Polk Audio has decided to skip immersive Dolby Atmos and DTS:X sound formats for its latest soundbar, opting instead for a new 3D audio scheme that can deliver “engulfing” surround sound from a 2.1-channel configuration, the audio manufacturer says.
Slated to ship next month for $499, the MagniFi 2 soundbar features a six-driver array, including two oval-shaped mid-bass drivers and a tweeter for each left and right channel, along with a wireless subwoofer for low-frequency effects.
While a 2.1-channel configuration might sound a little chintzy for a $500 soundbar, Polk Audio says that its proprietary SDA (Stereo Dimensional Array) audio processing combined with its new 3D Audio mode allows the MagniFi 2 soundbar to deliver the equivalent of 4.1-channel sound—that is, front left, front right, surround left, surround right, and low-frequency channels, along with a “phantom” center channel, “convincing” height effects, and minimal crosstalk (audio intended for one channel that’s leaking into another).
Of course, both Dolby and DTS have their own audio processing techniques for teasing surround and height effects from soundbars with 3.1 and 2.1 configurations, including Dolby Surround with Dolby’s height virtualization technology as well as DTS’s impressive Virtual:X sound mode.
But Polk Audio contends that its own SDA and 3D Audio technology makes the MagniFi 2 the “most immersive and impressive-sounding sound bar we’ve heard at this price.” Hearing is believing, of course, and we’ll let you know what we think once we’ve listened for ourselves.
As far as inputs go, the MagniFi 2 features three HDMI 2.0 inputs (good for 4K HDR passthrough), an HDMI-ARC port (no eARC support, unfortunately, which means you’ll need to rely on the three HDMI inputs for lossless Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio sound), and an optical (Toslink) port.
The soundbar also comes with EQ presets for Movies, Music, and Sports, along with a night mode for late-night listening and manual settings for voice audio and bass. The Wi-Fi-enabled MagniFi 2 also supports Chromecast audio streaming as well as Bluetooth.
We’ll have a full review of the Polk Audio MagniFi 2 once we spend quality time with a review unit.
Ben has been writing about technology and consumer electronics for more than 20 years. A PCWorld contributor since 2014, Ben joined TechHive in 2019, where he covers smart speakers, soundbars, and other smart and home-theater devices. You can follow Ben on Twitter.