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Polk MagniFi Mini AX review: Small soundbar, big sound

The Polk MagniFi Mini AX adds Dolby Atmos to its compact soundbar and delivers big

Soundbar on tabletop in front of TV screen
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Tom's Guide Verdict

The MagniFy Mini AX delivers wide and bassy sound from a small package, but the premium price may not be worth it.

Pros

  • +

    Wide sound

  • +

    Booming bass

  • +

    Compact main speaker

Cons

  • -

    Voices can sound shallow

  • -

    No up-firing speakers

  • -

    Bulky sub

Polk MagniFi Mini AX: Specs

Colors: Black
Ports: HDMI (eARC), optical digital, 3.5mm, USB-A (updates only)
Speakers: 3x 2-inch mids; 2x 0.8-inch tweeters (soundbar); 5 x 7-inch woofer (sub)
Audio channels: 3.1.2
Audio formats: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Polk SDA 3D Audio
Power output: Not specified
Wireless: Wi-Fi (802.11 a/n/ac), Google Chromecast for Audio, Apple AirPlay2, Spotify Connect, Bluetooth 5.0
Smart assistant: None
Subwoofer: Wireless
Dimensions: 14.4 x 4.1 x 3.1 inches (soundbar); 15.6 x 14.6 x 7.2 inches (sub)
Weight: Not specified
Wall mountable: Not specified

Polk’s MagniFi Mini has been a favorite of ours since it came out in 2016 — the small-but-mighty soundbar creates a big sound with a tiny footprint. Polk has released a new version, the MagniFi Mini AX, which has some small design changes and one big addition: support for Dolby Atmos.

It also has a much bigger price tag. Polk's original MagniFi Mini costs $299, while the MagniFi Mini AX will run you $499 from Amazon (opens in new tab).

Polk MagniFi Mini AX review: Price and availability

The Polk MagniFi Mini AX was released in March 2022 and it sells for $499. There’s only one model and it comes in black. 

Polk stills sells the original MagniFi Mini — sans Atmos and a few other things — for $299.

Soundbar in front of TV screen

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Polk MagniFi Mini AX review: Design 

  • Small but tall
  • Looks best with smaller TVs

Similar to the original MagniFi Mini, the AX doesn’t look like your typical soundbar. At 14.4 x 4.1 x 3.1 inches, it’s neither long nor slim. It’s about one inch wider than the original Mini and slightly less tall. By comparison, the Sonos Beam, another small soundbar, is 25.6 x 3.9 x 2.7 inches. 

Because of its height, the Mini AX may block the bottom of TVs that sit close to the surface and interfere with your remote’s line of sight, too. But at least you don’t have to worry about finding a long surface to place it on. 

The black plastic-and-mesh unit will look best paired with small TVs and computer monitors, and the neutral design won’t attract much attention.

Showing connectivity ports on Polk soundbar

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Polk MagniFi Mini AX review: Set up and connectivity 

  • Good amount of ways to connect
  • Uses Google Home for Wi-Fi set up 

The Mini AX comes with everything you’ll need, including an HDMI cable, power cables and batteries for the remote. The biggest challenge may be finding a discreet spot for the power brick that connects to the main soundbar. 

The back of the unit has easy-to-access ports for connecting to your TV via HDMI (with support for eARC), optical digital or 3.5mm cables. Because it has only a single HDMI port, HDMI passthrough isn’t available. There are buttons for establishing connections to the included wireless subwoofer or optional surround speakers (the sub comes paired with the soundbar, so I didn’t need to do anything). There’s also a USB port, but it’s for service only. 

In addition to wired connections, the Mini AX offers several wireless options, including Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2 and Chromecast. To connect to your Wi-fi network, you use the Google Home app. The app identified the new device and walked me through getting it connected to the network. After it was connected, the unit automatically updated its firmware.

Image showing display screen

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Polk MagniFi Mini AX review: Configuration 

  • 5 drivers in soundbar
  • No upward-firing speakers
  • Comparatively large subwoofer 

Despite its visual similarity to the original Mini, the AX features different insides. The AX has two 0.75-inch tweeters and three 2-inch midrange drivers, where the Mini has two 0.5-inch tweeters and four 2.25-inch midrange drivers. The larger tweeters helped the AX deliver fuller treble tones than the Mini. 

