Last Updated on January 1, 2024 by Daniel Osakwe
The Polk Audio T50 speaker is a perfect choice if you’re looking for a compact tower speaker that will do most of what you need it to do in a package that’s both attractive and affordable. The design is smart and there are some things it doesn’t quite get right, but its performance and overall presentation make it a very appealing speaker for the money.
For a compact tower speaker that I’ve reviewed before, this is an interesting change of pace. I’ve not heard many other compact towers in the $150 price range, which means there aren’t a ton of reference points to compare against, so I had to do a lot of thinking about what kind of speaker it might be. That said, I think Polk Audio has achieved a pretty impressive feat here.
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Polk Audio T50 Speaker: Quick review
Polk’s T50 tower speaker sounds remarkably good for the price, but competition is fierce.
That brings us to Polk’s spiffy new tower, the T50. There is no difference in floor space between this speaker and a pair of monitor speakers. Thanks to its stylish cabinetry, it looks more expensive than it is and offers excellent home theater performance for the price.
The Polk PF-FS52 tower was clearly designed to compete with Pioneer’s budget-friendly SP-FS52 tower, but the sound quality isn’t quite as good. It’s not necessarily a bad thing; the Pioneers are quite exceptional, but the Polks are a good “very good.”
Conversely, Pioneer’s speaker designer, Andrew Jones, no longer works there, and the AV division of Pioneer has been acquired by Onkyo. In other words, it’s uncertain how long the SP-FS52 will remain on sale, and in case they disappear, the Polk T50 would make an excellent substitute.
Design and features: Polk Audio T50 Speaker
- Flat base
- Attractive design and color
Polk’s T50 is a handsome speaker. Its medium-density fiberboard cabinet is wrapped in black grain, wood vinyl finish, and its removable black cloth grille protects the drivers. The speaker has a small, flat pedestal base and overall fit and finish that are above average for its price range. Not your average entry-level speaker.
In terms of tower size, the T50 isn’t very large. It measures 36.25 inches high, 7.75 inches wide, and 8.75 inches deep.
There is a 1-inch silk dome tweeter in the T50, one 6.5-inch extended throw composite midrange/woofer, and two 6.5-inch bass radiators (bass radiators are passive devices, which means they are not driven by your receiver’s amplifier).
The advantage of bass radiators is that they replace bass ports (since they’re closed boxes), so no “chuffing” sounds are produced as a result. Furthermore, they can be placed in more places in the room than ported speakers.
On the back of the T50 are five binding posts that can be used with banana plugs, spades, pins, or bare wires; the impedance is 6 ohms. Five years of warranty are provided with the T50.
For those who want a genuine 5.1-channel home theater experience, the T Series also includes the T30 center-channel speaker and the T15 bookshelf/surround channel speaker. Additionally, Polk offers a number of compatible subwoofers; the PSW10 and PSW111 are worth checking out.
Polk Audio T50 Speaker: Performance
- Solid sound
- No distortion
With its bright and clear sound and commendably tight and defined bass, the T50 immediately makes a good first impression.
We enjoyed watching “Mad Max: Fury Road” on Blu-ray in stereo with just the T50s flanking the screen without missing surround sound or even a subwoofer. With an endless parade of muscle cars roaring across a post-apocalyptic landscape, the T50s worked hard to convey the hard-hitting dynamics of the film, while the score’s pounding drums tested the T50’s three bass drivers extensively. We auditioned the T50s vigorously without noticing any strain or distortion.
After appreciating the T50’s home theater capabilities, we settled in and listened to a few high-res files from Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue” album. Davis’ horn was highlighted by the T50s’ immediacy, the sound was exciting, and the grooves were alive. Defining the bass with the stand-up bass was a great touch.
We then switched over to Pioneer’s SP-FS52 tower speakers, which are almost the same size and price as the T50s. Their sound quality, however, was not comparable. On most counts, the Pioneers were the clear winners.
With three small 5.25-inch woofers, the SP-FS52 has a richer and more powerful sound than the T50. Compared to the Pioneers, the Polks’ image was shallower and had less depth.
Our preference was the SP-FS52s for Jack White’s “Lazaretto” album because the SP-FS52s opened up the sound and provided a smoother bass-midrange-treble balance. In addition, the SP-FS52s did a better job rocking on the “Lullabies to Paralyze” album by Queens of the Stone Age.
- Has a very good sound.
- The speakers are sleek and feature a 1-inch tweeter, 6.5-inch woofer, and two 6.5-inch bass radiators.
- Only one color is available (black)
- Its high-pitched detailing can, on some recordings, seem harsh.
Polk’s T50 is a good speaker for the money, but Pioneer’s SP-FS52 tower for the same dollars is our preferred choice. This Pioneer had a fuller balance and a bigger, deeper soundstage that we liked better. However, some might prefer the sound signature of the T50.
Despite their entry-level prices, these speakers don’t deliver the best sound quality; both of them tend to accentuate sibilance and grit in movies and music. Fairly speaking, these tweeter shortcomings are only apparent when compared with more expensive speakers like the SVS Prime Tower and the Wharfedale Diamond 230.