1,840 of 1,894 people found the following review helpful
Polk PSW-10: Great, with some reservations,
This review is from: Polk Audio PSW10 10-Inch Powered Subwoofer (Single, Black) (Electronics)
I purchased this subwoofer about 2 months ago and since then have given it an extensive listening test. Following is a list of things I would do to improve sound quality as well as some reservations I have toward it.
Before I start off, I would like to clarify one thing about the PSW-10 that might unjustly turn off potential buyers from it: it runs at 50 watts RMS. In the world of music and sound systems, one of the biggest misconceptions out there is that wattage directly correlates with how loud a speaker is. THIS IS NOT NECCESARILY TRUE! The efficiency of the driver determines how loud it gets at a certain wattage, not only the amount of power you're pumping into it! This is why you can buy, for example, computer speakers that boast 400watts of power and have them easily massacred in terms of volume by speaker set ups with half the power (for further examples, compare computer speaker systems to shelf systems to a true sound system. You will find the volume, at a given wattage, tends to increase as you go down the spectrum).
I found the PSW-10 easily competed in terms of volume with every other sub in it's range, including those running at twice to three times the power RMS. If you want to prove it to yourself, run down to your local Circuit City (who sells Polk subs) and sound test it yourself.
Now, onto the guts of the review.
1. As far as entry subwoofers come, this is probably the best bang for your buck that you can find bar none, especially considering the quality of the build. Built around high quality medium density fiberboard and using a highly efficient 10" driver, the PSW-10 manages to bang as well, if not louder, than other subwoofers in this category, despite running at 50 watts RMS.
2. The sound quality is excellent, with very little distortion at high volumes above 50 hz or so, with full excursion easily being reached because of the ported design. In the 40hz - 50hz range, the polk begins to show the limitations of an entry level sub, the sound becoming slightly more muddied (though not horribly so) with extended length sounds(ie. a hellicopter landing slowly) while still staying crisp for burst noise (ie. a gunshot or bassdrum). Below the 40hz, it's pretty much non-functional as a subwoofer. I should also stress that no entry subwoofer has any redeeming qualities below 40hz.
3. Music is where this subwoofer really shines! It's bass is perfect for every genre of music (my tastes tend to be a bit ecclectic and as such I tested it with Classical, Hip Hop, Electronica, Rock, and Jazz) you can throw at it. I was most impressed when playing The Chieftans "Ballad of the Irish Horse" album and could have sworn the drums were playing in the room (a testament to the quality of polk's design). Deep bass is 99.9% of the time is limited to above 50hz, right in the sweet spot of the polk, and as such, the bass lines in every Rap song I tried (the extreme being Wolfpak - Gangsta Rap and Kanye West - Golddigger) was quite impressive, accurate and crisp. When playing the 1812 Overature, the cannons were well produced, if very slightly muddied (as it is one of the few songs that ventures below 50hz) but overall very good. I was very impressed with the sound quality of the polk in music.
4. That being said, this subwoofer is ideal for music and will be disappointing for those who wish to use it for movie watching. While it is beneficial to add it to any non-subwoofer setup, the 10" driver struggles to hit the low lows with the sound becoming muddied with deep, deep bass of any length. I found this to be a problem with all entry subwoofers I've tried, not just the polk, so take this with a grain of salt.
Overall, this subwoofer is probably the best entry subwoofer you can get bar none.
TIPS FOR MAKING IT SOUND BETTER!!!
1. First thing of note: Like all quality entry level subwoofers, great sound comes with the sacrifice of volume. This sub works best in smaller rooms, say 20x10 maximum. Any larger and the sound will begin to get lost in the room and sound strained.
2. Most subwoofers work the best along the front wall of your sound system, in the corner. This however is not a cardinal rule. To find the best location for the subwoofer (this works for any sub for your information), place the subwoofer where you would normally be sitting, listening to it. Play a song and walk around the room until you find place where the bass sounds the best. Move the sub to that location and it should be ideally placed!
3. One shortcoming about the Polk is the lack of an LFE input: you only get RCA and speaker line inputs meaning that there is no way you can bypass the internal crossover of the sub. Considering the market it's aiming for, this shouldn't be too big of a problem for most people, but owners with good receivers might be a bit vexed by this. Also, do not hookup the sub through the speaker line: it'll lose a fair amount of sound quality from forcing the bass through small gauge wires. Hook it up through the RCA if at all possible and you will be greatly rewarded.
In summation, despite the reservations inherent of the entry level subwoofer class (and LFE port), this is an excellent subwoofer which warrants all the praise it's been getting.
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Showing 1-10 of 80 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 2, 2008 12:40:57 PM PST
Kevin R. Smith says:
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 5, 2008 7:25:36 PM PST
I found this post exceptionally helpful, including the details, even though some of them are out of my reach. With the myriad range of subs out there, more information is helpful in making a good selection.
Posted on Apr 9, 2008 2:42:58 PM PDT
Anthony D'Atri says:
"RCA" is a connector type, not a type of input. I can't figure out how "lack of an LFE input: you only get RCA and speaker line inputs" makes any sense. Isn't the sub's crossover there for a reason -- to filter out frequencies higher than it should be trying to reproduce?
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 21, 2008 8:34:05 AM PDT
Low Frequency Effects, or rather LFE, is a special type of input that allows the receiver to set the crossover itself. When subwoofers are hooked up to a receiver via LFE, it completely bypasses the internal crossover of the sub. It ultimately makes it easier to migrate the sub into the system.
As for the RCA comment, I should have perhaps written it as a standard Line In. Neither Speaker level nor standard Line Ins bipass the built in crossover.
Posted on Sep 2, 2008 9:43:22 PM PDT
i have a question. Do you, or anyone, know if this subwoofer is computer compatible? If so then great!
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 10, 2008 7:16:52 AM PST
You can certainly make a subwoofer "computer compatible." It just requires that you hook it up to your computer in a special way. For example, on the back of your computer there is a line out which you use to plug in your computer speakers. If you get a Y-splitter for that jack, you can hook the sub up with an RCA-to-stereo jack cable (at RadioShack) and then your regular computer speakers.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 6, 2009 7:36:00 AM PST
Correct me if im wrong, but it appears it does have an LFE, according to ask dot com, and can still use the "RCA" looking jacks.
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 2, 2009 7:26:48 AM PST
Lyian, the PSW line of subs from Polk Audio all have LFE... except for the PSW 10. Ask dot com probably forgot to note that exception. The omission is noted on Polk Audio's homepage if you do a search for the PSW 10.
Posted on Feb 2, 2009 9:28:52 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 2, 2009 9:29:29 AM PST
Highly impressed with the thoroughness of this review. I truly appreciate it when someone takes the time to give a product a top-to-bottom review like this one. You have helped me personally to narrow my choices down to this, or another Polk sub, the PSW505, which is quite a bit more expensive I know. However since I am looking at the best bang for the buck, I may go with this one after all. The only reservation I have now is the lackluster performance for movies as stated in this review. However, this may not be that critical for us, as my wife hates it when the sound gets too loud, you guys out there know what I mean. :)
Thanks again for the great review, very helpful!
Posted on Mar 2, 2009 6:07:17 PM PST
Amazon Customer says:
Reviewer seems knowledgeable. I just need to know can I use this subwoofer with my IM600USB ipod speaker system that really needs a subwoofer to beef up the bass?