Samsung HW-E551 review

The HW-E551 provides decent sound is ideal for small rooms

2 Oct 2012
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

If you want to enjoy films at home, you should invest in a set of speakers because the speakers built into your TV or projector simply won’t be up to the task. You’ll have no problem picking a pair if you have room for all the satellites, but if you lack space then Samsung’s HW-E551 sound bar could be just what you need. It can switch from a single sound bar to two satellite speakers, which means it has the versatility to suit your living room.

Samsung	HW-E551

Samsung has adopted a minimalist approach with the HW-E551, using a mixture of brushed metal and glossy black plastic to give the system a stylish and ultra-modern appearance. The HW-E551 is cylindrical, so you’ll need to position it on the included stand or wall mount if you’ll be using it in sound bar mode or on the provided floor stands if you’ve split it in to two speakers. In sound bar mode, you only need to worry about hiding the power cable from view, but in free-standing mode you’ll also need to use speaker wire to connect one satellite to the other.

Samsung	HW-E551

The rear-firing subwoofer continues the same design approach and is compact enough to place in a room easily. It’s wireless, so you don’t need to connect it to the speakers, but bear in mind that it also contains the video inputs so you must place it relatively close to your AV rack. As well as a single HDMI output, it has two 3D-compatible HDMI inputs, digital optical and analogue 3.5mm audio inputs and a single USB port for local music playback. The HDMI ports are Audio Return Channel (ARC) compatible, so you can use the speakers even when you’re watching TV using its integrated tuner. The system is also Bluetooth compliant, so you can stream audio straight from a smartphone or tablet.

The bundled remote control is roughly half the size of the average TV remote but still has room for all the usual buttons, including power, volume, input selection and limited TV controls. With no onscreen interface, the only visual feedback comes from the single line LCD display hidden behind the speaker grilles.

Samsung	HW-E551

The lack of an interface isn’t much of a hindrance because there aren’t many settings to change. Apart from volume, you can also control subwoofer levels, equalizer modes and audio sync, as well as enable or disable the 3D sound mode.

Few of these modes made much difference to sound quality, so we tested using the default values. For the most part it worked well, easily filling a medium-sized room with audio. Even with the 3D sound mode enabled, there’s no believable sense of surround sound, but it’s a major improvement over the basic audio you’d get from your TV.

Samsung	HW-E551

Our main criticism is with the subwoofer frequency response; it simply doesn’t go low enough. It provides reasonable levels of bass at the lower-mid range, but real thumping rumble was missing from the most explosive of our test scenes. The high-end was also a little too sharp, which makes it less than ideal for complicated audio.

We loved the HW-E551 for its design, even though its audio quality didn’t blow us away. It isn’t designed to compete with dedicated surround-sound systems, so there’s understandably a few weak points. Even so, the HW-E551’s still a massive improvement over the integrated speakers of your TV. It’s a fantastic system for anyone who lacks the room for a full speaker system but wants to have decent and stylish sound.


Price £280
Rating ****


HDMI inputs 2
HDMI outputs 1
Component inputs 0
Component outputs 0
Output resolutions 480i, 480p, PAL (576i), 576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p
Total SCART sockets 0
SCART socket type N/A
S-Video input 0
S-video output 0
Composite inputs 0
Composite outputs 0
Stereo phono inputs 0
Stereo phono outputs 0
Coaxial S/PDIF inputs 0
Coaxial S/PDIF outputs 0
Optical S/PDIF inputs 1
Optical S/PDIF outputs 0
Multi-channel input no
Speaker configuration 2.1
Main unit end speaker connection type N/A
Speaker end speaker connection type spring terminals
Other connections USB2
Wired network ports none
Wireless networking support N/A


Surround sound formats Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS
Optical drive no
Region free N/A
Supported playback disc formats N/A
Audio format support MP3, WMA
Video playback formats N/A
Image viewing formats N/A
Radio none


Speaker configuration 2.1
RMS power output 310W
RMS power centre N/A
RMS power front 160W
RMS power surround N/A
RMS power subwoofer 150W
Wall mountable yes
Centre speaker cable length N/A
Front speaker cable length 3.0m
Surround speaker cable length N/A


Extras remote control, AV cable
Size N/A
Subwoofer dimensions 290 x 290 x 370mmmm
Centre speaker dimensions N/A
Front speaker dimensions 1038 x 55 x 55mmmm
Surround speaker dimensions N/A
Power consumption standby 0W
Power consumption on 46W

Buying Information

Price £280
Warranty one year RTB