While the soundbar supports Atmos, it lacks upward-firing speakers so you won’t get the height aspect of the object-based audio experience. That’s something to consider given the premium price of the Mini AX.

The AX’s 15.6 x 14.6 x 7.2-inch subwoofer looks comically large compared to the soundbar itself, but it isn’t really that big by subwoofer standards. It houses a 5 x 7-inch woofer to help round out the sound of the soundbar and provide low-end effects when watching movies and TV.

Image showing remote and sub

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Polk MagniFi Mini AX review: Controls 

  • Can make adjustments to sound levels via remote
  • Control volume via TV remote
  • Large controls on unit

The MagniFi Mini AX comes with a remote that is common for Polk soundbars. In addition to power and input selectors, it has several buttons to adjust the sound to your liking. You can change the bass level and voice (center channel) level, and even adjust for sound delays between what you see and what you hear. 

You can also choose between Movie, 3D, Night and Music modes. 3D mode spreads the sound wide and makes the most of the speakers — it was the mode I preferred, though I needed to boost the voice level to clearly hear dialog. Movie mode is narrower than 3D but made it easier to hear voices.

You don’t need to use the remote if you just want to control the volume — your existing TV remote should work with it. Mine worked without any set up, but you can teach your TV remote to work with the Mini AX if needed. 

The Mini AX has an LED display on the front that only comes on when you do something, such as change the volume, input or sound mode. It’s easy to read and, since it isn’t always on, it doesn’t get in the way when you don’t need it.

Showing subwoofer placed on tabletop

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Polk MagniFi Mini AX review: Sound quality

  • Overall good sound
  • Voices can lack dept
  • 3D mode fills room

For a small soundbar, the MagniFi Mini AX impresses with a wide sound, thanks to 3D mode, and full bass from the wireless sub. However, the larger — though still small — Sonos Beam sounds better overall and actually costs less. The Mini AX does have more bass than the Beam, if that is most important. And for its size, you can’t beat the overall performance.

Voices sounded clear, though sometimes they were shallow. When Oscar Issac speaks in his British accent in Moon Knight, he was easy to understand but the subwoofer didn’t kick in to add depth. However, when the Voice spoke to Isaac’s character Steven, the subwoofer added impressive gravitas. As Electro zapped the Peter Parkers in Spider-man: No Way Home, the subwoofer delivered a satisfying rumble with the bolts of electricity. Atmos support helped make surround sound engaging — when Thor flings Stormbreaker at the Outriders in Avengers: End Game, the Mini AX made it sound like it was moving through the room — but the Beam does a better job overall of creating the illusion of movement. 

The Mini AX works well for music, thanks to its wide and bassy sound. Harry Styles’s voice was well-balanced with the bass and synths on “As It Was;” the horns and bass sounded full but didn’t overwhelm Jon Batiste’s vocals on “Freedom.” The guitars on Wet Leg’s “Too Late Now” shimmered amid the thumping bass drum. The Mini AX could easily be the main speaker for music in a bedroom or small apartment.

The small soundbar gets plenty loud for even large rooms, measuring over 90 decibels at max volume. But at that level it sounded harsh and too bright; listening was more comfortable in the 75-85 decibel range — still plenty loud enough.

Polk MagniFi Mini AX review: Verdict 

The MagniFi Mini AX offers a lot in a little unit: It has good overall sound, but really shines by creating a wide, bassy sound. Best of all, it takes up little space and can work well with small TVs and large computer monitors. 

But the price premium is hard to justify. The original Magnify Mini costs $200 less; while that model doesn’t support Atmos, the impact of adding the latest surround sound tech is minimal in the overall experience with a soundbar that lacks upward firing speakers. For $449, you can get a Sonos Beam, a better all-around soundbar that also delivers more immersive virtual surround sound. 

But with the Beam, you don’t get a subwoofer. The AX definitely delivers more bass. And the Beam is bigger. If bass and small size are what matters most to you, and you crave the widest sound you can get within those constraints, the Mini AX is the one to get.

Michael Gowan covers soundbars, TVs, portable speakers and other audio- and video-related topics for Tom’s Guide. He’s written about music and technology for more than 20 years for a raft of publications including Wired, Men’s Journal, PC World and Macworld. When he’s not reviewing speakers, he’s probably listening to one anyway.