For those of you looking for a pair of floor-standing speakers for your home that won’t break the bank, have a look at the Polk S50, S55, and S60. While probably not competitors for the likes of heavy-duty audiophile brands, the quality on offer here in this price range makes for great value for consumers looking for optimized listening pleasure in their home-theater and sound systems.
In summary, all three speakers in this series are solid pieces of equipment that offer a sleek, retro-futurist look and high-fidelity sound specs. The Polk S60 is the largest and heaviest of all three and offers the widest frequency spectrum. The Polk S55 and Polk S50 are closer contenders in sound but come with minute differences in size and weight.
Let’s have a closer look.
The aforementioned retro-futuristic aesthetic is probably the strong point of all three speakers. Available in what Polk calls 'Walnut' brown or black washed paneling, the bold, visible bolts and rounded and chrome bezels give these tall, skinny speakers bring a chic vibe that would look as comfortable in a minimalist living room as they would in a cozy study (when placed intelligently). Additionally, they come with stabilization stands which not just add to the aesthetic but add genuine utility. This ease in design is generally a big plus for floor-standing speakers, which can often tend to be somewhat clumsy and bulky in design.
That being said, none of the three are very light or portable. The Polk S60, as the model number probably gives away, is the largest of them all and weighs in at 50lbs. The Polk S55 follows with 44lbs, and the Polk S50 with 32lbs.
S50: 10.9 x 7.5 x 37.4 inches
S55: 12.5 x 11.7 x 41.5 inches
S60: 15.7 x 8.5 x 44.5 inches
Let me tell you something right off the bat.
Room acoustics, particularly room dimensions and speaker positioning, will have an immense effect on sound quality.
The impact of the combination of these two is actually so strong that in most cases, it doesn't even make sense to utter a single word on sound quality without speaking of them.
This is why I'd hiiiiiiighly recommend you to check out this simple, 2D, online speaker placement calculator.
It's GOOOOLLLDDDDD. I've had an Acoustics & Audio PhD build this tool specifically for this purpose:
- Ceiling height: 106 inches or 8 feet 10 inches or 2.70 meters
- Most standard ceiling height
- Listener's height: 32 inches or 2 feet 8 inches or 0.80 meters
- Average height of a sitting person
Central heights of speakers (measured from the ground) and examples to them:
- Soundbars: 30 inches or 2 feet 6 inches or 0.75 meters
- 8", 10" or 12" Subwoofers: 8 inches or 0.20 meters
- 360 degree speakers: 32 inches or 2 feet 8 inches or 0.80 meters
- Horizontal speakers: 32 inches or 2 feet 8 inches or 0.80 meters
- Floor standing speakers: 20 inches or 1 feet 8 inches or 0.50 meters
- Bookshelf speakers: 32 inches or 2 feet 8 inches or 0.80 meters
- Center speakers: 32 inches or 2 feet 8 inches or 0.80 meters
Side note: This tool can and will return inaccurate results for small, portable Bluetooth speakers such as JBL's Go Series. It will, however, deliver just fine for more powerful, packed bluetooth speakers such as this one.
ASAP Science made a video on the loudest and quietest rooms in the world. A mind blowing example of the importance of acoustics (time adjusted video).
Other parameters such as the age/materials of the building, the furniture & carpets in place, etc can and will, of course, have an effect on room acoustics, too. But much less.
Did you know you could also virtually hear any speaker online?
Crutchfield had recently created a tool that virtually simulates the sounds of many different speakers; such as those of SVS, Klipsch, KEF and B&W. Nothing will, of course, beat hearing the speakers in reality. But I'd still recommend you to give it a shot.
While you're at it, blast my Hidden Electronic Gems list to test them:
The general quality of sound amidst all three is similar.
High-fidelity clarity and balance for a budget price. The trebles and mids are clear and transparent, the much-dreaded low-mids are not too muddy if placed properly, and the bass is focused and no-nonsense.
The only catch with that last bit (the lower frequencies) is that they can be a little muffled at lower volumes and need a little cranking up for their clarity. But for listening to music or watching movies, these offer more-than-sufficient headroom for your pleasure and convenience.
Polk S60 comes with the broadest frequency spectrum (check specs below). The Polk S55 and Polk S50 have a minimal difference of 1Hz in the lower range. But between each set of speakers is a difference of 100W in Power output. So while the overall character in sonic output is similar, your best strategy on choosing the right pair is to take the size of your room into account.
All this being said, it is important to note that these speakers do not offer the kind of sheer volume and power a larger speaker system with a subwoofer and satellite outputs for sheer trebles would. But they’re way less complicated to set up and give you a nice, even output that integrates itself quite easily in most rooms. So the trade-off at the end of the day is fair.
- S50: 33 Hz - 40 kHz
- S55: 32 Hz - 40 kHz
- S60: 26 Hz - 40 kHz
- S50: 150 W
- S55: 200W
- S60: 300 W
- S50: 8 ohm
- S55: 8 ohm
- S60: 8 ohm
These speakers are passive (meaning you’ll need an additional amplifier to use them) and don’t offer any wireless connectivity like Bluetooth either. But Polk speakers are compatible with most Home theater AV receivers. This gives you multiple setup options. You could use these as a 5.1 channel system on their own or upgrade to an immersive multi-room setup with 7.1, 9.1, or more channels.
In conclusion, this is how the three speaker systems stack up against each other:
- Design: Tie. The Polk S50 is the most lightweight, though.
- Sound: The Polk S60 gives you the broadest spectrum.
- Connectivity: A clear tie.
- Price: The Polk S50 wins.