Polk Audio Magnifi Mini - An Ongoing Review

DSkipDSkip Posts: 12,907
First things first, I want to remind people that this is a $300 soundbar/subwoofer combination. This is not a system replacement, nor should it be considered to compete at that level. What this is is a lifestyle product that is positioned to be a solid contender in the soundbar world.

I will admit my experience with soundbars is quite limited. I've seen them, I've heard them, but I've never owned one. I've considered it once or twice when Polk did their 50% off sales, but I shied away because I never really saw myself having a use for them. Fast forward a few years, and the Magnifi Mini fits a niche that presented itself once I moved to the new house.

When I first heard this at Polk's CEDIA Press Release, I honestly thought they were demoing the Signature Series. The sound was full and the soundstage was wide. I thought the speakers did a good job at disappearing. To say I was blown away would be an overstatement, but I did like the sound and thought to myself that Polk was bringing back their house sound. Then, I found out that it wasn't those towers and center making all that noise - it was that tiny (13" wide) little speaker and a wireless subwoofer filling the room adequately with respectable sound. It was then that I decided i had to have one... at LEAST one. I'm still thinking about picking up another for upstairs...

I ordered mine yesterday and it arrived from my distributor today. The package is quite large and suggests it is full of sizable components. That is simply not the case though. Much like the Dayens Ampino, this is a product that makes you laugh a little bit when you see the minuscule stature. Then you pick it up and feel the weight - then you hook it up - then it delivers - then your entire mindset has changed.

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Polk did a great job packaging this product. Included is a 3.5 mm cable, optical cable, and HDMI cable. The Mini speaker has an external power block, but no cabling is needed to connect the subwoofer. There were nice touches like notes on the cables to help the ignorant on hooking things up. The stickers that keep the plastic on the sub and speaker have little stickers with hearts on them - boding back to the heart found in the vintage logos. Its the fine details like these that remind one that Polk is heading in the right direction.

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Setup took all of 60 seconds. Plug both the speaker and sub in, wait for the speaker to go through its warm-up process, connect to bluetooth, and throw some tunes on. I didn't have to program the subwoofer to connect to the speaker - something I was fully expecting to do. The remote is simple and easy to operate and feels nice in the hand. It is plastic, but it doesn't feel cheap like you would expect from a product at this price.

I've been enjoying the sound but will wait to comment in detail until it has more run-time on it. I will say this though: this unit is well worth the $300. Comparable items from other companies are ranging up to twice the cost of this unit and don't offer the SDA technology built into this one.
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Comments

  • ken brydsonken brydson Posts: 6,313
    Don't need one but might pick up one just for gits and shiggles. Looking forward to more of your review...
  • D2LoD2Lo Posts: 351
    Thanks for taking the time to write this up Skip. We shared it on our FB page as well with the link back to the forum: https://www.facebook.com/polkaudio/photos/a.401099898582.176660.79336518582/10154164499483583/?type=3&theater&notif_t=notify_me_page&notif_id=1480698408520620
  • Been thinking about picking one up for my Pops who has been going back and forth with the idea of a small satellite system.
  • motorhead43026motorhead43026 Posts: 1,801
    edited December 2016
    Skip, received both Minis today, fast ship for sure. I was impressed right from the get go with the quality packing and all the accessories you need to hook this up, nothing was left out. There are 3 ways to connect this and all cords are supplied. It is a well thought out and designed product. As for the sound, it punches well beyond the price paid. I believe I will order a third unit.
  • nbrowsernbrowser Posts: 6,282
    Skip, don't know if you know it or not but Polk tweeted a link right to this thread! Also a good review of the product, might see about getting one when BB up here decides to have stock available.
  • D2LoD2Lo Posts: 351
    Skip, received both Minis today, fast ship for sure. I was impressed right from the get go with the quality packing and all the accessories you need to hook this up, nothing was left out. There are 3 ways to connect this and all cords are supplied. It is a well thought out and designed product. As for the sound, it punches well beyond the price paid. I believe I will order a third unit.

    Now if we could only get everyone to buy three of them :-)

    Glad you enjoyed the unit. The team is very proud of what we were able to do with this one!

  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 12,907
    My parents came over tonight and I gave them a listen. My old man asked me three times if I was certain the big speakers weren't playing. My mom was also impressed and she isn't impressed by audio gadgets. They gave each other a glance suggesting it might be a piece on their list now.

    I've given my parents several audio gifts over the years and never had this reaction before.
  • txcoastal1txcoastal1 Posts: 7,514
    Going to grab one for the bedroom
  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 12,907
    I visited with my mom about a week ago and she brought this unit up again and reminded me of her desire to buy one soon. They even tried to convince my uncle to buy one since he is in the market for one. Like I said before, my parents are not big in audio, but they definitely see the value in this piece.
  • Jimbo18Jimbo18 Posts: 1,410
    I wouldn't mind simplifying my bedroom setup. I don't play music very often on it and it would be a lot smaller than the M5's, center and small sub I am using now. Won't be before Christmas, but I think I will order one.
  • papatompapatom Posts: 133
    Great write-up Dskip! I too am possibly looking for a soundbar/subwoofer solution for our upstairs family room.
  • mdaudioguymdaudioguy Posts: 3,900
    The last Christmas present we have to give out this year. It's for my son and his wife. I'll post my/their impressions once he gets it and sets it up.3b3uelpx2wno.jpg
  • heiney9heiney9 Posts: 23,353
    Any reports, as I have read in many reviews, about the unit(s) getting excessively hot? It seems to be an issue and I was just wondering how much of an issue it can be?

