CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Polk MagniFi Mini review: Mighty mini sound bar

The Polk sound bar will decode Dolby Digital and also incorporates three main sound modes -- music, movies and sport -- the last of which also increases speech intelligibility.

Setup

screenshot20161118-115832.png
View full gallery
Ty Pendlebury/CNET

While Polk's more expensive sound bars feature their own apps, the MagniFi mini relies on Google's Home app for setup. This is the part that didn't quite work for me in testing.

In its default wireless configuration, I wasn't able to get the app to find the sound bar. In the end, I had to connect an Ethernet cable to the speaker and keep it connected in order to use Google Cast. Once I did that, it downloaded an update to the Polk, and the speaker was finally visible in Google Cast apps. I have reached out to Polk for clarification on whether this is isolated to the unit I have, and will update this review when I hear more.

Performance

When buying a sound bar like this you can't expect it to sound as good as a pair of dedicated speakers, but the Polk does do a terrific job of transcending the confines of the tiny cabinet. Those side-firing speakers actually work!

Using Google Cast to stream hi-res music from a Samsung Galaxy S6 ($335 at Amazon) phone, the Polk had a very open sound when I listened to Steven Wilson's jangly "Hand Cannot Erase." The airy guitar and vibraphone transcended the physical boundaries of the speaker, making the soundstage seem much larger. The subwoofer added low-end heft when the rhythm section kicked in.

By contrast the Zvox Accuvoice sounded small and enclosed when I compared the two directly. There was no bass to speak of on the subwoofer-less Zvox, and the sonics lacked the drama the track demands.

With movies the MagniFi pulled past the Zvox again, in both scale and involvement. The rooftop chase scene from "Spider-Man 3" was captivating when heard through the Polk. Each thump as Peter Parker's body connected with one building after another was brutally conveyed, while at the same time the soundstage was wide and open-sounding. Only the full bassy roar of the Green Goblin's jets as they point directly at the viewer came off sounding a little anemic -- the smallish Polk sub was never going to convey the full force of a larger unit.

Switching to the Zvox, the sound became small and midrangey. Designed as a voice-centric speaker, with action movies it's just not able to convey the same level of excitement as the Polk. Meanwhile the Polk also has the benefit of a voice mode for people with hearing difficulties which means it's just a better unit all-round.

The upshot?

At a mere $300, the Polk MagniFi Mini is one of the best sound bars we've heard for the price, and is certainly better than the Zvox Accuvoice. Its connectivity may be a little rough around the edges, but it's still the best attempt we've yet heard at packing a big sound into a micro-size speaker.

Best Speakers for 2019

All Best Speakers

More Best Products

All Best Products