- Wide open sound
- Great performance
- Decent bass
- Convenient size
- Useful features
- Might struggle in larger rooms
- No on-screen display
- No remote app
What is the Polk Magnifi Mini?
The Polk Magnifi Mini is an ultra-compact soundbar that is clearly aimed at those of us with limited space. This particular part of the soundbar market has seen significant growth in the last couple of years as manufacturers realise that not everyone has room for a massive soundbar in their lounge or they want to improve the sound of the TVs in other rooms in the house. Polk’s solution to this particular issue is to create a smaller soundbar unit that uses a five driver layout within its diminutive chassis to produce a wider front soundstage. Once you include the matching wireless active subwoofer for added bass, you should have a combination that can handle the average UK living space. The Magnifi Mini also has a decent set of features but at a price of £349/$523 at the time of writing (February 2017). So let’s see if the Mini can live up to its billing of delivering a huge sound from a mini soundbar.
The actual soundbar unit of the Magnifi Mini is as small as its name suggests, measuring just 340 x 81 x 109mm (WxHxD) and weighing in at 1.76kg. That means you can put it just about anywhere from in front of or under your TV to on a desk if you decide to use Polk with a computer monitor. However despite its small size the soundbar itself is very well made, with a solid construction and a black finish with an attractive silver trim. There is a black cloth grille around most of the unit and hardened plastic at the top and bottom, whilst all the connections are on a panel at the rear of the unit.
The Magnifi Mini uses four 5.72cm drivers and two 1.27cm tweeters, with two drivers and two tweeters firing forwards and two drivers firing at the sides in order to create a wider and more open front soundstage. To power the drivers and tweeters there is a total of 150W of amplification. At the top there is a soft rubber section and on the left hand side you’ll find a series of basic controls including an on/off button, a Bluetooth pairing button and a source select button. Over on the right hand side you can select the Night Effect mode for nighttime listening and turn the volume up or down.
Despite its diminutive size, the Mini packs in 4 drivers and 2 tweeters and is very well made
Connections & Control
In terms of the connections, the Magnifi Mini has a decent selection, especially for an ultra-compact design. So there an HDMI input that also supports ARC (Audio Return Channel), as well as a Toslink optical digital input and a 3.5mm analogue audio input. The Mini also includes built-in WiFi (802.11a/b/g/n/AC – 2.4GHz & 5GHz), an Ethernet port for a wired connection and built in Bluetooth. There’s also a USB port but this is for factory use only and there’s a connector of the provided AC power adapter.
The remote control is relatively small but it’s well balanced and fits comfortably into your hand. All buttons are sensibly positioned and our only complaint would that the soft rubber surface means you’re sometimes not sure if you’ve pressed the button correctly. However all the buttons that you need to control the Mini are there, including a power button, volume up/down and source select, although you can only select Bluetooth by pressing the button on the top of the unit itself. Also on the remote you’ll find basic playback controls, bass up/down, voice up/down, mute and Night Effect. You can also select three other sound modes – Movie, Music or Sport. If you would rather use your TV or set top box remote to control the Mini you can because the soundbar can learn basic commands from other controllers. However there is no remote app available for you smart device, which seems like a strange omission these days.
There’s a decent set of connections and a well designed remote that allows effective control
Features & Specs
When you open the box you’ll find that Polk have sensibly included everything you’ll need to get started. So there’s the soundbar and subwoofer of course, along with an AC power adapter for the soundbar and a two-pin power cable for subwoofer. There’s also the remote control, some batteries, a manual and three sets of cables – HDMI, optical and 3.5mm analogue. As well as the built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, the Mini also supports Google Cast.
In terms of other features the Magnifi Mini includes Polk’s Voice Adjust technology, which allows you to customise the voice levels on the soundbar to ensure that dialogue is always clear. There’s also the Night Effect mode that reduces bass and volume dynamics whilst improving voice intelligibility for low-volume listening. In addition there are three other audio modes for different content – Movies, Music and Sport.
Along with the soundbar itself, the Magnifi Mini also includes a wireless active subwoofer. This slimline design has been styled to match the soundbar, with a hardened black plastic finish. The subwoofer measures 188 x 366 x 366mm (WxHxD) and weighs 3.7kg. The subwoofer uses a downward firing 16.5cm driver and is discreet enough to be positioned at the front of the room without drawing attention to itself.
The Mini is easy to set up and Polk handily include HDMI, optical and analogue cables
Setup & Testing
The Maginifi Mini is very easy to set up, all you need to do is connect your devices to the soundbar using optical digital, analogue and HDMI, if you TV supports ARC. Polk have very handily included an HDMI cable, an optical digital cable and a 3,5mm analogue cable to help with this. Then just plug the provided AC adapter into a wall socket and connect it to the soundbar. For best placement of the subwoofer choose a location on the same wall as the TV and don’t forget you’ll need a power socket for the provided two-pin power cable. The soundbar and subwoofer are preset at the factory to pair automatically, although if for some reason they don’t, you can do this manually. There is a bass control on the remote for fine tuning the subwoofer performance.
If you want to connect the Mini to your WiFi, you need to press the WiFi button on the back of the soundbar which includes a small LED – slow pulsing for setup, fast flashing for connection and solid for connected via WiFi. To pair with a Bluetooth device, just press the Bluetooth button on the top of the soundbar and a blue light will begin to pulse at the front, then select the Maginifi mini from the list on your device and once paired the blue light will turn solid.