    Looking forward to getting mine set-up and running when it gets here.

    H9
  • motorhead43026motorhead43026 Posts: 1,801
    Mine get warm but not hot. Then again I have 3m bumpers on the bottoms so they don't sit flat and air circulates.
  • heiney9heiney9 Posts: 23,353
    Picked one up at Adorama for $199/shipped. Ordered it Monday afternoon got it Wednesday morning. From New Jersey to Illinois, super fast.

    Set up was a breeze. After finding someplace to plug the center (brain) module and the sub in for power, it took literally 2 minutes for us to get full sound after connecting the optical cable. I think I have HDMI ARC and I will try that eventually.

    I don't want to comment on the sound yet as this is my first type of product like this. But I will say the clarity and separation of dialog is far better than the TV. A few Netflix shows and a few network shows. The led indicators on the center module are really helpful as well. The remote is comprehensive and easy to use.

    So far it's a winner, but I need more time with it. Will do a more comprehensive review after I've used it for awhile.

    H9

    P.s. No wires except a single optical is very cool. I may experiment with sub placement a bit.
  • heiney9heiney9 Posts: 23,353
    So far I have no idea what the heat issue that seems to be a prevalent comment in a lot of reviews. Left in plugged in over night and it's just a tad warmish, but just barely warmer than room temp. I read several reviews about the hot heat issue, but for me it's a complete non-issue so far.

    H9
  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 12,907
    Perhaps no ventilation was provided to those units.
  • heiney9heiney9 Posts: 23,353
    DSkip wrote: »
    Perhaps no ventilation was provided to those units.

    Could be, but mine is just sitting on top of my amp until I get a shelf installed under the TV (my TV is mounted on the wall). The non skid rubber on the bottom of the speaker/brain unit doesn't provide underneath ventilation.

    I was just surprised at the Amazon reviews that mentioned it gets really hot even in standby mode. But, I always take those kind of reviews with a grain of salt because people do things with products that I would never dream of......lol

    H9

  • heiney9heiney9 Posts: 23,353
    edited March 10
    I continue to be impressed with the large sound coming from such a small, unobtrusive system. Dolby encoded content is impressive. The bass that is present defies the eyes and ears. Looking at the little sub, one would never guess it was capable of putting out such deep and somewhat extended bass for a 6" driver in a small cabinet.

    One thing I am really listening for that has been mentioned in professional reviews is how well the center blends with the sub. To me, this has always been where inexpensive sub/satellite systems show a great deficiency. There always seem to be a gap between where the sub picks up and the satellite/sound bar leaves off. With some TV content I have noticed this, but TV sound content is wildly erratic when it comes to sound so that's not a fair judge. The reviews state the blending between the 2 is excellent.

    Hopefully this weekend I can put a DVD in and see how well the unit performs.

    This is one of those products that is exceeding my skepticism/expectation about some of the hype surrounding this unit.

    H9
    Post edited by heiney9 on
  • vmaxervmaxer Posts: 3,705
    Sounding good....

    Wish I had got one.
  • heiney9heiney9 Posts: 23,353
    vmaxer wrote: »
    Sounding good....

    Wish I had got one.

    Positive they will run it again. They seem to run specials all the time. Maybe subscribe to their e-mail and you'll get a notification next time. If I see it, I'll PM you.

    Frankly, this is worth it at full retail, but we all like to get a deal :D

    H9

  • vmaxervmaxer Posts: 3,705
    I am on their email list, just not a good time to be spending. Sooner or later, I hope to get one.
  • heiney9heiney9 Posts: 23,353
    edited March 20
    Polk Audio – Magnifi Mini sound bar system

    The other reviews covered what comes with the unit and the size of the unit. It’s small and unobtrusive, a big plus in my book. I had some criteria this needed to fill;

    1) needed to have a smallish foot print so I could integrate it into my listening space.
    2) had to perform larger than its physical size
    3) had to be easy to set-up and easy for the GF to use.
    4) Inexpensive, since I’m cheap (I mean like good value).
    5) had to impress me beyond the initial “honeymoon” stage.

    Let’s get the “what it’s not” out of the way. It has a huge sound coming from a tiny foot print, but it’s never going to replace a true 5.1 system (not even close). So if you are thinking you can get this to substitute for a full 5.1 surround system you will be disappointed, unless it’s one of those inexpensive “one” box 5.1 surround systems you see at various retailers. Suffice to say this would be a better choice even though it’s a single speaker enclosure/sub system.

