Sunday, 23 January 2022 20:37

REVIEW: Polk Audio Reserve R600, R350 and R200 - flagship speakers in casual clothing Featured

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Polk launched the Reserve series last year. We have had three models in for a review, and in addition to the R600 and R200 being primarily tested in stereo, they have also been given a test round in a 5.1(.2) setup together with the special center speaker R350.

Polk Audio originated 50 years ago, in 1972, and is based in San Diego, California. They have always been known for making good quality for a very moderate amount of cash, and this is still a motto they stick to. The goal is to deliver the best they can perform for the price tag they are aiming for for the products in question.

The reserve series was launched at the end of March 2021, but before we delve into this series, which is the second best in Polk Audio's hierarchy, we will take a look at the flagship series that was launched just over two years ago.

POLK AUDIO LEGEND

For in September 2019, the Legend series from Polk Audio was launched. This is the best and most expensive series Polk Audio has launched, and consists of the floor models L800 and L600, the stand models L200 and L100, and the formidable center speaker L400. In addition, they have an altitude module for Atmos.

The top model L800 is a very special model, and is a continuation of Polk Audio's classic SDA concept, which in this latest incarnation involves two rows of treble and midrange elements angled apart mounted in a baffle where the upper part has a bend in the middle.

The models in the Legend series have prices from NOK 13,000 per pair for the smallest tripod speakers to NOK 70,000 per pair for the top models L800.

POLK AUDIO RESERVE

If you get some wine associations by the name Reserve, you`re in good company. The name Reserve is inspired by the wine industry, and was created by Michael Greco, who holds the title of Senior Director of the Loudspeaker Category. He is a dedicated wine lover, and believed that Reserve was a proper name for this new series.

If we look a little at what Polk Audio's level of ambition is with the Reserve series that was launched this spring, it is to offer almost as good sound as the respective models in the Legend series, but in a simpler packaging. And for less than half the price. Or in other words - to deliver the flagship sound quality for music and film, without the flagship price tag, a move some other HiFi writers also like to refer to as beef and champagne for the price of beer and sausage . In any case, this is a pretty hefty ambition, and without having heard the Legend models, I can not comment on whether exactly that ambition has succeeded.

But of course I can comment on the sound in the Reserve series in the three models I have had on test, and this will be described later. But what still makes this appear to be a credible realistic ambition is that it is exactly the same speaker drivers that are used in the bookshelf speakers and floor models R500 and R600 as in similar models in the Legend series. That is, the treble and the combined midrange / bass element.

THE MODELS IN THE RESERVE SERIES

Before we lock in the relevant review objects, we take a short presentation round of the entire series. And initially I will mention that all models in the series have the same tweeter driver, a 25mm Ring Radiator of the Pinnacle incarnation

The Reserve series consists of these three floor models:

  • The top model R700, which is a three-way model for NOK 22,999, - for the couple. It has a 6 mellom ”Turbine Cone for midrange and two 8” Polypropylene bass drivers.
  • The floor model R600, which is a 2-way construction for NOK 16,599, - for the couple. It has two 6 ½ ”Turbine Cone for midrange and bass. This is the floor model we chose for the test.
  • The smallest floor model R500, which is a 2-way construction for NOK 13,999, -. It has two 5 ¼ ”Turbine Cone drivers for midrange and bass.

Furthermore, there are two bookshelf speakers

  • R200, a two-way construction for 7,799 for the couple. They have a 6 ½ ”Turbine Cone for midrange and bass. This is the tripod speaker we chose for the test
  • R100, a two-way construction for NOK 5,799 for the couple. They have a 5 ¼ ”Turbine Cone driver for midrange and bass.

There are three center speakers:

  • R400 is the largest center speaker, and costs NOK 6,990. It uses two 6 ½ ”Turbine Cone for midrange and bass.
  • R350 is a rather special construction, which in addition to being able to function as a traditional center speaker can also function as an LCR on-wall package if you have 3 pcs. The price per piece. for R350 is NOK 5.799, -.
  • The R300 is the most compact center speaker, and has dimensions that make it fit into the middle section of most AV racks, including my 180 cm Ikea Stand. The price for R300 is NOK 4.699, -.

