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CES 2012: Polk Audio

by: Dan -
More On: CES 2012 UltraFocus 6000 UltraFocus 8000
Over the last several years, we have reviewed a number of high-quality products from the folks at Polk Audio that impact the gaming audio experience.  Almost all of these have been speaker bars or the Hitmaster, which were designed to give gamers and home theater enthusiasts a larger and broader audio experience than they could get just form using TV speakers.  This year, Polk Audio had a pleasant surprise waiting for us, as the Speaker Specialists are now getting into the headphone (sport and noise-canceling) business.  They had previously announced both the UltraFit and UltraFocus series last June for a Fall release, but this was the first time I was able to get a hands on with either of them.   Both the UltraFocus 6000 (ear buds) and UltraFocus 8000 (over-the-ear) have really become a necessity for Polk Audio, as consumers continue to move away from the fixed location in their homes to more mobile gaming and entertainment.
I will start with the UltraFocus 8000’s as they are just an absolute beast of a noise-canceling over-the-ear headphone from what I can tell.  They fit like a glove and the audio and noise-canceling quality was some of the best I have come across in this class.  Granted, it was in a limited test with a handful of songs, but I really liked what I heard and saw from them.  They have a great look with the Kevlar texture on the top piece and they sound exceptional.  I also liked the 4.5 foot cable and the 8 Hz – 25 kHz frequency response.  I have been using “Ain’t no rest for the Wicked” by Cage the Elephant lately as a test song and the UF 8000’s handled it with ease, hitting the bass lines perfectly and delivering the intricate details of guitar riffs.  With the UF 8000 due out later this spring with an MSRP of $349.99, they will make people think twice about plunking down money on those other brands at that price that deliver an perceived image and status level and not the audio quality that enthusiasts crave.  Expect a full review later this year once we get a pair from Polk to put through the paces.
As for the UF6000 ear buds, they are very sleek and look impressive sporting their black finish and tangle-free Planar (flat) cable.  Although they are light, they just have this feel of a high-quality bud due to the design and all of the small details that Polk put into them.  Some of the specs include 56” cable, seven different tips and adapters for Nokia and airlines and they have active noise-canceling.  The in-line controller uses a single AAA battery and has push-to-hear tech built in.  After testing them out in Polk’s suite, you could tell that the rated frequency response of 8 Hz – 25 kHz was spot on from the songs I tested.  Like any ear bud, the bottom line is about comfort, because no one cares how good they sound if they don’t feel good in your ear.  After popping the UF6000’s in and out a few times, I can say that people wearing these may well forget they are in their ear, as they just kind of blend in and do not have any pressure points that I could tell.  We hope to take a look at these in the near future as well, as they hit retail in March 2012 with an MSRP of $149.99.
Also on display from Polk were all four of their UltraFit headphones, which are comprised of the UF500, UF1000, UF2000 and UF3000.  These are designed for the active user and although they come in a variety of size, shapes and colors, they all have the Polk quality on the inside.  We also were treated to the current trio of wireless subs and a demo of the absolutely amazing LSiM speaker package (towers and center seen in image below.)