Polk Audio is a company that believes good audio is possible at the lower end of the price spectrum. They proved it back in 2015 with the release of the Polk Audio T50 floor speakers.
Even though these gems are quite a few years old now, they’ve certainly stood the test of time. Even now, they offer excellent value for money and a sound that contradicts their relatively cheap price.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane with this Polk Audio T50 Review. For anyone looking to get some of the best entry level HiFi speakers, the Polk Audio T50 is well worth a closer look.
Style and Design
The T50 is undoubtedly a good-looking speaker. Not only does it sound more expensive than its price, but it looks like a more expensive model too. They are essentially relatively small tower speakers standing just over 36 inches high, with a depth of 8.75 inches and a width of 7.75 inches. Their slim design will allow them to fit into almost any room or space.
The cabinet is constructed from MDF, covered in black vinyl with a faux wood finish to it. Wrapped with knuckles, it had a nice solid resonance, with everything sounding well-braced internally.
There’s a small pedestal-like base to help with balance, and the fabric-covered grille is easily snapped on or off. The overall craftsmanship is certainly above the level you normally see in this price range. Therefore, these are some of the most affordable tower speakers on the market.
The driver array features a one-inch silk dome tweeter sitting above a single 6.5-inch mid-range composite cone woofer. It looks like there are another two drivers identical to the woofer below it. But these are performance-tuned passive radiators, there to enhance the bass response.
These are there instead of rear-firing bass ports and give the T50 a more aggressive look than they would have otherwise. The rear is bare aside from a set of 5-way binding posts. You can use a speaker cable with bare wire or anything that terminates in pins, spades, or banana plugs. If it’s not obvious already, these speakers need external amplification.
Polk Audio also makes complementary speakers, which can be used with the T50 as part of a 5.1 surround sound system. In testing, I used the speakers with a Cambridge Audio AXR-100 amplifier, one of the best you can buy for under $500.
This is really where the Polk Audio T50 speakers come into their own. The first thing you notice is just how well-balanced they are. All the frequency ranges are given ample space to maneuver, creating a very neutral sound profile. It’s the kind of profile you normally get with studio monitor speakers.
Succinct, tight, and remarkably free of distortion, even as you raise the volume. The passive radiators do a good job of elevating the low end without ever making it too bloated. It’s an impressive thing to see that level of control in such relatively cheap speakers.
The same level of refinement is also found in the mids and trebles, with impressive levels of precision and separation on offer. You start to notice this when playing more complicated jazz or classical pieces. Every instrument can be heard in its own space, creating a wonderfully lively sound stage.
Music and Movies
This level of accuracy rolls over into movie watching too. Dialogue is crisp and distinct. Plus, it isn’t overwhelmed by other parts of the soundtrack. And the bass response is strong enough to produce some solid explosive effects and rumbles.
If you don’t want to “go whole hog” and get a 5.1 system for your home theater, Polk Audio T50 speakers will be a vast improvement over most soundbars. You’ll most likely save some money, too, and have speakers that are also great for musical playback.
I didn’t get to try the combination of the T50 with the Polk Audio PSW108 subwoofer, but it would undoubtedly add some serious boom into the mix. For the bass-heads out there, this could be the add-on that convinces you of the T50’s worth.
Sonically, it’s not all rose petals and honey
The Polk T50 is a pair of budget speakers when all is said and done. The ultra-fine details that only more expensive speakers pick up are often AWOL when listening to the T50.
This is a slightly unfair criticism as nothing in this price range comes close to doing that. At the same time, very few come close to the overall quality of the T50 sound either. As a result, these are some of the best high performance speakers you can buy without breaking the bank.
It’s fair to say that the Polk Audio T50 speakers can compete with speakers anywhere from twice to five times as expensive. They remain a popular choice to this day, and now and again, pop up at incredible bargain prices. As far as great value goes, you’ll not find better in the world of tower speakers than the T50.
Also, due to their popularity, replacement parts are readily available should something go wrong. However, they seem well built enough not to have to worry about malfunction, and over the years, they haven’t built a reputation for fragility. They should last you a good amount of time.
Polk Audio T50 Review – Pros and Cons
- Amazing price to sound ratio.
- Rich and well-balanced profile.
- Very little distortion.
- Excellent for music and movies.
- Can pick them up very cheaply on occasion.
- Lack of fine detail.
- Not a lot else to complain about!
Need Some Great Speakers?
We can help you find just what you need. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Computer Speakers Under $100, the Best Wireless TV Speakers, the Best Smart Speakers, the Best JBL Floor Standing Speakers, the Best Speakers For Vinyl, the Best Bookshelf Speakers, and the Best Party Speakers you can buy in 2021.
You may also enjoy our comprehensive Polk Audio RTI A3 Review, our Polk Audio TSi500 Review, our Pioneer SP-FS52 Floor-Standing Loudspeaker Review, and our Cerwin-Vega SL-28 Review for more great speakers currently on the market.
Polk Audio T50 Review – Final Thoughts
If you’re on a budget yet want to build the best amp and speaker combination under $500, the Polk Audio T50 tower speakers should be right near the top of your list. Buy them at the right time, and you’ll still have a decent amount left to spend on the amp.
There aren’t too many speakers that give the T50 a run for their money. Six years on, and the Polk Audio T50 tower speakers are still considered one of the best audiophile budget speakers. And they will probably be a contender for some time to come.