As a wise being once said, “Size matters not.” The MagniFi Mini looks like a typical Bluetooth speaker, albeit one with a small wireless subwoofer. But if you were to listen to Polk’s MagniFi Mini without seeing it, you’d imagine you’re hearing a 42-inch soundbar with a full-sized subwoofer. Polk plays with your head in a good way with this mini soundbar, which is small enough to fit in any room but delivers sound big enough for any need, all at a reasonable price.
At 13.4 x 4.3 x 3.1 inches, the MagniFi Mini is slightly larger than the 8.8 x 4.7 x 2.2-inch $370 Creative iRoar (a Bluetooth speaker that also has some soundbar skills thanks to its digital optical audio connection) and smaller than the 14.8 x 4.8 x 3.3-inch $200 JBL Boost TV.
Inch for inch, it packs a lot into a small space. It includes two 0.5-inch tweeters and four 2.25-inch drivers; by comparison the JBL Boost TV has just two 2-inch drivers. The MagniFi Mini also includes a 14.5 x 14.4 x 7.4-inch wireless subwoofer — a key component of the system’s big sound. Creative sells a separate $150 subwoofer for the iRoar, while the Boost TV doesn’t support a subwoofer.
The MagniFi Mini offers several ways to connect, both wired and wireless. It has one HDMI input, which requires an HDMI ARC (audio return channel) connection, and a digital optical audio input. Both of those support 5.1 audio. It also has a 3.5mm analog input as well as an Ethernet port to connect to your network. For wireless music playback, you can choose Bluetooth audio or Google Cast over Wi-Fi.
The remote includes the essential functions, such as power and volume, as well as buttons to switch among sound modes and inputs. Alternatively, you may be able to program your existing remote to control it. There are also controls on top of the speaker.
The Mini lacks an onscreen display or even a mobile to help with set up and use. Instead it opts for combinations of lights on the front to show when a mode is engaged, such as Movie or Music. Deciphering the light combination requires a glance at the instruction manual — a downside to an otherwise well-designed speaker.
The MagniFi Mini impresses with both movies and music. For many people, it could be the sole music system in an apartment or bedroom.
Sound is spread wide, making movie and TV scenes more encompassing. The dialogue in such shows as Gilmore Girls sounded clear and resonant. The subwoofer delivered satisfying rumbles during explosions and laser shots in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The system handled the complex layers of The Get Down Brothers’ raps over DJ Shaolin Fantastics grooves in the finale of The Get Down — a scene that many soundbars struggle with.
Few soundbars do well on music and movies, but the MagniFi Mini offers some of the best audio from a small speaker that I’ve heard. The Weeknd’s vocals on “Starboy” were full and clear above a rumbling bass line, and Lady Gaga’s voice soared above the piano chords on “Millions Reasons.”
Much of the depth and resonance is due to the subwoofer, which few Bluetooth speakers include. The unit’s main flaw was a harsh treble tone that made the piano on Steely Dan’s “Aja” and Miles Davis’s trumpet on “Summertime” sound too bright.
For a small soundbar, the unit cranks: I measured 90 decibels at 10 feet—plenty to fill the medium-sized room. The Creative iRoar maxed out at 85 decibels from the same distance.
Because the MagniFi Mini only requires a single connection to the TV, I had the unit set up in minutes. I used the digital optical cable to connect to my TV since the HDMI ARC input was in use. It also paired quickly via Bluetooth and Google Cast using the Google Home app.
The wireless subwoofer came paired with the soundbar and connected automatically when I turned it on for the first time.
There are limited tweaks you can make to the output, but they do help customize the sound. You increase the voice and bass levels, or switch sound modes between Movies, Sports and Music. The unit would benefit from a mobile app with more features, like the iRoar offers.
The mini soundbar, a relatively new category for home theater speakers, has found its benchmark in the Polk MagniFi Mini. It produces excellent audio for movies, TV and music, and costs just $300 — many of the best sounding Bluetooth speakers cost that much or more, and few full-size soundbars in this price range match its overall performance.
With its versatility, the MagniFi Mini could serve as both a soundbar and the main music speaker in many situations, especially in an apartment. And since it has several inputs, you could connect components like a turntable to make it even more flexible. Don’t let the small size of this excellent soundbar size fool you.