Polk MagniFi Mini 2.1 Soundbar Review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 36 Old 06-23-2017, 12:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Polk MagniFi Mini 2.1 Soundbar Review

Every now and then a product defies expectations and rises above the pack. Polk's MagniFi Mini does that for $300 soundbars, it's outstanding for the money. Click this link to read more: Polk MagniFi Mini 2.1 Soundbar with Chromecast Review
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post #2 of 36 Old 06-23-2017, 01:47 PM
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Excellent System TV or Not

I bought this myself a few months ago (it runs on sale quite frequently on several sites for about 30-50% off the $299 MSRP) because I wanted a good sound system in my bedroom with a small footprint and I wanted it to integrate with my whole house Chromecast system.

I agree with the reviewer - this is a GREAT system for the price! I can't speak to using it with a TV because we don't keep a TV in our room. Just wanted it for music and the occasional ambient sounds for sleeping. It's tiny for a soundbar, but the sound is big and it integrates perfectly with Chromecast but is also easy to use via Bluetooth. The remote is perfect and the overall design and features of the actual bar are great.

I've always loved Polk and this has got to be one of the best soundbars on the market right now!
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post #3 of 36 Old 06-23-2017, 02:21 PM
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I have one with my Samsung 51" 5500 plasma in the bedroom. The Dolby function works really well with Fibe TV. Unfortunately ARC from the TV is problematic in two ways:


1. 95% of the time the TV drops surround from Bell when booting. I can then either reset to surround with the Bell controller or switch to optical in from Bell to the MagniFi Mini. This seems to be the better way to go, as:


2. For some reason the appropriate audio delay seems to vary when running over ARC. It's only a matter of 10 milliseconds either way, but frustrating.


I asked Polk's customer service for some guidance and they replied that they were very busy but they'd get back to me. That was six months ago.


I'll likely end up dropping the ARC connection, adding a small footprint BD player and running toslink out of the TV.


I'm not impressed with the stereo performance in my bedroom.


P.S. So I did some fooling around. Dropping ARC is not an option because then the Samsung fails to recognize the Polk as a "Receiver", and it won't allow selection of Dolby under "External Speakers". PCM stereo just doesn't do the trick for movies and TV shows. But here's the kicker: plugging the Toslink from the TV into the Polk - rather than from the Bell receiver - causes the TV to find the Dolby signal from Bell and send it on to the Polk during the boot up under ARC - even though the Toslink isn't in use! (Bear in mind, if there is no Toslink connection - to the Bell receiver or the TV - the handshake fails just as often as if there is a Toslink connection to the Bell receiver. CEC - go figure.)

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post #4 of 36 Old 06-23-2017, 04:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Blasting Beastie Boys right now, I don't understand how it can handle such high volume levels relative to its size/weight/price. It absolutely cranks out the jams.

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post #5 of 36 Old 06-24-2017, 10:37 AM
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okay, I take it back...

I hooked up a Sony BDP-S6700 and the CD sound is really good. I was playing Coltrane, "Live at the Village Vanguard" and I'm picky.


But the CEC stuff is driving me nuts. The Samsung 51" plasma F5500 recognizes the MagniFi Mini as a "Receiver" but refuses to play Dolby from the Sony S6700 (HDMI 3). It makes no difference whether I choose ARC or Toslink from the TV. Anyway, the movie sound is good despite the input being 5.1 PCM. When I return to Fibe TV I have to switch the TV back to Dolby from PCM.


I suppose given that the whole deal - 51" plasma, sound system and Blu-ray player - cost me $1150 Canadian (I have pairs of RCA interconnects that cost more) I shouldn't complain too much. Anyway, my real problem is with HDMI handshakes, not Polk.
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post #6 of 36 Old 06-24-2017, 01:13 PM
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ARC/CEC is not capable of 5.1 PCM your only getting 2 channel PCM. I'm pretty sure the Samsung plasma does not have the capability of sending 5.1 to ARC or optical from its HDMI connections. A lot of older TVs do not have that capability. Here is a CNET article.
https://www.cnet.com/news/20-tvs-tes...o-a-sound-bar/
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post #7 of 36 Old 06-24-2017, 02:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellebob View Post
ARC/CEC is not capable of 5.1 PCM your only getting 2 channel PCM. I'm pretty sure the Samsung plasma does not have the capability of sending 5.1 to ARC or optical from its HDMI connections. A lot of older TVs do not have that capability. Here is a CNET article.
https://www.cnet.com/news/20-tvs-tes...o-a-sound-bar/

No, it passes 5.1 Dolby through ARC with Fibe TV, and can pass that through Toslink. The MagniFi Mini sounds the same whether I feed it through the TV or directly from the Bell receiver in 5.1 Dolby. I think the problem is that it can only pass PCM from a second source like a Blu-ray player:
http://support-us.samsung.com/cyber/...sc=&homeid=506


Apparently this was an undocumented "feature" with a number of TVs. Anyway, I set the Sony BD player to PCM output from DD and DTS sources and I no longer have to reset the TV to accept Dolby when I switch to TV.

