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Polk Signature Elite ES20 Review (Bookshelf Speaker)

Rate this speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 5 2.3%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 28 12.8%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 141 64.7%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 44 20.2%

  • Total voters
    218

Shadrach

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It's 4 components, I'll explain them without getting into the actual calculations:

  1. Narrow Band Deviations of On-axis: Chunks the response into sections, averages the SPL of each section, within each section it sees how the SPL of the individual frequencies compares to the section average.
  2. Narrow Band Deviations of PIR: Same as above but for the PIR.
  3. (aka correlation squared) of PIR: Checks for a linear relationship (trend line) for the PIR; downside is wide vs narrow dispersion plays a role, where more slope (narrower dispersion) scores higher.
  4. Bass Extension: Self explanatory

While we don't have the 70 spinoramas & human response data, I'm willing to bet that if Olive just "normalized" the PIR to its own slope and did the PIR on that, that the preference rating would be more accurate. The reason to have #3 is that since the PIR most always has a slope, #2 won't score super high, as the avg SPL of the treble would be lower than the avg SPL of the midrange, so #3 is added to the formula to offset that (greater slope: lower NBD & higher SM ; lesser slope: higher NBD & lower SM), but the offset isn't great as it seems #3 changes more than #2 does.
Thanks. I'll have a read of the information in the link in your post and a fiddle with the math.
Can't make much more of an informed comment until then.
 

617

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In theory it should be easy to make a small speaker with great if wide DI at a low cost with restricted bass. Polk comes close to that ideal with this model.

High passed with a sub I'd expect these to be excellent, although I'd probably opt for the smaller arendals.
 

Spkrdctr

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Hi all
1. what and where is the baseline and parameters for home theater surround? Some basics goals so to speak. We all like to upgrade and this area seems to be the easiest/cheapest and lots of fun as well.
2. Is it better to have the fronts and backs speakers be the same model number? talking 5.1 here.
3 is 7.1 really better then 5.1 and if so in what size room does it matter.
4 as with many speakers reviewed here they are great with that little eq tweak, can our audyssey do that vs Roon?
5. could there be a rating chart as there is for dacs, and amps and head phones or even an asterisk *

Well, I'm glad you asked! Many people on here are enjoying great sound with our surround sound systems.
For #1, I would recommend something like these speakers for the rears and sides. If you want you could use them all around. A nice big or two medium sized subs would really make the system com alive with great deep bass.
#2 They absolutely DO NOT have to be the same speakers. This was a marketing scheme thought up years ago to allow the manufacturer to sell more speakers. Good or great speakers will sound good in any position. Notice I didn't say $79 junkers from a white van! LOL.
3. You can always start with a 7.1 receiver and hook it up 5.1, then if you feel you want more you can try the 7.1 The receiver doesn't care if you use the 5.1 or 7.1 set up. Go by what sounds better to you.
4. I have no idea!
5. Much more difficult than you would think. Their are many points of interest/measurements in speakers. You have to get what you think will work the best in your personal situation. The room dictates a lot in how the speakers will sound. But all in all surround sound covers a lot of room sins. It usually sounds so much better than stereo in surround music.

Good Luck and enjoy!
 

adam2434

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Thanks for the review - I was hoping these would get Klippel'd, given that Polk has upped their game, objective performance-wise, with the Legend and Reserve series.

For $350/pair (sale price), the ES20 looks like a great combination of frequency response, bass extension, distortion, and sensitivity for the money.
 
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Spocko

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Hi all

as I always mention I an not a stero numbers guy but love good stuff. These reviews allow me to pick up knowledge and also get to the bottom line.

my thought today is home theater speakers, I have 3 listening rooms with good speakers for music and one happens to have my tv and Denon 960 in it. I run audyssey and all that but….

These Polks beg the following questions.( for just tv and movies)

1. what and where is the baseline and parameters for home theater surround? Some basics goals so to speak. We all like to upgrade and this area seems to be the easiest/cheapest and lots of fun as well.

thanks in advance.
For me, baseline is to start by adding a good subwoofer - let's say your budget is $800 - which can get you 4x Polk Signature Elite ES20 bookshelves or one very good subwoofer like the Monoprice 12" (M12 V2 THX Ultra) https://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=42847 legit 20Hz at 100dB!

I believe two speakers plus this subwoofer will bring more "theater" to your movies than adding 4 regular speakers for surround. Yes, I do love the surround effect but the low end punch in your chest is so visceral, simply an astounding upgrade if you haven't tried a subwoofer nearfield (place the subwoofer within inches behind your seating position and be prepared to enjoy).

