Polk Audio Legend L800 Review
After a more than 20-year break, the SDA is now qualified to join the Legend Series L800 top model. Polk claims that the L800 is their finest speaker yet. There is no doubt there is some extra marketing for those acquainted with the brand’s previous SDA speakers, but it is indeed a nicely framed and technically excellent speaker.
Because the Polk Audio Legend L800 uses a more sophisticated version of SDA Pro with SDA technology, it is 25% smaller than Polk’s early SDA speakers. The SDA Pro speaker includes a two-part touchpad with 15-degree sloping edges. This manner, the speaker is already at the proper angle to the listening location, and it doesn’t need to swivel 20 degrees to the center to generate a better and more accurate stereo impression, like Polk’s first-generation SDA speakers did.
- Soundstage and imagery are outstanding.
- Down to 20Hz, real deep bass extension
- Tonality is neutral.
- The appearance is unique and intriguing.
- For the full SDA effect, a single-ended amplifier is required.
- Bulky and large
Furthermore, SDA Pro eliminates undesired crosstalk to the incorrect ear in a broader, carefully selected range and considers the influence of the so-called main shadow effect on sound quality.
Technical details of Polk Audio Legend L800
The Polk Audio Legend L800 is a tough three-way speaker with a one-inch ring radiator called Pinnacle that reproduces tweeter frequencies. Polk claims that the entirely new element was self-developed, yet it is comparable to ScanSpeak’s similar concepts. The element is oriented gently. The rear chamber acts as a dampener for the rear radiation. A 5.25-inch element in a sealed container is used for midrange. Polk sought an optimum connection between the stiffness and damping characteristics of the cone and the turbine geometry of the synthetic cone.
Two 10-inch aluminum cone loudspeakers with sturdy rubber suspension signify a considerable movement variation of the element muffles the basses. The 5.25-inch mid-range element and the 10-inch bass sound feature a double internal suspension, known as the Spider, to linearize the movement of the cone and voice coil.
The reflex channel ends in a hole at the bottom of the speaker, which is not a slit or bulging tube, but Polk’s specialized Power Port. The Power Port’s purpose is, of course, to enhance airflow and decrease turbulence (speed and direction variations) in the reflex channel, particularly near its mouth. The Power Port is a bottom-up tapering conical structure that sends air from the reflex port in all directions through an open structure at the speaker’s bottom. Polk claims that the geometry of the cone has been enhanced in the Legend series.
Polk claims he has invested in matching the speaker components at the crossover filter level, particularly in phase reproduction and linearity at the extremes of each playback band. All of the speaker manufacturers claim to have invested in a crossover filter, but Polk has had to file its filters from start to finish owing to the presence of SDA technology, among other things.
The ribbed casing on the inside appears sturdy and elegant in the classic sense. A short knock test reveals that the casing sounds dead in the proper way. The walnut or black ash veneered sides of the rationally and cost-effectively built case. The rest of the components are matte black.
Four strong spikes with replaceable rubber plugs at their points are located beneath the speaker. Plugs protect the floor and make moving the speaker simpler, although they function best without rubber plugs. There are even more sophisticated cushioning and insulating feet available now for this purpose.
You have the option of listening to the speaker with or without the SDA feature. To get the SDA effect, connect the speakers using a separate cable that resembles a computer cable rather than a speaker cord. The cable is, in reality, a regular cable that has been incorrectly attached.
If the L800 is used as the main speaker in a 5.1.2 speaker assembly, a tiny, upward-pointing Dolby Atmos-certified L900 speaker module can be purchased and installed beneath the cover. The tweeter is a 34-inch ring radiator, while the mid-range element is the same four-inch Turbine Cone. A space-saving design is also available for multi-channel enthusiasts: the L600 with Atmos module as main speakers, the L100 and L200 tripod speakers, and the L400 center speaker.
With a width of over half a meter, a height of 124 cm, and a weight of 54 kilograms, the L800 is not the easiest to manage. Fortunately, the speakers are cleverly packed. As a result, they are quite straightforward to remove from their shipping crates.
