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The global speaker market was valued at US$38.3 billion in 2019 alone and is expected to continuously grow because of the rising demand for wireless streaming of audio content, according to Verified Market Research.
And it goes without saying that the market for speakers has no shortage of options. One celebrated high-performance speaker brand is Polk Audio, known for providing decent ceiling and wall speakers at an affordable price.
Take, for instance, their entry-level Polk Audio T15 bookshelf speakers. These speakers have a uniquely designed driver and their overall design features (a sleek design that can be displayed with or without the speaker grille) easily stand out from other bookshelf speakers of such a price range.
But are its features really worth your attention? That’s what we’re going to find out in this in-depth Polk Audio T15 review!
TLDR: Polk T15 Bookshelf Speakers Review
The Polk Audio T15 is a low-cost home theater bookshelf speaker but has a nice build and decent quality.
While true audiophiles may find that these speakers lack midrange tune sound, which would supposedly help the speaker system recreate musical instruments and human voice in the “middle range” of the spectrum, these still give you an accurate sound and a wider sweet spot. Thanks to Polk’s Dynamic Balance technology, a premium feature in a speaker at such a low price.
With this Dynamic Balance Drivers proprietary technology, it allows for wide-open midrange, massive bass response, and brighter highs. Now, when it comes to its sound, they are not meant to be exceptional sounding, but they do provide a good value for the money.
They sound pretty great for their price. In fact, the speakers produce a wide dispersion sound. Furthermore, setting up the T15 Polk series is also easy no matter where you plan to put them at just 7.3 x 6.5 x 10.7 inches in dimensions.
Design and Build Quality
For its price, the T15 bookshelf speakers are one of the nicest-looking speakers you’ll find. They can be used in surround sound and are awesome for home cinema.
They arrive well-packed and are placed between large foam pieces. With the slight curvature-shaped speaker grilles on, the Polk Audio T15 bookshelf speakers don’t look bad at all. It even complements the Polk emblem.
We also find the wood-grain side panels of the Polk Audio T15 bookshelf speaker classy vs. other bookshelf speakers at this price. At the same time, the design is pretty straightforward without incorporating any trends used by the audio industry.
Their speakers’ cabinets are made of medium-density fibreboard (MDF) and weigh just 8.25 lbs. The look may not be much of a stand-out than other speakers nowadays, but it’s nice that Polk invested more into the components in this budget speaker.
What Makes it Stand Out
These Polk Audio T15 speakers have three components. The first one is the 5.25” polymer composite cone driver, which is responsible for the midrange. It is finished in grey with a black accent.
The second component driving these bookshelf speakers is the soft silk dome tweeter (.75”). To be honest, this feature is not particularly surprising. Sure, it adds some protection although we think a metal bracing would have been better so that the dome tweeter does not get pushed in.
Then, there is a front port between the two drivers. They are front-ported speakers but they can also be used as rear speakers.
- Easy to mount
- Wall-mountable bookshelf speakers
- Affordable price
- Acoustically inert MDF cabinet
- Large 5.25 dynamic balance drivers
- Sophisticated and sleek design
- Multiple placement options
- Produces detailed audio with crystal clear vocals
- Wide soundstage
- Easy load for budget amplifiers
- Broad area coverage
- Features Polk Audio’s Dynamic Balance proprietary technology
- Bass lacks in punch; less deep bass compared to larger speakers
- Audible gap or flawed response on direct axis height level
- The rated frequency response (45 Hz – 24 kHz) barely touches 50Hz. It would have been better if it has above 100 Hz frequency response
Is it worth it to try?
If you’re planning to put this in a small room, like a home office or small bedroom, then the entry-level Polk Audio T15 bookshelf speakers would be worth buying. You can listen to music and watch movies through these speakers.
We can say that the Polk Audio T15 bookshelf speakers have the important features you need in a speaker. They are easy to connect and set up to most home theater receivers. Sound quality is also great and they can even handle changes between complex passages.
In-Depth Review of the T15 Polk Audio Bookshelf Speakers
|Mounting Type||Keyhole Hanger|
|Driver Size||1x 5 1/4″ Mid/Woofer. 1x 3/4″ Tweeter|
|Recommended Amplifier Power Per Channel||20-100 Watts/Channel|
|Peak Power Handling||100 Watts|
|Nominal Impedance||8 ohms|
|Driver Complement||• (1) 5.25″ (13.34 cm) d (Round) Dynamic Balance mineral-filled polymer composite cone driver – Mid/Woofer
• (1) 0.75″ (1.91 cm) d (Round) Dynamic Balance silk/polymer composite dome – Tweeter
Sound Quality and Durability
You can experience immersive surround sound with the Polk Audio T15. It appears to us that Polk did manage to marry advanced technology and smart design techniques in creating these cheap speakers yet of good quality.
