Polk Audio MagniFi Mini Home Theater Surround Sound Bar (Detailed Review)

If the thought of a traditional home-theater setup with a half-dozen speakers and a bulky receiver doesn’t excite you, you might want to think about a sound bar. These small speakers are unobtrusive, simple to install, and far superior to the speakers on your television.

And they don’t get any smaller or more powerful for the money than the Polk MagniFi Mini. It’s adaptable and affordable, and it works well with both movies and music. It also has a few must-have features.

The best is Google Cast, which allows for easy streaming from your phone, compatibility with numerous music apps, and the ability to integrate the MagniFi Mini into a whole-house music setup. While I found the Mini’s connectivity to be a little odd, it’s still a great buy.

 

THE GOOD

  • The affordable Polk MagniFi Mini is capable of a much bigger sound than its minuscule size suggests. The package is compact and will fit easily into most living room setups. The ability to Cast directly from your phone simplifies music streaming.

THE BAD

 

  • The Wi-Fi connection on my test unit was unreliable, and the ARC-only HDMI input limits connectivity somewhat.
Polk Audio MagniFi Mini Soundbar Review
Polk Audio MagniFi Mini Soundbar Review

WIRELESS SUBWOOFER

The Magnifi Mini includes a wireless subwoofer with a 6.5-inch woofer in the bottom to help with bass. This could be hidden away in a corner, for example. The Magnifi Mini, like most soundbars, connects to the TV via an HDMI cable.

Use the ARC port on the TV, and the sound will be retrieved directly from the TV – regardless of the source you are watching. If you have an older television that does not have an audio output (HDMI ARC), use an optical digital cable. There is also an analog 3.5 mm cable included in case you need to connect to a source that does not have digital output.

CHROMECAST SUPPORT

If you want to get the most out of your music listening experience, connect the soundbar to Wi-Fi networks using the Google Home app on your smartphone. You can stream music directly to the soundboard from music services that support Chromecast in this manner.

This also provides the best sound quality because you are not using compressed Bluetooth. Dolby Digital surround sound is supported by Magnifi Mini. For the soundboard to emit sound, all other formats must be converted to PCM in the TV. It also lacks extended audio return (eARC), as it is only required to decode high-resolution audio formats.

STRAIGHT AHEAD USE

The tiny soundbar is easy to use. The small remote control has direct buttons for all functions, and the most used buttons are marked in white or with white icons against a black background. Less frequently used buttons have black icons but are raised or sunken so you can feel your way around.

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It may take some getting used to, but it works well and fits comfortably in the hand. I would have preferred a display in front of the soundbar. Instead, I’m greeted by LED stripes that move up and down depending on the sound level and functions I’ve chosen.

You get used to it, but it is neither visually appealing nor user-friendly. You can switch between different sound modes and adjust the dialog volume with a separate Voice function.

DESIGN

Everything small has become large again. While some devices, such as televisions and cell phones, have grown in size, the prevailing trend in the AV world is toward smaller devices. It applies to everything from Blu-ray players to receivers and everything in between.

The Polk MagniFi Mini is small in comparison to most other sound bars, measuring only 13 inches wide and three inches tall. Despite being made of plastic and cloth, it is visually appealing. Because of its small size, it is less likely than other bars to block your TV’s infrared remote control sensor.

A set of lights on the front of the unit are intended to inform you of volume and input selection, though the latter is mostly incomprehensible. At the very least, there are a limited number of inputs, making switching until you find what you’re looking for simple.

Unlike some other sound bars, the Mini must be placed upright and cannot be wall-mounted, though it can be placed on a small shelf. The included wireless subwoofer is minimalist and made of hollow-sounding plastic, but it’s appealing to the breed.

Usually inexpensive sound bars come with dinky credit card remotes, but not the Polk. Some thought has obviously gone into the Mini’s clicker, with its ergonomic design and clearly marked buttons.

Polk Audio MagniFi Mini
Polk Audio MagniFi Mini

FEATURES

The MagniFi Mini is a 2.1-channel sound bar with a wireless subwoofer. The main unit includes two 12mm tweeters and four 2.25-inch drivers, two of which are angled to the side for what Polk calls “SDA sound.” The subwoofer features a downward-facing 6.5-inch driver and port.

With Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, optical, a 3.5mm input, and HDMI, connectivity is a little better than you’d expect for a $300 sound bar. The HDMI port, on the other hand, is a little strange. During my testing, I discovered that its Audio Return Channel (ARC) functionality will only work with a TV – specifically, to listen to onboard sound from a smart TV or an OTA tuner.