There are five LEDs on the front of the Mini, and different combinations mean different things. For example if the bottom LED is lit then the Mini is connected via HDMI, if the bottom two are lit it’s optical and three LEDs means Aux. If the LED at the top is lit then the Mini is connected to Google Cast and if that LED is blue then the soundbar is connected to a Bluetooth device. There are also LED indicators for the power on, the Night Effect mode and if the Mini is receiving a Dolby Digital signal. The LEDs also light up when using the volume, bass or Voice Adjust controls. Although you get used to these indicator lights, a proper front display or an on-screen display would have been useful.
We tested the Polk Magnifi Mini with orange of TV, film and music material using a Samsung UBD-K8500 UHD Blu-ray player, an Apple TV, a YouView set top box and an Apple iPhone 7.
Polk Magnifi Mini Video Review
The Polk Maginifi Mini was a pleasant surprise, living up to its billing of ‘huge sound from a mini soundbar’. We’ve heard other compact soundbars before but none have been able to deliver as wide and open a front soundstage as the Mini. The speaker layout is clearly paying dividends in this department, with two centrally mounted drivers, tweeters on either and two side firing drivers. The result is a sound that fills the front wall and makes you forget that such a small unit is the source. The addition of the wireless active subwoofer means that the bass is also well represented and the combination of the two resulted in a room-filling sound that complimented TV, movies and even music.
We started off with some basic TV watching via our YouView set top box and the Mini handled the news, documentaries and TV dramas with ease. We were particularly impressed with the way the Mini handled the police drama No Offence which, with its fast delivery and Manchester accents, can sometimes be difficult to follow. However the Mini delivered every line of dialogue with ease and although it includes Polk’s Voice Adjust feature, we never needed it and the same goes for the Sports mode. Although if you are prone to some late night TV watching after the rest of the family have gone to bed, the Night Effect mode can definitely come in handy and is quite effective. If you would rather crank the Mini up, it can go quite loud without sounding brittle or losing cohesion but it will struggle in larger rooms, although clearly that isn’t what it’s designed for.
When we moved on to TV dramas and films via the Apple TV and Samsung K8500, the Maginifi Mini continued to impress and delivered a suitably big sound for a compact soundbar. Series like Stranger Things or Mr. Robot, with their complex sound design were delivered with solid, well-integrated bass and a great mid-range. The same was true when we moved on the blockbuster movies like Star Wars: The Force Awakens or Jurassic World. The resulting soundstage was wide but retained a sense of detail and good placement for effects, whilst the subwoofer gave the lower frequencies plenty of impact. The lack of any real surround presence was obvious, although the Movie Mode helped and no one is expecting the Mini to work miracles.
The Mini also didn’t disappoint with music and listening to the cast recording of David Bowie’s Lazarus was a real treat. The Polk handled the surprisingly complex arrangements very well, delivering the overlapping vocals with a pleasing clarity. The mid-range handled the various instruments well, whilst the subwoofer gave the bass and drums some weight. The rearrangement of “Heroes” for a combination of male and female vocals and piano was delivered well, although the Mini did struggle occasionally with higher frequencies as evidenced by Life on Mars, which was performed by a female vocal accompanied by piano. However this was still a great music performance from an ultra-compact soundbar, making it an excellent all-rounder.
The Mini delivered a wide and open front soundstage with good detail and well integrated bass
Should I buy one?
The Polk Magnifi Mini certainly lives up to its billing, delivering big audio from an ultra-compact soundbar. It’s nicely designed, well made and small enough that it can fit just about anywhere. There are plenty of connections, some useful cables included in the box and a handy remote. The lack of a proper display or an on-screen display is a shame and the lack of a remote app is surprising but otherwise the Mini is well specified. The set up is simple and the soundbar comes with a matching wireless active subwoofer to give the low-end greater impact. The Mini’s four driver and two tweeter design means that it can deliver a surprisingly wide and open front soundstage, whilst the subwoofer provides the lower frequencies.
The positioning of music and effects across the front soundstage is excellent and the solid mid-range means that vocals remain clear and concise, whilst the bass is well integrated thanks to the active subwoofer. The result is an excellent performance with TV, movies and even music, although the Mini did occasionally struggle with higher frequencies and isn’t intended for larger rooms. However it’s a great little soundbar and subwoofer combination that will be ideal for anyone with limited space who still wants a big sound. The price is slightly high compared to much of the competition but then quality and performance often cost more and the Polk Magnifi Mini is definitely worthy of recommendation.
What are my alternatives?
The ultra-compact soundbar market is relatively new but there have been some products recently announced in this area including the Sony HT-MT300 at £250/$375 and the HT-MT500 at £550/$825. The former doesn’t include an HDMI connection but is cheaper, whilst the latter includes HDMI and hi-res audio support but is obviously quite a bit more expense. Of recent compact soundbars that we’ve reviewed, the Acoustic Energy AEGO Sound3ar is an obvious contender because it’s equally as small but also sounds great. The AEGO Sound3ar will only set you back £199/$298 but it doesn’t include HDMI and its soundstage isn’t as wide as the Polk Magnifi Mini. However for sheer bang for buck, nothing can compete with the Samsung HW-K450, which is currently going for as little as £150/$225. It might be at the end of its life cycle but this soundbar and subwoofer combination sounds good and has a full feature set including HDMI and multiroom audio, making it a hard act to beat.