Read our full Polk Hampden review.
Polk recently revealed its latest pair of powered speakers, the Bluetooth-enabled Hampden. Polk bills the $400 2.0 system, which looks downright gorgeous, as being right at home as both a bookshelf and desktop system.
The Hampden is an elegant piece of hardware, with an all-wood cabinet, medium-density fiberboard (MDF) enclosures, and a curved teak wood veneer offset with an all-white front and glass-filled nylon bezels. The 80-watt system features an intuitive rotary wheel for simple, straightforward volume control, and features two 1-inch soft-dome silk/polymer tweeters and two 4.5-inch polypropylene woofers with rubber surrounds. Polk has included a fully digital amplifier with integrated DAC that, when connected via USB, bypasses a computer’s digital-to-analog converter to handle all digital signal processing on its own.
For a better listening experience as a desktop speaker, Polk angled the Hampden speakers up slightly to aim sound toward the listener’s ears, rather than their chest.
Finally, Polk integrated a pretty cool feature that allows (via the free DJ Stream app available for both iOS and Android) up to four people to connect to the Hampden as play DJ using playlists from their own devices’ music libraries. One user serves as DJ Host and controls music play, while the remaining three function as active DJs that trade off adding songs to the playlist. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the DJ Stream experience is the potential for up to 128 additional Guest DJs to view the playlist, vote on music and become an Active DJ when one of the four main phones drops off or disconnects.
We’ve started to see more and more of this social functionality (Grace Digital’s 3-Play is dedicated to the idea) in speakers and devices that allows people to interact with each others’ music to create a unique, hands-free, and democratic listening experience. The fact that Polk is dabbling with the technology signifies a sea change in the audio world – this kind of feature will be commonplace in the near future.
The Hampden is available now via Polk’s website and at select retailers, including Crutchfield, Stereo Advantage, and Worldwide Stereo.