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.
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.
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.
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!
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- IN THe bOX
- The silk dome tweeter delivers a classic, clear, detailed Polk performance, with pinpoint imaging and smooth highs that are never tiring.
- An aperiodic-tuned rear-firing bass port combines the extension of a ported enclosure with the smoother low-end of an acoustic suspension enclosure, controlling port air flow for the kind of big bass response, and perfect speaker-subwoofer blending, you'd never expect from a loudspeaker you can hold in the palm of your hand.
- A super-small long-throw mid-bass driver, tuned with our patented Dynamic Balance® technology, delivers astonishingly smooth, flat frequency response, superior transparency and detail, and the surprising ability to play really, really loud for such a small speaker.
- Time Lens® technology aligns the acoustic centers of the tweeter and mid-bass driver on the same spatial plane for superior imaging, while an acoustic lens incorporated in the grille smoothens the tweeter's frequency response.
- The unique curved enclosure design employs non-parallel surfaces to strengthen the acoustically inert enclosure and deliver less audible coloration from internal surface resonances.
- Because of its Extended Linear Motion motor structure, the moving parts of the drivers used in the Blackstone® TL Series can move farther, more smoothly, in a smaller space than any other speaker driver in an enclosure this size, achieving the kind of dynamic response (clarity, volume) you'd expect from much larger speakers.
- Polk's proprietary, patented Dynamic Balance technology allows our engineers to design out distortion-causing driver and system resonances, so you only hear the good sounds.
- Hi-Gloss "Blackstone" finish, a durable, deep automotive-strength finish that matches today's most stylish flat-panel TVs and furniture.
- Compact means go-anywhere for Blackstone TL: on shelves, on the wall, on stands. Built-in keyhole slots and threaded inserts (that fit virtually any brackets) give you multiple mounting options.
- Gold-plated, professional-style 5-way binding posts, for the most secure connection options.
- All models in the Blackstone TL Series are available in convenient, professionally matched 5-packs for instant home theater solutions in any room. There are two complete systems available that include a subwoofer; everything you need for an explosive, compact, easy-to-connect home theater system. Plus, you can use individually-available satellites to expand your systems to accommodate 6.1, 7.1 and beyond.
|Dimensions Center - Depth||3 1/2 (8.89cm) "|
|Dimensions Center - Enclosure Type||Non-resonant composite w/time-aligned geometry and aperiodic tuned port|
|Dimensions Center - Height||4 (10.16cm) "|
|Dimensions Center - Product Weight||3.35 pounds|
|Dimensions Center - Width||15 (38.10cm) "|
|Dimensions Satellites - Depth||4 7/8 (12.38cm) "|
|Dimensions Satellites - Enclosure Type||Non-resonant composite w/time-aligned geometry and aperiodic tuned port|
|Dimensions Satellites - Height||6 1/2 (16.51cm) "|
|Dimensions Satellites - Product Weight||1.85 pounds|
|Dimensions Satellites - Width||3 3/4 (9.53cm) "|
|Dimensions Subwoofer - Depth||12 1/2 (31.75cm) "|
|Dimensions Subwoofer - Enclosure Type||Downward firing vented port|
|Dimensions Subwoofer - Height||13 7/8 (35.24cm) "|
|Dimensions Subwoofer - Product Weight||20.50 pounds|
|Dimensions Subwoofer - Width||12 1/2 (31.75cm) "|
|Driver Complement Center Midrange - Diameter||2 1/2 (6.35cm) "|
|Driver Complement Center Midrange - Quantity||2|
|Driver Complement Center Midrange - Type||Dynamic Balance composite cone driver|
|Driver Complement Center Tweeter - Diameter||1/2 (1.27cm) "|
|Driver Complement Center Tweeter - Quantity||1|
|Driver Complement Center Tweeter - Type||Silk polymer dome|
|Driver Complement Satellites Midrange - Diameter||2 1/2 (6.35cm) "|
|Driver Complement Satellites Midrange - Quantity||1|
|Driver Complement Satellites Midrange - Type||Dynamic Balance Composite Cone Driver|
|Driver Complement Satellites Tweeter - Diameter||1/2 (1.27cm) "|
|Driver Complement Satellites Tweeter - Quantity||1|
|Driver Complement Satellites Tweeter - Type||Silk polymer dome|
|Driver Complement Subwoofer - Diameter||8 (20.32cm) "|
|Driver Complement Subwoofer - Quantity||1|
|Driver Complement Subwoofer - Type||Long-throw Dynamic Balance polymer composite driver|
|Driver Complement Surround - Type||Silk polymer dome|
|Driver Complement Surround Midrange - Diameter||2 1/2 (6.35cm) "|
|Driver Complement Surround Midrange - Quantity||1|
|Driver Complement Surround Midrange - Type||Dynamic Balance composite cone driver|
|Driver Complement Tweeter - Diameter||1/2 (1.27cm) "|
|Driver Complement Tweeter - Quantity||1|
|Electrical - Inputs||5-way binding posts w/plastic caps|
|Electrical - Lower -3dB Limit||45 Hz|
|Electrical - Recommended Amplifier Power||10-100 watts per channel|
|Electrical - Total Frequency Response||40Hz-22kHZ|
|Electrical - Upper -3dB Limit||20 kHz|
|Electrical Power Handling - Continuous||50 watts|
|Electrical Power Handling - Peak||100 watts|
|Installation Center - Mounting Options||keyhole slots; .25 x 20 threaded inserts|
|Installation Satellites - Mounting Options||keyhole slot; .25 x 20 threaded insert|
|Power Amplifier Specs - 220V Availability||No|
|Shipping - Total Shipping Weight||41.00 pounds|
|Shipping - Unit of Measure||system|
|Subwoofer Amplifier Specs - 220V Availability||No|
|Subwoofer Amplifier Specs - Dynamic Power Output||100 watts|
|Subwoofer Amplifier Specs Continuous Average Output - Watts||50|
|Warranty - Speaker Warranty||5 years parts and labor (original purchaser)|
|Warranty - Subwoofer Amplifier Warranty||3 year parts and labor (original purchaser)|
4 TL1 Satellite Speakers
1 Tl1 Center Channel Speaker
1 TL1600 Subwoofer