Polk Audio is a California-based company specializing in high-end home audio products. It was founded in 1972 and has since been well-known in the audiophile community for enthusiast-grade sound. In recent years, they have also launched soundbars for those looking for easy-to-setup home audio that doesn’t sacrifice quality for simplicity. Having spent a couple of months with the MagniFi Mini from Polk Audio, let’s look at how it performs.
The Soundbar Market
While enthusiast-grade home-theaters and multi-channel setups are great, admittedly it is time-consuming and expensive to set up. This makes it rather niche, and not well-suited for everyone. With a soundbar it is usually just one device with multiple internal speakers, using algorithms to create faux multi-speaker output.
It also means there’s no need for wiring, nor a dedicated amplifier/receiver. While a home-theater would also place emphasis on room design and acoustics, a soundbar would work in pretty much any room.
Most importantly, while a good home-theater sound setup can cost anywhere between P50,000 and P500,000, a soundbar implementation can be had for under P10,000, going up to P45,000 for higher-end equipment.
The Polk Audio Magnifi Mini ships in a convenient box with a handle, making it easy to carry around. Owing to the large and quality speakers inside, it isn’t light, but the packaging makes for good portability.
On opening the box is neat compartments for the included cables and kit:
- 2x 3 Pin Power Cables
- 2x 2 Pin Power Cables
- Power Brick for the Soundbar
- Remote and 2 AAA batteries
- HDMI Cable
- 3.5mm Audio Cable
- Documentation Pack: Quick Start Guide, Product Information, Online Product Registration Card
Attention to detail is evident, with the inclusion of two sets of power cables, depending on the kind of power outlets you may have at home.
An additional layer of unboxing brings us to the two speakers, both wrapped in foam bags, with Polk Audio branded sticking tape.
- 1x Main Soundbar Unit
- 1x Wireless Sub-woofer Unit
Design and Aesthetics
The primary soundbar unit, though not too big, is heavy — usually an indication of substantial internal drivers. It’s merely 13 inches wide, but houses six speakers – two 0.5-inch tweeters, and four 2.25-inch midrange drivers.
With soft-touch buttons on top, connectors on the rear, and a plastic and cloth design, it’s well-built and solid. Behind the front center panel cloth mesh, outlined in silver, are lights that indicate the device’s status.
- Red Blinking – On first power-up
- Orange Steady – Once ready and on standby
- Blue Steady – Bluetooth on and ready
- Blue Blinking – While in Bluetooth Device discovery mode
- White Vertical Lights – For volume, going up and down whether increased or reduced
- Purple Steady – For Night Mode
Control’s atop include Power, Bluetooth, Source Selector, Night Mode, and Reduce/Increase Volume.
Connections at the rear include Power, HDMI, Optical Input, Aux Input, a USB port, and an Ethernet port for a wired connection. Also present is a WiFi reset button.
The sub-woofer is pretty minimalistic. It has a Polk logo on the top, and inside is a bottom-firing 6.5-inch woofer. At the rear, it has a power connector and a light indicator. The link between the soundbar and the wireless subwoofer is set up at the factory; it auto-connects on power on. There is a button for sync troubleshooting; which I thankfully never needed to use.
Expect to be surprised by the MagniFi Mini, as true to its name, despite its minuscule dimensions, it’s capable of creating a massive sound. It can literally fill the entire room! The same goes for the sub-woofer, which outputs a solid thump.
For me personally where the device stood out was music playback. With crisp vocals and good coverage of the frequency range, down to the low frequency beats from the sub.
- Bryan Adams (Live Concert) – I fired up a DTS Sampler disc, which had a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio version of Bryan Adams live in concert. The sound came alive, with the coarseness of Bryan Adams’s vocal tone coming across wonderfully.
- Kane Brown (Country) – Also tested playback with standard lossy Mp3 streamed from a mobile phone. The output was warm and made for a comfortable yet rich listening experience.
- Gotye (Indie Rock) – Turned up the sound and listened to Somebody That I Used To Know, and again the vocals were super prominent, with sound filling the room. The content was from the same DTS Sampler disc.
Overall, the music listening experience is just superb. I cannot emphasize how much of a difference the sub-woofer makes, as turning it off was night and day. In addition to the above, I tried a lot of other audio including Electronic, Alternative Rock, and Retro, and the MagniFi Mini always came through with flying colors.
As someone who loves music and is a discerning listener, I could easily appreciate the quality audio reproduction of the MagniFi Mini.
TV and Movies
- Narcos: Mexico – The source was a Netflix stream, which means compressed lossy web-audio. The viewing experience was excellent; with every gunshot being sharp and memorable. There was a scene where a pickup truck was starting up, and burble of the exhaust note was magnificent.
- Jurassic Park – The source content was 5.1 lossless DTS-HD Master Audio from a DTS Sampler disc. The scene was the T-Rex escape during the rainy night. Reverb during the dino’s roar was superb, making for a great sense of realism and immersion.