Atmos speakers are also available in the setup, in the form of the model R900. They have a price tag of NOK 5.799, - They fit perfectly on top of an R500 for use as an Atmos-enabled up-and-coming speaker, but can also be placed as wall-mounted front-high or rear high speakers. There is a turntable on the back of the speakers where you can switch between the two alternative uses.

DESIGN AND FINISH

The main lines of the design are naturally repeated in all the models. It involves a fairly ordinary main shape which in the ground plan has a rounding of all the corners. In this price range, there are manufacturers that offer real wood veneer, but this is a little more the exception than the rule. For Polk Audio, this is a crystal clear priority - in the Reserve Series, sound is prioritized over exclusive finishes.

But having said that, Polk Audio must still be honored for having made an appealing speaker series with relatively cost effective means. The finish on the vinyl cover is very good, and the black variant that my test samples also had a nice matte finish with a structure that is comfortable to touch. In a stereo context, many may prefer a finish with the walnut imitation. Personally, I think that the blacks also worked well in a living room context, and do not seem too flashy. In a dedicated home theater, I would exspect a black finish to be almost a mandatory choice.

Other important elements that support good design and finish are high-quality terminals, as well as an integrated bassport and spike arrangement at the bottom of the floor models. And speaking of speaker terminals - even if they are of high quality, they are not biwiring / biamping terminals. To get this, you have to go up in the top models R700.

The speakers come with a front cover that is removable, has rounded side edges, and is attached with magnets. It has a medium gray finish, and helps to soften the visual impression. Personally, I did not need a visual cushioning, i.a. because I think the distinctiveness of the drivers was a positive contribution to the overall visual impression. And after all, this is primarily about sound. Many people may want to keep the cover on when speakers have a slight emphasis on the top. For both R600 and R200, this was not a current issue, and all described listening impressions are made without front cover. 

PINNACLE RING RADIATOR

This one-inch tweeter is common to all models in the Reserve series, with the exception of the Atmos speaker R900, which has a ¾-inch Ring Radiator. Polk Audio has been using Ring Radioator for 20 years, and it started with an off-the-shelf product. But after the first incarnation, there has been In-house developed models, and a constant further development. Ring Radiator has been brought over from the Legend series to Reserve. Not in a scaled-down and simplified version as one might expect - this is the original version from the flagship models.

This edition of Ring Radiator is then self-developed by Polk Audio, and has a waveguide both on the outside and inside. This is claimed to provide a controlled spread and smoother response. The driver has low moving mass, and a special damping on the back has eliminated an unwanted resonance that was exposed early in the design process.

The center of the Ring Radiator has a tip that you simply have to be a little careful with - you may get stuck if you bump into it. Good for the driver, but maybe not as good for the "bumper". And it's easy to imagine what was the main design idea when the hedgehogs were on the drawing board. But on Polk Audio's Ring Radiator, this is primarily a waveguide that will take care of the sound spread.

TURBINE CONE

Like the treble, the midrange / bass driver is also an element with distinctiveness. Turbine Cone is produced in the material Foam-core injection-molded cone, and is claimed to have a property that improves stiffness and damping without adding unwanted mass. These irregularities in the diaphragm surface are added by cutting some sections early during the production process, and Polk Audio claims that they provide a smoother frequency response.

These Turbine Cone drivers have also been adopted in the unaltered version from the Legend series. That is - it applies to the 5 ¼ and 6 ½-inch versions - the four-inch in the R350 and R900 is not available in the Legend series.

POWER PORT + X-PORT

The bass sport is also one of the most important elements in the Reserve series. And here we have to distinguish between the floor models and the stand speakers + the largest center speaker. In the latter models, there is an X-port that takes care of the bass tuning, and has an incorporated Eigentone Filter EFT, which are closed tube absorbers that are tuned to reduce traditional speaker distortion.

