Polk MagniFi Mini Soundbar System Review Page 2

The display on the MagniFi Mini is rather minimalist, using a vertical row of five LEDs that flash in various combinations and colors to tell you which input you have selected, and the status of the various sound adjustments. It all takes a little getting used to, but buyers should figure it out pretty quickly. The sonic adjustments include a subwoofer level control, a Night mode that flattens the dynamics, and something that Polk calls Voice Adjust, which is designed to boost speech intelligibility. While it does seem to work as advertised by boosting the upper midrange, I did most of my listening with everything set to its most neutral-sounding position.

At first, I simply hooked up the MagniFi Mini to my TV and used it for everyday, noncritical TV watching. Usually, if I’m just watching the news or something, I’ll merely use my set’s built-in speakers rather than fire up the home theater rig, but the Polk showed that even for casual viewing, good sound can make a big difference. Dialogue was easier to follow, and the sound opened up to fill the room in a way the TV speakers never could.


Getting more serious, I watched the scene in the first Alien vs. Predator movie where Sebastian gets captured and Alexa is fighting with the Aliens. Things get pretty loud here, but the MagniFi Mini did a great job of keeping up, filling my room more convincingly than I would have expected from something so small. Midrange articulation was good, revealing detail in the throaty sounds from the Predator and the squidgy sounds of the Aliens. The bass was pretty powerful at moderate volume but would eventually run out of puff when I really turned up the wick. As with most other DSPcontrolled speakers, the system was able to sound much bigger than I expected at reasonable volume—but once it reached its limit, it simply refused to get any louder.

517polksbar.rem.jpgI experimented with the various listening presets and found that the Movie and Music modes sounded quite similar, although Music was a touch more open. Sport mode, on the other hand, boosted the upper midrange and thinned out the sound in a less than pleasant way, so I generally avoided it. Most of the time, I kept the Voice Adjust at its middle setting, although I can see how it might be helpful with some movie mixes, especially at low listening levels.

For music listening, I played some of my reference tracks by streaming them from my phone using Tidal over Wi-Fi, and I came away impressed by how natural the MagniFi Mini sounded. With most low-cost speakers, there’s a clearly audible tonal character that gets imprinted on everything you play, but with the Polk, the balance was impressively neutral. When I played Black Uhuru’s “Sponji Reggae” from Red, the percussion and bells sounded clear and bright, while the dubbased spatial effects expanded nicely into the room. This album features the classic rhythm team of Sly & Robbie, and the Polk delivered a good dose of Sly’s massive snare-drum sound, even if Robbie’s bass runs were just a bit soft and lacking in definition. Tom Waits’ “Murder in the Red Barn” from Bone Machine was another great track for demonstrating the MagniFi Mini’s ability to open up the sound way beyond the dimensions of the speaker. The quirky squeaks and weird percussion brought a lot of color to the sound, and the country-roots twang of the banjo painted a scene straight out of Deliverance.

Bridging the gap between movies and music, I played “Abandoned and Pursued” from the soundtrack to E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, a typically sweeping score by John Williams. This is a tough test for the dynamic capabilities of any system, with its giant bass-drum thwacks and its buildup to a massive orchestral climax. The Polk did a fine job, providing a decent amount of air in the bass while sounding lively and clean. The dynamic swell couldn’t match the capabilities of a much bigger system, but the DSP controls kept everything sounding clear and undistorted. An impressive performance.


Most of the speakers built into the slim dimensions of today’s TVs truly suck—so you really need to do something if you care about audio performance. (After all, this magazine isn’t called Sound & Vision for nothing.) Throughout my listening, I had to keep reminding myself that the MagniFi Mini costs just $300, a small price to pay for such an important part of the TV-watching experience. As a bonus, you also get a goodsounding, network-capable wireless music system. And even if you have a big home theater rig in your main room, the MagniFi Mini offers a great way to bring much better sound into your bedroom or den. Highly recommended!

Editor’s Note: This review is absent our usual Test Bench measurement section because the spatial and digital signal processing used in the MagniFi Mini prevented us from achieving accurate results for the main unit. We were able to successfully measure the subwoofer, which in a close-miked measurement was –3 dB down at 41 Hz and –6 dB down at 38 Hz. The upper –3 dB point was at 141 Hz.—RS

Polk Audio
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dnoonie's picture


I recently purchased one of these and think it's great for casual listening! The highs seem to have a bit of a "processed" sound which seems to be particularly audible on the cleanest of records with cymbal and small bells/chimes, but the convenience of placement and usability of this device outweigh it's shortcomings...it gets used a lot!