Review: Polk Audio SDA-2 Speaker

Category: Speakers

Purchased these speakers new in 1983 and they remain in one of my systems today. I had orginally planned to purchase the SDA 1 and I had auditioned them a couple of weeks earlier and have decided to spend the $1,700.00 for them.

When I arrived to pick them up,the owner advised Polk just had released the SDA 2 and I would be wise to listen to them before a final decision was made. So a side by side comparison was made for me. At the onset the difference was readily apparent. The SDA 2 clearly was more musical than the SDA 1. All of us standing around listening to the comparison were just scratching our heads. Here was a new speaker from Polk which was just under their flagship model,that just plainly sounded better for some reason.

One said well maybe the SDA system is not working on the SDA 1. So checked this out,SDA was working,checked the fuses,no problem there. The SDA 2 was clearly out performing the SDA 1.

So here I took a deep breath and ask the price on the SDA 2. They were $450.00 less than the SDA 1. My wife, now we are 32 years married,like them as well,but wanted to know if they could be had in a oak finish as opposed to the Walnut. So the owner checked has dealer form and said that oak wasnt available,but he would call to check out. Polk advised him oak was not available,but that if I wanted oak,they would make the cabinents for me in oak. Would take about 3 weeks to get done. All I can say,what a dealer this was and what a company Polk was at that time. So paid the money and in three weeks the Polk SDA 2 were delivered to my door and set up for me.

There is clearly a reason I have kept these all these years. And that reason is performance. After all these years they continue to impress. the sonics,the dept,clarity are just magical. With the SDA system the soundstage is indeed large,and one can literally pick each instrument in a symphonic orchestra. These speakers perform well with all types of music,from Rock N Roll,to Jazz and Classical. I have never found them lacking in any way.

Now some 20 years plus since they were new,I find this is the ultimate validation of this product. Have several sets of speakers over the years and have many now,but the Polk SDA 2 continues to impress. Matthew Polk got it all very right with the SDA 2.

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Even with all the Polk bashing in the late 80s and early 90s I was always amazed when I auditioned these back in the day. Although I never owned a pair (until recently) it was a design that was very original and full range. A few months back I purchase a pair of SDA-1Bs and yesterday I came into a nice pair of SDA-1Cs with an upgraded crossover and new silk dome tweeters. Talk about full range and HUGE soundstage. If not for the paradigm shift to smaller, more 'home friendly' speakers these would still be very viable designs. I use mine in a two channel only room and feel there is nothing lacking; solid bass, neutral midrange and airy highs with that addictive SDA effect that, on many recording, has you looking to the sides for additional speakers. Not the most attractive speakers but these have it where it counts--the sound!
As far as the amps go for SDA speakers stay far away from amps like Carver M-400, M-400a or any other amp that reverses the polarity on one channel. That set up instantly goes into a runaway situation, makes some awful and very loud noises and then blows things.
i just picked up a pair of sda2b, found this thread and like others was fairly amazed at how "modern" (and quite exceptional) they sound--as stated above, airy highs and very deep and tight low end. i'm left wondering why many current speakers can't reproduce bass as effectively. i didn't find the soundstage to be quite as large as others have opined--they definitely have a dead-center sweet spot, but otherwise sound almost flawless. like alot of older speakers, they seem to sound best with older gear (i tried 'em with 80s kyocera and tandberg receivers). at their current used price, the polks are a ridiculous bargain.
I had a pair of SDA-2s for about a week many years ago when they first came out. I was powering them with a Denon POA-1500 solid state amp rated at 150 watts/ch. BUT they were not delivering much in the way of current. As it turned out, the SDA cable connecting the two speakers was sending back EMF into my amps causing them to oscillate resulting in cracking noises. That was it for the Polks!

Fortunately I was rescued by a pair of Vandersteen 2Cs that I enjoyed for many years.