On the floor models, there is also a construction called Power Port, also a technology taken from the Legend series. Polk Audio claims that both the X-port and Power Port contribute to distortion-free bass with minimal port noise.

COLUMN RESONANCE CONTROL

Polk Audio has worked a lot with internal bracing. Like many other manufacturers, they work with computer calculations to find optimal braces without giving excessive weight gain. The result is an interior structure that is accurately calculated, and which according to them has led to a cabinet with very little resonance. The system is called Column Resonance Control (CRC)

TEST SETUP

The models that were kindly lent to us by Neby Hifi were a pair with the middle floor models R600, a pair of the largest stand speakers R200, and the center speaker R350. Both the R600 and R200 speaker pairs were primarily reviewed as speakers in a stereo setup. But they were also tested as an AV setup together with the center speaker R350, a Klipsch R-110SW subwoofer and a pair of Linn Classik configured as Top Rear speakers in an Atmos setup with Onkyo TX-NR696, with Linn LK100 as external power amplifier for the front channels .

During the stereo test, this setup was used

  • Bluesound Node 2i streamer
  • Topping E50 DAC
  • Stager Silver Solid signal cables from DAC to Pre.
  • Linn Kolektor preamplifier
  • Linn Black signal cables from pre to power amplifier
  • Linn LK100 power amplifier
  • Xindak FS-1 speaker cables
  • Polk Reserve R200 / R600 speakers
  • Sub disabled

THE TEST TRAIL

We start with a review of 41 tracks in my standard test track, which is admittedly under continuous updating. Here, the listening impressions from both R200 and R600 are noted for all tracks.

  1. ODIN STAVELAND. PARADE - SILLAJASS
    R200:
     Raw and unmade up as it should be. The opening consonant of Odin Staveland is almost spit out. Brutal horns.
    R600: Clearly more prominent bass than with R200

  2. ERIK FRIEDLANDER. BOHEMIA AFTER DARK - OSCALYPSO
    R200:
     Very precise perspective, and deep and precise bass.
    R600: Impressive deep bass, while the precision of the bass is very good. Resolution and precision upwards in the frequency register are as good as on the R200. In addition, the rhythmic aspect of this song is emphasized extra well.

  3. NIGEL KENNEDY. VIVALDI: THE NEW FOUR SEASONS: SUMMER: 8 FEAR - VIVLDI: THE NEW FOUR SEASONS
    R200:
     The alternation between the lyrical parts and the Kennedy-arranged crescendos with fierce twist is handled excellently.
    R600: For some strange reason, the treble in the lyrical passages here is emphasized a little more with R600, while the bass is hefty in the Crescendo. Actually, it is also significant on the lyrical parts compared to R200.

  4. LOUIS ARMSTRONG. ST. JAMES INFIRMARY - SATCHMO PLAYS KING OLIVER
    R200:
     Fine sound balance with no signs of aggression. Great perspective, but not quite on par with the best.
    R600: Warm sound, and nice presentation on a regular basis

  5. ARILD ANDERSEN. PATCH OF LIGHT - HYPERBOREAN
    R200:
     Fine reproduction with neutral sound and good separation of the instruments.
    R600: The rendering with R600 differs little from R200 on this track.

  6. ARILD ANDERSEN. HYPERBOREAN - HYPERBOREAN
    R200:
     Impressive rendering of Arild Andersen's double bass from a tripod speaker. Purely subjectively, it sounds as if they go deeper than the measurements suggest.
    R600: Insanely good double bass, in fact throughout the frequency range. One would almost think that this came from the Reserve R700 with double 8-inch!

