Samsung HW-H750 Soundbar Review

The idea of less clutter and no trailing wires is turning more and more people today towards the soundbar. With competition fierce between rival brands today, we turn our attention to Samsung’s new premium model, the HW-H750. The H750 promises to be more than just a soundbar, allowing for complete integration with the Korean manufacturer’s range of wireless speakers to make up a complete surround sound package. Other features include valve technology, Bluetooth streaming, built in WiFi, and the Multiroom Link app. On paper it sounds great, but as always the key question is, does it sound good?

Samsung HW-H750

Design

Clearly the engineers at Samsung were very pleased with last year’s F750 design, because the HW-H750 looks exactly the same. Finished once more in perforated aluminium with mirror panelled edges, the H750 is one sexy-looking soundbar. In the middle we have the valves glowing away, and beneath those are the touch-sensitive buttons which include volume, power, and function controls. The bar itself can be placed on its back or upright, and whichever way you decide to go the LED display beneath the aluminium mesh recognises this and displays accordingly. Another great feature is that the bar is slightly angled up towards the listening position by small feet moulded to the bottom, which should help with dialogue and overall sound projection.

Wireless subwoofer

The subwoofer has been beefed up from its predecessor, and now sports an 8-inch driver as opposed to last year’s 6.5-inch one. Subwoofers in general are not the most attractive of things, and the Samsung HWH750 sub doesn’t buck the trend but it’s not bad-looking either. It’s on the large size with a width of 305mm and a height of 388mm, but as it’s wireless it shouldn’t be an issue to tuck it away somewhere if you don’t really want it on show. Remember though, don’t fall into the trap of just thinking that bass is non-directional and start hiding it behind a sofa or in a corner. Experiment with where you put it, as finding the right or wrong spot for the sub can have dramatic effects on your soundstage. For a great way to find the best place for the sub please refer back to our HW-F751 review.

Connections

The Samsung HW-H750 comes with an aux in, optical in, HDMI in, HDMI out, ARC (audio return channel), Ethernet port, and built in Wi-Fi. On the top of the bar there is also a USB slot which will play AAC, MP3, WAV, WMA, OGG, and FLAC files from your USB stick.

The addition of LAN and built-in wireless connectivity gives the H750 access to Samsung’s other network audio products. For example, with the addition of two M7 speakers you can run a full 5.1 set-up all controlled via the Samsung Multiroom app. However, for the purpose of this review, we will just be focusing on the soundbar and subwoofer set-up.

Set-Up

Setting up the H750 was a lot less fiddly compared with last year’s HW-F751, as there is a lot more room at the rear for all the interconnects. Once connected and fired up, the soundbar and the sub paired instantly with no problems. The subwoofer linking ID is pre-set in the factory, and should connect wirelessly as soon as the unit is switched on, but if it doesn’t connect first time it can easily be reset manually.

Soundbar

Samsung’s Soundshare feature is a joy for Samsung TV owners, as you can toss those wires away and connect via Bluetooth without wires to the soundbar. If you don’t own a Samsung display the best way is to connect via the HDMI port equipped with ARC (audio return channel). Connect your Blu-ray or DVD player to the soundbar, and then use an additional HDMI cable to output into the ARC-capable HDMI on your display. Then connect any additional devices to your TV, and let the TV via the ARC HDMI switch the sources and output the correct audio to the soundbar.

Sound Quality

The Samsung H750 looks like last year’s model, but it certainly doesn’t sound similar. Samsung’s engineers have definitely tweaked the sound from the HW-F750/ F751, and it’s a result that some will love and some will have a problem with. If you’re a fan of really heavy bass-loaded soundtracks, you may have a problem with the bass performance of the HWH750, but it’s as close to reference as we’ve heard so far from a soundbar. With most soundbars we’ve tested, the first thing we do is turn the bass down as it’s almost set far too high – well above what should be reference. The problem is that not all people know what the reference level of bass should be, so are used to listening to soundtracks with too much bass. It’s the same rule of thumb with TV calibration. There are so many people still watching their sets in Dynamic or Vivid settings, and believe that it’s an accurate representation of picture quality, when most HDTVTest readers will hopefully know it isn’t. The same rules apply to proper bass levels and integration.