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post #8 of 36 Old 06-24-2017, 02:55 PM - Thread Starter
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All I know is that even though the review is posted, I'm still using it because I'm so amused at the juxtaposition of the small size and big sound.
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post #9 of 36 Old 06-24-2017, 06:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post
All I know is that even though the review is posted, I'm still using it because I'm so amused at the juxtaposition of the small size and big sound.
This rig was my personal best in show at this past CEDIA. Big sound, small size and tiny price still has my mind blown.

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post #10 of 36 Old 06-25-2017, 11:54 PM
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Thanks for the review Mark!

Hey Mark (or someone else with experience)...How does it sound up close (2.5 feet)? I'm considering this as a PC audio sound system, it seems like a sweet deal for casual listening while reading AVS forum., as well as some more casual listening of video streams.

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post #11 of 36 Old 06-26-2017, 10:07 AM
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still Mark...

I think many if not most buyers would use it with an ARC connection to a TV, and many with a BD player. Although the MagniFi Mini is a superb small footprint DAC and 2.1 speaker system for two channel PCM sources, it is just plain amazing with 5.1 channel DD sources. It would be hard for me to choose between my $35,000 main system and my $1100 bedroom system for Fibe TV. But the trick is that many TVs will not support DD 5.1 from "TV sources" through ARC and even fewer will support it with a BD player. In those cases they'll need the option to switch to the optical port connected directly to the source (after booting) to get the best sound.


I thought I'd done my homework with the Sony BDP-S6700. In particular it does conversion from DTS to DD. But my Samsung plasma won't pass DD from a BD player. With the source converted to PCM prior to the MagniFi Mini the sound is passable at best. And the Sony doesn't have an optical port. I've ordered a cheap coax to optical converter to (I hope!) solve that. Others may find that they need an additional digital input - one for TV and one for BD - which can be solved with a cheap switch. All of which could be avoided if the MagniFi Mini had a coax input.

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Would this work as a dedicated audio-only player? I listen to Spotify quite a bit and am looking for a good 'compact' solution for my office that I can control through my phone. How would you compare it with a Sonos dedicated speaker? Would I need a screen to set this up?

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post #13 of 36 Old 06-26-2017, 01:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by voodoo1694 View Post
Would this work as a dedicated audio-only player? I listen to Spotify quite a bit and am looking for a good 'compact' solution for my office that I can control through my phone. How would you compare it with a Sonos dedicated speaker? Would I need a screen to set this up?
You do not need a screen to set it up and in fact it does not have a video output. It's a better deal than the Play5 and outperforms the Play:1. I'm a fan/user of Chromecast so for me it's basically plug and play. I think it's a great audio-only player.
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post #14 of 36 Old 06-26-2017, 02:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post
You do not need a screen to set it up and in fact it does not have a video output. It's a better deal than the Play5 and outperforms the Play:1. I'ma fan of Chromecast so for me it's basically plug and play. I think it's a great audio-only player.
Thanks buddy. In for one!
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Quote:
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But the trick is that many TVs will not support DD 5.1 from "TV sources" through ARC and even fewer will support it with a BD player.
Hi Jim, would you happen to know which TVs have support then? I'm in the market for a new TV and would rather get one that works well with the MagniFi Mini to begin with to save myself the connection hassles later.
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post #16 of 36 Old 06-26-2017, 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by 10basetom View Post
Hi Jim, would you happen to know which TVs have support then? I'm in the market for a new TV and would rather get one that works well with the MagniFi Mini to begin with to save myself the connection hassles later.
We use Sony TVs where I work and they pass 5.1 formats.
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post #17 of 36 Old 06-26-2017, 09:13 PM
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I'm no expert on the TV market...

Quote:
Originally Posted by 10basetom View Post
Hi Jim, would you happen to know which TVs have support then? I'm in the market for a new TV and would rather get one that works well with the MagniFi Mini to begin with to save myself the connection hassles later.

But here is a list: http://www.rtings.com/tv/tests/input...io-passthrough .

