Polk Audio offers various choices in its Soundbar series, from entry-level to high-end options. We are testing the MagniFi MAX AX SR today, Polk’s latest flagship model. It features patented SDA technology, upward-firing drivers, wireless rear speakers, and a 10-inch subwoofer, providing a 7.1.2 channel Dolby Atmos audio output. The specifications and features are comprehensive.
About Polk Audio
Established in 1972 in the United States, Polk Audio specializes in home and car audio markets. Since its inception, Polk Audio has been dedicated to providing users with products that deliver great sound at great value.
With extensive experience and a complete system in material development, speaker unit design and production, and speaker design and production, the company’s products have gained significant recognition in the high-end home audio and car audio industries. Polk Audio has always followed a user-friendly approach, earning user recognition for its advanced technology and exceptional sound quality, aiming to enhance people’s lives through audio.
In terms of appearance, the MAX AX SR follows the clear design heritage of other Polk products. It features a dark-colored body paired with high-quality textured fabric, resulting in a versatile overall look. The MAX AX SR can seamlessly blend into any environment, whether it’s the bold American style, traditional Chinese style, or minimalist Nordic style. One notable addition is the LCD screen, which enhances the technological feel of the device and provides convenience and user-friendliness.
MagniFi MAX AX SR consists of a Soundbar main unit, a wireless subwoofer, and a pair of wireless surround speakers. The “AX” in the model name indicates support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, while “SR” refers to the wireless surround speakers. The Soundbar has a longer design with non-slip rubber pads at the bottom, making it convenient for placement on TV cabinets. A small screen on the front displays various information, such as input sources and volume.
In terms of hardware configuration, the MAX AX SR Soundbar main unit consists of a total of 11 drivers. In addition to the conventional channels responsible for creating a sense of spatiality and producing the main audio, it also includes two overhead channel drivers, providing a more immersive sound experience.
The left and right channels have 1 × 3-inch track-type mid-range drivers and 0.75-inch soft dome tweeters, while the center channel features a 1 × 2.5-inch mid-range driver and a 0.75-inch soft dome tweeter.
The main unit’s upward-firing drivers are 2.5-inch full-range drivers, and the new generation SR2 surround speakers are equipped with 3-inch full-range drivers. The wireless subwoofer features a downward-firing 10-inch driver, and in combination with Polk’s patented SDA technology, it delivers an immersive 7.1.2 channel output, making it a powerful configuration.
MagniFi MAX AX SR offers a 3-in-1 HDMI with eARC support, allowing for audio feedback and direct output of surround sound effects like Dolby Atmos when playing Netflix, Disney+, and other videos on the TV. It also supports a 4K video pass-through. The Soundbar provides various sound modes such as Movies, TV, Music, and Night. Through the remote control, users can adjust the output of treble, surround, and overhead channels. It also features the BassAdjust function for independent low-frequency adjustment.
Additionally, there is an Audio Delay feature for audio synchronization and Voice Adjust for voice enhancement. The sound tuning is highly flexible and can be adjusted to appropriate settings for different videos, placements, and environments. The Soundbar has built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, supporting music streaming features like AirPlay 2, Chromecast, and Spotify Connect, making it convenient for music playback.
In addition to the hardware itself, Polk has incorporated the noteworthy SDA (Stereo Dimensional Array) wide soundstage technology. Combined with the overhead and surround drivers that already provide a broader sound field physically, the overall audio experience is comparable to that of a cinema.
Wireless connectivity is a must-have for flagship speakers in this era. However, using Bluetooth can result in a significant loss in audio quality. The MAX AX SR has opted for a Wi-Fi solution supporting DLNA and AirPlay 2 platforms to address this. iPhone and iPad users can enjoy a superior audio experience with just a few taps on their devices.
Apart from wireless connectivity, the MAX AX SR’s LCD screen allows direct connection to Spotify. This is particularly convenient for Spotify Premium members who enjoy listening to popular music from Europe and America.