- Inception – Action Movies are usually a good test of sound system capabilities, and the MagniFi Mini did well. It filled the room with sound and got loud without breaking a sweat. Explosions were a little boomy; tighter would have been better. Positional-sound was a weakness, and if you’re used to a 5.1 surround setup like I am, it will be sorely missed. The content was from the same DTS Sampler disc.
I also watched a few full feature movies on DVD and BluRay discs with Dolby and DTS soundtracks. The audio streams have high-dynamic-range, which means drastic volume difference between scenes for realism. When running this through a dedicated receiver you have the option to enable dynamic range compression at the receiver, reducing this variance. With the MagniFi Mini, I had to constantly keep adjusting the volume with the remote. While not an issue with the device, this is just a limitation of a soundbar versus a full-fledged home theater.
Room / Environment Testing
I tested it in three different environments, and ended up with great results all three times:
- Small Office Room – I used it in my office cabin purely for music, and was utterly impressed by the prowess of the MagniFi Mini. Not only was I enveloped by sound, but it also didn’t feel like music originating from a single source, but rather like from all around the room.
- Large Wooden Room – Next, I took it with me to Caliraya, Laguna, and set it up inside a floating house-boat of sorts. The room was around 25-30 sq. meters large, and placing the sub-woofer unit in an optimal room corner provided ample bass. Friends were blown away by the bass output. Worth noting that there were no connectivity issues with the soundbar and the sub-woofer being across the room.
- Condo Bedroom – Finally I set it up in the bedroom of my condominium unit, with an Aux connection from the TV. Sampled Netflix, DVDs, BluRay discs, as well as MKV files from a PC. This last setup is most likely the closest to a traditional listening environment. The experience was plentiful, even with the door to the next room open.
Soundbars are usually hooked up to a TV, and used as a sound system to complement a flat-screen TV. In addition to that though, it can also be used as a standalone Bluetooth speaker, for streaming audio from your mobile phone.
I used the MagniFi Mini extensively for Bluetooth audio streaming and it worked very well. Once paired it automatically connects to Bluetooth devices, when they come into range.
Additionally, it can also be connected via WiFi (Google Cast), using the Google Home app. I tried this as well but found the connection to be less reliable.
During my use, I did experience some Bluetooth connection drops but isolated this to the particular mobile phone unit. After swapping out to a Nokia phone device I had absolutely no issues with hours of Bluetooth streaming.
This technology allows you to boost Voice Volume alone, which is great for enhancing dialog in movies. This is especially useful in a Soundbar, as it does not have a dedicated Center channel speaker like a 5.1 home theater system.
The remote has three modes, with Movie noticeable prioritizing vocals, while Music is more bass-centric. I personally preferred to use the Movie preset all the time.
Auto Power On/Off
If the device senses audio input, it automatically turns on, assuming that it’s connected to the power outlet and turned on. So, it’s likely in some sort of standby, and powers-up on detecting an input. I tested this with the Aux input which I was consistently using. Switch on the TV and start playing Netflix, and the MagniFi Mini would automatically come on.
Similarly, it would automatically turn off if there was no sound input detected for some time.
While unspectacular to look at, its design with curved edges is perfect to hold in the hand. It features a rubberized top layer, with protrusions for the different buttons, making touch-based operation in the dark simple.
The ability to individually toggle the volume level for Voice and Bass can only be done from the remote. Similarly, the Mode setting control is also on the remote. Pressing these buttons has a corresponding light indication on the soundbar.
Value and Competition
The MagniFi Mini is not your average entry-level soundbar. It retails for P22,990 and affords you a premium soundbar package. Based on how it performs, it’s well worth its cost. In fact, it easily surpasses several higher-priced soundbar offerings.
While you can find soundbars for under P10,000, you get what you pay for. So, don’t expect budget soundbars to give you anything close to what you can experience with Polk Audio’s MagniFi Mini.
You can pick up the unit from Lazada, or if you’d like to demo it and experience it for yourself before the purchase, head over to one of the three outlet stores:
- Polk Audio / Marantz / Definitive Technology – Home Theater & HiFi Showroom, Alabang Town Center
- Polk Audio / Marantz / Definitive Technology – Home Theater & HiFi Concept Store, SM Mall of Asia
- Polk Audio / Marantz / Definitive Technology – TND Audio Excellence, Mandaluyong
Having spent a few months with the MagniFi Mini, I have fallen in love with the soundbar, and it pains me to have to part with it. It’s great for music, and I can’t imagine my bedroom TV or my office cabin without it.
I’ll be straight with you; it can’t replace my dedicated home-theater for multi-channel surround. Nor can it replace my Polk Audio Signature Series S50 tower speakers for audio listening. But that equipment is restricted to my living room, with literally no portability. Not to mention being five times as expensive. For any other room, the MagniFi Mini is a great no-compromise solution, yet being portable and providing a quality listening experience.
For anyone with logistical limitation, preventing them from setting up a home theater, or wants good sound on a much lower budget, needing a hassle-free setup, the MagniFi Mini soundbar is perfect.
Model: MagniFi Mini Soundbar
Verdict: A room-filling audio experience from a compact soundbar form-factor.