Additionally, once you get the subwoofer, you can add cheaper surround speakers at your leisure, one at a time whenever they go on sale.

Screenshot 2022-05-10 112932.png
 
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Spkrdctr

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For me, baseline is to start by adding a good subwoofer - let's say your budget is $800 - which can get you two bookshelves or 1 very good subwoofer like the Monoprice 12" (M12 V2 THX Ultra) https://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=42847
I believe two speakers plus this subwoofer will bring more "theater" to your movies than adding 3 bookshelves (center plus 2 surrounds). Yes, I do love the surround effect but the low end punch in your chest is so visceral, simply an astounding upgrade if you haven't tried a subwoofer nearfield (place the subwoofer within inches behind your seating position and be prepared to enjoy).
Well, I say YES! Of course of butt load of bass is always called for in movie watching. If your pant legs are not flapping, you need more bass! LOL. A 5.1 with lots of bass will get you in the mood to watch all the big bass movies.
 

testp

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Will using a curved pipe reduce higher mode port resonances?
What causes the resonances, is it more the port or the cabinet?
Yamaha NS3..5000 uses C shape pipes filled with some foam or such inside the cabinet, to deal with resonances..
 

HooStat

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In theory it should be easy to make a small speaker with great if wide DI at a low cost with restricted bass. Polk comes close to that ideal with this model.

High passed with a sub I'd expect these to be excellent, although I'd probably opt for the smaller arendals.
I am seriously thinking along these lines -- I had not thought of it this way until you mentioned it. The Arendal 1961 bookshelf (is what you are referring to?) is 2x the cost and has a sensitivity of 84 dB at 2.83 V, which is 2 watts for a 4 ohm speaker (unless I got it backwards -- you know more than I do about all of this). The Polk is 88 at 1 watt (also a 4 ohm speaker). So, I think the Polk should play louder even with one of those small Topping amps that were just released. I am saying this out loud because I was thinking this could be a really nice, inexpensive system with a couple of subs.
 

Billy Budapest

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@amirm The Polk Blackstone TL1, TL2, and TL3 satellite speakers have been well reviewed, although they are extremely bass limited. Any interest in reviewing them?
 

Newman

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In USA the Elac DBR-62 costs 70% more than this Polk, but in my Australia it is only 25% more ($999 vs $799). I would be tempted by the Elac for its better unequalised sound.
 
OP
amirm

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JohnBooty

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1. what and where is the baseline and parameters for home theater surround? Some basics goals so to speak. We all like to upgrade and this area seems to be the easiest/cheapest and lots of fun as well.
2. Is it better to have the fronts and backs speakers be the same model number? talking 5.1 here.
3 is 7.1 really better then 5.1 and if so in what size room does it matter.
4 as with many speakers reviewed here they are great with that little eq tweak, can our audyssey do that vs Roon?

1. Aside from the general characteristics of any good speaker (accurate FR, low distortion) home theaters should be able to handle a fair bit of power if you want theater-like output levels. Additionally, wide and even dispersion matters because you would like them to sound good from various seating positions.

2. No. Center speaker is for voices, L+R are for music and primary sound effects, and the rest of the surround speakers are for gimmicky surround effects. Engineers typically don't put important sounds to the surround speakers because most people don't have them or don't have them hooked up right.

3. I find 5.1 rather gimmicky and 7.1 is just even more of them. Surround effects are cool, but your front speakers and sub are sooo much more important. Given a fixed budget frankly I'd go 3.1!

4. Yes, generally. In my experience Audyssey tries to fix those little imperfections both in the room and in the speakers themselves and the results are good. IIRC ff you download the Audyssey app you can view and tweak the actual generated response curves. But I never felt the need to do so.
 

Haint

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For me, baseline is to start by adding a good subwoofer - let's say your budget is $800 - which can get you 4x Polk Signature Elite ES20 bookshelves or one very good subwoofer like the Monoprice 12" (M12 V2 THX Ultra) https://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=42847 legit 20Hz at 100dB!

I believe two speakers plus this subwoofer will bring more "theater" to your movies than adding 4 regular speakers for surround. Yes, I do love the surround effect but the low end punch in your chest is so visceral, simply an astounding upgrade if you haven't tried a subwoofer nearfield (place the subwoofer within inches behind your seating position and be prepared to enjoy).

