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
To put it quite simply, Polk are a good choice if you’re looking for the best budget option out there, as they’re hard to beat in terms of affordability. However, for a little more you can get a good Klipsch speaker, which is certain to be better quality than Polk overall.
This is just a general overview of both brands – of course, they both have different speakers at different price points to compare, so it’s difficult to compare the brands as a whole. However, let’s look at both Polk and Klipsch a bit closer to see where more differences between the two lay.
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.
Generally, when we’re talking about Polk audio systems we’re looking at budget speakers. Though an audiophile will probably tell you that Polk aren’t good, they’re probably comparing them to a set of speakers that cost thousands. Polk aren’t made to compete with these – they’re core demographic is firmly set on the entry level consumer looking to build their own home theater.
And to be fair to Polk, they do make some very good options for those looking for a cheaper range of speakers. There’s a good selection to choose from and if you don’t want to spend a whole host of cash, then they’re one of the first brands that you’ll want to look for. They have a good range of different speakers to choose from, including subwoofer and even some good ceiling speakers as well.
- One of the main positives about Polk is that most of their speakers are pretty fairly priced, and you can always find a good bargain if you’re going to stick with this brand. They’re not made to be the best speakers on the market; they’re designed to offer the best value for money.
- Polk speakers tend to be pretty good when it comes to connectivity, and it’s very easy to use them with a wide range of different brand products.
- Whilst many people say that Polk aren’t good quality, this is a bit unfair to the brand itself. They do have a lot of experience in making speakers, and they’ve been making them for decades – even high end speakers too. It’s just in recent years that they’ve decided to narrow down and focus on the budget consumer market, and who can blame them?
- On the downside, they don’t really have much in the way for speakers if you’re looking for something of a super high quality. So if you want something expensive, then you’ll need to look at another brand instead.
- As well as the sound being not as good as other brands, it’s fair to say that Polk speakers are generally not the most attractive either. Whilst some folks definitely like their minimalist design, they’re not the most attractive speakers out there.
One of the most commonly compared brands to Polk is Klipsch – this is likely just because they’re two of the most well known names in the market. This is especially true in America, where they’ve been battling for the consumer market over there for a long time now.
Klipsch speakers can be found throughout the world. Klipsch speakers are designed with a focus on sound quality and performance, which is why Klipsch speakers have gained an excellent reputation for their high-class construction, superior audio clarity, and sleek appearance.
Klipsch speakers are available for home theater systems and a whole host of other styles of speaker, with their main intent being to deliver top notch audio quality that will make your next movie or music experience one of the best you’ve ever had.
And whilst they can definitely be compared to each other, Klipsch have a much wider span if we compare them to Polk speakers. Polk is really focussed on the budget speaker buyer only, with the majority of their products being affordable by pretty much anyone. However Klipsch are definitely another step up from this. They do have products to fulfil the needs of the budget consumer, but typically their products and low-to-mid priced and they also deliver some high end speakers as well.
The Klipsch Heritage range is pretty well known within the speaker industry, and it’s often said to be one of the best options if you’re looking for good value for money.
- If we’re talking about the difference in quality between these two speaker brands, then it’s fair to say that even the more cost effective Klipsch speakers are a step up from Polk. They’re definitely the preferable option of the two in most cases, especially if budget isn’t a factor.
- Klipsch tend to have a little bit of a different sound than other speakers out there on the market, and if you like their sound, then you’ll probably think that they’re some of the best sounding speakers out there.
- Out of the two brands, Klipsch speakers are typically thought of as being the better looking of the two, mainly because Polk are pretty bland.
- There are many folks that don’t like the signature Klipsch horns, and don’t think they’re as good as some other models of speaker out there.
- Whilst compared to the rest of the market Klipsch aren’t particularly expensive, if we compare them to Polk then you’re going to be paying quite a bit more
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 – Recap
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.