Polk Audio OWM3
A wanna be internet celebrity sent these plastic speaker my way. All the way from Yonkers to my door step they traveled hundreds of miles for me to rub my ear on them and give a verdict.
I think everyone knows about Polk Audio. They make speakers, the kind you find at Best Buy and see listed in the Crutchfield catalog. They have been doing it for decades, so they are either damn good at hiding flaws with marketing, or are pretty good at making speakers for the masses.
These are not the regular box speakers, originally designed for wall placement as surround duty I'm told they work well in a desktop setting. Let's see if that is true.
Well, it's a small, wide non-Euclidean shaped plastic cabinet.
With the grills attached the speakers actually look pretty sharp.
Even though these are intended to be wall mounted Polk include a little kickstand that can optionally can be attached so that the speakers sit upright on flat surfaces.
Tweeter is pretty large compared to much of the stuff I see come across my desk. It's a 1 inch textile dome and has a tasteful horn loading built into the baffle of the cabinet.
Woofer looks like a generic Polk woofer. It's got a dead eyed fish look and feel to it, kind of like a piece of chicken cooked to the point of forming a rubber like consistency that has been injection molded into a woofer cone. Basically it looks boring.
Grills are okay, not great.
The back of the speaker shows off spots for mounting to a wall. It is a sealed speaker, so there is no port. The terminals work for hooking things up, but it's easier to reach them before you put on the stand.
I've got them flat on the desktop. No stands for these because they are angled back and need every bit of boost to the lower midrange and bass that close boundary interaction has to offer.
They sound best with slightly more toe-in than I would normally run, and fit in close to me, sitting a bit in front of my monitor.
The Polk OWM3's are being powered by an old Onkyo HT-R520 I picked up for $40 at a yard sale which is also doing digital to analog conversion via an optical cable that runs from my computer. Music was a mix of Spotify premium 320kbps streams and FLAC files made up of what used to be my CD collection.
Listening with grills on is not too bad, seems like pretty uniform dispersion, and not seeing the drivers is nice.
Dark, recessed midrange.
Treble is a bit much, vocals are too squeaky, highs hurt ears even at low volumes.
Bass is not bad at lower volumes, but is definitely very limited.
Lots of detail, but there is rising response(getting louder the higher the frequency goes) I'm sure of it.
Imaging is confined to the speakers limited height, pointing to vertical dispersion issues... off come the grills.
Without the grills these are very sparkly.
I actually like the form factor of the speaker, although I would like them to be a good bit taller, the angled footing works well on these for the desktop.
Detailed, but completely uninvolving.
These definitely need a subwoofer.
The response while not flat does seems pretty smooth.
Running a quick headroom test and I pull 110db near field(very loud). These almost seem like they have a high pass filter on them blocking any attempt at producing deep bass. If this is true it would limit usefulness, but is helpful for keeping composed at volume.
I can see the reason why someone would like these, the wide baffle and tweeter close to the top can do some interesting things with reflections and imaging.
Damn, the treble though...
I measured these with some boundary reinforcement instead of the standard floating on stands I do for regular box speakers. This will more closely mimic the way they are intended to be used. Outside of the lack of bass and too much treble things look pretty good for most of the response.
Cut cut cut! It only took a couple of filters to make these less offensive. There was a really nasty spike which showed up at 17kHz in close windowing of the measurements, I took care of that here even though it's probably not audible to most of the population.
Corrected Listening Impressions:
Even with the missing bass, once correct, these sound alright. They sound better than a lot of shit that I've reviewed here.
Not that they were interesting before, these are just completely boring now. They sound better, but have the personality of toast without butter.
The power to turn any music you like into elevator fodder.
If I had a subwoofer they would probably be more entertaining, but I'm guessing that it would not be that much better.
I would not recommend these without the DSP correction applied. That said, with a subwoofer and the DSP correction these could be pretty good, if a tad boring.
Special thanks to Zeos for sending me the speakers. If you want to watch a bumbling buffoon with two bad ears ramble on about audio, check out his youtube channel.
Here is a link to his overly enthusiastic review of these speakers.
Check out the system finder to see what I recommend.
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