The speakers produce detailed, sweet, and dynamic sound and they also have superb stereo imaging. All of these features help the Polk Audio T15 bookshelf speakers deliver a satisfying audio experience.
In a listening test of about 40 hours, we observed that the sound continues to improve. The moment the speakers were set up, we began listening to different types of music, such as classical music, hip hop, country, electric rock, electronica, acoustic, jazz, and symphonic music.
And the conclusion is that the T15 bookshelf speaker sounds great. With electrical music, electronica, hip hock, and rock music, there was an exciting dynamic range without losing bright tonality and deep bass. With acoustic music, such as jazz, classical, and singer-songwriter recordings, there’s a striking presence to the sound that would make you think they came out of high-end audiophile bookshelf speakers.
The voices and the instruments are clear and sounded just right. And in different types of music, there was a realistic soundstage – the sense and imaging of instruments and musicians in a three-dimensional space. This feature is important in classical music and jazz.
In terms of durability, Polk Audio uses furniture-grade MDF cabinets for these good-sounding speakers. This helps reduce the sound resonance of the speaker.
Moreover, they have a larger-than-usual woofer (5.25 inches). It also features a mineral-filled polymer composite cone driver. So, although these may not be big news to many consumers, life-long audiophiles would appreciate the large woofer. It is because it means the better ability of the speakers to deliver low frequency without the speakers sounding boxy.
Movie and TV Watching
The promise of Polk T Series T15 Home Theater and Bookshelf Speaker is that it can help take your home theater experience to a new height and they sure did. Whether you’re swooning over a romantic-comedy film or locked into a new action flick, the speakers expand what entertainment sound should be.
The lyrics and dialogue came out of the wall-mount T15 speakers with no problem. We were concerned that the cupped effect you’d hear with some music may affect the dialogue intelligibility when waking movies, but effects and music came through fine.
It turned out that these speakers are a major improvement and an outstanding value. Even the high frequencies were open and nicely extended without harshness.
Back Panel and Front-Facing Port
The Polk Audio T15 home theater and music bookshelf speaker connect to most home theater processors, stereos, and receivers. They also have a keyhole slot designed for wall mounting.
Because they are magnetically shielded, there’s no need for you to worry about them being too close to a monitor or TV. Moreover, there’s a front-firing bass port that makes placement worry-free and more flexible.
The Polk Audio T15 is covered with a 5 years manufacturer’s warranty. This warranty covers the cabinet and drivers.
Who is it best for?
The Polk Audio T15 is best for audio enthusiasts or movie buffs who are looking for budget speakers that have a well-balanced sound. They can simply integrate this into their existing PC or home theater system. And the best part is that they deliver high-performance audio without draining your wallet.
Yet, our team at SpeakerTune.com thinks that the speakers are a good value for use in bedrooms or small home theaters.
Best Alternatives Polk Audio T15 Front or Rear Speakers
Some good alternatives to Polk Audio T15 bookshelf speakers are:
- Micca MB42X Bookshelf Speaker – This speaker boasts a dynamic design (with a small 4-inch woofer) that is comparable to T15. In terms of sound quality, though, we could say the T15 is better. Nevertheless, the Micca MB42X speakers produce powerful bass.
The caveat, though, for this speaker, is that it does not come with speaker wires so you may have to shell out additional cost to connect these speakers to an amp or receiver.
- Dayton Audio B652 Speakers – Other speakers that sound great for your home audio setup, if you don’t prefer the Polk T15 speaker system would be the Dayton Audio B652 Speaker. What we like about this speaker is that it is ready for immediate use. Just plug it in and you’re good to go.
It also comes with a pre-trimmed speaker wire so you can plug this speaker system right away.
- Edifier R1700BT – The Edifier R1700BT speakers have a good sound quality and also have nice features, which are rare to find for their price. It produces great sound, which is enhanced by the speaker’s Bluetooth connectivity.
However, the highs of these speakers are quite recessed and the fine audio details may sometimes sound muddy.
- Mackie CR3 – Another affordable speaker that makes a good addition to your home theater system is the Mackie CR3. At the back of this speaker system, you will find a switch that enables you to select if the main speaker will be on the right or left channel. Once the left-right setup is done, the other speaker will just be automatically set to the other channel.
What Do People Say About it?
The T15 gained plenty of positive reviews on Amazon. One customer said the Polk Audio T15 is, “great speakers for the money. Nice construction with tight tolerances and they sound very good. I expect them to sound even better as they break in over the coming weeks. I’ve owned many speakers over the years, including some very expensive Vandersteen’s… The T15’s are much better.”