With the [Standard] setting, the crossover between the subwoofer and soundbar was almost seamless with no boom or bloated bass at all. Instead, the sub did exactly what it’s supposed to do and just help out when needed to reinforce the soundtrack, and not constantly drone away in the background. The engineers at Samsung have certainly tweaked this year’s model to provide a fantastic integration between the subwoofer and soundbar right out of the box. We tried the other presets, and it’s fair to say that [Standard] will definitely give you the most accurate sound. A perfect example was that when we tried the [Cinema] preset, the wonderful integration between the sub and the soundbar completely fell apart with a huge bloated bass that overpowered the entire soundstage. This was evident when we used a great scene to test for too much bass, namely the famous campus sequence in The Incredible Hulk. If you ever wanted to check for excessive bass, skip to the point where Hulk’s hand smashes the glass after they fire the gas canisters. You should have a good strong low bass, but also make out the subtle noise of the glass cracking. The Standard setting was spot on, whereas the [Cinema] setting’s overpowering bass robbed the scene of that subtle detail in the soundtrack.

A number of people will listen to the Samsung H750 on [Standard], and think that it’s too stingy with the bass – that’s fine, just hit the [Cinema] preset or crank the bass up. The HW-H750 soundbar allows you to make treble and bass adjustments from -6 to +6. However, if you want the most accurate sound for movie playback, we urge you to try the [Standard] preset, and let your ears adjust to the more accurate sound. In addition to [Standard] and [Cinema], the H750 has several other sound presets including [Sports], [Voice] and [Music], which can all be accessed via the remote, which has had a welcome upgrade from last year’s offering. There is also the [Surround Mode] option – however, we advise you to turn this feature off as it does little but have a negative effect on the soundstage.

As good as the integration of bass was, we couldn’t help but feel that the HWH750 just wasn’t as dynamic as we’d hoped for. You really have to crank the volume up to get the best out of it, as at lower volumes it can sound a bit too reserved. Some soundbars can be very harsh on the ears when driven hard, which thankfully the H750 isn’t, but we think that in order to overcome this issue some dynamic range has been compromised. It’s clearly evident that further tweaking must have gone on with the overall voicing and not just the crossovers, as it sounded very different indeed to the HW-F750, but unfortunately apart from the bass this is not for the better. The HW-H750’s handling of movie soundtracks didn’t sound bad by any means, it just didn’t have that wow factor which really at this price tag it should.

The same shortcomings that the Samsung HWH750 had with movie playback unfortunately spilt over to music sources too. On the plus side, bass integration once again was on the money, and the H750 served up plenty of detail and separation. However, there was something going on with the newly retuned sound that just didn’t sound right with music playback. The whole soundstage, as detailed as it was, just sounded a bit flat – again by no means bad, just nothing special.

Conclusion

For features and functionality you can’t fault the HW-H750, but at the end of the day it’s the sound that counts, and for us the Samsung was a mixed bag. The improved crossover and bass integration should be applauded, and to date it’s the best soundbar we’ve tested in that department when played back in [Standard] mode, but unfortunately it’s not the last word in dynamics or stereo playback.

We were really impressed with the Samsung HW-F751 we reviewed back in November last year, with just the subwoofer performance letting it down. If we could take the F751′s soundbar performance and add in the H750′s sub performance, that would be a winning combo. As it stands however, when it comes to performance the Samsung HWH750 just doesn’t quite live up to its £600 price tag. If you solely want a soundbar and don’t need the option of connecting more speakers, the better option would be to hunt down the excellent Samsung HW-F850 which you can now find for as low as £549.

Qualified Recommendation