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Polk packs Dolby Atmos and more in this 15-inch soundbar

Polk packs Dolby Atmos and more in this 15-inch soundbar

How small can a soundbar be while offering Dolby Atmos? According to Polk, the answer is 14.5 inches. That's the width of the company's new $499 MagniFi Mini AX, which supports both Atmos and DTS:X. In addition to a very compact soundbar, the Polk also includes a wireless subwoofer for that price.

The Sonos Beam—which I consider myself a small-ish soundbar—is 25.63 inches wide. The MagniFi Mini AX manages to hack over 10 inches of that, and clearly its dimensions and top-panel controls make it look more like a Bluetooth speaker than home theater gear. There's an OLED ticker on the front to transmit important information like sound adjustments.

But Polk has incorporated a ton of functionality into this little thing. In addition to its eARC HDMI and optical inputs, the Magnify Mini AX supports audio streaming via Bluetooth, AirPlay 2, Chromecast, and Spotify Connect. There's an aux input, and the system is ready for Roku TVs as well. This means you can adjust sound settings directly from the Roku TV's native menu. Polk really covered all the bases here.

But by now you must be wondering how powerful a 14.5-inch soundbar can be. The Magnify Mini AX includes five speaker drivers -- but none of them are up-firing. So just like Sonos does with the second-generation Beam, Polk is virtualizing those Dolby Atmos Height surround sound effects. You can optionally add in the company's SR2 rear surround speakers for an additional $170.

Polk claims the Magnify Mini AX can "produce quality you'd expect to pay two or three times as much for." The company's VoiceAdjust feature optimizes voice clarity through the center channel and keeps all dialogues easy to understand. There's also a 3D Audio mode that "turns stereo audio into 360-degree surround sound." That last trick isn't particularly novel and usually produces mixed results, but it's another trick in this soundbar's big bag. If you're looking for something late at night, Polk lets you dial back the bass or enable Night Mode to reduce thunder.

Do I expect an ultra-compact soundbar's audio to blow me away? Not completely. This whole Dolby Atmos thing is getting more and more slim as laptop makers and other tech companies throw Atmos badges at products that often look perfectly fine but rarely provide any extra immersion. Still, I'm certainly curious about the Magnify Mini AX's performance, and Polk certainly packed it with features (and threw a subwoofer into the mix) for a reasonable $499.

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