REVIEW: Polk Audio Hampden Desktop Speakers
THE VERDICT:
The Polk Hampdens are great speakers for anyone who is serious about good audio. Their mid-century modern design makes them stand out in a crowded market. For computer speakers they have top notch sound quality, even when they’re pushed to their limits they still sound pretty good.

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Design9
Value7.5
Features8.5
Performance9
The Good
  • For computer speakers, the Polk Hampden sounds remarkably well. It performs great for both music and movies. The Hampden also has a nice mid-range and does a good job handling upper bass frequencies. It doesn’t hurt that it looks pretty good too.
The Bad
  • Polk Audio’s Hampden speakers are a little pricey at $399. Also, they do distort when played at high volumes.
9Overall Score

Polk Audio Hampden Speakers Review

Do you remember the 70s? If you’re old enough to remember that by-gone era then you’ll remember that wood paneling was on everything. Back then it seemed that product designers took unusual pleasure in slapping it anywhere and everywhere, including cars. In recent years the wood paneling “look”  has returned and oddly enough, in most cases it works. Polk Audio’s Hampden desktop speakers are a good example of this. It’s teak wood veneered paneled sides and off white front face give it a mid-century modern look that immediately impresses you when you pull it out of the box.

Polk Hampden Speaker Review

 

Polk Hampden Design & Appearance

It’s not an exaggeration to say that these are possibly the best looking desktop computer speakers I’ve personally seen. Embedded on the front of the Hampden you’ll see a silverish 1″ soft dome tweeter with a 4.5″ silver/gray stiff polypropylene mid-woofer below it. Because of the brown kick-stand, the Polk Hampden’s have an upward angle. The angle of the Polk Hampden is designed so that they align perfectly with your ear when you’re setting at your desk or table. The kickstand also does double duty by acting as a handle so you can easily carry the Hampden to another location.

Polk Audio Hampden AM6510-A Bluetooth Speaker System with aptX Audio Streaming

Price: $300.00

4.1 out of 5 stars (170 customer reviews)

2 used & new available from $300.00

The right and left speakers are connected together by a single cord and the speakers themselves can be connected to your computer either via a USB or an AUX cable. For wireless connectivity the Polk Hampden is also bluetooth compatible. The volume and on/off switch is adhered to the side of the right speaker and directly beneath that is the source select button. On the front of the right speaker sets a tiny window that displays a numeric value for the volume level. This window also lights up in various colors to indicate the type of input the speakers are receiving. For instance, if the Hampden is receiving a bluetooth signal, the window glows a soft blue. A white glow represents a USB connection and a gold light indicates an Auxiliary input.

Polk Audio Hampden Desktop Speakers Review

Performance

I expected a lot from these speakers. Being priced at $399, they’re pretty expensive for computer speakers. After spending some time with them I can honestly say they’re worth the high price-tag. Musically, they have a smooth buttery sound which is unexpected for computer speakers. Treble is crisp and punchy without being sharp. The mid-range is full and smooth.

 

When listening to Ivy & Gold’s single Headlights from their Smoke & Mirrors album, the Polk Audio Hampden speakers displayed admirable dynamic range. Vocals were clean and crisp. Bass was punchy. The Hampden, doesn’t have the bass capabilities of a larger speaker however, for it’s size it displayed a strong ability to reproduce upper bass without being muddy.

 

 

M.I.A.’s track “Bad Girls” has a fairly large amount of bass and as such we thought it would be a good test for the Hampden. Overall it handled the bass heavy track exceptionally well. The only time we ran into an issue was when we really cranked the volume. At high volume levels the Hampdens did start to sound a little muddy. Considering you’ll probably listen to these things from a few feet away there’s probably no need to play them that loud.

 

The Hampden makes use of bluetooth with apt-X . Apt-X is said to provide near “CD” audio quality via bluetooth. When testing the Hampden via bluetooth the sound was noticeably better than other bluetooth streamed music we’ve heard on other speakers. We wouldn’t quite say it’s “CD” quality but it’s better than most bluetooth streamed audio. Connecting these via USB definitely sounds better and unless you’re streaming music from a mobile device, it should be your preferred method of pushing music to the speakers.

 

For movies and other audio related tasks the Hampden is equally impressive. Even highly compressed audio from YouTube videos sounded remarkable. We watched several movies including Transformers “Age of Extinction” and  the latest “Godzilla” movie. Despite their size and lack of a subwoofer they managed to pack quite a punch. Vocals were very clean and warm and the little speakers managed to add quite a bit of excitement to movie soundtracks.

 

Conclusion

The Polk Hampden is a must buy for anyone who takes their audio seriously. The Hampden has great dynamic range for computer speakers. It’s only drawback is at high volumes it does start to sound a little muddy, but unless your trying to push your eardrums to their limits, there’s no reason to play it  that loud. The Hampden is a little pricey, but considering how good it sounds, it’s probably worth every penny.

 


Where to Buy:

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