Audio is a subjective topic. Two people can listen to the same musical piece and hear different things. It’s uncanny. This phenomenon, in particular, makes it hard to review and compare different brands of speakers (like Sonos and Bose). There’s no “better” or “best”. It’s better suited to your taste. However, I’ll attempt to compare two of my favorite options on the market; Klipsch vs. Polk speakers.
Klisch vs Polk – Feature Comparison
Being a consumer in this day and age is a nightmare. There are plenty of options to choose from and very little information on how to choose. There are, nevertheless, some features that can make your choice easier. These are two of the most common brands of speakers.
Sensitivity, contrary to popular belief, doesn’t mean clarity of the sound. It indicates loudness. The higher the sensitivity is, the louder the sound can get for the same amount of power. Polk speakers have a sensitivity of 91db, while the Klipsch speakers have that of a 98db. That means that not only are Klipsch speakers louder, but they’re also more efficient and require less power.
There have been some concerns that Klipsch exaggerates their numbers, but there has been no evidence for that claim. There have also been some reviews complaining of ear fatigue after using Klipsch speakers, but none from Polk’s.
Moreover, note that minimalist home decor or wooden furniture will only exaggerate Klipsch’s sound. On the other hand, if you have heavy carpeting and furniture, you may find Klipsch’s sound ideal. If at all possible, home demo both sets.
However, if you can’t, go for Klipsch if you want louder, more powerful sounds and for Polk if you want something versatile for movies and everyday use.
A woofer is a speaker designed for low-frequency sounds, and a tweeter is a speaker designed for high-frequency sounds. Their sizes and composition are direct indicators of sound quality. Klipsch’s woofer uses an aluminum dome that’s responsible for its crisp or hard sound. This could be harsh for some people.
However, Polk uses a silk dome. Silk produces warmer sounds. They’re more often described as soft or mellow. This usually makes for the very intricate sound quality of Polk. You can hear all the low-frequency details. This isn’t usually a character of Klipsch, which makes for a more energetic but purer sound.
For high-frequency details, the case is quite similar. Polk’s tweeter is softer, but here Klipsch has an added advantage of a Tractrix Horn. Horn Tweeters are very efficient and very clear. It’s top-notch technology for sound quality. You can now enjoy a perfect musical experience, but not for long.
Horn speakers are very fatiguing. You can’t listen to it for more than 30 minutes without your ear bleeding.
It’s the amount of power your speaker can handle before it gets damaged. Polk’s power range can go up to 500, while Klipsch’s is only 75. Check your speakers’ RMS score beforehand.
Signal to Noise Ratio
This refers to how loud the audio signal is in comparison to speaker noise. The higher the number, the better. Naturally, you have to check each prototype. But generally, Klipsch and Polk are similar in this feature with a slight advantage to Polk. Polk’s SNR values range at 105 dB while Klipsch’s range at 100 dB.
In case you occasionally want to blast a party outdoors, Polk is your guy. They have a range of water and UV resistant speakers that can function perfectly in the most adverse of conditions. Klipsch does offer some waterproof speakers, but they’re subpar in comparison to Polk’s.
Both companies offer something for everyone, no matter what your budget is. However, Polk has more affordable options, often at the same level as Klipsch’s.
The Positives and the Negatives
It all boils down to this section. Now that you familiarize yourself with some definitions, it’s time to choose which suits your taste and home environment. By going through each brand’s drawbacks, you’ll be able to pick your deal breakers.
Klipsch: The Pros
- Horns – Klipsch is one of the few companies that could incorporate and master horns. They have a unique sound that’s appreciated by any musicaholic.
- Frequency Range – Klipsch offers a wider frequency range, delivering your music unaltered and unmasked. It feels just like attending a live musical show.
- Higher Sensitivity – Klipsch’s higher sensitivity means it can offer you louder and brighter sound for more efficient power use.
Klipsch: The Cons
- The Details – Despite Klipsch’s wide frequency range, it doesn’t offer as much in terms of music details and intricacies. That means missing some instruments in an orchestra, like clarinets and woodwinds, as well as missing many of the details of the bass.
- Ear Fatigue – This is a huge disadvantage in many ways. It ruins your experience in the sense of cutting it short. Most people feel ear fatigue or get a headache after 30 minutes or so.
- Another drawback is raising your risk of sensorineural hearing loss. Try to avoid listening to loud music for long periods.
Polk: The Pros
- The Details – Musical details are simply heavenly. Only Polk can provide that much depth to any musical piece you’re listening to.
- All instruments are clear as day. The bass is full. The woodwinds and clarinets are unambiguous.
- You can almost play this piece by ear. This is also a game-changer for cinephiles everywhere. You can hear the very details that make movies masterpieces, a gasp, the sound of falling leaves, or even the sound of denim rubbing against each other.
Polk: The Cons
- Lower Sensitivity – It might require more power to get your speakers up and going. This could be inefficient in the long run.
- Frequency Range – The sound is usually described as a bit muffled. It’s like listening to the orchestra from the theatre’s balcony, while Klipsch feels like you’re sitting in the first row.
Speakers are a very personal item that should be tailored to each individual’s taste. However, in the age of online shopping, it has become quite hard to try everything before buying. For the choice of Klipsch vs Polk, I’ve found myself in a pickle. Still and all, if I have to choose, I must say I certainly would prefer Polk.
It’s more suitable for everyday use, with little risk of ear fatigue and hearing loss. It also offers a lot of sound details for movies and shows. I think Tarantino is about to get a lot more interesting. Moreover, I appreciate the little things in musical pieces. Polk offers vocal clarity and balance and compromises very little on frequency ranges.
Furthermore, I love how versatile the company is, with many waterproof and UV resistant models catering to every taste. Finally, I think Polk is more in line with my budget as well as my taste. Nevertheless, if you’re a techno head, by all means, go for Klipsch. It can make you a party of a lifetime, just out of an Armin Van Buuren festival.