Android Central Verdict
Bottom line: Home theater systems can be really expensive, but they don't have to be. Polk's Magnifi MAX SR is a really well-rounded package that offers a soundbar, subwoofer, and two surround-sound speakers at a great price. It offers a solid blend of features, sound quality, and convenience.
Easy to set up
Speakers are connected wirelessly
5.1 surround sound
Lots of customization
The soundbar is long
Listening modes can only be changed with the remote
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I finally bought my first 4K TV in 2017, and for well over a year, used it on its own with the built-in speakers. I thought it was fine because that's how I've always used TVs growing up, but last year, I decided to go all out and buy a soundbar to go along with it.
Ever since then, my life hasn't been the same. Going 20 some years listening to TV speakers and upgrading to proper audio equipment really changes your outlook on that kind of stuff, and as such, I was eager to try out Polk's MagniFi MAX SR home theater system to see how it compares to what I'm currently using.
The MagniFi MAX SR is a seriously great value considering everything you're getting, and while it may not be a perfect setup, it's one I'll definitely feel comfortable recommending to family and friends.
Polk MagniFi MAX SR What I like
Compared to other systems out there, what's so appealing about the MagniFi MAX SR is how much you get for what you spend. For $600, the MAX SR system includes a soundbar, 8" subwoofer, and two side speakers to create a full 5.1 surround sound setup. Six hundred dollars is a good chunk of money, but for home audio gear, that's a great value.
Taking everything out of the box and setting it up with my TV was a cinch. The soundbar is the only part of this whole package that needs to be plugged into your TV, and if you have one with an ARC-supported HDMI port, it's just that one cable going from the soundbar to your television. The soundbar, subwoofer, and speakers all obviously need their own power cable, but since everything is synced wirelessly, you don't have to worry about cables running all throughout your living room. That's a huge benefit and something you don't always find in today's speaker systems.
I have the soundbar on my TV stand with the surround speakers on tables next to my couch, but if you'd prefer, these can all be wall-mounted, too.
Once you do get everything up and running, the end result is pretty good considering the price. Volume levels can get really loud, the subwoofer offers a noticeable thump during action-packed movies, and the two side speakers tie the whole thing together to make you fully immersed in whatever you're watching. The Sonos Beam (opens in new tab) I normally use has more depth and bass compared to the soundbar included with the MAX SR, but we're talking about a $400 standalone soundbar compared to a $600 surround sound system.
You'll be able to find better-sounding systems out there if you're willing to spend $100, $200, or however much more, but for the price, this does a good job. It's a noticeable improvement over whatever speakers are built into your TV and delivers a solid 5.1 experience most people will probably be quite happy with.
On the note of sound quality, something I really like about the MAX SR is how much control you have over it. Using the included remote, you can adjust the bass and voice of the whole experience, in addition to the volume and balance of the two surround speakers. There are also three preset modes for Movies, Sports, and a Night Mode that adjust the bass and voice levels to give you the best experience based on what you're watching.
Those more granular controls can only be adjusted using the Polk remote, but if you have a Samsung, LG, Vizio, Sony, or any other TV with CEC technology, the volume buttons on your regular TV remote can control the volume of your entire system. I have a TCL Roku TV (opens in new tab), and this started working instantly without any manual setup required.
In regards to smart features, the MagniFi MAX SR also supports voice commands via the Google Assistant and works as a Chromecast target. Similar to other Assistant-enabled devices, this is all managed through the Google Home app on your phone.
Polk MagniFi MAX SR What's not the best
Now, let's get into some of the stuff I'm not a huge fan of with this theater system.
For one thing, the soundbar is really long. I'm coming from a Sonos Beam (opens in new tab) which is one of the smaller soundbars out there, so that's where my expectations were. In the grand scheme of things this probably isn't a big deal for most people, but going from the 26-inch Beam to the MAX SR soundbar's 43-inch length, it was quite a shock at first.
Another complaint I have has to do with the remote. It's designed fairly well, though some of the concaved buttons are a little difficult to press. My main gripe, however, lies with the fact that we need a physical remote in the first place. I'd much rather prefer these controls to be included in an app on my phone instead of needing to keep track of yet another remote in the living room.
Polk MagniFi MAX SR Should you buy it?
With the MagniFi MAX SR, I think Polk has a great mid-range system on its hands for people that want a good, reliable audio upgrade for their TV without spending over $1000.
The MAX SR is easy to set up, offers great customization features, and gives you a real 5.1 surround sound experience with good overall quality.
4 out of 5
I do wish the soundbar was shorter and that the remote was designed a bit better, but for the price, there's a lot to like here.
Upgrade your TV's audio for well under $1000.
Home theater systems can be really expensive, but they don't have to be. Polk's Magnifi MAX SR is a really well-rounded package that offers a soundbar, subwoofer, and two surround-sound speakers at a great price. It offers a solid blend of features, sound quality, and convenience.