If you are in the market for a good bookshelf speaker for a reasonable price, the Polk Audio T15 2-Way Bookshelf Speaker is probably already on your radar, and you may well be wondering if the Polk T15 is a good speaker for the money.
Polk Audio has been known, for more than 40 years now, for speakers which offer remarkably good high-fidelity sound for a lot less money.
There products have gained a reputation not only for their sweetly smooth, warm and musical sound quality, but for excellent material and build quality as well, and over the years Polk Audio seems to have made some manufacturers of more expensive audiophile speakers a little bit nervous.
So, does the T15 offer the same kind of value Polk has become known for? Let’s find out, in this in-depth buyer’s guide and review of the Polk Audio T15 2-Way Bookshelf Speaker, newly re-written for 2024.
Polk Audio T15 Features and Specifications
- 2-Way Vented Bookshelf Loudspeaker
- Frequency Response: 45 Hz – 24 KHz (65 Hz – 20 KHz +/- 3 dB)
- Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms
- Sensitivity (1 watt/meter): 89 dB
- Recommended Power: 20 – 100 Watts
- 5.25″ (13.34 cm) Dynamic Balance Mineral Filled Polymer Composite Mid/Woofer
- 0.75″ (1.91 cm) Dynamic Balance Silk/Polymer Composite Dome Tweeter
- 5 Way Gold Plated Binding Posts
- Magnetically Shielded Cabinet
- Keyhole Hanger on Back Panel for Wall Mounting
- 5 Year Manufacturer’s Warranty
Pros and Cons
|Sweet, detailed, dynamic sound
|Less deep bass than larger speakers
|Surprisingly good bass extension
|Superb stereo imaging
|Good for all kinds of music
|Perfect complement for full Polk Audio home theater system
|Excellent material and build quality
|Easy to set up and position
Polk Audio T15 2-Way Bookshelf Speaker Overview
The Polk Audio T15 is a small two-way bookshelf speaker which has a 5 1/4 inch Dynamic Balance woofer, 3/4 inch tweeter and a front-facing port to extend the bass response. The T15 can be placed on a shelf or table, on speaker stands or mounted onto a wall – the front-facing port ensures that wall mounting will not affect bass response, as long as the mount is secure.
The T15 is designed to be a great speaker by itself, and many people use them this way – as the primary, or only, speakers of a nice, high fidelity stereo system. At the same time, it can be integrated into an awesome home theater system, with complementary Polk speakers engineered to work perfectly with it, offering a seamless and incredibly realistic surround-sound image. And yes, the Polk Audio T15 loudspeaker is also fully magnetically shielded, so it can be placed next to any monitor without worries.
Offering power handling up to 100 watts, and 89 DB sensitivity, the T15 will play really loud with impressive clarity, and while their effective frequency response down to 65 Hz is impressive for their size, they actually sound like they have a good deal more bass than that.
Polk Audio T15 Design and Build Quality
Polk Audio has always seemed to follow a “simple is better” philosophy in design, and this is evident in the design of the T15 – attractive and black-on-black finishes, a basic two-way ported design, premium binding posts on the back to attach speaker wire, and very little else to clutter or complicate the understated, almost elegant look.
It is clear from handling them (and from listening to them) that the Polk T15 bookshelf speakers are also excellent in terms of material and construction quality. The fit and finish not only look great, but are obviously of very high quality. The weight and density of the cabinet suggests dense and durable materials, solid bracing and dampening and overall construction, which are meant to make a speaker sound better but also serve to make the T15s look and feel great too.
Polk Audio T15 Bookshelf Speaker Review
But while look and feel are important, how do the Polk Audio T15 speakers sound? Next in this buyer’s guide and review of the Polk Audio T15 two-way speaker, let’s look a little more at living with these nice little speakers – setting the Polk T15 bookshelf speakers up, burning them in and, finally, giving them a good, critical listen.
We’ll see if we can determine how good the Polk Audio T15 sounds and whether the Polk Audio T15 is a good buy.
Polk Audio T15 Set-Up and Use
Setting up the Polk T15 couldn’t be easier. Since they’re magnetically shielded, you don’t have to worry about them being too close to a TV or monitor, and the front-facing port makes placement even more flexible and worry-free.
The Polk T15w have a wall mount slot on the back panel, and to wall mount them is then just a matter of sinking a solid molly bolt into the wall (but really solid, as the speakers are a bit heavy, and rigid mounting always improves sound quality anyway) and sliding them onto the bolt.
They are also designed to be placed on a table or a speaker stand, and while wall mounting and tabletop placement generally produced more bass response, the overall sound was perhaps better – more transparent, more detailed, and with more accurate and specific imaging – when placed on a pair of speaker stands. We would highly recommend the stable and rigid VideoSecu 2 Adjustable Steel Speaker Stands – ok, they’re not the most attractive stands on the market, but they are inexpensive, super secure and much better for sound quality than many much more expensive stands.
Overall, placement and set-up were a snap, and the solid, easy to work with binding posts on the back made connecting speaker wire just as simple. We used good quality wire – MaxBrite 16 Gauge Oxygen-Free 50 Ft Spool – and banana clips – Mediabridge 24K Gold-Plated Connectors – for better sound quality, and while the banana plugs just plug right into the Polk binder posts, the thicker audiophile speaker wire can be a bit tricky to work with without plugs. But with the Polk T15 this too was easy, and the binding posts accommodated the bare wire without fuss.
Placement in the room can be quite critical with many speakers, but in fact the Polk T15 speakers sounded great pretty much anywhere we placed them, and are among the most flexible and least critical speakers we’ve ever used in this respect. On stands, on a bookshelf or table, on the wall, you get smooth and extended high and low notes and surprisingly good bass, lots of detail and very wide, stable stereo imaging.
