Polk Audio I-Sonic Entertainment Center

Equipment report
Music servers and computer audio
Polk Audio I-Sonic
Polk Audio I-Sonic Entertainment Center

Polk Audio’s new I-Sonic entertainment center may at first glance look like a “table radio,” but this nine-pound technology-packed wonder is light years beyond any other product of its kind.

In addition to being an AM/FM radio, the I-Sonic receives XM Satellite Radio as well as HD Radio. An integral disc drive lets you play music CDs and even DVDs, meaning that the I-Sonic can be the video source (via S-video and composite-video outputs) for a small home-theater system. The I-Sonic is also compatible with Picture CD so you can display photos on your TV monitor.

I particularly liked the I-Sonic’s topmounted “soft” buttons that change function depending on which source is selected.

In addition to the I-Sonic’s ability to deliver music and video from a wide range of formats (AM/FM/XM/HD Radio/ CD/DVD), you can connect an external source such as an iPod or other music player through the stereo line-input jacks. A nice feature allows you to store up to 30 radio presets in any combination of AM, FM, XM, or HD Radio. A dual alarm clock completes the package.

The I-Sonic’s sound quality was so good I was tempted to critique it the way I would a high-end audio product. It exceeded expectations in every sonic parameter: the ability to play loudly without strain, shockingly deep and full bass response, tremendous midrange clarity, great detail resolution, good dynamics, and a treble smoothness that doesn’t make you want to turn it down after half an hour. The sound is full, deep, and rich. In addition, the I-Sonic’s four speakers (two forward firing and two rear-firing) deliver a remarkably similar tonal balance from anywhere in the room.

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