Polk’s $600 MagniFi Max SR surround soundbar shames much pricier systems

Hold on to your hat, folks, because the Polk MagniFi Max SR surround soundbar system might just blow it clean off your head. Announced in May 2017, Polk’s latest addition to the MagniFi soundbar line is making its first sounds at CEDIA 2017. We sat down for a brief audition, and what we heard has us thinking this may be the soundbar to beat this year.

Those who caught our Polk MagniFi Mini soundbar review will recall we were impressed with that little tyke’s potent output and even more taken aback by the price: $300 (currently available for $250 online). The new Polk MagniFi Max SR takes that energizing sound quality to the next level, adding a larger wireless subwoofer and optional wireless surround speakers, while maintaing a svelte, sexy form factor. The Polk Maginifi Max SR soundbar and subwoofer combo is available for pre-order for $500 while the package with wireless surround speakers included goes for just $600.

For connectivity, The MagniFi Max offers three 4K HDR HDMI inputs with HDCP 2.2 support along with a single HDMI ARC output, a digital optical input (for which a cable is provided in the box), Ethernet input, and analog aux input. Bluetooth is supported, as is Google Home and Google Cast.

With the latter two features it is possible to use voice commands via a Google Home speaker or Google Home compatible TV for commands like playing Spotify, turning volume up or down, and power on and off. For those without a Google Home device, casting content to the soundbar is as simple as pulling it up on a smartphone, tablet, or PC, and pressing the Cast icon from supported apps and Chrome browsers.

The soundbar has discreet oval-shaped speakers (seven in total) for left, right, and center channel output. The included wireless subwoofer features an 8-inch driver powered by an 80-watt amplifier. The wireless surround speakers included with the $600 package need only be plugged into a wall and will connect to the MagniFi Max SR soundbar automatically.

For those who tend to have trouble understanding dialog, Polk’s effective “Voice Adjust” technology aids with clarity. Other sound modes, such as Night Mode for late-night listening, along with Music and Movie modes, are also available.

We were impressed with the dynamic, powerful sound the Polk Magnifi Max SR soundbar system managed to produce during our audition. Even on an extremely noisy show floor the system managed to create a wide, expansive soundstage with well-placed surround effects, and near-contiguous transition between the soundbar and surround speakers. The subwoofer was punchy, and filled in the low end extremely well, thanks to a seamless transition between the small speakers in the soundbar and satellites and the large speaker in the subwoofer. Several times over, we found ourselves thinking the MagniFi Max hardly sounded like a compromise to a much larger surround system and among the best soundbars you can find. For those who want huge sound but are constrained on space, this is a solution well worth considering — especially at such a reasonable price.

Even more new stuff

Aside from letting the MagniFi Max SR sound off for the first time, Polk is also taking advantage of the CEDIA 2017 expo to show off a brand-new addition to its entry-level Signa soundbar line, the Signa Solo.

As the name implies, the Signa Solo works independently, with no help from a separate subwoofer or surround speakers. Instead, the $130 soundbar solution uses four 2.5-inch drivers with specialized bass ports to enhance bass and produce a full sound from a simple, slim solution. Polk’s patented SDA surround tech provides surround effects without the surround speakers, while the previously mention Voice Adjust tech joins modes for music, movies and night listening to further enhance the experience.

We haven’t had a chance to hear the Signa Solo in action, but if Polk’s prior efforts are any clue, we expect this soundbar to punch well above its weight and price point.

A whole new subwoofer

Finally, to complement its Signature Series speaker lineup, Polk introduced us to its new HTS subwoofers, headlined by a 12-inch model which was doing a standup job of shaking up the San Diego Convention Center’s walls (and the neighboring booths, much to their chagrin, we’re sure). Available in 10-inch and 12-inch models powered by 200-watt and 400-watt Class D amplifiers respectively, these new bass boxes bust out bombastic lows thanks to the same power port technology found in the Signature Series speakers. A cut-away image in the video tells the tale of how that works, but the long and short of the design is that it allows for a very long port within the sub’s enclosure, which makes deep bass tuning easier and reduces chuffing to a non-existent level.