For a soundbar, the most common scenario is undoubtedly watching movies. The MAX AX SR directly supports Dolby Atmos and DTS for movie encoding. This means that users who frequently watch Blu-ray movies can directly enable source code output on their disc players or media players, allowing the Soundbar to handle the decoding and thus deliver an enhanced audio-visual experience. Additionally, the 10-inch subwoofer, with its larger driver area than the typical 8-inch subwoofers, provides a truly impressive impact, particularly in explosive and booming sound effects.
The two surround speakers solve the problem of virtual surround sound not originating from behind, further enhancing the spatial and immersive experience of the overall movie audio. The package includes two SR2.0 surround speakers, which have undergone comprehensive upgrades from the previous generation. They deliver a truly 360-degree immersive experience, creating a cinematic experience that makes you feel like you’re part of the action. If you want to upgrade your home theater experience, the SR2.0 surround speakers are a must-have.
Moreover, many soundbars of the same type often need help with dialogue clarity when background sounds become too loud, making it difficult to hear spoken lines. In addition to the previously mentioned center channel for vocals, the MAX AX SR is equipped with Polk’s proprietary Voice Adjust feature, which enhances dialogue clarity even during intense action sequences, ensuring that voices remain audible amidst the explosions and rumbling sounds.
In this sound performance test, we used the Samsung QN900A Neo QLED 8K TV to stream Netflix and Disney+ and route the audio effects to the Soundbar. The MagniFi MAX AX SR delivers impressive spatial sound performance. Due to the elongated design of the Soundbar and the implementation of Polk’s SDA technology, the positioning of certain left and right sound effects is more pronounced and accurate.
When playing the “Dolby Atmos demos 4k HDR” the overall coherence of the sound effects is remarkable. Birds can be heard flying around the room, thanks to the advantage of having separate wireless surround speakers. Sound effects originating from the rear can be reproduced, creating a more immersive surround sound experience.
Additionally, in scenes of flying chases in “Avatar: The Way of Water” the overhead sound positioning is appropriate, and the sound of water exhibits a surround effect from all directions.
Of course, the optimal settings for surround and overhead sound effects may vary depending on the specific environment, but the default settings are sufficient for small to medium-sized rooms.
Low-frequency performance has always been a strong suit for Polk, and the 10-inch subwoofer in the MAX AX SR eliminates any concerns about lacking bass impact. The bass is ample and impactful, and the improvement in bass layering is notable. It blends more naturally with the surround channels.
When watching “F9: The Fast Saga” the car chases, and explosion scenes have good positioning of rear sound effects, and the rich bass doesn’t compromise the clarity of dialogue. In terms of music playback, the Music Mode utilizes the overhead channel drivers and the subwoofer to provide a satisfying surround experience. Live performances, such as concerts, have a good sense of immersion, and the sound is natural and spacious without being muffled. Overall, the Soundbar performs well in music-listening scenarios.
The Polk Audio MagniFi MAX AX SR is a highly versatile soundbar system that excels in various aspects. Its elongated soundbar design, large 10-inch subwoofer, and accompanying wireless surround speakers are natural advantages that deliver a cohesive and immersive surround sound experience. The Soundbar provides good directionality, accurate positioning, and powerful low-frequency response while maintaining clear and natural vocal reproduction.
The additional music streaming features make it a well-rounded choice for movie watching and music listening. As long as you have sufficient space for placement, the MagniFi MAX AX SR can be considered an excellent soundbar option.
- A 7.1.2 CHANNEL SOUND BAR SYSTEM - The 2022 MagniFi Max AX SR includes Polk's flagship MagniFi Max Soundbar with 10" Wireless Sub and SR2 surround sound speakers, which together give you a room-filling sound in every corner, including over your head.Waterproof : No
- A SUPER IMMERSIVE SOUND EXPERIENCE - MagniFi Max AX Soundbar features an 11-driver array with 2 up-firing drivers for virtual height effects, left/right tweeters & woofers & a dedicated center channel, delivering immersive sound & clear dialogues
- CAPTIVATING SURROUND SOUND WITH POLK's PATENTED SDA 3D AUDIO TECHNOLOGY - This home theater system delivers certified Dolby Atmos and DTS:X cinematic surround sound with impactful bass & an expansive 3D soundstage for next-level music & movies experience