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post #18 of 36 Old 06-26-2017, 09:54 PM
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Thank you, Ellebob and Jim! That link is a great resource, Jim .
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post #19 of 36 Old 06-30-2017, 06:46 AM
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hmm...

Tried Bluetooth last night. Looks like it is limited to 2 channel PCM, likely in the MagniFi Mini since the Sony S6700 supports the LDAC codec for Hi Rez audio over Bluetooth - but maybe both. Anyway, sound quality was just as good as HDMI.

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post #20 of 36 Old 07-01-2017, 08:36 AM
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so...

I got everything set up right using a nifty little coax/optical to coax/optical switch, and discovered right away that the Sony bdp-s6700 can't convert HD audio - either Dolby or DTS HD variants - to DD. Apparently only Samsung players like the BD-J6300 can do this. So, the Sony delivered great CD sound and DVD picture and sound through the MagniFi-Mini, but with Blu-ray it is pretty much either stereo PCM or crickets. So I got mad and returned everything to The Source.


Which got me to thinking about this TV passthrough test, and how it doesn't really apply to the MagniFi Mini (and many other soundbars). Because what you need is not only passthrough for DTS and Dolby 5.1 but for their HD audio variants - and down-conversion to DD 5.1 for all of them .


So, I'll try the Samsung next week. I'm just not sure I can fit it on top of my dresser along with the TV and MagniFi Mini. And - since it's a Samsung - I suspect it will go back anyway.

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post #21 of 36 Old 07-01-2017, 09:48 AM
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The term pass through with TVs is technically incorrect. The TV identifies its capabilities with the source, Blu-ray in this instance and tells the player what formats it can accept. The source device will send the highest format the TV is capable of processing. For some TVs that is only PCM and that is the TV is capable of sending along to ARC or optical. If the TV can process Dolby Digital and/or DTS than that is what the player sends at the highest bit rate possible for those formats. Then that is what gets sent to ARC or optical. Very few TVs process Dolby True HD or DTS Master Audio and ARC/optical are not capable of carrying those formats anyway.

On a Blu-ray disc there is supposed to be a version of the sound track in either DD, DTS or 2 channel PCM which is mandatory and it will be at the highest bit rate which is grater than DVD quality and a BIG step up over broadcast and streaming. The Dolby True HD and DTS Master Audio are optional for a Blu-ray disc. If the player does not convert those formats then you may only get the PCM version from optical, if that is the only version on the disc. Did you try other discs? I ask because haven't run into this very often. In connecting these to older receivers most discs have DD or DTS and the quality is very good. I have a Sony 3700 player here I can test later or tomorrow. Ihaven't had to use the coax connection on one in a while.
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post #22 of 36 Old 07-01-2017, 11:20 AM
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well...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellebob View Post
On a Blu-ray disc there is supposed to be a version of the sound track in either DD, DTS or 2 channel PCM which is mandatory and it will be at the highest bit rate which is grater than DVD quality and a BIG step up over broadcast and streaming. The Dolby True HD and DTS Master Audio are optional for a Blu-ray disc. If the player does not convert those formats then you may only get the PCM version from optical, if that is the only version on the disc. Did you try other discs? I ask because haven't run into this very often. In connecting these to older receivers most discs have DD or DTS and the quality is very good. I have a Sony 3700 player here I can test later or tomorrow. Ihaven't had to use the coax connection on one in a while.

On "The Bourne Trilogy" for instance, there's a rather vicious compliance: the DD stereo track is the commentary track (I tried, but failed to turn off the commentary.). I couldn't locate a stereo track for "The Lord of the Rings: Extended Edition". It really doesn't matter as you can set the Sony to PCM stereo out. But the "Bourne Trilogy" on Fibe TV in DD 5.1 sounds infinitely better than the Blu-ray through PCM stereo on the MagniFi Mini: it just does such a good job when fed a Dolby 5.1 signal.


It is true that a lot of the classic titles I have in BD have Dolby or DTS 5.1 as an option. So, maybe I was exaggerating a little. But I'm still going to try the Samsung BD player, even if I have to put it on the carpet under the dresser. This facility to convert DTS-MA and Dolby TrueHD to Dolby 5.1 (actually 7.1) and send it out through the optical port is what I'd prefer. If I run into a bunch of the usual Samsung problems I can always buy the Sony again, and live with the limitations.

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post #23 of 36 Old 07-01-2017, 12:10 PM
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I'll have to keep this in the back of my head if installing a Sony Blu-ray player and using its digital output. That doesn't happen too much any more.
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post #24 of 36 Old 07-02-2017, 01:03 PM
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Samsung BD-J6300 works perfectly!

