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Polk MagniFi Mini Home Theater Sound Bar System Review

by August 28, 2017
  • Product Name: MagniFi Mini Soundbar and Wireless Sub
  • Manufacturer: Polk Audio
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStarhalf-star
  • Value Rating: StarStarStarStarhalf-star
  • Review Date: August 28, 2017 21:00
  • MSRP: $ 299 (free shipping)
  • Buy Now
  • Inputs: HDMI, Toslink Optical, AUX
  • Wireless Protocol: 802.11a/b/g/n/AC - 2.4GHz & 5GHz
  • Streaming Options: Bluetooth and Wireless
  • Front Array Driver Complement, (2)  0.5" (1.27 cm) d (Round) Tweeter – Tweeter, (4)  2.25" (5.72 cm) d (Round) Bass Radiator - Midrange
  • Peak Power Handling: 150 watts
  • Size: H 3.2" x W 13.4" x D 4.3"
  • Weight (sound bar and subwoofer) 12.5 lb

Pros

  • Super Compact size
  • Reasonable price
  • Extremely easy setup
  • Sound clarity at lower volumes

Cons

  • Loss of clarity at higher volumes
  • Mid and bass performance could use more punch

 

We had the chance to listen to the Polk MagniFi Mini at the CEDIA show in Dallas, Texas last September and were impressed by the volume coming out of a speaker no bigger than a clock radio. But unfortunately a crowded room full of people and other equipment playing at the same time it was really hard to get a realistic appreciation of the full capability of the MagniFi Mini. So when Polk Audio asked if we would like to do a full review on the little unit, of course we jumped at the chance. The sound bar itself comes in at just over 13” wide by 3” tall and the included subwoofer is only slightly bigger at 13” tall by 5” wide. Even though it is a tiny package, the system still offers a 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound experience. For less than $300, Polk has delivered a quality sound system that can fit in just about any limited space and at a reasonable price.

Polk MagniFi Mini Sound Bar System YouTube Video Review

Unpacking

 magnifiminibox2.jpg     magnifiminibox.jpg

The MagniFi Mini Sound Bar System comes in a 24” x 12” x 18” box weighing in at just over 20 lbs. The box is small and light enough to be able to be transported by one person alone, so there was no trouble getting into the house or to the room I wanted to set it up in. The system arrived double boxed with the Polk MagniFi box safely nestled inside the slightly larger shipping box.  All it took to remove the system was unfolding a few cardboard flaps, followed by the removal of some packing paper and plastic wrap from the components themselves. Included in the box was the mini sound bar, subwoofer, power cables, digital optical cable, HDMI cable, and an auxiliary cable.The supplied cables were a nice touch. It's amazing how many soundbars I get in that cost three times the price of the MagniFi mini that don't come with any cables.

Appearance

 magnifiminisize.JPG

The sound bar itself seems tiny at first glance, especially if you are used to the larger ones often seen displayed with the TV’s at your local electronics retailer. Speakers wrap around the entire front and top of the sound bar, and is covered with a matte black finish. The look of the bar came off as very cohesive, almost certain not to stand out when placed around your entertainment center. If you are looking for a sound bar that doesn’t detract from your furnishings, then this bar would suit you well. The subwoofer is also very modest, with a smooth matte black finish all around, and no visible working parts on the entire exterior. The diaphragm and sound cones are located on the bottom of the woofer, as are most woofers of this caliber. The overall appearance of the entire system would be best described as unobtrusive, and certainly will not be a distracting visual presence in the room.

 magnifi mini.jpg

Although the MagniFi Mini is small in stature, standing at only 13 inches long and 3 inches tall, it packs four 2.25 inch drivers and two 12mm tweeters into its compact frame.

magnifiminisubbottom.jpg     sub rear.JPG

The included 6.5” wireless subwoofer is a nice touch as well giving it the ability to advertise as a 5.1 setup. Let’s be clear, this setup is not to be compared to a separates system costing thousands of dollars, and the $299 price point is right on target with the build quality and sound of the system.

Setup

The system comes with a quick-start guide, although the setup is so simple that is was not even used. Depending on your specific TV audio ports, you can use one of the three included audio cables listed above to connect your TV to the sound bar, and the subwoofer automatically links to the sound bar via wireless connection. I used the supplied digital optical cable and once you have the TV and power cables connected, a quick press of the power button located on the bar begins the initial warm-up as indicated by a red blinking light on the bar. Once this light stops blinking, your system is ready to go! I used the supplied remote during listening tests, but the MagniFi Mini does have the ability to respond to your infrared TV/satellite/cable remote as well.

Streaming Options

Google Chromecast

The MagniFi Mini does have built in Chromecast which allows you to stream music from any Chromecast enabled app to the speaker.  After downloading the Google app I followed the onscreen instructions, turned on Bluetooth on my phone, and connected the MagniFi Mini to my wifi network. It took about two minutes to fully update and configure the MagniFi Mini to my WiFi, but at least the app tells you that it might take a few minutes. In the Google app I streamed music from Pandora, but other popular music services such as Google Play, iHeart Radio, Tunein and any other Chromecast enabled apps are also available.

