Rocky Mountain Audio Fest Report Part 2: Polk Audio Makes A Splash With Legend Series, Plus Sony’s New SA-Z1 Signature Speaker!

Man where to start! There was so much going on this weekend at RMAF, including two major product launches from Polk Audio and Sony.

Discovering The Polk Legend Series

It’s been a while since Polk Audio released new speakers for the specialty audio market. But all that changed at RMAF. At the show, they launched their new Legend Series, a new line that aims to put the Polk Audio brand back on the lips of hardcore audiophiles. The range consists of five models, which are two floorstanders, two standmounters, and a matching center channel for home theater setups.

All the speakers feature the newly designed high resolution 1” Pinnacle tweeters which are said to offer a wide sweet spot, and Turbine Cone mid-range drivers which are patterned to provide stiffness without weight.

POLK Legend L800

The flagship L800 floorstanding speaker was the star of the show, taking center stage in Polk’s large suite. The $6k a pair L800 brings back the company’s renowned SDA Speaker Platform which in this case, uses an array of two Pinnacle tweeters and two Turbine Cone midrange speakers to enhance imaging. Many people in attendance were excited to see SDA make a comeback. You have to understand this technology is so respected that original SDA models from the 80s are still bought and sold by enthusiasts.

POLK Legend L100

I listened to the L800 it at the show, and I must say even though my placement wasn’t perfect, (I had to stand behind the chairs set up in the sweet spot)  I thought the soundstage and imaging were remarkable.

In a second room, they demoed the $1200 a pair L100 Legend Bookshelf, and since everyone was so entranced by the L800, I got to spend a little more time with that model. I was amazed at how well it handled low notes for such a small speaker, but of course, this was with pre-selected demo tracks. Regardless of that, it sounded very close to a full range speaker, which was amazing. BTW, they did the demo with what looked an old DENON integrated. I would love to get a pair in my house and hear it in a familiar environment.

POLK will be offering listening events at dealers throughout the U.S., visit polkaudio.com for more details.

Sony’s New Signature Series Nearfield Speaker

Sony also displayed a final prototype of their SA-Z1 Signature Series Speakers. These are designed to be the ultimate powered nearfield speaker for desktop listening, and they will sell for an ultimate price somewhere between 5k and10k. Keep in mind there is no Bluetooth or any other wireless technology built-in. But other than that, these wild-looking speakers have so much technology built-in I won’t even try to list it all.

Sony Electronics’ Signature Series SA-Z1 Near Field Powered Speaker System

Here’s some info from the press release:

Orchestration of Sony’s audio expertise
The Signature Series advances sound to a new realm of audio engagement – taking the experience from listening to feeling. With the SA-Z1, users can experience Sony’s ultimate audio resolution and sound stage.

The acoustic design concept of SA-Z1 is an ideal point sound source. The physical layout of the driver units, along with the time alignment of soundwaves from each driver unit, is the key in realizing this concept. A coaxial layout of woofers and tweeters is an optimal physical arrangement to better integrate the sound from every driver unit. Time alignment of the sound waves is achieved by Sony’s unique algorithm on the FPGA processor. This precisely controls the timing of every driver unit’s output so that the leading edge of the sound waves align. Thanks to this engineering, the SA-Z1 produces a level of audio quality, resolution and sound stage like no speaker before it.

The SA-Z1 speakers reproduce a wide and deep acoustic field. Users can experience the height and depth of the music thanks to the “Tsuzumi1” layout with side ducts. Additionally, the I-ARRAYTM System consists of three tweeters that work together as one to ensure wide directivity and to deliver rich musical expression. The D.A. Hybrid Amplifier Circuit, inherited from the TA-ZH1ES Signature Series headphone amplifier, has evolved with a newly applied Gallium Nitride (GaN) power semiconductor. GaN significantly reduces distortion and gives 100kHz reproduction ability to the D.A. Hybrid Amplifier Circuit.

The SA-Z1 has a solid and resonance-free body structure that delivers clear and pure sound. The enclosure is made of six pieces of aluminum plate. Every plate is joined in a distinct way, inspired by Japanese traditional construction methods.

Compatible with personal audio setups
Consumers can easily install the SA-Z1 in current personal or headphone audio setups using its variety of digital and analogue inputs. A PC, Walkman® and other Sony Signature Series music players make for perfect pairings. The SA-Z1 is designed to use in a personal space, such as a desktop environment. Because near field speakers are relatively free from room acoustic conditions that affect audio performance, the SA-Z1 effortlessly spreads out its large sound stage.

Discover personalized sound
The SA-Z1 has four unique sound tuning settings, with the default position designed to release the full musical potential of an audio track. Users can also fine tune the sound to their personal taste without any signal loss. Consumers can change the speakers’ settings with ease, including:

  • blend ratio of the digital and analogue amplifier
  • control of the assist woofer motion
  • cut-off frequency of the assist woofer
  • the “assist tweeter” time alignment

With these customizable functions, users can create the ideal sound tuned specifically to their ears.

For product additional specifications, please visit: https://www.sony.com/electronics/speakers/sa-z1

What I will say is the I-Array Tweeter setup produced a soundstage that was insane. I won’t say it necessarily sounded natural, but the sound was so deep, tall, and wide, that I couldn’t believe I was sitting in front of a pair of desktop speakers. If you get a chance to listen to them please do, it was quite the experience!

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