Customer Review

1,556 of 1,590 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Polk PSW-10: Great, with some reservations, February 3, 2006
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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Comments

Tracked by 12 customers

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Showing 51-60 of 76 posts in this discussion
Posted on Sep 19, 2012 8:27:03 AM PDT
Larry James says:
I am sorry but this reviewer is not speaking with any real knowledge of bass... move the woofer to the spot where it sounds the best. that is the most ridiculous thing I have ever read. Bass is produced by the quality efforts of the sub reacting to its precise location.. and the base will sound somewhat different around the room area. However moving the sub to that spot now throws out all the rules about why it may have sounded good in the first place. This review should be taken with a grain of salt.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 19, 2012 9:36:16 PM PDT
Ref Stanton says:
While I admit it sounds strange, you're forgetting the nature of sound waves. I can try to dig up the Stereophile article I read that gave this rule of thumb, but for now I'll leave this link: http://www.axiomaudio.com/tips_subwoofer_placement.html

Alan Lofft has a well qualified resume to be asserting it. A biography on him is here: http://www.axiomaudio.com/lofft.html

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 20, 2012 9:07:15 AM PDT
Larry James says:
I have over 25 years experience with speakers and perhaps 20 years with subwoofers. Because the best sounding locations are going to be somewhere in the room not near a wall. And if you place a sub in the middle of the room it will not have any energy. Just because someone says something once... does not make it correct. His point is that due to standing waves and wave length and bass reinforcing due to walls (or lack there of) of a generated bass note that they should act equal due to distance from listener to woofer.The correct way to place a woofer is in the front of the listening area, people say you cannot hear where bass comes from (that is not true) and move the woofer along the wall and towards a corner adjusting the level downward as you get closed to the corner and try to determine by ear where is sounds best. If you do not do this very carefully you can easily get a wrong impression of what better is. The easiest way to place a woofer is put it in the room where it makes the most sense, and then carefully adjust the level and crossover point generally less that 100 hz while playing music you are well familiar with. Remembering to make adjustments along the way to the receivers atributes regarding main speaker size- small to large. This sets the receivers cut off point of the mains which can alter the sound greatly for the better or worse. What we would like to get from our subwoofer is smooth base down to a reasonable low 25-50 hz without the huge bump which likes to present around 150hz.

Posted on Nov 13, 2012 5:41:50 PM PST
Kevin Park says:
I found this post more than helpful. So, thank you so much for this informative post! I have a question though. I am just an ordinary college student with a thing for quality music that I play often on my computer. Can I connect this sub to my laptop, even when I have B&W MM-1 speakers already?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 29, 2012 1:08:22 PM PST
Refefer and N. Smith, thanks to both of you. I just got this sub as part of a 5.1 surround speaker setup. Upon getting ready to plug things in noticed the lack of the LFE input. I'll be digging through my box for an RCA Y adapter, cranking the sub x-over to max Hz, and I'm thinking life will be good. I can't wait to get this hooked up and give it the movie/music test myself. Given my smallish living room I'm thinking it will sound great. (powered with Harman Kardon - AVR 1700 reciever)

Refefer, awesome review. N. Smith, great additional info on the hookup. Thanks again.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2012 9:32:51 AM PST
o. enriquez says:
yes, that is exactly where I have it. I have an older dell that I have ramped up with a new hard drive, ram, and video card, running windows 7 ultimate. (dell E520) The computer comes equiped with a 5.1 sound card that just has to be configured to 5.1. I plugged the sub at the correct output and I have a full blown home theater in my pc.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2013 6:16:06 PM PST
Zachtgiddens says:
Neweggdotcom

Posted on Jan 7, 2013 7:15:53 PM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Jun 23, 2013 2:21:46 AM PDT]

Posted on Jan 19, 2013 10:47:44 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 19, 2013 10:50:08 PM PST
Angus says:
It's all in the eyes of the beholder (or, maybe I should say in the ears of the listener). When you talk about the Polk PSW-10 sub excelling in small rooms only, up to how large can a room be, yet still qualify as being a "small" room in terms of good Polk PSW-10 performance?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 25, 2013 7:42:15 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 26, 2013 3:58:13 PM PST
Angus says:
Well, how embarrassing guys. I read ALL the great comments under Ref Stanton's excellent post, plus N. Smith's & all's wonderful and enlightening additions. And, by the end of everything, I completely forgot Ref had already addressed the largest he felt a room could be, and still be complemented musically by the Polk PSW-10 (20x10 feet maximum, he had said.). Well, guess the PSW-10 perhaps might not be a good match for my room after all. My room is about 17 1/2x18 1/2 feet. But it's close to Ref's recommended largest size. Wonder if two Polk PSW-10 subs would work. Any suggestions for below $200 to $250 (or close to that) subwoofers for my size room? Primary interest is music. My father built his own speakers, had separate components, a horn driver that was amazing. In short, I grew up with audiophile music. You felt the organ music. Heavy bass shook the walls. Well, I actually do not want to shake walls, but I am hoping to get a sub that will deliver to my room musically tight and defined base, which will still blend with existing speaker music. Yet support the lower Hz range, while not overwhelming the mid and high ranges. Any suggestions for a Polk-like PSW-10 subwoofer that will sing to my 17 1/2 by 18 1/2 foot sized room? Which I can afford---

I just recently heard about the HSU STF-1 (and, HSU STF-2) subwoofer? Any comments?

(P.S., I may be getting the newly updated stereo micro component system Denon D-M 39S, and connect the sub to it. Eventually, however, I may hook this subwoofer up to a couple of old, but very efficient Klipsch Heresy speakers.) So, guys, any ideas from you, I'd really appreciate.)

Thanks again for any comments you may have. :)

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