Bluetooth

As with other Bluetooth enabled devices, pairing the MagniFi Mini via Bluetooth to my phone was a breeze. I simply hit the Bluetooth button on top of the device and waited for my phone to connect in the settings menu. From there I was able to play any and all of the music on my iPhone.

 

Polk MagniFi Mini Listening Tests

Although the MagniFi Mini can easily be used as a wireless speaker system, it is designed to be a soundbar for your display.  In order to get a sense of what the MagniFi Mini had to offer in the way of a complete surround sound experience I decided on a few different themed movies and TV shows.

Apocalypse Now

The first movie I decided to watch the 1979 Viapocalypse nowetnam War classic Apocalypse Now. Although the version I watched did not have the more modern immersive sound capabilities, this movie has always been known for its range and quality of sound effects, and allowed me to get a great sense of just how much the Mini has to offer the common cinephile. During the opening voiceover, I was very impressed with the clarity and authenticity of the sound for the size of the product As the action started to progress, I did start to feel that the system lost a bit of clarity when the subwoofer and bar were working together, although they did manage to produce a cohesive audio experience. This loss of clarity was most noticeable during the famous Ride of the Valkyries helicopter scene, as a bit of distortion occurred during some of the explosions and the voice clarity diminished as more sounds were introduced. This is despite Polk’s patented Voice Adjust technology, which is meant to emphasize dialogue amidst a flurry of background noise. This is not to say that the Mini performed poorly in this regard, but there were some noticeable differences between the performance with and without lots of bass blasts going on in the background. For the size of the sub, the bass was robust and added much depth and warmth, much more than I would have expected from such a small unit, and I was very pleased with the force and presence it added to the famous scene. The side-firing speakers on the bar were enough to provide a decent surrounding experience, comparable to bars twice its size, although not quite as well as a setup with multiple satellite speakers, but this is to be expected with almost any sub $300 sound bar. I could really feel the power of the helicopters rumbling over the Asian countryside. There was no need to ride the volume throughout most of the film, as I was able to find a happy medium where the explosions and action shots sounded loud enough to be felt, but the whispers and sounds of running water that quickly followed were still clearly audible and did not feel boxy. During the tense moments of the film, the system captured the intensity and urgency in the characters’ voices, while still maintaining a fair amount of quality for the sounds of the jungle in the background. As the movie progressed, I was very pleased to forget that such quality sound was coming from such a small sound bar. I had to keep reminding myself of the small size of the unit, as the sounds did not come off as harsh and edgy, but were instead pointed and sharp when needed, yet warm and soothing at the lower frequencies. The high note of the experience was certainly the bass, as it managed to fill the room with sound and capture the thunderous claps present throughout the film. The treble was decent, and is about what you would expect for the size of the bar.

Mad Max: Fury Road

The opening scene to Mad Max: Fury Road is my go to reference materialmad max for movies. It also has plenty of highs and lows as well as periods of dead silence. Even when the opening credits are rolling backed by Tom Hardy's edgy narration there is a galore of other background sounds and voices to really try out your home theater.  Although small, the 6 driver array did an adequate job of separation. When Max is standing in front of his car overlooking a plateau listening- or trying not to listen to the voices in his head, the MagniFi Mini revolves them around the room giving a decent affect of 3D sound. Again, the mids were lacking, and the highs were a bit pinchy.  The skittering of the two headed lizard was better, as was the thump from the sub as Max crushes it with his boot and proceeds to eat it.

When the War Boys enter the scene a few seconds later, the sub kicks in again providing the much needed depth lacking in the small stature of the sound bar. In the proceeding chase scene, the MagniFi Mini handles the alterations of volume well.  It's ability to play at high volumes for its size is rather remarkable although the laws of physics limit some of the clarity at higher volumes.

With so much going on in this film I decided to try out the Polk Voice Adjust Technology which allows you to customize the voice levels in the sound bar to help reproduce a clearer, crisper dialogue. The Voice Adjust button did in fact make it easier to understand some of the garbled dialog scenes. Max is a man of few words, and many of them hard to understand.

Conclusion

The Mini may not compare directly with the larger more expensive bars, but it does compete at its price point and delivers a sound experience worthy of a listen for anyone looking for a nice, affordable sound bar to greatly improve the quality from their TV speakers. We really liked the ease of setup compared to other soundbars and wireless home systems and the optional bluetooth or wireless steaming made this product much more than just a soundbar. I would recommend this product to anyone looking to boost the sound of a display in a smaller room, office, or bedroom who also likes the option of having a wireless music system available to them.  The built in Chromecast was a nice feature as well and if your home is already finding itself in the Chromecast environment then the Polk MagniFi Mini might be right for you.

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
MetricRating
Build QualityStarStarStar
AppearanceStarStarStar
Treble ExtensionStarStarStar
Midrange AccuracyStarStarStar
Bass ExtensionStarStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStar
PerformanceStarStarStarhalf-star
ValueStarStarStarStarhalf-star
About the author:
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Tony is our resident expert for lifestyle and wireless products including soundbars. He does most of the reviews for wireless and streaming loudspeakers and often compares soundbars in round ups and helps us cover the trade shows.

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