  7. FRANK ZAPPA. RUBBER SHIRT - SHEIK YERBOUTI
    R200:
     Fine reproduction with good precision in the bass
    R600: Wow - a sensual bass experience with extreme dynamics

  8. FRANK ZAPPA. THE PURPLE LAGOON - ZAPPA IN NEW YORK
    R200:
     The R200 tripod speakers start this long song by impressing the bass. Slightly revealing in the upper frequency ranges in the intro. Lots of air in the rendering.
    R600: Extreme slam from R600, and the bass goes very deep and effortlessly in this hefty and fascinating Zappa track. At the same time, it is a little clearer with these floor-standing speakers that the saxophone is a bit hefty at the top than on the R200. On the other hand, the bass solo is approx. 9 minutes into the song a direct sensual experience.

  9. DAVID AND SUSANNA WALLUMRØD. CHELSEA HOTEL - CHELSEA HOTEL (LIVE)
    R200:
     Exemplary definition, and great reproduction of vocals and electric piano.
    R600: Something interesting is happening here with the floor model. We get a little more air at the top around Susanna Wallumrød's vocals. Also a little fuller sound in the Elpiano by David Wallumrød.

  10. HELENE GRIMAUD. SILVESTROV: BAGATELLES I - XIII: BAGATELLLE I - MEMORY
    R200:
     Airy presentation with good perspective and good room reproduction.
    R600: This is not a track I expected in advance to be something that made the R600 shine. But here these floor models show that they are very good at perspective and room information.

  11. KLEIVE, REIERSRUD, DISSING. KIMER I KLOKKER - DEN SIGNEDE DAG
    R200:
     Reiersrud strikes with a fierce dynamic. The crescendo on the organ in Odense Cathedral towards the end is handled well, better than many other setups.
    R600: gives a large picture of Odense Cathedral, and does not struggle for a moment with the occasionally demanding organ.

  12. REIERSRUD, KLEIVE. SPOR 12 - HIMMELSKIP
    R200: 
    Very good dynamics, which is served with the greatest obviousness
    R600:
     
    These floor-standing speakers undeniably get an extra dimension in the lower octaves.

  13. JAN GARBAREK. MISSION: TO BE WHERE I AM - IT`S OK TO LISTEN TO THE GRAY VOICE
    R200: 
    Fine sound balance.
    R600: Gives a little more fullness to the bottom of this slightly deep bass-poor track.

  14. JIMI HENDRIX. RED HOUSE - HENDRIX IN THE WEST
    R200: 
    Open, and with good dynamics. At the same time, it is revealed that the recording is not perfect, but has some distortion in some places. And the sequence that starts after approx. 8 minutes still impresses. The dynamics are impeccable.
    R600: These speakers make it extra fun to hear the early teenager`s favorite Hendrix track in the early 70's. And not surprisingly, it is Noel Redding's bass that spices it up extra this time. It's still a bit of a twist, not least on Jimi's vocals, and also the guitar can be a bit hard at the top. But still it is magical in the previously mentioned part that starts around eight blank.

  15. JOHN ABERCROMBIE. RED AND ORANGE - TIMELESS
    R200: 
    Jan Hammer's synth bass is taken with bravura on a straight arm. Not all bookshelf speakers do that.
    R600: Jan Hammer impresses like never before. Or at least it's a long time ago.

  16. JONI MITCHELL. OVERTURE / COTTON AVENUE - DON JUAN`S RECKLESS DAUGHTER
    R200: 
    One of my most used reference tracks, which can also be very revealing. The first try is when Jaco's bass sets in, and it impresses with great authority. The next test is whether Joni Mitchell's vocals and guitar are too sharp, and here too the R200 test passes well.
    R600: Of course this is about Jaco's bass, and it's formidable.

  17. KARI BREMNES. KANSKJE - DET VI HAR
    R200: 
    Hefty bass that reproduces well. And Kari's vocals, which on this track can be a bit intrusive, work well with R200.
    R600: Even more authority in the bass with R600. Otherwise nice sound balance, and good perspective.

  18. KARI BREMNES. BARN AV BLÅ KRUKKE - BLÅ KRUKKE
    R200: 
    This is a track that has a little hammock balance. The R200 handles tis very well - not by equalizing the characteristics, but by not amplifying it. Right should be right - that characteristic is one of the qualities with exactly this track on one of Kari Bremnes' oldest releases.
    R600: Slightly more obvious emphasis on bass and treble with R600.