The DTS-MA track on "The Bourne Trilogy" sounds absolutely awesome when fed to the MagniFi Mini as Dolby 7.1 through the optical port.


P.S. Of course the Samsung famously exhibits inconsistent behaviour when pausing BDs for more than five minutes. But the worst interoperability problems come from using the MagniFi Mini with ARC. For instance, the audio switches back to HDMI after a pause and when you switch back to the optical port there is silence for 5 or 6 seconds. I'm seriously considering one of those 3x1 toslink switches to avoid using ARC altogether - using the optical port for both Bell and the BD player.


P.P.S. Went ahead and hard-wired the MagniFi Mini to the internet today. I'll be looking for any improved behaviour that might indicate a firmware update.

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post #25 of 36 Old 07-29-2017, 08:32 AM
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I'm considering using this as a portable indoor/outdoor speaker.

It would be on a side table (with the sub under the table or hidden in the corner of the room) in the guest bedroom for when we have guests over, and I would bring it outside for when we sit around the fire or have dinner/drinks outside in the summer.

Does anyone use it like this (without a TV)?

It would be used mostly for Spotify and Tidal through Google Cast. I already have Chromecast Audio dongles throughout the house in all of my systems, so it would be kind of cool to add a portable speaker to the fleet.

I know it's not that portable having to lug the subwoofer in and out, but I don't think it would be that big of a pain. The other thing I'm considering is going with permanent outdoor speakers like the Def Tech AW 6500's and powering them with the Zone 2 outputs on my Denon AVR-X3200 in the living room. Those would be about $125 more expensive than the MagniFi Mini.

Those are definitely more a weather friendly option to just keep permanently installed outside, but I kind of like the versatility of a speaker I can bring in and out as I please.

Any thoughts?

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post #26 of 36 Old 11-28-2017, 11:01 PM
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Quote:
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Thanks for the review Mark!

Hey Mark (or someone else with experience)...How does it sound up close (2.5 feet)?
Cheers,
I just brought one of these home on a BF deal from Best Buy and I'm really enjoying the near-field listening experience. At 2 feet there's still spaciousness to the sound, at 18 inches there's no width to the sound field beyond the speaker.

For folks looking for something extra compact for use with a computer this does a great job.

Cheers,
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post #27 of 36 Old 12-27-2017, 10:00 PM
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After listening to this for about a month I'm still very much enjoying my Polk MagniFi Mini, although I have noticed a somewhat "processed" sound on high frequency instruments (cymbals, bells). This seems to really show itself on small ensemble instrumental jazz, and some on small rock and Fusion groups (ie. Rush---- Gambale, Hamm, Smith), I only occasionally find it annoying since this is a casual listening setup.

I have the sub behind my monitor (just visible in the right of the picture in my last post) and think it's getting some considerable wall proximity boost. The bass adjustment seems to tame this quit well with 2 bumps down while using the "music" preset.

I have a Riva Turbo X on order for the bedroom/garage/job site, I don't expect it to have the bass that this Polk has, but it will be interesting to hear how the mids and highs compare. I'm looking at getting a long range Bluetooth Transmitter to tie this all together.

I'm driving the Polk analogue from my computer, JRiver MC 23, ASIO direct to Steinberg UR28M.

Cheers,

OPPO UDP-205, LG OLED65C8, OPPO BDP-93, Pioneer Kuro Pro-150FD, Dynaudio 2x BM-12a Mk III Mains, 2x BM 6a Mk II surround, 2x BM 14s Subs, Allan and Heath MixWizard, room is 11'7"x 16'6"x 8" dedicated and treated. Tripp-Lite UPSs/power conditioners (because my power isn't as clean as it used to be)
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post #28 of 36 Old 01-27-2018, 08:13 PM
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Volume

I just purchased the mini and hooked it up and I am not sure if I did something wrong or what. I chose the ARC setup and my issue is why do I have to turn it up to 80 to get decent sound? I am going to change to a toslink setup tomorrow and see if that makes a difference.
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post #29 of 36 Old 02-12-2018, 07:29 PM
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I use this solely as a Chromecast speaker for music. its therefore obviously connected to WiFi and i can adjust the volume with the Google home app, but my Harmony doesn't recognize it as a WiFi device and it's nowhere near my hub. is there any way to get my Harmony to control the volume?
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post #30 of 36 Old 08-29-2018, 06:49 PM
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I really wish polk (and this review) were more clear that the unit has built-in Chromecast AUDIO, not Chromecast.

I thought the whole point of the HDMI was to output Chromecast video (with arc return for audio).
No.

This is "Chromecast Audio" built in, not Chromecast.
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