequency bunching up occurs at. As @muad mentioned, directivity mismatch does contribute to that too, but not as much as diffraction. You can see the offaxis response is owerpowering the on-axis response up to 3.3k (which is not something driver directivity mismatch would cause). The wavelength of that frequency matches the distance from the tweeter to the edge of the baffle. The bunching up continues almost up to 4k because of the top edge of the baffle, which is closer to the tweeter (about 89mm I'd say).
As far as I know, edge diffraction doesn't lead to off axis bunching. But rather wavelength vs distance cancellations and reinforcement.

https://www.linkwitzlab.com/diffraction.htm

Do you have any supportive evidence for edge diffraction and offaxis bunching?
 

gr-e

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#15
As far as I know, edge diffraction doesn't lead to off axis bunching. But rather wavelength vs distance cancellations and reinforcement.

https://www.linkwitzlab.com/diffraction.htm

Do you have any supportive evidence for edge diffraction and offaxis bunching?
Edge diffraction creates a secondary source. As you mentioned, it cancels out the direct sound at certain frequencies, but when you go off axis the phase relation between main source and the edge changes and you get reinforcement at that same frequency. Also, that secondary source can have different direction/dispersion compared to the main source, which may also widen the overall system dispersion.

Here's a great article with some examples: https://heissmann-acoustics.de/en/kantendiffraktion-sekundaerschallquellen-treiberanordnun/
 

mhardy6647

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#16
Another speaker for y'all, this time the new Polk L200. This set of measurements is incomplete compared to some of my other ones as I haven't had the opportunity to run vertical measurements yet, because vertical measurements are a pain in the butt.

Still, I thought I'd share as I likely won't be able to perform the other measurements for a while what with the holidays and such.

Without further ado:

View attachment 40401

Measured at 1m, gated at 6.5ms. Polk doesn't give a recommended ear height, so I measured on the tweeter axis. Bass response is measured nearfield and spliced at 330 Hz, compensated for baffle step using Jeff Bagby's Baffle Diffraction and Boundary Simulator.

Another speaker with an impressively flat on-axis performance, yet it goes to show the importance of directivity that it still sounds quite distinct from the other flattish speakers I've measured recently. Things to note:
  • Nice and wide response to 5K, if a bit messy, after which the response drops precipitously
  • There's some bunching around 3-4Khz until 60-75 degrees off axis. I noticed the speaker has somewhat forward sound without being bright; this hump is probably why.
  • Treble is quite smooth on axis. Feels like just the right balance in my room. I do not think it will offend anyone, though the L200 may not the right choice for a very dead room.
  • Again, note that the response drops super steeply in the last couple of octaves; this is a speaker that sounds best almost completely toed in towards the listening position, otherwise it could be a little dull. I'd say 0-10 degrees off axis is ideal.
  • Note the listening window only includes horizontal data, so take caution when comparing against my other measurements. I expect the hump around 3k to be reduced a small bit with some vertical data due to the crossover at 2,600 hz. There will likely be a dip there due to the crossover, but this just my guess for now. Again, vocals strike me as slightly forward, but overall timbre is still in the realm of neutral.
  • Bass is one of my favorite things about this speaker. It's very linear, before rolling off steeply after 50Hz or so. It sounds 'tight' or 'clean' and seems to be just the right amount with my space/placement, although it doesn't extend quite as low as say the KEF R3 or Buchardt S400.
  • Conversely, I found it easier to integrate with my sub, though i don't know if that means much.
  • Polk's weird port setup might help here, but it also probably helps that it doesn't have the 80hz-ish bump many bookshelves exhibit. This is a speaker that's okay being fairly close to the walls, as I suspect most people will use them.
  • There's appears to be a significant resonance at 550 hz - the peak forming off axis there which remains all the way out to 180 degrees.
  • They're not particularly sensitive speakers, but dynamics and transients strike me as excellent.
  • Soundstage is great in my setup. Balances spaciousness with focus nicely, and I noticed a sense of height too. A bit more spacious/wider than the Buchardt S400, a bit less focused (sighted impressions during a brief very unscientific comparison, so take that with a grain of salt). Takes some care in positioning though.
I have to say, it seems like a pretty great time to be a speaker enthusiast. There seem to be a wealth of options in the $1000-2000 range with solid measurements, with enough subtle variety in frequency and significant variety in the directivity realm to provide ample options for different types of listeners. The flat on-axis impresses here most.

I'll update this thread with vertical measurements when I have them.

Edit: That said, it's worth noting Polk's old flagship bookshelf, the LSiM703, can be had for $600 a pair new nowadays, and those already measured very well (Soundstage Network, Stereophile). I haven't heard those, so I can only judge by available measurements, but the L200 seems more of a case of 'different' than obviously better. Still, I think the L200 hold up nicely among the upper echelon in their price range.
Got pointed to this thread from a response (EDIT: your response! :) ) to my whining hoping that someone'd do some assessment of Polk's new SDA-enabled flagship "L800".
Nice to see some 'real world' data on one of the new Legend series!

I am academically curious ;). What is the provenance of the L200(s) you analyzed? Do you own a pair, or was this done as part of the L200 demo program being run out of the Polk forums*, or...?
My apologies if this is too prying or just a question that's answered in the thread (and I simply missed it)!

... oh, and happy 2020!
:cool:

DSC_6908 (2)
by Mark Hardy, on Flickr
__________________________
* https://forum.polkaudio.com/discussion/188179/polk-l200-speaker-demo-reviews/p1
N.B. Y'all may read my utterly qualitative comments about the demo pair I heard if you wish! :)
 
OP
N

napilopez

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Thread Starter #17
Got pointed to this thread from a response (EDIT: your response! :) ) to my whining hoping that someone'd do some assessment of Polk's new SDA-enabled flagship "L800".
Nice to see some 'real world' data on one of the new Legend series!

I am academically curious ;). What is the provenance of the L200(s) you analyzed? Do you own a pair, or was this done as part of the L200 demo program being run out of the Polk forums*, or...?
My apologies if this is too prying or just a question that's answered in the thread (and I simply missed it)!

... oh, and happy 2020!
:cool:

DSC_6908 (2)
by Mark Hardy, on Flickr
__________________________
* https://forum.polkaudio.com/discussion/188179/polk-l200-speaker-demo-reviews/p1
N.B. Y'all may read my utterly qualitative comments about the demo pair I heard if you wish! :)
I'm a tech journalist, so this is a review unit from Polk - as are most of the speakers I write about. Since the publication I work for isn't a proper audio site, I can't go into as much detail about the data in my reviews as I'd sometimes like without making an article too wordy and inaccessible. So I often post my measurements here first.

They're appreciated more here, and contrary to popular belief, I actually find it easier to measure and write up quick thoughts based on a combination of measurements and listening than to write subjective first impressions based on listening alone.:)
 
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