Additionally, once you get the subwoofer, you can add cheaper surround speakers at your leisure, one at a time whenever they go on sale.

View attachment 205904

Most average sized rooms (say ~3000 cubic ft or less) would probably do better with dual ~$400 subs (i.e. RSL Speedwoofer, outlet sale SB1000's) than a single $800 one, but you're right. A quality, well placed, and properly integrated 2.1 (or 2.2) setup reproduces 80-90% of the theater experience. Side surrounds are the whip cream, surround backs and heights are the sprinkles.
 

Ageve

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He says he has "NO IDEA" what that cover does.

Without it, the port would be flat against a wall and blocked....was it that hard to imagine?

Maybe some tube connectors would fix that....:facepalm:

He also said the tweeter in B&W 606 S2 is impossible to replace, and you have to throw the whole speaker away if it stops working.

Replacing that tweeter is very easy, and done in a few minutes. You just remove the magnetic grille and the frame comes off. The screws are underneath.

Judging by the comments on his videos, people seem to trust him, which is... interesting.
 

tential

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I'm no expert here, but is distortion tested at the "limit" of the driver? How loud does this get? Usually, these speakers never can get loud enough for me. I bought some polk speakers, they do OK, my buddy got slightly cheaper ones, with far less output. It was only a monitor 70 vs monitor 50. So I'm always unsure of how loud they get, I like it to get extrmely loud, which the monitor 70 hits, but lower end ones did not.
 

DSJR

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Easy answer - You want louder, get a bigger one :D

I do worry about small speaker drivers, especially the baby actives favoured around these parts, which are working bloody hard below 100hz yet are equalised to be 'flat' to 50hz or so 9at potentially horrendous distortion levels).
 

beagleman

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@amirm The Polk Blackstone TL1, TL2, and TL3 satellite speakers have been well reviewed, although they are extremely bass limited. Any interest in reviewing them?
I have heard the TL1, which was "Decent for the size and price" and the TL3 which to me was quite good overall.

Although VERY bass limited obviously.
 

Transmaniacon

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1. Aside from the general characteristics of any good speaker (accurate FR, low distortion) home theaters should be able to handle a fair bit of power if you want theater-like output levels. Additionally, wide and even dispersion matters because you would like them to sound good from various seating positions.

2. No. Center speaker is for voices, L+R are for music and primary sound effects, and the rest of the surround speakers are for gimmicky surround effects. Engineers typically don't put important sounds to the surround speakers because most people don't have them or don't have them hooked up right.

3. I find 5.1 rather gimmicky and 7.1 is just even more of them. Surround effects are cool, but your front speakers and sub are sooo much more important. Given a fixed budget frankly I'd go 3.1!

4. Yes, generally. In my experience Audyssey tries to fix those little imperfections both in the room and in the speakers themselves and the results are good. IIRC ff you download the Audyssey app you can view and tweak the actual generated response curves. But I never felt the need to do so.
There are plenty of movies with great surround content. No denying the front stage is important but surround sound provides great immersion.
 

JohnBooty

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There are plenty of movies with great surround content. No denying the front stage is important but surround sound provides great immersion.
Definitely a lot of people love it. I think a lot of people also don't care too much and find it gimmicky. Not sure if the ratio is 90/10, 10/90, or 50/50.

For my part, I can count the number of times I've been wow'd by it and that number is in single digits, lol.

Individual tastes vary of course. But regardless of one's affinity for surround sound, I do think that for a given dollar amount it's inarguable that the subwoofer and front speakers deliver the most value. Unless working with a totally uncapped budget I would always advise people to spend that money on a 3.1 setup and add the surround speakers later once the war chest has been replenished.
 

Transmaniacon

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Definitely a lot of people love it. I think a lot of people also don't care too much and find it gimmicky. Not sure if the ratio is 90/10, 10/90, or 50/50.

For my part, I can count the number of times I've been wow'd by it and that number is in single digits, lol.

Individual tastes vary of course. But regardless of one's affinity for surround sound, I do think that for a given dollar amount it's inarguable that the subwoofer and front speakers deliver the most value. Unless working with a totally uncapped budget I would always advise people to spend that money on a 3.1 setup and add the surround speakers later once the war chest has been replenished.
There are certainly movies that do a better job than others at surround sound content. You don’t even need very capable speakers to act as surrounds. You’re right to spend the majority of the budget on the center and subs, and surrounds can be added later, but they still provide a good experience and are worthwhile in my opinion.
 
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