Another review reads, “I love music and appreciate hi-fidelity components, but I’m living in a world and on a budget that forces me to make realistic choices. These Polk [speakers] sound very good and in my opinion, they’re a better value than anything in their price range.”
We also gathered interesting user reviews on YouTube.
Nemo Propaganda Reviews said, “I plugged these in and my brain went ‘some things off these don’t sound that great and the Polk audio sound is not like I’m super into anyway, but I can still tell the difference between like ‘oh this is a good speaker and I’m like oh this is not.’
I was in my bedroom because it’s where I break in (loosening the driver surrounds and evening the frequency response) most of my speakers… Then, I got up in my bed because I was still listening to them when I first had that thought. [I went to the] bathroom and I [realized the speakers] sounded all right.
I thought that was strange. So I walked around the room more. And while I was standing, they actually sounded pretty good… because the speakers stand at your height. When the speaker was at ear-level, the mid-range disappeared and the treble was crazy bright, but when I stood up, everything was cool… These are actually designed to listen to the off-vertical axis.”
Sazzad Hossain also reviewed the Polk Audio T15 bookshelf speaker. He said, “the tweeter does a good job of providing that crisp sound. It’s extremely clear like I didn’t have to play with the treble that much compared to the other edifier. With those, I had to change the treble just to change the clarity. But the Polk is really good.
The only thing that’s missing is probably the bass. I don’t think my amp is doing a great job of pushing that low frequency and giving it that strong punch that I’m looking for… But if I were to hook it up to my home theater system, then definitely, it would produce a really good sound”
In a Reddit speaker review thread, one audio enthusiast shared “Using [the T15 bookshelf speaker] as surrounds (20 degrees up, not angled down), produces much better results; these are marketed for surround use, so this caveat is justified..”
In another T15 speaker review on Reddit, an audiophile wrote, “While music reproduction is not these speakers’ strong point, I could see them being used in a more home theater-like situation where the ability to hear vocals may take priority.”
There were also some buyers who think that the pioneer of these speakers are much better because they have more bass, which translates to a warmer sound.
FAQs: Frequently-Asked Questions About Polk T15 Speakers
Is Polk Audio better than Bose?
It depends on the type of speaker compared as they serve a different purpose, whether that be traditional loudspeakers, soundbars, subwoofers, or in-wall/ceiling speakers. Bose is known for producing premium speakers with a frequency response that sounds pleasing to the human ear, while Polk stands out in terms of price.
Polk Audio is particularly known for producing decent speakers at an affordable price.
Does Polk Audio T15 have a built-in amplifier?
No, this does not have a built-in amplifier. However, an amplifier upgrade is allowed for this speaker.
Should I still set this speaker to “Small” or “Large” in a receiver?
It depends on your receiver. Many receivers available in the market have speaker size election and newer versions may allow you to tweak the speaker crossover settings. Let’s say the sub crossover is set at 150 hertz, then you want the other speaker to “crossover” at 150hz.
If you set the speaker to “Small,” you will need to check the receiver manual to know the low-frequency cut-off. Knowing such will also help you know what you will set for your sub crossover and, as a result, you will not lose part of your sound.
Bottom line: Should You Buy It?
Loudspeaker manufacturing company Polk Audio sure did a great job in creating the Polk Audio T15 and introducing it at an affordable price. We would recommend it to people who have tight budgets, starting out and do not want to overspend for a speaker that is more expensive, and would prefer a medium-sized bookshelf speaker that can be used in various applications.
Polk Audio T15, for instance, gives listeners a superior home theater experience. If you enjoy watching dark crime dramas, these are the speakers for you because they provide moments with more punch compared to other under $100 speakers. And in terms of sound quality, the speakers have exceptional dynamic range.
As for design and construction/ build quality, these Polk Audio T15 bookshelf speakers are not exactly flashy. However, its wood-grain side panels do make the system a bit classier than other speakers for this price, which is commonly textured vinyl.
The wood cabinet of these speakers is also acoustically inert, meaning they are particularly designed to lower sound resonance.
With all these pros, this does not mean the speakers are without shortcomings. Again, they are not the best speakers out there. Listening tests also reveal that these wall mounting speakers have an audible gap or flawed response on direct axis height level. Still, it did not really become an obstacle to TV or music listening.
The overall sound lacks some detail but is very warm. Instead of incorporating only the bare minimum for these speakers, the Polk Audio ensured that T15 would be an impressive affordable offering.
If you like this article, you might want to read our other reviews at SpeakerTune.com.
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