    It’s not going to replace a dedicated 2 channel music system, it doesn’t have that kind or fidelity or performance you’d get from something like a pair of 5B’s, integrated amp and dac. I know some have mentioned wanting to replace an office rig or secondary rig with this, to me it’s just not quite there, unless it’s strictly for background music. But I have higher expectations than most for a music rig. Perhaps for some this would fill the bill.

    I continue to be impressed with the Magnifi Mini every single time I sit down and listen to it. It has permanently replaced the TV speakers. It has an auto off/on function that works every single time. So it’s just a matter of turning the TV on and off and the Mini powers on and off in unison. The night mode works as intended and never sacrifices clarity; it just lowers the bass level and volume, but never at the expense of voices. I have tried the 3 presets on the remote each supposedly enhancing some characteristics for whatever event you’re watching. There is a preset for movies, sports and music. Not sure what it enhances, but so far the movies and sports presets don’t seem to do much that I can hear. Perhaps it’s very subtle.

    The center speaker (the main brain of the unit) incorporates active SDA technology. There is very good depth to vocals, sounds and instruments, giving a nice 3d presentation that is always crisp and clear. Clarity is one of the strong points of the Mini. Not a flat cardboard cutout type presentation you can get with lesser units. But there is very little width to the sound, occasionally I will hear things left and right, outside the center image, just nothing dramatic. Somehow it’s all very convincing as everything has 3 dimensional character to it, never flat and lifeless. I’m sure there is some left/right width processing, it’s just not dramatically presented.

    One thing that surprised me at this price point is the seamless blend of the sub and center speaker. Many times the downfall of an inexpensive unit is a hole between the lower mids and upper bass (think Bose). But the blending between the 2 is excellent in most cases. Some commercial jingles that are bass heavy exhibit a bit of a hole in the frequency “hand off”, but broadcast TV can be extremely erratic in the signal it sends. So I don’t fault the Mini for this as it’s more a source issue than a hardware issue. I have to mention clarity again, there is excellent separation and clarity coming from the center speaker and this is without the voice enhancement active. It allows one to listen at a lower level and still not miss any of the dialog or other details.

    Finally the sub, I continue to shake my head because there is no way the kind of bass that is presents can come from a smallish cabinet with a single 6 ½” driver. I’d like to know what “electronic” tricks are happening to get the kind of solid, room filling, deep bass it puts out. Does it shake the walls, rumble the china or tickle your feet………….no, but it hits deeper and blends with the main speaker better than it should for its size and price point. I am floored by the amount and quality of bass a small box can put out. Until I heard it, didn’t think it was possible. I was expecting the bass to be the weak point of this system, I was sorely mistaken.

    To wrap up, this unit has far exceeded my expectations. How they get so much good sound from such an unobtrusive system at this price point is amazing. As long as your expectation isn’t to replace a full blown 5.1 surround system you will be floored by the performance. I can only imagine how good the full size Magnifi is. 5 *****

    H9
  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 12,907
    Good review Brock and reiterates my sentiments. It isn't a system replacement, but it is almost perfect for the job it was designed to do. I really find it hard to fault it for anything given the price, size, and job it does.

    I've found some music to do well with left or right but I honestly haven't played around too much with placement. I'm sure in the right setting you could get some nice width to it and make that SDA function stand out even more.

    I find that I prefer the sports setting most.
  • heiney9heiney9 Posts: 23,353
    I haven't tested it with music beyond what was in movies and TV played. If/when I do and my impression changes, I'll post a mini review. Right now the way it's hooked up, the TV is always in the loops since the optical connection is from the TV. I suppose I could put the optical between my DAC and the main speaker and play a cd/dvd in the DVDp to see how it does for sound in 2 channel.

    I'll be experimenting with music and I'm sure my G/F will want to get the Bluetooth going from her phone.
  • kharp1kharp1 Posts: 1,068
    I'm really close to grabbing one of these for the office at work.

    Don't want to step on anyone's toes here, and forgive me if it's inappropriate, but, from what I'm seeing and reading it appears that this is a good value at retail..and Skip is a retailer of these.
  • motorhead43026motorhead43026 Posts: 1,801
    It is worth the retail price of 3 bills.
  • heiney9heiney9 Posts: 23,353
    It is worth the retail price of 3 bills.

    I agree 100%. I just don't like to pay retail, so I always wait for a deal. But, absolutely worth the 300 bones.

    H9
  • heiney9heiney9 Posts: 23,353
    edited March 21
    I do have a question about the 3 presets, movies, sports and music. Once you select one how do you unselect it? I haven't figured that out yet. Movie setting has a bit too much bass for general TV listening, sports is a bit bass shy for TV listening and the music preset has a bit less vocal.

    Once I select one of the presets, how do it set it back to normal? I tried the mute, but it didn't seem to have an effect. Maybe it resets back to normal after a power cycle?

    H9
  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 12,907
    I think it resets itself, but they should just be treble/bass settings that you can adjust yourself.
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