There are a few benefits to being small. You’re more adept at playing hide and seek, are naturally better at potholing, and usually have a slight edge at limbo.
However, none of these really apply to soundbars – a product that usually has to hit the sweet-spot between impressive audio and a compact body.
But Polk is attempting to get around this with the MagniFi Mini, which the company says will provide “huge sound from a mini soundbar”.
To start with the obvious, it’s small. At just 35cm long and 7cm tall, it’s little bigger than your average lunchtime baguette. Behind its grille are two 10mm tweeters, and four 6cm drivers for the midrange.
Accompanying the diminutive piece of kit is a notably larger subwoofer – about as high as a coffee-table – to deal with frequencies from 40Hz to 110Hz using its 16cm driver.
We plug in the optical cable and put on Interstellar, skipping to the point where Dr Joseph Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) detaches himself from the spacecraft and falls into the black hole.
The soundbar’s side-firing drivers provide a spacious sound, stretching the soundtrack out to fill our medium-sized testing room.
It’s pretty competent around the treble too – when listening to Isn’t She Lovely on Stevie Wonder’s Live At Last Blu-ray, the high-pitched harmonica comes across clearly without sounding too bright or brittle.
And there’s no doubting the agility of the MagniFi Mini. Changing to some White Denim over Bluetooth, the soundbar can keep up with the speed and bounce of the guitars in tracks like At Night In Dreams and Distant Relative Salute.
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There’s also a decent amount of bass, courtesy of the subwoofer. The horns (known as Zimmer Horns by movie buffs because of how frequently they appear in Hans Zimmer’s scores) are prominent enough, but need to be tighter.
And there are also other improvements needed: there’s not quite enough sophistication in the midrange, and it can end up sounding congested.
The arrogant verbal shrug in the climax of Kanye West’s Power is lacking and a little lost, showing the MagniFi Mini could do with more insight across the board.
Though the MagniFi Mini’s sound quality won’t set any new standards, Polk has managed to pack in an impressive number of connections.
On the wireless side, it has both Bluetooth, wi-fi and the surprising bonus of built-in Google Chromecast - so you’re able to stream audio from your smartphone or tablet via Spotify, Tidal or other compatible apps.
Round the back there's an ethernet port, HDMI and USB inputs, an optical input and a 3.5mm connection.
A string of LEDs light up on the Mini’s face to let you know which source is playing. They're also used to signify volume, bass, and centre channel levels – the last two being managed by the ‘Bass’ and ‘Voice’ buttons on the remote.
The MagniFi Mini gives you scope to adjust your audio for any occasion, with a variety of DSP settings including Music, Movie, Sports and Night Mode.
Music is the default, while the Movie and Sports modes alter the amount of bass and midrange power coming from the soundbar. Night mode reduces the overall dynamic range, and increases the midrange to make things clearer at lower volumes.
Settings can either be adjusted on the soundbar or the remote, which is pretty nice to use. Its main symbols are raised slightly so you get a better idea of what you’re pressing in a dark room, and there are explicitly marked buttons for different sources rather than an all-in-one source button.
The only addition we would like to see is a dedicated button for Bluetooth connectivity and pairing, which unfortunately can be done only on the soundbar.
The Polk MagniFi Mini sits in a difficult position, able to beat neither alternative, larger soundbars nor smaller wireless speakers at this price.
It’s a competent product with much to admire in terms of features and design. But it doesn’t quite have the audio quality to get a wholehearted recommendation from us.
See all our Polk Audio reviews