  19. KARI BREMNES. A LOVER IN BERLIN - NORWEGIAN MOODS
    R200: 
    A little extra weight and depth in the bass compared to most tripod speakers. At the same time, it is liberating to drop the treble boost that many other bookshelf speakers serve.
    R600: Here it is once again the bass that impresses initially, but without it becoming too intrusive for that reason. At the same time very good detail reproduction up in the register .

  20. KARI BREMNES. DU HAR SETT DEM - MÅNESTEIN
    R200: 
    This track should sound quite raw and uncomfortable. And that is exactly the characteristic we get more from other speakers.
    R600: With the floor models, I experience more of the rawness the track deserves.

  21. KEITH JARRETT. FOR MILES - BYE BYE BLACKBIRD
    R200: 
    I've been testing speakers lately that highlight Jack DeJohnette's play on the drum kit more in the treble than the R200 - that's part of the concept of these neutral tripod speakers. But on the other hand, these often have less authority in the bass, and perhaps not as well-balanced piano sound.
    R600: DeJohnette's play on cymbals becomes a little more prominent here. It's also Gary Peacock when he eventually comes in. And Keith Jarrett's piano has a nice sound balance.

  22. KETIL BJØRNSTAD. MOREN - SUNRISE
    R200: 
    Nice sound balance
    R600: As expected, a little more focus on the extremes with the floor model, but without it going to the detriment of the sound in Kari Bremnes' vocals.

  23. KOLBJØRN FALKEID. EVERYTHING - SUNSHINE DEPTH
    R200: 
    Fine reproduction of Kolbjørn Falkeid's recitation, set to music by Ketil Bjørnstad. But here some air is missing around the cymbals.
    R600: It is inevitable that Bjørn Kjellemtyr's bass playing gets extra attention here.

  24. KETIL BJØRNSTAD. SYLVELINES HUS - BERGET DET BLÅ
    R200: 
    The usually slightly intrusive light sound balance on other layouts is not emphasized as much here.
    R600: Although Ketil Bjørnstad's piano is a bit light, it is well balanced by the other instruments. Not least Arild Andersen's bass.

  25. LEONARD COHEN. HAPPENS TO THE HEART - THANKS FOR THE DANCE
    R200: 
    These speakers are as created for this track by Leonard Cohen, released post mortem
    R600: Leonard Cohen's vocals rasp a little extra when recording for good traction in the bass.

  26. LEONARD COHEN. THE STORY OF ISAC - SONGS FROM A ROOM
    R200: 
    Very melodic bass. Otherwise nice sound balance.
    R600: This is the first music example where I experience that the bass is almost a bit in excess.

  27. LYNNI TREEKREM. SJALU TYPE - STORM
    R200: 
    Raw and beautiful, and good deep bass.
    R600: Very good, a track created for R600

  28. LYNNI TREEKREM. VESLEMØY - HAUGTUSSA
    R200: 
    Very good reproduction which is a nice mix of analytical and lyrical with good sound balance and warm midrange with good reproduction of Lynni's vocals.
    R600: The impressions from the bookshelf model are retained, but of course with even a little more bass.

  29. MARI BOINE. CHASING MYSELF INTO REALITY - SEE THE WOMAN
    R200: 
    The bass on this track is often a challenge by being dominant and a bit spongy. There is good precision here, at the same time as Mari Boine's vocals stand out solidly.
    R600: Wow!

  30. MARIANNE BAUDOUIN LIE. MANY THOUSANDS GONE - ATLANTIS, UTOPIA AND ULVEDRØMMER
    R200: 
    Nice sound with good balance. Good presence in the Cello rendering.
    R600: With the floor models, the Cello almost becomes a double bass…

  31. MATS EILERTSEN. SIGNAL - REVERIES AND REVELATIONS
    R200: Magical perspective and precision
    R600: Violent dynamics

  32. SIRI COLD BAND. DON`T EXPLAIN - BLACKBIRD
    R200: The bass is very well reproduced, and goes surprisingly deep. Siri Gelein's vocals are not bothered by sibilants as many other speakers present.
    R600: Still great sound balance, and of course even more attention to Bjørn Alterhaug's bass.

