Polk Audio expands SurroundBar IHT series

by: Dan -
More On: SurroundBar 5000 IHT SurroundBar 9000 IHT
After having success with previous models, Polk Audio just announced two more versions of their popular SurroundBar IHT series of wireless speaker bars and subs slated to debut in September of this year.  The SurroundBar 5000 IHT and the new reference SurroundBar 9000 IHT will be the fourth and fifth models in the lineup, and each brings something new to the series.

I checked over the specs and the SurroundBar 5000 IHT looks to be a nice option for anyone wanting to add upgraded audio to their gaming system without putting out too much money.  Checking in with a MSRP of $399, you will get a 6 ½” wireless sub to go with the SurroundBar itself.  What makes it unique, is that it uses Bluetooth for wireless connectivity, so audio playback via your wireless devices can be done via wired or Bluetooth connection.  I am thinking this unit should move quickly off shelves, as it gives Polk Audio a mid-range priced SurroundBar that boasts specs (not to mention Polk Audio quality) not seen from most of the competition.

While the SurroundBar 5000 IHT fills a void in the Polk Audio IHT lineup, the new crown prince of the IHT series will be the SurroundBar 9000 IHT.  Checking in with a 150 watt, 8” wireless sub as well as 45-watts delivered to each of its five 2 ½” midrange drivers and three ½” silk dome tweeters, there is a total of 510 watts peak power for the system.  In addition to impressive specs, Polk Audio promises that the 9000 IHT will deliver some of the best center channel audio and cleanest left and right channel audio we have seen from a speaker bar to date.  With an MSRP of $849 and several generations of Polk Audio SurroundBars to draw from, I imagine the 9000 IHT will deliver. 

Over the years, we have reviewed (and loved) several Polk Audio products that work well with gaming, including the original SurroundBar IHT (that debuted at the 2009 CES) and the SurroundBar 6000 IHT.  We should be able to get a hands on with the 9000 IHT this fall to see how the new flagship of the series handles some ultimate gaming situations.  In the meantime, if you want to know how speaker bars are an optimal way for gamers to add bigger and better sound to their gaming systems, check out our inaugural edition of Pixels & Bits.

Polk Expands SurroundBar IHT Series with Two New Models,
Featuring New Flagship And Step-Up Models

-- New SurroundBar 9000 and 5000 Bring Increased Performance, New Features
to Polk’s Esteemed SurroundBar Lineup --

Baltimore, MD, June 13, 2012 – Polk Audio®, the Speaker Specialists®, will soon ship two new additions to the company’s acclaimed SurroundBar lineup of sound bar audio solutions.  Both the new SurroundBar 9000 Instant Home Theater (IHT) and SurroundBar 5000 IHT deliver a home theater experience that belies their price points, with the latter being the first Polk Audio SurroundBar to feature the added benefit of Bluetooth connectivity.

“With the 9000, we’ve really taken the driver technology to new heights,” says Polk Product Line Manager Al Baron.  “And, it includes all of the technologies that have made our Instant Home Theater line such a success, including SmartBar™ programming, which enables our SurroundBars to easily learn power on/off, volume up/down and mute from your existing TV remote control. It makes operation as simple as can be.”

The new SurroundBar 9000 Instant Home Theater (IHT) joins the line at the top of the list, delivering exceptional, component-caliber 3D audio surround audio while maintaining the sleek, low-profile design and easy setup that have made Polk’s IHT line a favorite among home theater lovers and gamers in search of an enveloping surround sound experience without the cutter and complexity of a traditional home theater array.

The SurroundBar 9000 IHT is self-powered, delivering 45 watts of discrete peak power to each of its eight drivers (five 2½-inch midrange drivers and three ½-inch silk dome tweeters). Add to that the system’s 150-watt, 8-inch wireless subwoofer—which can be located as far as 50 feet away and connects to the system automatically upon powering on—and the SurroundBar 9000 IHT as a whole is capable of delivering 510 watts of total peak power: 25 times as much as the typical TV speakers it is designed to replace.

The SurroundBar 9000 IHT isn’t merely about brute force power, though; it employs a number of key technologies engineered to deliver a more refined audio experience. The 9000’s Optimized Center Array (OCA) design creates a more realistic center speaker experience, resulting in increased dialogue clarity, better midrange performance, more dynamic range, and superior off-axis response, in addition to increased sound output.

Polk's patented SDA® Surround technology also works to eliminate crosstalk between channels, ensuring that left and right ears independently hear the sound intended for them, creating a lifelike three-dimensional sound experience that more closely replicates the way the listener experiences sound in the real world. 

Polk Audio’s SurroundBar 9000 IHT features dual tuned ports designed to provide optimal blending between the midrange drivers and the subwoofer, no matter where the sub is located in the room, and no matter if the bar itself is shelf- or wall-mounted.

The SurroundBar 9000’s cabinet measures just 3¾ by 44⅝ by 2¼ inches—the perfect visual complement to a 50-inch flat panel display, although the SurroundBar 9000 IHT will sound just as great with any size screen. And with two digital optical inputs (in addition to two analog audio inputs), combined with internal Dolby Digital and DTS processing, the 9000 IHT is designed to deliver more dynamic, high-impact sound from digital audio sources, straight out of the box.

SurroundBar 5000
The SurroundBar 5000 Instant Home Theater takes its spot in the line between the acclaimed 4000 IHT and 6000 IHT, and it is the first Polk SurroundBar to feature Bluetooth connectivity.

At just 31 inches wide and 2¼ inches deep, with a 6½ inch wireless subwoofer, it’s the perfect system for adding a robust surround sound experience to mid-sized displays, but the SurroundBar 5000 IHT is equally adept with stereo personal music players like the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and Android phones, through wired or Bluetooth connections.  The 5000 also utilizes the apt-X codec in conjunction with Bluetooth connectivity to deliver a true audiophile caliber streaming audio experience.
“With the SurroundBar 5000 IHT, we offer an attractive, easy-to-setup, even easier-to-operate surround sound solution for every budget—all without the need for surround speakers, expensive wire or additional amplification,” said Baron. “The benefit of Bluetooth connectivity makes this one of the most full featured bars at this or any price.”

It’s What’s Inside That Counts
One key to the stunning performance of both the SurroundBar 5000 and 9000 is Polk Digital Logic® technology, which relies on proprietary digital signal processing to optimize the system’s acoustical performance in the typical room, without the need for complicated setup menus and baffling instruction manuals.

Both new SurroundBars are Energy Star® certified, and come with backup remote controls, although each can easily be programmed to understand the customer’s own TV remote control. Each system also features built-in keyhole slots for mounting, which ensure a wide range of placement options.

The Polk SurroundBar 9000 Instant Home Theater and SurroundBar 5000 Instant Home Theater will be available September 2012, at suggested retail prices of $849 and $399 respectively.