When placed, the Polk Audio Legend L800 delivers on its promises: the sound image is wide and inviting, as well as incredibly accurate and precise. Rarely do you hear such exact lateral placement of players and sound sources in the sound field as you do with these speakers. The effect is most noticeable while listening to stereo sound recordings, such as Muddy Waters’ Folk Singer at 24/192 quality from Tidal.
Another unsurprising, feature is the chameleon-like capacity to convert into a high-quality monitor speaker or tripod speakers with sound as large and vast as the recording needs. With large-scale symphonic works or well-executed studio albums, such as Emmylou Harris Lanois’ Wrecking Ball, the sound of the speakers spreads evenly around the listening area, but Madonna’s Like A Virgin sounds precisely as tiny as the de facto recording.
The speakers’ flexibility is further demonstrated by their capacity to evolve at low volume from a very delicate artist to a pure disco jar at harmful sound pressure levels. The speakers, powered by Rotel’s 2 x 500-watt Michi S5 amplifier and operating at 70 percent maximum power (over 110 decibels of sound pressure), were startled with an absolutely tremendous physical and offensive sound that felt as much in the chest as it did in the ears. Sure, the L800 has a maximum sound pressure, but it’s apparent that it sounds loud before it squats, as evidenced by tests with Roxy Music’s Avalon, Prince 1999 (both Tidal Masters), and ABC’s beautiful Beauty Stab.
Polk suggests putting the speakers closer to each other than usual to take full use of SDA technology, i.e. listening at a narrow stereo angle (40 degrees instead of the normal 60 degrees). This will ensure that the sound picture is the correct size. The speakers were toward the narrower end of the listening area for the initial listings. After a few days, the speakers were relocated to a long wall, and Rotel’s Michi S5 / P5 combo was replaced with the regular Hegel P30 / Burmester 956 mk II combination.
Following these modifications, the voice improved in nearly every manner. The speakers appeared to require an additional room on their sides (less early reflections in the critical band). This ranking also provided a better sound balance, and it is likely that Hegel / Burmester was a better sound pairing with the L800 than the Rotels. The Rotel Michi package enhanced the sound and speaker control, but Hegel / Burmester delivered the music better and more perfectly – making the skin go for chicken. As a result, the listening party proceeded with Yello’s deep bass and Public Image LTD’s screaming Albatross. Popular rock music, such as Train in Only or The Clash, also works well.
If you had to pick something to criticize about these speakers, it would most likely be the fact that they are not particularly flexible or customizable. They can easily play various sorts of music, but in doing so, they serve nothing that isn’t included in the recording. As a result, bass playback is just like on a disc, no more and no less. As a result, some cheaper and smaller speakers may sound warmer and rounder; the Polk Legend L800, on the other hand, is continuously tight and self-assembling, correct, and rather a retraction. These are the characteristics shared by the majority of genuinely high-end speakers. The L800’s inability to produce a sound on the listener’s face allows it to quickly adapt to varied sound and music tastes.
The impact produced by SDA technology, on the other hand, may need some adaptation. During the test, it was discovered that the majority of people who listened to the speakers had you with the sound rather quickly and kept the sound more SDA switched on. However, some opposition did arise at first. The comparison is simple because it simply needs removing and rejoining the speaker cable. There is a considerable possibility that the audio picture may shrink without SDA, and the position of the audio sources in the audio image will no longer be as precise. Electric bass, for example, is no longer blended between the center and right speakers, but rather at a more ambiguous location.
The test also showed that Polk is accurate in his assertion that a little greater listening distance in respect to the distance between the speakers is more beneficial in terms of sound. A little lower-than-average listening height also appeared to generate a more equal perceived sound balance.
The Polk Audio Legend L800 proved to be a highly disciplined and conventional speaker in terms of tone, but it was also quite instructive. At higher frequencies, the speaker has a lot of sound intensity. Fortunately, the reproduction is largely pure, with no distracting sibilants or harshness. If there appears to be too much energy arriving in the treble region, you may always operate with distance and location.