  33. Beyoncè. DONT HURT YOURSELF - LEMONADE
    R200: Beautiful, distinct, raw and brutal. As ordered and expected!
    R600: Still just as raw

  34. ØYVIND KRISTIANSEN, JONAS KILMORK VEMØY. FORSAKEN - HYMNS OF COMPASSION
    R200: impressive bass from a bookshelf speaker. And Beate's vocals are free of sibilants, unlike some other speakers.
    R600: The qualities from R200 are taken care of. And at the same time, this sounds like the speakers are being pulled by a subwoofer.

  35. RADKA TONEFF. THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS -FAIRYTALES
    R200: Lacks some of the sophistication at the top some other speakers can offer.
    R600: Fine and balanced reproduction

  36. LILL LINDFORS. ANKOMST - TIL HADES
    R200: Great rendition of the atmosphere in this track which is set to music by Ketil Bjørnstad.
    R600: Still great, and then Arild Andersen gets even more attention when rendered by the R600.

  37. BILLIE EILISH. YOUR POWER - HAPPIER THAN EVER
    R200: Fine sound balance with deep and precise bass. Other speakers can deliver the top even more refined.
    R600: A very large sound image is presented

  38. MARC JOHNSON. JAZZ FREEDOM DANCE - OVERPASS
    R200: A hefty bass track that the R200 does not give way to.
    R600: And to an even lesser extent R600, of course

  39. JEFF REILY AND PETER ANTHONY TOGNI. AVE VERUM - BLACKWOOD
    R200: Absolutely insane air, dynamics and deep bass
    R600: This must be experienced - bass clarinet at its best.

  40. ANETTE ASKVIK. LIBERTY - LIBERTY
    R200: Nice sound, and the vocals are beautifully reproduced with a good presence.
    R600: The light emphasis of lower frequencies gives an extra dimension to Anette Askvik's vocals.

  41. CHIAROSCURO QUARTET. STRING QUARTET NO. 1 - BEETHOVEN: STRING QUARTET
    R200: A track that shows that the R200 also delivers an excellent presentation with a classical string quartet. Good instrument separation.
    R600: Magnificent rendition of the Chiaroscuro Quartet's interpretation of String Quartet no. 1 by Beethoven.

POLK AUDIO RESERVE R200 - SUMMARY AND LISTENING IMPRESSIONS.

With a price tag of just below eight thousand NOK, the R200 is at the rather cautious end of the middle class. It gives some clear expectation both to what one may hope for and what is hardly realistic. My experience background in this segment in recent years is a little above or below this price tag, but you also have a recent experience from a pair of speakers at about the same price.

The treble is combined with a 6½-inch for midrange / bass, and this in combination with a larger cabinet volume gives experience and naturally greater depth in the bass than with a 5¼-inch that the kid brother R100 is equipped with. On the other hand, there is often a very smooth transition between treble and midrange with a five-inch than a larger midrange / bass in a two-way speaker, so one should be a little careful about making solid assumptions about what is the better speaker of R100 and R200. And then of course we have the price factor, where a price difference of a couple of thousand kroner means that R100 must rather be defined as the upper part of the budget class.

The greatest tension lies in the sound balance, and especially in the two extremes. I have both experienced that bookshelf speakers in this size have a good bass response, even if the direct deep bass rolls off a little higher than you would strictly wish. And I have also experienced a directly inadequate bass response where the need for traction assistance from a subwoofer is nearly mandatory.

And also in the treble, I have often experienced a persistence that is a little more than desirable. Then of course the big excitement is how the R200 does it in these frequency ranges. And if you have read through the entire test track, you probably already have a clue.

