Review: Polk Audio Magnifi Mini

A real mini

From Polk Audio comes the Magnifi Mini; a tiny soundbar that sounds like it was much bigger.

Polk Magnifi Mini SPREAD
Karakter
Polk Audio Magnifi Mini
We think
Surprisingly powerful sound for such a small soundbar. Easy to place, easy to use.
Predominant plastic feel. A little too subdued in the high range.
Specifications
  • Width matches screen size: 14″
  • HDMI: 1 out (ARC)
  • Digital input: Optical
  • Network: Wi-fi
  • Wireless: Google Cast, Bluetooth (SBC)
  • Voice control: Indirect, using Google Cast
  • Analog input: 3.5mm
  • Subwoofer: Wireless (6.5″)
  • Dimensions: 34 x 8.1 x 11 cm (W x H x D)
  • Color: Black
  • Web: polkaudio.com
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Whether to call the Magnifi Mini a soundbar or not is up for debate. It does not have the “log” design, but instead resembles a medium-sized Bluetooth speaker. It does have Bluetooth for music playback, but it is, still intended to be in the TV room.

There must be many who are interested in such a small speaker in the TV room. A speaker that, with its 34 cm in width, is almost invisible, but which adds a new dimension to the sound, compared to the deplorable sound quality you are used to from the flat screen TV. If this is the size you are looking for, it is completely unrivaled. If you allow an increase in width by 10-15 cm, you will find the even cheaper (and much worse!) Panasonic SC-HTB250, and also the Sony HT-MT300. The Sonos Beam, as compact as it is, is actually twice as wide as the Polk Magnifi Mini.

Polk Audio Magnifi Mini
Photo: Polk Audio

Wireless subwoofer

To help in the bass area, the Magnifi Mini is equipped with a wireless subwoofer, with a 6.5-inch woofer in the bottom. This can, for example, be hidden away in a corner.

Like most soundbars, the Magnifi Mini connects to the TV with an HDMI cable. Use the port marked ARC on the TV, and the sound will be retrieved directly from the TV – no matter what source you are watching. If you have an older TV without audio output (HDMI ARC), use an optical digital cable. There is also an analog 3.5 mm cable, in case you want to connect to a source without digital output.

Watch the presentation video of Magnifi Mini below:

 

Chromecast support

If you want the most out of listening to music, the soundbar can be connected to Wi-Fi networks with the Google Home app on your mobile. In this way you can stream music directly to the soundboard from music services that support Chromecast. This also provides the best sound quality, as you do not have to go through compressed Bluetooth.

Magnifi Mini supports surround sound with Dolby Digital. All other formats must be converted to PCM in the TV for the soundboard to emit sound. It also means that it does not have extended audio return (eARC), as it is only necessary to decode high-resolution audio formats.

Polk Magnifi Mini drivers
Magnifi Mini is a tiny soundbar, but with six drivers and digital technology, it creates a larger sound image than you would think. Photo: Polk Audio

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 used buttons have black icons, but are either raised or sunken so you can feel your way. It may take a while to get the feel of, but it works well and fits well in the hand.

I had preferred a display in the front of the soundbar. Instead, I am greeted with stripes of LEDs that go up and down based on the selected sound level and functions. You get used to it, but it is both not very visually appealing, and it is less user-friendly.

You can choose between different sound modes, and you can also adjust the dialog level up and down with a separate Voice function.

Polk Magnifi Mini sub
The wireless subwoofer is an important contributor to the rich bass. Photo: Polk Audio

The sound is not mini

I had no expectations in advance for the small elusive soundbar, which weighs little and has a sky-high plastic feel. Therefore, the surprise was great, when I discovered that the sound stage was not as narrow as the small size suggests. The sound in stereo extends the dimensions of the soundbar, and the same goes for movie sound. I will never let myself be fooled into thinking that it is surround sound, but the sound actually fills the room quite pleasingly. Especially if you are lucky enough to get the middle seat in front of the TV. The seats on the side get a much smaller space in their soundscape.

Magnifi Mini sounds best in the “Music” sound mode. This applies not only to music, but also to film. If you use the Movie mode, the dialogs will be even clearer, especially if you increase the dialogs with the Voice button. But the result is too sharp and unnatural for me to appreciate. In Music mode, the voices have a larger midrange range. If you increase the level of the voices with the Voice function, a larger part of the voice register is amplified, than in Movie mode. Also in the chest sound region, instead of just the sharpest part of the vocal cords. That’s why Music always sounds more natural and less sharp.

Both music and film sounds pretty good, as long the sound level is set to low to medium. The only thing I miss is a little more air at the very top. It may sound a bit stuffy, especially airy female voices lose some of the glow through the Polk plank.

Almost, but not quite there…

Increase the volume until it reaches the maximum level, and the Magnifi Mini increases the distortion sharply. It is significantly sharper and more harsh, and if you compare the Magnifi Mini against other soundbars, such as the Sonos Beam, it will fall short. There is also a bit of a problem: The Magnifi Mini costs more than the Sonos Beam. But while you get a subwoofer with the Polk, the Beam has better sound quality – even if it lacks the last octave in the bass.

If you are willing to go up in size, you can get the Samsung HW-Q66T at almost the same price as the Magnifi Mini. And the Samsung mops the floor with it. I would argue that even the almost equally compact Sony HT-MT300, which is similar to the HT-MT500, only without Chromecast and network connection, is better acoustically.

Polk Audio Magnifi Mini
Photo: Polk Audio

Conclusion

Polk Magnifi Mini is an ultra-compact soundbar, that will fit in everywhere. The width is not greater than that of a 14-inch screen, which makes it almost disappear visually. And the wireless subwoofer handles the bass.

The soundscape is larger than you might think, particularly for the person sitting in the middle in front of the TV. Music sounds just fine, and movies and TV work well. Just be sure to use the Music sound mode for everything, as it sounds most natural no matter what you are listening to.

With both Bluetooth and Google Cast built-in, this soundbar has a wide range of uses. It does not match the sound quality of the best soundbars at the same price, but it does have the advantage of being exceptionally compact.

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