Polk Audio T15 Sound Quality
But before we got into too much serious listening, we burned in the Polk Audio T15 bookshelf two-way speakers for about 40 hours. In our experience this improves the sound of any speaker, and it is unfair to make judgments about speakers without a fair burn-in period. 20 hours would be minimum, and indeed speaker sound will continue to improve long after 40 hours, and even after 100 or more hours.
Once they were set up and burned in, we began listening to various types of music, including classical chamber and symphonic music, jazz, acoustic and electric rock and country, electronica, hip hop and rap.
With acoustic music, like classical and a lot of jazz, as well as singer-songwriter types of recordings, there was a striking presence to the music which often reminded us of really high-end audiophile speakers – a sense that the performers and instruments were really right there in a well-presented and believable space. Lots of detail and that trademark Polk Audio sound – a kind of dark clarity – made the instruments and voices sound just right.
With more electrical music, hip hop, rock and electronica, there was an exciting dynamic energy which, while still evident with acoustic tracks, really came through with well recorded pop songs – deep bass, bright tonality which never sounded edgy, and the ability to play loud without breaking down into distortion. Here too was that striking presence, and we kept feeling like these are not just really pleasing, and often quite exciting, sounding speakers, they are quite engaging as well – we were always right there with the music, and even sometimes forgetting that we were supposed to be taking notes for a review.
And in all kinds of music there was a startlingly realistic soundstage – that is, the imaging and sense of musicians and instruments actually in a three-dimensional space. This is often cited as a very important quality in jazz and classical music, but can be equally important in popular music, and especially with well engineered recordings.
The high frequencies were nicely extended and open, without harshness, and the midrange too had a nice clarity and openness, and seemed to be very low in distortion. Bass response is not, of course, anything like you would hear in large tower speakers, or with a subwoofer, but it was surprisingly extended and beefy, but without that bumpy, humpy artificial quality you get in so many small speakers in this price range (and often in speakers even quite a bit more expensive).
The Polk Audio T15 loudspeakers will, in fact, play loud. They play loud enough with even very small amplifiers, but with a larger amplifier they will go louder than we, at least, could ever imagine wanting to hear, and we were never able to push them to the point of unlistenable noise or distortion.
Overall, then, a remarkably good, accurate and beautiful sounding speaker for all kinds of music, with wide and flat frequency response, low distortion, sweet sound and lots of detail, and amazingly good wide and precise stereo imaging. No, they do not have the kind of super-sweet musicality of really high-end loudspeakers, or the same levels of detail, micro-detail, temporal and spatial nuance, but just the idea that we are thinking about those factors in a speaker which costs around a hundred bucks lets you know that these are special – actually audiophile in many ways, and much better than many speakers we’ve auditioned at two, three or even four times the price.
Why Choose Polk Audio T15 Bookshelf Speakers?
The Polk Audio T15 two-way speaker system is a great choice for a basic stereo sound system, and when paired with a decent amplifier, CD player or digital streaming source (like a computer or iPod) and even maybe a turntable, will offer surprisingly high quality, musical and likeable sound.
The Polk Audio T15 is, in fact, a great entrée into the wonderful world of high end audio – even though they’re so inexpensive – and you may find yourself upgrading your amplifier, ‘table, CD player and other components long before you think about moving up to higher end speakers. And they are accurate and high resolution enough that you will clearly hear the benefit from any other upgrade.
The T15 is also a great starter for a home theater system, and it is easy to build a superb surround-sound speaker system with the matching Polk Audio home theater speakers – see links just below. Even with a big, expensive, high end audio/video receiver and the best sounding movies, the Polk Audio T15s will be right at home, and they will also bring out the best in even moderate home theater or stereo systems.
What Does The Media Say About the Polk Audio T15 Bookshelf Speakers?
Both online and print audio publications, in their reviews of the Polk Audio T15 two-way bookshelf speakers, all seem quite impressed with them, with the most frequent comments relating to the surprising levels of resolution and detail from such an inexpensive speaker, the incredible stereo imaging, and the versatility they offer – in terms of set up and placement, in terms of related equipment, and in how good they sound with so many different kinds of music.
Several reviewers mention the sweet, musical quality of the T15 (and we’re not the only ones to mention that wonderful trademark “Polk Sound,”), and the consensus seems to be that this is not just a great sounding speaker for the money, but overall a very likeable one as well.
User Reviews on the Polk Audio T15 Bookshelf Speakers
We find the same thing among verified customer reviews, on Amazon and elsewhere. People talked about how easy the speakers were to set up, how good they sound in their rooms, and how solid, well-built and high quality they look and feel.
While some professional reviewers mention the lack of really deep bass response (though always pointing out that this is normal in bookshelf speakers), customers more often talked about how they were in fact amazed and very satisfied by just how much bass they got from such a small and moderately priced pair of speakers. Like professional reviewers, some customers talked about how they loved the Polk T15 for not having the falsely equalized and artificial sounding boosted bass of so many similarly sized and priced speakers.
Final Words – Is the Polk Audio T15 Bookshelf Speaker a Good Choice?
As I read back on this article, and think of the listening sessions, I realize it has turned into a bit of a rave review – but really, that’s about right. I mean, there are lots of really nice bookshelf loudspeakers out there in this price range, which offer surprisingly good sound and surprisingly good value, but the Polk Audio T15 bookshelf loudspeakers are special. They look, sound and feel like a proper audiophile product, and I found myself not comparing them much to the other products at this price point, but instead to much more serious, and more expensive, competition.
If you are a budding audiophile, or simply love music, and you’re looking for beautifully musical and engaging speakers, look no further – the Polk Audio T15 is the answer!