If we start at the top, the really good news is that the R200 is really well balanced here. I'm almost a little sorry that writer's colleague Stig Arne did not get a chance to experience these when he stopped by Sommerhuset in Fredrikstad last autumn, because he has a distinct aversion to what he believes is a notorious trend with excessive treble to give a impressor effect, especially in tripod speakers. I do not have quite the same opinion that he has, but still share the view that a number of speakers could have had a slight attenuation in the treble reproduction. And with the R200, this is not a phenomenon at all - the treble appears to be neutral and well balanced. What I miss compared to some significantly more expensive models is the latest word in sophistication in the treble. I experienced this as a little better in e.g. Triangle Comète 40th that we tested last year, both at about double the price. Not to mention the Triangle Signature Theta at more than four times the price of R200.

There is also a noticeable absence of sibilants on recordings where other speakers may struggle with this.

The midrange is nice, and has a good portion of warmth in vocals and strings. It is well exemplified in the listening impressions of Kari Bremnes, Lynni Treekrem and Leonard Cohen. And also by the Cello of Marianne Baudouin Lie.

The bass is undeniably what impresses most with these speakers. Here, there is a well-balanced bass that extends further down in the register than the stated frequency response would indicate. And there is as much depth and precision as the amount of bass that impresses - giving an imprecise boost in the bass is rarely successful, and is not what we get here.

Good examples of an almost incredible bass reproduction from moderate tripod speakers are brutally presented on Jeff Reily and Peter Anthony Togni's Ave Verum, and on the Zappa classics Rubber Shirt and The Purple Lagoon. On some of the tracks I also tried to play with the subwoofer Klipsch R-110SW connected. It naturally gave even deeper bass, but still demonstrates that the R200 does excellently well on its own.

The perspective properties of the R200 are also above expectations, and a very good perspective is generally given on many of the tracks in the test track. Transparency is also good, but the ultimate transparency is somewhat limited by the previously mentioned hint of limited sophistication on some songs, which is not quite on a par with significantly more expensive constructions.

The microdynamics are also clearly above average, and provide very dynamic music experiences on a wide range of music.

But all in all, the Polk Audio R200 is an incredibly good speaker at this price, and allows them to threaten just about any of the tripod speakers in the price range below ten thousand NOK. And also far beyond this aount, in some cases.

POLK AUDIO RESERVE R600 - SUMMARY LISTENING IMPRESSIONS.

Polk Audio R600 gives more of the same as R200. Very much more - at least in the lower octaves. Because if we start at the top, it is quite similar impression, except that on a few test tracks it was a little surprisingly a bit more treble. The midrange has the same high quality as the R200 bookshelf speaker, and that's good news.

Of course it is in the bass that the R600 really stands out from the R200, and it is by no means marginal. For R600 goes significantly deeper than R200, and the fact I mentioned for R200 that they are perceived to go deeper than the specifications would indicate, applies even more to R600. But in addition, there is obviously more level in the bass at R600, and this has, among other things, resulted in the bass reproduction being a notorious comment for the various test tracks.

Another way of discussing this is that where the Reserve R200 appears as a distinctly neutral construction throughout the frequency range, it is tempting to define the R600 as a bass-rich speaker, and at the same time with a touch of v-characteristics. This can of course be a disadvantage for some, and then it may be natural for them to try an R500 instead. But for me, this provided an almost addictive experience. We are talking about a rather extreme fun factor, which gave extra effect to some music with hefty bass. An important part of this is that the bass is reproduced with very high precision - no woolly or spongy bass there, which would have turned this property into something negative.

The R600 is otherwise equipped with 2 6½-inches set up in a 2½-way configuration, where one Turbine Cone element plays deeper than the other.

The perspective properties of the R600 are, as with the R200, excellent, and the same applies to both micro- and macro-dynamics.

R600, R350 AND R200 IN A MULTI-CHANNEL SETUP

In this part of the test, the R600 was used as L/R front speakers, while the R200 set was given the task as L/R surround speakers. In addition, R350 was used as the center speaker.

