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Christmas Gift Guide

Polk Audio RM6200 review:

Polk Audio RM6200

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The Good Tiny, sweet-sounding satellites; overachieving powered subwoofer.

The Bad Relatively large subwoofer.

The Bottom Line An extrasmooth subwoofer/satellite blend and a powerful subwoofer put the RM6200 near the top of the sub-$1,000-system class.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

8.0 Overall

Polk Audio's feisty home-theater package, the RM6200, has an extrabeefy sub, which helps make it quite capable of impersonating bigger speaker systems despite its diminutive satellites. What's more, this system's keenly integrated subwoofer and satellites are equally at home playing CDs and DVDs. Polk Audio's feisty home-theater package, the RM6200, has an extrabeefy sub, which helps make it quite capable of impersonating bigger speaker systems despite its diminutive satellites. What's more, this system's keenly integrated subwoofer and satellites are equally at home playing CDs and DVDs.

Small except for the sub
The RM6200's 6.5-inch-tall satellites' injection-molded polymer cabinets feel solid, and their tweeters and woofers each have their own circular grilles. The curvy center speaker's dual woofers straddle a single tweeter. All of the main speakers' backsides have keyhole slots and threaded inserts that will accept fully articulating OmniMount wall brackets. Instead of the typical cheesy, spring-clip wire connectors, Polk supplies sturdy, gold-plated binding posts that mate with banana plugs, bare wire, or spades.

The RM6200's nifty sub demonstrates how far the art of entry-level subwoofer design has come: its 8-inch polymer/mineral composite woofer will let you hear every floor-shaking note. The not-so-small sub is a plain, vinyl-covered box, measuring 12.75 inches high, 11.5 inches wide, and 18.5 inches deep and weighing 33 pounds. The connectivity options include speaker and line-level inputs. The subwoofer's 50-watt power rating might appear underpowered, but this thing rocks.

The satellites and the subwoofer are magnetically shielded for safe placement next to your TV. The four front and rear speakers are available in black or white finishes, but the center speaker and subwoofer are available only in black.

We've heard far too many small speakers that add a degree of harshness when played at moderately loud levels. The RM6200 package actually sounds more alive when you push it a little. The overall sound is warm and inviting.

The RM6200's served up the full kinetic bounce of the early Beatles CDs and the lavish sound of the brand-new remastered version of Bridge Over Troubled Water. Simon and Garfunkel's harmonizing was rich and natural, though it's missing some fullness that we hear from larger bookshelf or floor-standing speakers. The package sounds good, but if you really want to party or your room is huge, you will need bigger speakers.

Good vibrations
Chopper, a truly raw and twisted Australian crime flick, sounded especially lucid. These speakers easily portrayed the film's creepy prison atmospheres. The shudderingly deep bass assaults that populate The Haunting DVD showcase the subwoofer's athleticism--this baby boomer has what it takes to deliver visceral home-theater thrills. This subwoofer does more than just play bass; it delivers the texture of the bass.

With a $900 list price, the RM6200 faces stiff competition from Energy Speakers' popular Take 5.2 system, but the Polk package sounds more detailed and alive. We have no problem saying that this is one of the best sub-$1,000 systems we've heard. However, it's worth noting that the RM6200's gutsy sub will be happier in somewhat larger rooms than would most subwoofer/satellite systems. That said, if your room is pretty big--say, more than 250 square feet--you might also consider the next model up in Polk's line, the RM6600. This $1,180 (list price) system is similar but comes with a bigger subwoofer, and the satellites are outfitted with more refined tweeters.

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