Help me choose between Polk Audio, KEF & Focal ... - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

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post #1 of 5 Old 11-23-13, 01:27 PM Thread Starter
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Help me choose between Polk Audio, KEF & Focal ...

Hi guys ... So I need to finalize speakers for my HT room ASAP, and in the past two 2 days I've gone to two different audio showrooms (the only main ones available in my locality), and have extensively demoed movie & music audio for some top range Polk Audio, KEF and Focal speakers ..

Here are the speaker configurations I tested .. There ARE configuration mismatches here n there, but oh well, it gave me an overall idea at least


Polk Audio:

1) 2x TSX-550 (for Front L & R) + CS20 (Center) + 2x DSW-660 (2x Subwoofers)
2) 2x RTI-A7 (for Front L & R) + CSi A4 (Center) + 2x DSW-660 (2x Subwoofers)
3) 2x RTI-A9 (for Front L & R) + CSi A6 (Center) + 2x DSW-660 (2x Subwoofers)
4) 2x LSi (number unknown) (for Front L & R) + CSi A6 (Center) + 2x DSW-660 (2x Subwoofers)


5) 2x KEF Q900 (for Front L & R) + KEF Q600C (Center) + 2x KEF-Q800DS (2x Side/Surround Speakers) + Rel R328 + Rel T9 (2x Subwoofers)


6) 2x Focal 826W + KEF Q600C (Center) (They didn't have the Focal center handy, so they used the KEF one) + 2x Focal SR800 (2x Side/Surround Speakers)
6) 2x Focal 836W + KEF Q600C (Center) (They didn't have the Focal center handy, so they used the KEF one) + 2x Focal SR800 (2x Side/Surround Speakers)

For KEF/Focal configurations above, they used a Denon receiver (Don't know the exact model) .. For Polks, no idea, but they kept switching the receivers to upgrade with the speaker changes ..

My impressions:

My opinion regarding Polk was that for music audio, they were all great ! But they sucked when I played Blu-ray movies on them .. By 'sucked' I mean the sound sounded just like that coming from a $300 HTiB .. I made a thread on this issue yesterday, located here .. It probably was because the room was far from any acoustic treatment, and the equipment wasn't calibrated at all (according to rep), but still, I'm a little doubtful about the Polks to be honest .. But still I want to know if it was an issue with calibration more like, or are Polks mainly music speakers ?

KEF and Focal demos were from another showroom, and the room here was mostly acoustically treated .. So this might unfairly give these speakers an edge over the Polks .. Having said that, both KEF and Focal sounded a LOT more believable in movies !! I mean *much* better result ! Again, this could have been because this room was acoustically treated, whereas the Polk showrrom was not .. So its hard for me to determine the cause with the Polks ...

Focal speakers were located in the same location where KEF were located, and both Focal and KEF sounded more or less the same to me .. Maybe, KEF had slightly better vocal sound reproduction, but Focal I think had slightly better reproduction of sounds such as car crashes, things smashing, etc .. Also, for some reason I liked the sound from 826W somewhat better than that from 836W, even though the latter is the newer model ..

So which one ?

Out of all of the above, my first pick would have been the Focal lineup, with the 826W's for the fronts L+R .. But a few internet searches revealed that they costed an absolute fortune ! .. So unless I can find them for relatively cheap, I have to decide between the KEF or Polks .. KEF obviously sounded much better for movies, but that may have been due to an unfair advantage of the room being acoustically treated for their demo .. Also, although KEFs are financially manageable, they're still a bit on the expensive side for me .. Polks were perfect cost-wise .. I would've gone with either A7 or A9 L+R .. But then again, they didn't sound awesome to me in movies, something which I'll use my HT room for 60% of the times..

So guys, please help me make a decision here
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post #2 of 5 Old 12-01-13, 03:56 PM
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no has replied yet?

Ok here we go. The polks are a wonderful speaker to own. I have a complete system of the older line i got on clearance for 70% off. The a9's are like my rti12's but with slightly better balanced drivers and curved body.

Overall i would really say go for the a9's, with the c6 center i believe you posted. The a9's probably sounded bad because they weren't bi amped. Those are energy suckers. With upto 500 watts a piece to power. My father for the first time has heard my final system.

And svs pb 13 ultra.

He has high end klipsch equipment from the 90's. Retailing over 5k when produced, and all i saw was his head shaking in awe during then star wars pod racing scene on episode 1.

I would highly recommend the polks. Great for music, and fantastic for movies. The whole line is capable to below 30hz without the sub. Even the center channel. Polk is like onkyo, great bang for your buck.

1x Onkyo TX-SR876(Receiver)
1x Panasonic TH46PZ80U (TV)
1x Polk Audio CSi5 (Center Speaker)
2x Polk Audio RTi12 (Tower Speakers)
2x Polk Audio Rti6 (Surround Speakers)
1x SVS PC-13 Ultra (Subwoofer)
XBox One with 5tB External HDD
Sony Playstation2, Nintendo Gamecube, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo N64, Sega Dreamcast.
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post #3 of 5 Old 12-01-13, 07:26 PM
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Re: Help me choose between Polk Audio, KEF & Focal ...

KEF for me. Focals are close, but as you point out, the mids are pretty nice on those KEFs.

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post #4 of 5 Old 12-02-13, 12:52 PM
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Re: Help me choose between Polk Audio, KEF & Focal ...

Focal is nice - they can be found at

Who or Where, is The Way, Truth and Life?

Speakers - MB Quart VS05, Boston VS260, Snell K7
Subwoofer - Mordaunt Short Aviano 7
Receiver - Tascam PAR-200, Pioneer VSX-30
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post #5 of 5 Old 12-02-13, 09:41 PM
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Re: Help me choose between Polk Audio, KEF & Focal ...

Having never heard the Focals, I have no opinion on them.
My choice between the KEF and the Polk are the KEF and to me it's not even a close call.
The KEF just sound better to my ear, with better low end, mid range clarity, sound field definition, and ability to get loud without becoming harsh.
The only place I see Polk having an advantage is price because it is usually easy to find significant discounts.
Not that I believe passive bi-amping makes any difference at all...but IMO no speaker that has a MSRP of $750 each should require 500 watts of power and bi-amping to sound "good".
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