Sonos challenged by new Dolby Atmos soundbar that promises BIG sound from a small speaker

Soundbars are a brilliant way to boost the tinny audio from your flatscreen telly without going to the lengths of filling every nook and cranny in the room with speakers for a complete surround sound setup. However, even some sounders are a little unwieldy. Sonos Arc features some truly dizzying audio from a single speaker – offering a surround sound experience from a single unit – but at 45-inches wide (114.3cm) it’s big enough to ride Big Thunder Mountain unaccompanied by an adult at Disneyland Paris. In other words, you’ll need to measure the size of your media unit before you add it to your shopping basket.

That’s where the latest soundbar from Polk Audio comes in. This compact speaker hopes to bring the bombastic sound you’d want from a Dolby Atoms-compatible soundbar to a much smaller package …just 14-inches (37cm). That’s not tall enough for any ride.

The MagniFi Mini AX is designed to bring Dolby Atmos sound for your next blockbuster night at home and offer a great way to wirelessly beam music from your smartphone to tablet. Polk Audio has included its 3D Audio Mode, which uses software to upmix the audio to create a 360-degree virtual surround sound. This includes virtual height channels, which should create the impression of speakers fixed into the ceiling.

Polk’s patented VoiceAdjust system is also baked into the MagniFi Mini AX. This leverages the centre channel driver to single-out the dialogue, so you can independently increase the level of speech without impacting anything else. For those who want to watch a blockbuster late at night but don’t want to disturb the neighbours or younger members of the family, this is a brilliant way to ensure dialogue remains crystal-clear but that gunfire, explosions, car engines, theme songs and other sounds don’t rumble the walls.

Unlike rival soundbars from Bose and Sonos, the MagniFi Mini AX isn’t an all-in-one Dolby Atmos system. Instead, Polk Audio bundles a powerful down-firing subwoofer as part of the MagniFi system. This wireless speaker connects to the soundbar automatically and can be placed anywhere up to 6.7 metres away – perfect for hiding away the subwoofer and keeping the décor of your living room intact.

Polk Audio says that its next-generation subwoofer provides “a deep, effortless bass that Polk is known for and can be tailored for your preferences using the BassAdjust feature, which optimises the blending of low frequencies between the soundbar and subwoofer”.

Like similar solutions from Bose and Sonos, the Polk Audio MagniFi Mini AX can connect using HDMI ARC and eARC. There’s also support for optical. The MagniFi Mini AX is Roku TV-ready, which means that viewers who rely on Roku streaming set-top boxes or Roku TVs will be able to adjust preferences for the soundbar from within the main settings menu.

There’s also a 3.5mm port in the back of the MagniFi Mini AX if you want to connect another audio source. Not that you’ll need it, out of the box, this speaker supports both Apple AirPlay 2, Google Chromecast and Spotify Connect. The latter allows users with the Spotify app to wireless beam playlists, albums and podcasts to the speaker with a tap. AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast both offer lossless, wireless ways to send audio from smartphones, tablets and computers (AirPlay 2 only works with Mac) to the speaker without the hassle of pairing over Bluetooth, the inferior audio quality, and the ping of your notifications interrupting your favourite track.

Polk Audio’s MagniFi Mini AX launches later this month in the UK with a price tag of £429. The company also offers optional Polk SR2 wireless speakers, available for £159 each, to add designated rear channels to boost audio from DTS:X to DTS:X 5.1 playback.

“With MagniFi Mini AX we set out to create the world’s best sounding, ultra-compact Dolby Atmos soundbar,” said Frank Sterns, President of Polk Audio. “By integrating the immersive surround capabilities of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X and then optimising it with Polk’s patented SDA technology, we’ve created a product that’s not only as enveloping as a soundbar three times its size, but with a level of soundstage accuracy that’s unmatched in its class.”



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