Customer Reviews: Polk Audio TL1 Speaker Center Channel (Each, Black)
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on May 10, 2012
I have been on the prowl looking for a low-profile (less than 5-inch high) center-channel speaker for about a year after I bought an Onkyo RC360 receiver. I have a pair of hand-me-down floor-standing speakers which has a full ensemble of tweeter-midrange-woofers to provide a full range of sound. The problem is that dialogues in movies are very weak. Nothing I could do with the sparse settings on the RC360 can alleviate this. If I turn the volume up to hear dialog, the bass and the explosion caused my neighbors to complain. The answer is to find a decent center channel that can be placed in front of my Sony LCD TV. I finally saw Amazon offering the TL1 with a decent 25% discount over retail (this speaker rarely goes on sale). I bought it and it arrived 3 days later. I plugged it in and did a little calibration using my RC360 Audyssey microphone. The level calibration gave -9dB for the front main speakers and -4dB for the center TL1. I plugged in some Blu-ray movies and rented out "The Help" (Blu-Ray) because I heard it is mostly dialogues. The result is outstanding. The sound field felt unified and even. I lived in a small apartment so the size and output of this speaker is perfect for me. Those who have larger rooms should probably step up to larger center-channels. Very happy with this small purchase.
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on February 27, 2013
This is a more than adequate center speaker for 90% of the people out there who are looking for one. If you are an over-the-top audiophile and/or money is no object, you may want to look elsewhere, but the vast majority of people will be perfectly satisfied with this speaker. Remember, a center speaker's main use is for dialogue in 5.1, so it is the reproduction of midrange frequencies -- particularly 1500-3000 Hz -- that is important. And the TL1 does this job quite well.

I have mine paired (singled?) with a pair of Infinity Primus P153 bookshelf speakers (I would have gotten the P163s, but Amazon had the P153s for 60% off, a deal I couldn't resist), a Polk Audio 10-Inch subwoofer, and a pair of older Yamaha surrounds that were mounted in the ceiling years ago. The Polk TL1 plays well with these and, leaving aside the surrounds, the whole set up ran not much more than 260 clams. Can't beat that with a stick.

To top it off, the TL1 has a very low profile, which may be important to many people because a center speaker is always sitting just below (or hanging just above) the screen. It is somewhat reminiscent in its profile of those MP3 or Bluetooth speaker units that Logitech sells, albeit slightly bulkier. If you're the kind of person who really wants to draw attention to the fact you have a center speaker and a 5.1 setup (you know who you are -- you always remove the grills on all of your speakers, too!), this probably isn't for you.
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on March 4, 2013
Glad I purchased this. I was looking for a center channel I could fit between my fireplace mantle and the plasma hung on the wall, this fit things perfectly. It was replacing a $400 Infinity center channel, so I was a bit worried I'd be disappointed, but I'm really not. I didn't get the chance to listen to this speaker side by side my nicer speaker, so helped the Polk's case I'm sure.

I almost spent the extra cash on the next level up from this speaker, the TL2 I believe? Might have been worth it...but honestly, this speaker does a great job for the money. Very happy with my purchase.
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on April 13, 2011
I tried this speaker against several other Polks in this price range. It produced nice clear dialogue and had decent low-mid response as well. It also blended well with my other speakers and created a nice smooth L-C-R image, despite the fact that my living room is irregularly shaped and I can't place the speakers properly. I'm using it with a Yamaha RX-667 receiver, and I tried the RM8 and TL2 as well before I settled on this one. All three have a nice build quality and a bit of heft to them (i.e. they don't feel cheap) but this suited my ears the best. Keep in mind you're not going to be blown away by the sound, it's a fairly small speaker. But for price and size (it fits anywhere and looks nice) this is a great buy.
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on October 8, 2012
The size is what is best about this center channel, but honestly when its hooked up with some pioneers or decent quality speakers it comes off a little boxy, punchy, and gets a little lost. But for a cheap system of small speakers this center channel is just fine and fits perfectly as far as aesthetics because it is slick and very small. But if your going with any front speakers that are over 125 bucks I would probably get a better center channel.
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on May 26, 2013
I recently bought this speaker and am returning it today. I expected a center speaker that would improve the dialog, but this just doesn't do the job. Speech is not natural, a boxy sound and no easier to understand. I have good quality L/R front speakers and this center speaker degrades the sound of the whole system. I found that I get much better results by using the Phantom setting on my amplifier, which sends the center channel sound to the two big side speakers. As another reviewer said, the best thing about this speaker is its small size, which fits well in front of the TV. Otherwise it is disappointing.
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on August 6, 2013
I got this because it was the best 'fit' (literally) for the money, but 'knew' I was giving up volume and clarity with its small size. Surprisingly, it requires very little give to keep up with its much larger partners in crime. I was planning on replacing it and using it in a guest room, but now have an excuse to procrastinate for a year or two-- this little guy really is a David among the Goliaths-- and it doesn't mind the high power feed (far beyond its rating) that I have put into it for a year. Kudos to Polk for this little performer. Sharp, but never uncomfortable, clear voices, at any volume (very soft to VERY LOUD).
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on March 6, 2014
Voices were muffled. could not understand what the actors were saying on TV. Returned it and spent the extra $20.00 on the Yamaha NS-C210BL. BIG difference in sound quality and virtually the same size as the Polk.
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on October 2, 2012
Perfect center channel speaker for 3.1 bedroom setup, but I think this could hold it's own in a 7.1 HT as well. It's small, powerful, and stylish! Looks amazing with the grille on or off. Very clean dimensional sound with no muddle at all. I'm starting to wonder if this setup can take down my 7.1 THX Onkyo home theatre... it's that good in here now!
I've got mine paired with a couple of Pioneer SP-BS-21s and a vintage JVC SP-PW800 sub, powered by a killer 1980s Pioneer XSX504S. My analog connection to FIOS is set to Laser Disc input, that's how old the receiver is!
I just replaced a long outdated yet adequate KLH center channel speaker. Fresh out of the box I'm dishing out some Palladium/ESPN/AXS on the HD networks just to get an idea how rocked out I can get it in here. So far, I am more than happy with this little beast. Vocal clarity improvement - nice lows - really good highs - mids will warm over time I believe, but right now I have about 15 minutes of driver burn in and I'm still happy. Zero clipping at 3 o'clock and it is beyond loud at that level... Hook yourself up! You know you can pay more, of course you can! BUT WHY??? Save some cash and get this!!! (4 stars but it really deserves 4.5)
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on April 27, 2016
It's ok, but I replaced a Polk CS130 center channel that was awesome. So I can't help notice the hollow in a box sound coming from this center channel. Voice is fine, in fact, it's main selling feature. But other sounds are tinny. I suspect, if I wasn't changing out my CS130 I probably would give this a 4. The main reason I got this is the low profile, which is probably why it's sound tinny. My CS blocked the bottom of my TV as well as the remote receiver. I've since decided to go back to my CS130 by buying a TV stand replacement so that I can raise the TV above my CS130.
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