Review: Polk Legend L200 Bookshelf Speakers Sing
Over the years Polk Audio has built a reputation for developing affordable speakers with clarity and depth of sound, and the L200 mid-sized bookshelf models in the brand’s new flagship Legend series takes that legacy a big step further.
We found the speakers have high quality smooth overall tonality, good balance between the mid-range and top end without being overly bright while presenting a surprisingly deep low end that presents nice bass without the need of a subwoofer. The Polk Legend L200s also deliver sound with impressive musicality, a sense of dimension and an overall warmth that stands up well against models designed to be purely neutral and flat.
Unfortunately, these 6.5-inch bookshelf speakers are at the same level of affordable value as many have come to look for from Polk — like the Signature series or previous TSi lineup — with these units ringing in at a somewhat hefty $1,799 a pair. The speakers also have 4 ohm impedance making them less efficient at power handling than more common 8 ohm models, though they sound very good with the power notched up on 2-channel and surround sound AVRs or component setups alike.
What you’ll get for the money is a pleasant sounding set of speakers with the versatility to perform well in both stereo only setups or as rear or side-channel speakers in multi-channel home theaters.
The L200 bookshelf speakers we tested are part of a six model Legend speaker series that replaces the brand’s LSiM Line. Other models in the series include the 5.25-inch L100 bookshelf ($1,199 a pair), the L400 center channel ($1,799), the L600 tower ($1,999 each), the L800 Stereo Dimensional Array (SDA) tower ($2,999), and the L900 height module for overhead Dolby Atmos/DTS:X effects ($599 each). The latter is designed to fit into the L600 or L800 cabinets. No Legend subwoofer has been announced.
Polk said it has re-engineered each component of these speakers to provide improvements in sound and performance over its previous lines. This includes the use of new materials including the use of real wood cabinets (available in black ash or walnut) providing greater rigidity to eliminate vibration and distortion.
The company also employs a 1-inch needle-shaped tweeter, called Pinnacle Ring Radiator Tweeter, offering an unusual waveguide designed to generate greater high-frequency dispersion and a wider sweet spot.
In fact, we found one of the great strengths of the Polk Legend L200s was the wide sound stage reproduced in 2-channel listening.
Listening in stereo in a moderately sized room to a YouTube performance of Van Morrison performing his classic Madame George, we felt the music surround us in wide reverb as it would in a concert hall. Cymbals and flutes were authentic sounding without being shrill or overly bright.
The 6.5-inch mid-range/bass driver consists of a new ribbed “turbine cone” using a foam core and molded “turbine geometry” with greater stiffness. This delivers a smooth, lush room-filling midrange and deep balanced bass with nice definition.
One of the most distinctive elements of the L200 we tested is an enhanced rear-facing power port design that reduces noise and increases the punch of the bass with 360 degree dispersion using a pointed sound disperser that projects the low-end tones all around, disguising the exact point of orign.
Both Van Morrison’s vocals and the sound of the upright bass in the Madame George selection were at the same time clear, direct, deep and warm without overwhelming the rest or the accompanying orchestra. We never detected any unnatural distortion or rattle from inside the cabinets or the speaker components.
We felt that we were in the room with Jorma Kaukonen listening in 2-channels to Blue Railroad Train from the SACD of Blue Country Heart. Again the acoustic upright bass was well proportioned to the accompanying instruments without muddying up the 3D qualities in Kaukonen’s folksy vocals.
For power we put on the CD of Hocus Pocus by Focus. Back in the day, the deep drive of this song used to send woofers wildly flexing forward and back in the cabinet. In the Legend L200s, the rigid foam core design wasn’t evident in a lot of cone movement by the power port delivered a enveloping overall punch that fully satisfied our primal sonic desires.
Other Specs and Observations
The L200s come with bi-wired terminals already connected together with speaker wire. This is a nice touch rarely seen in this range.
Weighing in at 22 pounds apiece, the Polk Legend L200s have good heft revealing their high build quality right out of the box before a note is played through them. Each unit measures 15.66 inches tall by 8.33 inches wide by 13.3 inches deep, belying their big sound qualities.
Frequency Response: 46-50,000 Hz; Impedance: 4 ohms; Sensitivity 85.5 dB (1 watt @ 1 meter); Peak Power Handling: 200 watts; Recommended Power Amplifier 30-200 watts per channel; Tweeter/Midrange Crossover Frequency 2600 Hz.
With the release of the Legend Series Polk has stepped up its game in speaker performance and design. Although these will cost more than other challengers in the class, few speakers of this size capture the dynamics and range of sound we came to enjoy listening to these speakers. They are perfect companions to a two-channel receiver in an office or den, when excellent music reproduction is appreciated and fill in nicely as surround sound channels in multi-channel home theater systems. These are a touch warmer some flat-response elite models, which should be taken into consideration if accuracy is important, but we found the overall sound qualities to be richly room filling and more than satisfying.
We therefore award the Polk Legend L200 Mid-size Bookshelf speakers five out of five hearts.
The Polk Legend L200 Bookshelf Speakers used in this review were a company loan.