The new Polk Audio Legend series is comprised of six models available in two real-wood finishes, including two bookshelf speakers, one center speaker, an Atmos height module, and two tower speakers. Leading the flagship loudspeaker line is the company’s L800 “True Stereo” floor-standing speaker featuring the next generation Stereo Dimensional Array (SDA-PRO) technology, which was reviewed in the February 2019 edition of Voice Coil.
As James Croft (Croft Acoustical) discussed in its Acoustic Patents column for Voice Coil, the “Head-Related Transfer Function Equalization and Transducer Aiming of Stereo Dimensional Array (SDA) Loudspeakers,” patent awarded to Scott Orth and Stuart W. Lumsden on behalf of Polk Audio, describes a very specific loudspeaker design that claims to be able to achieve better stereo sound reproduction with “a realistic ambient field and a larger, and more stable acoustic image.” As Croft explains in his detailed review, this obviously aims at achieving better crosstalk cancellation designs, something that Polk Audio actually patented nearly 40 years ago, with its original Stereo Dimensional Array (SDA) loudspeaker, and for which the new updated patent now provides a new improved version addressing the “Head Related Transfer Function” issue, not by implementing complex filtering, but primarily by reforming the front of the loudspeaker enclosure shape to more closely mimic the impact of acoustic waves “crosstalking” around a human face.
The new L800 is also the first SDA speaker introduced in over 20 years by Polk Audio, and a fascinating implementation, that not only generates improved stereo separation from the source to the listener’s ears, but also results in lifelike imaging, smooth spectral response and deep, tight bass normally found in speakers several times the cost. At the RMAF 2019 show, the L800 demonstration definitely proved the value of the updated development, using completely updated transducers, and creating a product that sounds amazing.
“The Legend Series is the culmination of decades’ worth of acoustic engineering and loudspeaker development. Whether placed in a traditional two-channel orientation or home theater system, the new flagship series offers incredible imaging, perfectly balanced mids and deep lows,” says Michael Greco, senior director of global brand management at Polk Audio. “We’re confident these are the speakers that will remind Polkies and enthusiasts why they love Polk Audio.”
As the company’s announcement explains, the Polk Legend series’ L800 tower speaker employs the latest generation of Polk Audio’s celebrated SDA technology, which Matthew Polk invented and debuted in the early 1980’s. The technology is a fundamental shift in loudspeaker design and solidified Polk Audio’s place in audio history. The SDA design minimizes an audio phenomenon known as interaural crosstalk (IAC), which is found in all conventional speakers. Interaural crosstalk is a natural distortion found in passive stereo loudspeakers resulting from speakers’ channels crossing before they reach the listener’s ears. SDA technology acoustically isolates the two stereo channels and partially cancels out IAC to deliver an improved stereo listening experience, creating a deep, three-dimensional soundstage that faithfully reproduces the recording.
The new Legend L800 loudspeaker offers a freshly patented SDA-PRO technology, which is the latest evolution of Polk Audio’s SDA design. The new design employs a special “Head Shadow” filter in the dimensional array, which is built to more exactly match — and therefore cancel out — IAC. An additional patent was granted for the L800’s uniquely designed 15-degree angled baffles. This design angles the transducers more precisely toward the listener, which removes any loss of high frequency extension and the need to “toe-in” the loudspeakers.
As the new flagship line, Polk Audio engineers improved upon nearly every aspect of the speaker, including the tweeter, mid-bass driver, woofers, bass port, stereo dimensional array, cabinet design, and crossover network. Through careful testing, listening and experimentation, the team integrated several new technologies across the line to enhance performance and sound.
Decades of tweeter innovation, design and prototyping led to the development of the new 1-inch high definition Pinnacle ring radiator tweeter. Developed by Polk Audio, it delivers ultra-clear, crisp highs without unwanted coloration or distortions. The Pinnacle tweeter features a finely tuned waveguide, which dramatically improves the dispersion of high frequency energy ensuring a broad “sweet spot,” while the critically damped rear-chamber helps defeat unwanted resonances. Hi-Res certified, the Pinnacle Tweeter is designed for today’s two-channel music listening as well as multi-channel 3D audio found in music, movies, sports, and video games soundtracks.
Polk also developed the new Turbine cone specifically for the Legend series to ensure the natural reproduction of the mid-range — the frequency range human ears are most sensitive towards. The Turbine cone combines Polk’s proprietary foam core and the molded Turbine geometry, which dramatically increases stiffness and damping without adding mass, resulting in a smooth, detailed mid-range and effortless bass.
Extending the low-end, the upgraded Power Port technology produces less port noise and more bass than traditionally ported loudspeakers. Polk Audio improved the traditional Power Port design by smoothing out the port flare, which offers a smoother transition into the listening area and adds multiple dBs of bass response.
Finally, the intensively engineered cabinet designs add rigid bracing and structure to control vibration and eliminate unwanted audible distortion.
The Legend Series is composed of the L100 5.25” bookshelf speakers, L200 6.5” bookshelf speakers, L400 center channel speaker, L600 tower speakers, L800 SDA tower speakers, and L900 Height/Elevation module, all of which can be used for home theater and two-channel listening applications. The line is fully compatible with today’s home theater audio formats including Dolby Atmos, Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization Technology, DTS:X and DTS Virtual:X.
The Legend Series stereo products will be available October 1, 2019 for the following prices:
L100 bookshelf speakers (5.25”) $1,199 / pair
L200 bookshelf speakers (6.5”) $1,799 / pair
L400 center channel $1,799
L600 tower speakers $1,999 / each
L900 Height / Elevation (Atmos) module $599 / pair
The L800 SDA tower - $2,999 USD each - will be available November 3, 2019 at select Polk Audio dealers.
Founded in 1972, Polk Audio, a Sound United brand, is the market share leader in premium home theater speakers in North America, and is a leading manufacturer of soundbars, headphones, wireless speakers, mobile and marine speakers and amplifiers, and other high-performance audio products.
www.polkaudio.com | www.soundunited.com