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If you have a Blu-ray player or another device, you must use one of the other connections, such as optical, or connect it directly to the TV (provided that the TV supports ARC). If your TV does not support ARC, you will need to use a different connection.

Polk has a long history with DTS’ Play-Fi wireless technology, so I was surprised to see MagniFi abandon it in favor of Google Cast. However, given the potential of products like the Google Home and the Chromecast Audio, Cast has the potential to actually challenge Sonos in the tangled multiroom music race. As a result, it’s a welcome alternative.

The Polk sound bar decodes Dolby Digital and includes three main sound modes: music, movies, and sports, the latter of which improves speech intelligibility.

SETUP

While Polk’s more expensive sound bars come with their own apps, the MagniFi mini is set up using Google’s Home app. This was the part that didn’t work for me during testing.

I couldn’t get the app to find the sound bar in its default wireless configuration. In order to use Google Cast, I had to connect an Ethernet cable to the speaker and keep it connected.

After I did that, the Polk received an update, and the speaker was finally visible in Google Cast apps. I’ve contacted Polk for clarification on whether this is unique to the unit I have, and I’ll update this review as soon as I hear back.

Alternative Video: Polk Audio MagniFi Mini Review

Polk Audio MagniFi Mini Review

PERFORMANCE

You can’t expect a sound bar to sound as good as a pair of dedicated speakers, but the Polk does a fantastic job of transcending the confines of the tiny cabinet. Those side-firing speakers are functional!

When I used Google Cast to stream high-resolution music from a Samsung Galaxy S6 phone, the Polk had a very open sound when I listened to Steven Wilson’s jangly “Hand Cannot Erase.” The airy guitar and vibraphone transcended the physical boundaries of the speaker, making the soundstage appear much larger. When the rhythm section kicked in, the subwoofer added low-end heft.

By contrast the Zvox Accuvoice sounded small and enclosed when I compared the two directly. There was no bass to speak of on the subwoofer-less Zvox, and the sonics lacked the drama the track demands. With movies, the MagniFi once again outperformed the Zvox in terms of scale and involvement.

When heard through the Polk, the rooftop chase scene from “Spider-Man 3” was enthralling. Each thump as Peter Parker’s body collided with one building after another was brutally conveyed, while the soundstage remained wide and open-sounding.

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Only the full bassy roar of the Green Goblin’s jets as they point directly at the viewer sounded a little anemic; the smallish Polk sub could never convey the full force of a larger unit. When I switched to the Zvox, the sound became smaller and more midrangey.

Because it was designed as a voice-centric speaker, it simply cannot convey the same level of excitement as the Polk in action movies. Meanwhile, the Polk has the added benefit of a voice mode for people with hearing impairments, making it a better unit all-around.

WHAT IS THE UPSHOT?

At $300, the Polk MagniFi Mini is one of the best sound bars we’ve heard for the price, and it’s far superior to the Zvox Accuvoice. Its connectivity is a little rough around the edges, but it’s still the best attempt we’ve heard at packing a big sound into a small speaker.

CONCLUSION

The Polk MagniFi Mini is the benchmark for the mini soundbar, a relatively new category of home theater speakers. It produces excellent audio for movies, TV, and music and costs only $300 — many of the best-sounding Bluetooth speakers cost that much or more, and few full-size soundbars in this price range can compete.

The MagniFi Mini’s versatility allows it to function as both a soundbar and the primary music speaker in a variety of situations, particularly in an apartment. And, because it has multiple inputs, you could connect components such as a turntable to make it even more versatile. Don’t be fooled by the small size of this excellent soundbar.

Polk MagniFi Mini Review
Polk MagniFi Mini Review

FAQs

Can you add more speakers to Polk MagniFi mini?

The Polk Audio MagniFi Mini does not work with rear speakers. Take a look at our Polk React Sound Bar or MagniFi 2 Sound Bar. Either of these models can be upgraded with the Polk Audio SR2 wireless surround speakers.

How do I get started with my Polk MagniFi mini?

For 6 seconds, press and hold the sync button on the back of the sound bar. Hold for the duration of the syncing process. After 3 seconds, turn on the subwoofer’s main power switch and hold for 3 seconds (6 second process in total).

Are Polk soundbars good?

The Polk Audio SIGNA S2 is ideal for watching TV shows. Although it lacks a dedicated center channel, it has a fairly well-balanced mid-range and a dialogue enhancement feature to help make voices clearer. The Polk Audio SIGNA S2 is a good music soundbar.

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