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.

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