50 Years of Polk – A Long History of Good Vintage Speakers

50 Years of Polk Audio

Today Polk Audio celebrated its 50th anniversary.

They have celebrated their milestone by releasing a new product series – Dolby Atmos soundbars.

Aside from that, Polk is currently working on a new project that involves the Polkie community and there are currently no teasers or hints about what it is. But don’t worry, we’ll let you know the news once it’s out.

Another way we can celebrate with Polk Audio is by briefly looking back at the company’s long history and taking a bit of time to appreciate its vintage speakers.

A Peek Into Polk’s Humble Beginnings

Polk Audio started out with just a group of friends on June 22, 1972. Members of this group are graduates of engineering from John Hopkins University in Baltimore.

All of them have a passion for music and good sound quality. They wanted to build a good speaker but due to their limited budget as students have to build it with affordable materials. And due to this passion, they decided to start a business of making speakers with only $200 as capital.

The company name, Polk Audio, came from the surname of one of its founders, Matthew Polk. As to the reason why his surname was chosen? It’s because it was the easiest to pronounce.

The company’s start can be described as somewhat lucky. They secured contracts for supplying speakers to private companies and have found partners which introduced them to various companies that might be interested in buying their wares.

50 Years of Polk AudioPolk Audio’s Rapid Growth and Early Success

After 4 years since the company started, Polk has successfully built a reputation for creating good-sounding speakers and has earned a lot of great feedback from consumers.

Due to this, their first business loan in 1976, amounting to $75,000, was approved and enabled Polk Audio to expand its operations greatly. And in the following 4 years, they received two more business loans which propelled their production capabilities. Thus, resulting in a whopping 3.6 million dollars in revenue in 1980.

This quick and early success continued on until 1986 when their annual revenues shoot up to 14 million dollars. To further expand on this business boom, Polk continuously searched for ways in order to expand its capital. And that’s when they decided to offer public shares to the company.

Strong Headstart, Difficult Follow-through

Sadly, Polk Audio’s strong early success didn’t quite enable the company to continuously grow its profits all the way to the 90s as it was hampered by a lot of factors.

One of the major reasons that hampered their quick growth is that strong competition arose, either from new startups or old companies that stepped up their electronic products. The tough competition continuously pushed the prices of speakers down. This trend didn’t bode well for Polk and had its revenues cut by more than half in 1992.

To continuously stay competitive, Polk Audio had tried various ways such as creating a subsidiary company to focus on creating home entertainment systems. They have also tried acquiring other companies and moving other parts of manufacturing to other countries to cut production costs.

However, Polk Audio continued to struggle in improving its revenues. And, ultimately, was bought by DEI Holdings in 2006.

Memorable Vintage Speakers

Although Polk Audio can be said to now be a very different company, it has still created great speakers before it. And let’s take a bit of time to appreciate the most memorable ones, maybe even buy one.

The LSi Series

This line of speakers was one of the most memorable lineups of Polk Audio which was released in 2002. Until this day, Polk’s LSi series can be seen being sold and bought due to its amazing sound despite its 20-years age.

The SDA Series

This line of speakers was released in the 1980s and was focused on providing 3-D or spatial sound environments. And although you may not believe it, some SDAs are still well preserved, maintained, and running smoothly. However, unlike the LSi series, it is very hard to find SDAs for sale.

The RTA Series

Like the SDA, the RTA series also started to be released in the 1980s and have been labeled by Polk as a true stereo loudspeaker because of its flat sound measurements. Until today, RTA speakers can be seen on sale but mostly at auctions.

The Monitor Series

This lineup was released in the early 1990s and was one of Polk Audio’s smaller speakers which is why it was considered, at that time, as “bookshelf speakers”. And like the SDAs, it can be quite hard to find one for sale today.


In summary, we celebrate together with Polk Audio on their 50th anniversary. Although they are already bought by other companies and might not be under the direction of the same people, we are hopeful that they’ll continue to design and create good speakers at affordable rates. So, this way, they’ll continue the original intention of the founders that gave birth to memorable speakers that the audio world has seen.

Cindy Heriyanto

Staff Writer

I've been a contributing staff writer for RawVolume since 2016 with a passion for reviewing and curating stories around audio gear, music, and consumer lifestyles and how it it intertwines into our every day world.