Polk Audio TL1600 Review

Small, Powerful and Blackstone

Polk Audio TL1600 Blackstone

With the cheap speaker system, the TL1600 Blackstone, the US manufacturer Polk Audio are most likely addressing home cinema beginners. They are pretty to look at and build upon some of Polk's previous models. Whether they have done a good job or not, we will try to find out in this test.

For a thrilling movie and home theater sound you don´t necessarily need to spend a fortune. Those of you that already use small speakers know that you can really enjoy a good movie sound in your own home. For this purpose, however, the speakers should be technically well designed and also show a reasonable standard when it comes to sound and build quality. Then you´ll just have to follow the installation instructions from the manufacturer and make sure the speakers are placed correctly and calibrated, and a fun home movie night with impressive sound is just around the corner, right?

Design & Finish

The TL1600 from Polk Audio consists of four compact satellite speakers, a slightly larger center speaker of the horizontal type and a much bulkier active subwoofer. For the relatively low price it´s a well-made system with elegantly designed satellites in a high-quality finish. The subwoofer is somewhat uncouth, but is just like the satellites well made and we only miss a gloss finish. The cube-shape of the subwoofer cabinet is gently rounded at the corners and covered with a matte film.

Polk Audio TL1600 Blackstone

TL1 Satellite Speakers & Center

The four very compact TL1 satellite speakers can be discreetly integrated into most homes due to their small dimensions. On the back is a keyhole bracket with which the speaker can be mounted on a wall. Alternatively, you can use the speakers on a shelf or on a suitable stand. Due to the curved shape and molded ridges on the inside of the cabinet, the compact speakers are sufficiently sturdy and stable. As a special feature, the “Time Lens technology”, the tweeter is slightly recessed to bring the acoustic centers of the midrange and tweeter on the same spatial plane. The identical satellites are full two-way systems, each equipped with a 65 mm woofer and one 13 mm silk dome. The center speaker have similar features as the satellites, however, the center speaker is for horizontal installation and has two midrange drivers. On the back you´ll find an aperiodic-tuned bass reflex port to optimize and push the bass range slightly.

Stylish speaker grilles ensure a beautiful appearance and protect against mechanical damage, and incorporates an acoustic lens that smoothens the tweeter's frequency response.

polk audio TL1 Satellite speakers

TL1600 Active Subwoofer

To support the satellites in the bass, Polk Audio include an active down-firing subwoofer suitable for rooms up to 70 square feet. Using the 100-watt active amplifier on the back of the subwoofer in combination with a long-stroke 200mm bass driver, the TL1600 generates plenty of momentum from about 45 Hertz. The equipped amplifier allows for infinite adjustment of the cut-off frequency of 80 to 160 Hz and the phase can be adjusted 180 degrees with a switch. High feet with rubber ends decouple the subwoofer from the floor and create the necessary distance to the floor, allowing the driver to move smoothly and breathe. The downward firing vented port is not susceptible to interfering flow noise due to the large diameter. It is worth mentioning that Polk offers different subwoofer options.

Polk Audio TL1600 subwoofer

TL1600 Blackstone In Use

In our large home theater room the small TL1600 multi-channel system seems almost a little lost. We treated, set up and calibrated the compact speaker system with the same attention as we would with a full-size high-end surround system, to sound as optimal as possible and to really see and hear what it could do. After several hours of burn-in, the Polk Audio TL1600 was ready to prove itself in movie mode. We put ‘The Hobbit‘ trilogy in the Blu-ray disc tray and let the special effects of Smaugs wings and roaring fire blast our ears. Admittedly, the subwoofer doesn´t dive into the deepest end of the bass pool, but it does a much better job in the upper layers of the bass, which it plays in our room with vigor and precision. To our surprise, the inconspicuous satellites sounded powerful and very balanced without emphasizing individual frequency ranges, even when playing at absurd volume levels. The identical loudspeaker configuration creates a very homogeneous surround field that extends beyond the boundaries of the speakers. Fine details are well resolved and are easy to spot in even the busiest battle. The TL1600 also proved itself to do very well with multi-channel music, as it benefits from a homogeneous way of playing and good spatial representation.


With the TL1600, Polk Audio shows us what can be done and that it is possible to get a large home theater sound with a small 5.1-system. This pretty speaker system comes at a bargain price at ~$400. It gets our recommendation: Listen, and enjoy!


  • Features
  • Specifications
  • IN THe bOX

4 TL1 Satellite Speakers
1 Tl1 Center Channel Speaker
1 TL1600 Subwoofer

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Old Price: $399.95
Current Price: $289.99