The latest soundbar from Polk Audio contains one of the company’s signature technologies called Stereo Dimensional Array (SDA). The MagniFi Max ($499) is a 43″ wide, 3.1-channel soundbar system that can be paired with optional wireless surrounds ($149/pair) for a 5.1 listening experience. Or you can purchase the MagniFi Max SR ($599) that includes the surrounds in the box.
SDA technology was invented by Matthew Polk and was a feature of its classic, iconic SDA speaker systems. Thanks to SDA, the MagniFi Max is capable of creating a large, detailed soundstage that defies the physical limitations of its design. Polk says it grants the soundbar an ability to render stereo imaging that envelops the listener and extends far past the soundbar itself.
When you add 5.1 surround-sound to the mix using the wireless rear speakers, combined with the effect of SDA technology on the front channels, you get a proper 360-degree surround-sound experience with 400 watts of total power on tap (soundbar 180 watts, subwoofer 160 watts, surrounds watts). Plus, with the 8″ wireless subwoofer in the mix, the bass response of the system is no afterthought.
Last week I took a trip to NYC and heard the MagniFi Max in person, so I can confirm that it possesses the qualities Polk ascribes to it. With music, the soundstage mimicked that of a stereo system featuring properly spaced speakers.
A highlight of the demo was a hearing “Requiem: Pie Jesu” from Rutter: Requiem/Five Anthems play through the soundbar. The piece is a staple of high-end shows and I have heard numerous six-figure systems tackle it, but never before a soundbar. And while it did not quite live up to what a Mark Levinson/Revel rig could do with the track, this soundbar managed to capture some of the grandeur of the piece, including the deep organ notes.
An action clip from Deadpool underscored how well the MagniFi Max handles surround-sound as well as bass. It puts on a presentation that can legitimately be described as home theater-like. So, how does this Polk do it? The soundbar sports four 1″ by 3″ full-range drivers, a pair of 0.75″ left/right tweeters, a 1″ center channel driver, and the 8″ ported sub. The system’s frequency response is listed as 35 hz to 20 kHz.
A selection of EQ presets lets you tailor the sound response to taste as well as to the type of content. There are presets for Movies, Music and Sports plus a Night Effect EQ that lowers bass and increases the level of dialog so you don’t wake kids or neighbors when you are up late watching TV.
This soundbar doesn’t just sound good, it’s also packed with useful features. It is smart about remote control compatibility, with built-in support for remotes from Samsung, LG, Sony and Vizio as well as CEC-enabled TV remotes.
This model features three HDMI inputs (with HDCP 2.2) and one HDMI output (with ARC). These connections support 4K HDR video including HDR10 and Dolby Vision. It also has an optical input, an aux. 3.5mm stereo input, Ethernet, Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n/AC – 2.4 GHz & 5 GHz), Bluetooth and Chromecast streaming compatibility.
This exciting new soundbar and the optional wireless speakers will be available for purchase starting August 2017 from Best Buy, Amazon, Crutchfield and Polkaudio.com.