POLK AUDIO RESERVE R350

Before we move on to discuss the whole, it is necessary to say a little about the center speaker R350. This is a model that differs from the other models in the series by having 4 pcs. of four inches drivers. This is done for the specific task to provide an offer for those who want a slightly minimalist solution. The R350 is specially adapted for an on-wall solution, and the same speaker can be used as an on-wall right and left front channel on each side of the TV. For the same reason, the R350 is not a bass reflex solution, but like the R300 has a closed cabinet. This is a smart solution, and provides a good reason for choosing 4 x four-inch in this model.

At the same time, this is an indication that the R350 is not the optimal choice for the center speaker in combination with the R600 and R200, but at the time of the test, this was the only center speaker available. An R300 or R400 would probably have been a more correct choice, and after all the hints would have given a better adaptation to the other speakers. Because if these models play as well as the R200 (and I suspect they do), there is no reason to expect anything other than exquisite performance.

The first impression of the R350 was a bit restrained, with a sound balance that disappointed a bit. After checking what choices the auto setup in the AV-receiver had made for crossover frequency via the measuring microphone, I discovered a little surprised that 50Hz had been selected for both R200 and R350, while R600 was set to full range. After I manually overridden the crossover frequency to 80Hz, where lower frequencies were taken over by a 10-inch subwoofer, the whole impression was lifted many notches, and it all worked well as a whole. That attenuation in the form of attenuated reproduction between 50 and 80 Hz was largely eliminated. But still I would recommend that you primarily check out R300 or R400 depending on ambition level and wallet. There is every reason to assume that this provides an even better whole.

But if you are looking for a minimalist wall-mounted speaker setup, a 3-pack of R350 will be a very interesting choice.

THE ENTIRE SET FOR CINEMA SOUND

With the reservations mentioned under the center speaker R350 gone, this is a brilliant setup for TV and movie sound. The almost identical sound balance between R600 and R200 with the exception of the lvery deepest part of the bass range gave an extra bonus in the form of a seamless 3D perspective, and in this case was aided by height speakers configured as Top Back. Music in 3D also provided an enormous experience, not least via 2L's exquisite multi-channel releases with Dolby Atmos.

CONCLUSION

Polk Audio has created an extremely interesting series with Reserve. Polk Audio Reserve R600 are incredibly well-playing speakers with a high fun factor with their extensive bass reproduction. And although it shines extra with rock recordings where there is a lot going on in the bass, they have also shown that they play excellent with classical music - also simple piano music and string quartets. With a price tag of NOK 16,599, - for the pair, this is a very competitive speaker, where it scores extra high on sound, but they also do well in the exercise design and finish, even though this exercise is actually the trade-off item in relation to the Legend series.

The largest tripod speaker model Polk Audio Reserve R200 is still the most interesting model in my ears if we take the price tag into account. For up to 7,799, - it has a sound reproduction that in many areas surpasses significantly more expensive models. And the biggest advantage of the R200 is the sound, and it matches very well with what has been the manufacturer's intention.

The center speaker Polk Audio Reserve R350 is in itself a different and interesting construction. It plays well, but for reasons mentioned above I can not recommend using it in combination with R600 / R200. Replace it with a R300 or R400 in a setup along with the R600 and R200, and you have an insane multi-channel setup at a very moderate price!

There is every reason to expect that Reserve will be a great success for Polk Audio, because these are speakers that give a rudely good sound in relation to the moderate price tag they have.

 

Guide price for Reserve R600 is NOK. 16,599, - Guide
price for Reserve R200 is NOK. 7,799, - Guide
price for Reserve R350 is NOK. 5.799, -

 

Read more about Reserve R600 at Neby Hifi
Read more about Reserve R600 at Polk Audio

Read more about Reserve R200 at Neby Hifi
Read more about Reserve R200 at Polk Audio

Read more about Reserve R350 at Neby Hifi
Read more about Reserve R350 at Polk Audio

Read 4843 times Last modified on Sunday, 08 May 2022 08:12
Karl Erik Sylthe

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