Polk Audio CS1
Polk Audio's CS1 center-channel speaker, which retails for $199 and is part of the company's updated Monitor line, doesn't stray too far from the classic box-speaker form. From the side, however, the CS1's wedge-shaped profile is distinctive, and its bright titanium front baffle and curved grille add a 21st-century flair to the design.
With a pair of larger than average 5.25-inch composite woofers matched with a 1-inch silk/polymer-composite dome tweeter, the CS1 definitely counts as a full-size center speaker. It measures an ample 7 inches high, 18 inches wide, and 9.6 inches deep; it weighs 13 pounds. The nonresonant 0.75-inch-thick MDF (medium-density fiberboard) cabinet construction is nice and solid, and the internal crossover uses high-quality parts. The heavy-duty, five-way binding posts cheerfully accept banana jacks, bare wire, or spade connectors.
Like the rest of the Monitor Series, the CS1 is available in faux-cherry or black veneers. Flat-panel TV owners should be aware that the CS1 isn't designed for wall mounting; it can either sit on top of your TV or on a shelf under the set.
In addition to the CS1, the Monitor Series includes a larger center speaker (the CS2), two bookshelf models, three towers, and two subwoofers. We partnered the CS1 with the smaller Monitor 30 bookshelf speakers and the PSW10 subwoofer. Feel free to substitute any of the other Monitor models for your system--the complete 5.1 system we tested retails for $879. Want to go all out and surround yourself with a 7.1 Monitor ensemble? That'll run $1,118. Shop around a bit, and you'll shave at least 25 percent off those quoted retail prices.
The recently remastered Goodfellas DVD sounds better than ever. Ray Liotta's narration sounded naturally full, with excellent detail. Multichannel SACD's higher resolution was readily apparent over the CS1. The Allman Brothers' classic At the Fillmore East, was the next best thing to being there. The CS1 achieved a seamless blend with the PSW10 subwoofer, and its timbre matched that of the smaller Monitor 30 satellites spot-on.