Advertisement

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Advertisement

Samsung HW-MS550 review: A great budget all-in-one soundbar

Christopher Minasians
16 Jul 2019
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
379
inc VAT

The cheapest all-in-one soundbar from Samsung features distortion quality and gets very loud, but also has its flaws

Pros 
Impressive soundstage
Excellent connectivity options
Beautiful design and build quality
Cons 
Wobbly mid-bass
No Bluetooth aptX support
Advertisement

Back in April 2017, Samsung raised the bar with the HW-MS650 soundbar. Its distortion cancelling technology and impressive sound quality made it our favourite single soundbar for under £550. Since then, things have gotten even better for soundbar buyers: it has dropped in price and a cheaper sibling has appeared, the HW-MS550. This is the cheapest soundbar Samsung makes in an all-in-one design and it offers the same technology found in its pricier brother.

READ NEXT: Samsung HW-MS650 review: The innovative soundbar with distortion cancelling technology

Samsung HW-MS550 review: What you need to know

The MS550 is a competent two-channel, six-speaker all-in-one soundbar. Its sound signature is aimed at those who are looking for fun rather than refinement, so there’s plenty of bass and it has a surprisingly wide soundstage, ideal for movie playback and gaming.

It has the same sleek design as its older sibling, the MS650, and connectivity is second to none, with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, analogue 3.5mm, HDMI and optical inputs all on the menu.

Samsung HW-MS550 review: Price and competition

The HW-MS550 can be found for around £379 on Amazon or £400 at Currys. The problem for the MS550 is that, at the time of writing, the incredibly impressive Samsung HW-MS650 was on offer at the same price.

To throw a spanner in the works, you’ll find the Q Acoustics M4 for £330, the Q Acoustics M3 for around £300 and the brilliant Cambridge Audio TV2 for £200 as excellent non-Samsung alternatives.

READ NEXT: Best soundbars of 2017 – our favourite TV speakers

Samsung HW-MS550 review: Design, features and connectivity

If you’re expecting downmarket design at this price, though, you’re going to be disappointed. The MS550 has the same, swish brushed aluminium design as the MS650; here, Samsung hasn’t skimped out on quality. It is slightly smaller than the MS650, measuring only 890mm across, but retains the same 131mm depth and, at 71mm, it’s roughly the same height as well.

If you don’t like the idea of placing the MS550 atop a fireplace or cluttering up your AV rack, you can attach it to your wall-mounted TV with the One Mount Kit that can be purchased for an additional £70.

Usability is excellent. The soundbar comes with the now-familiar pocket-sized Samsung remote, which can be used to adjust the volume, select sound profiles, tweak the bass and treble and even change inputs. If you also own a Samsung TV it’ll integrate with Eden UX, which allows you to adjust the TV’s settings, reducing the number of remotes you need to worry about.

If you happen to lose it, however, Samsung has conveniently integrated four physical buttons on the right-hand side of the soundbar: volume up/down, input and power. A front-facing LED display is located under the speaker grill on the far-right side of the front grille, which displays key information like the volume level, current source or input.

For connectivity, Samsung gives you a decent selection of ports: There’s an auxiliary 3.5mm input, optical digital input, an HDMI input and output port, (which supports ARC), a USB port that works for both charging your smartphone (5V, 0.5A output) or playing media from a USB flash drive. If you happen to have a Samsung TV, there’s also a Figure of 8 power output so you can reduce the number of power cords needed for your set up.

It doesn’t stop there, there’s also Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, which means you can pair it wirelessly with your Samsung TV, your smartphone, or link it to your network through the Samsung Multiroom app. Unfortunately, aptX codec support is missing, which means you won’t benefit from a CD-quality stream over Bluetooth.

On a more positive note, the MS550 supports 2-channel Dolby Digital and DTS codecs and is capable of playing 24bit 96KHz audio without having to downsample. The soundbar plays a wide array of music files, too; AAC, MP3, WAV, OGG, FLAC and ALAC file types are all supported.

READ NEXT: All soundbar reviews

Samsung HW-MS550 review: Sound quality

Under the grille, the Samsung MS550 has six-speaker drivers – a tweeter and two woofers on either side – that work across two-channel audio. The speakers have a frequency response of 44Hz to 20kHz.

The MS550’s sound quality is good, but it isn’t as impressive as the MS650’s. I find this is largely due to the MS550’s wobbly mid-bass, which can be heard most clearly when listening to music. For example, in Portugal. The Man - Feel It Still (Lido Remix) the mid-bass struggles to come through with the vocals. Here, there’s lots of quantity in the 60-250Hz region, but little in the finer details.

With film and TV, which require good cohesion between the mid-bass and mid-range frequencies, it’s a similar story, with the MS550 muddling the two together.

Its sub-bass response is also cut-off at 44Hz, whereas the MS650 cuts off at 34Hz, and that extra 10Hz goes a long way. In bass-heavy songs, such as Wiz Khalifa - Phone Numbers the MS550 sounds rather bass light and cuts off way too early for my liking. Not so the MS650.

Its mid-range is also pretty average, again, nothing like the MS650, which blows everything out the water at its price. The mids are ever so slightly pushed back and recessed and I had to I dial up the treble to +2 to lift out vocals a tad more.

At the high end of the frequency spectrum, things get a little better. The MS550 is able to reproduce a nice sparkle here that injects a sense of real presence into music and film.

The star of the show, however, is the soundstage. With Surround Mode enabled, the MS550 is able to reproduce a wide, deep sound, which for a speaker of its size is remarkable. Better still, the instrument separation is fantastic and it’s also able to handle positional cues accurately, meaning sounds effects ping around the room as if they were coming from separate satellite speakers.

READ NEXT: Samsung HW-K850 review: Half a surround system, but not half-hearted

Samsung HW-MS550 review: Verdict

If you’re looking for the slightly smaller version of the MS650, the MS550 is it. Had I not heard the MS650, I’d have said its cheapest sibling, the MS550 deserves a recommendation.

But, at the time of writing, the superior MS650 can be found for around £400, which is only marginally more expensive than the Samsung HW-MS550. And despite its distortion cancelling technology, the MS550 lacks the finesse and accurate sound of the MS650.

Given the current promotion Samsung is running, you could grab either at £200 off. At that price they’re both a bargain, but take my advice and choose the Samsung HW-MS650 instead; it sounds so much better.

Read more

Reviews