Polk’s re-invigorated dedication to high-quality sound is underscored by its parent company’s (Sound United) recent acquisition of the Marantz and Denon brands. Now that Polk, Definitive Technology, Boston Acoustics, Marantz, and Denon are under the same umbrella and sharing engineering resources, we’re sure to see even more advanced gear coming from the company, likely to be showcased at CES 2018 this coming January.

Considering your first soundbar? Don’t miss our buying guides, including how to buy a soundbar and our complete soundbar and speaker buying guide.

Product Review

Sleek and expensive, the Apple TV 4K will still delight the Apple faithful

Is Apple’s latest streaming set-top box a revolution, or too little too late? Find out in our Apple TV 4K review, and learn how this device wins in some big categories, but falters in others.

Great PC speakers don't need to break the bank. These are our favorites

Not sure which PC speakers work best with your computer? Here are the best computer speakers on the market, whether you're working with a tight budget or looking to rattle your workstation with top-of-the-line audio components.
Home Theater

Here's a handy guide to mirroring your favorite devices to your TV screen

A vast arsenal of devices exists to allow sending anything on your mobile device (or PC) to your TV. Our in-depth guide shows you how to mirror content from your smartphone or tablet to the big screen.
Product Review

Want to see how powerful the Snapdragon 855 chip is? Just rev up the Xiaomi Mi 9

How fast do you want to go? If the answer to this is “as fast as possible,” then take a long look at the Xiaomi Mi 9. It’s one of the highest performance smartphones you can buy. It’s a real monster, and we’ve been using it.
Product Review

Samsung’s Galaxy Buds are a brilliant combination of value and comfort

With six hours of battery life, an extremely comfortable fit, sweatproofing, and a very palatable price tag, Samsung’s Galaxy Buds are putting all other true wireless earbuds on notice.
Movies & TV

LeBron James’ Space Jam 2 gets an official release date

LeBron James has brought on Black Panther director Ryan Coogler to produce his upcoming Space Jam sequel, with Terence Nance attached to direct the film. Space Jam 2 is expected to hit theaters in July 2021.
Home Theater

Apple is arming up to redefine TV just like it did the phone

Curious about what Apple's answer to Netflix will be? Us too. So we combed through some patents, and looked at the landscape, to come up with a bold prediction: Apple's streaming service will be way bigger than anyone thinks.
Home Theater

Apple may be making noise-canceling headphones safer to use on the streets

Over-the-ear headphones are massively popular, but they block a lot of outside sounds, which increases the risk of accidents. A new Apple invention hints at a way to have great sound, and great safety, and it might be coming soon.
Movies & TV

Battle of the movie ticket sites: How to make sense of the fledgling industry

MoviePass may be the industry leader in subscription-based movie ticket sales, but the company's troubles have opened the door for competitors AMC Stubs A-List, Sinemia, and Cinemark Movie Club. Here's how the services compare.
Home Theater

Bask in the glory of your home theater with these 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray movies

What good is a 4K TV if you don't have the means of pushing it to its limits? Here are our favorite 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays, all of which are nothing short of stunning. It'll make you wonder why you haven't always watched movies this way.
Home Theater

Get the most boom for your buck with the best headphones under $100

Everybody wants a bargain, and this list has a bunch. For those looking for a solid set of headphones without spending a big stack of cash, this list is is your starting point. Check out our picks for the best headphones under $100.
Home Theater

Wireless headphones are finally awesome, and these are our favorites

With sleek form factors, prime audio quality, and the freedom of untethered listening, there has never been a better time to pick up a pair of wireless headphones. These are the best ones currently available.
Home Theater

The best noise-canceling headphones paint your music on a cleaner canvas

Drowning out the sound of babies, jet engines, and the outside world isn't as difficult as it seems. Here are the best noise-canceling headphones, whether you're concerned with style, comfort, or sound.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (February 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.