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Samsung HW-N650 review: Surround sound without the hassle

Christopher Minasians
18 Jun 2018
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
700
inc VAT

Samsung’s slender soundbar and wireless subwoofer combine to present dynamic, widescreen 5.1 sound without the bulk

Pros 
Impressive surround sound
Excellent low-end extension
Small form factor
Cons 
Mid-range could be better
No Bluetooth aptX support
Doesn’t support Dolby Atmos, DTS:X or HDR
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Samsung is constantly adding new features and technology to its range of soundbars. Last year its HW-MS650 soundbar harnessed the company’s distortion cancelling technology to great effect, earning itself a five-star review no less, and now the all-new HW-N650 is attempting to repeat the feat.

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Samsung HW-N650 review: What you need to know

The HW-N650 uses Samsung’s Acoustic Beam technology, which aims to replicate a surround sound setup by bouncing sound waves off your walls and ceiling.

This might be new for Samsung, but its rivals have been doing it for some time now – a few spring to mind: the Bose SoundTouch 300, the Sky Soundbox by Devialet and the Sonos Playbase.

Still, the HW-N650 holds a few tricks up its sleeve. It comes with a powerful wireless subwoofer that provides an excellent low-end thump, has a sleek design that’ll fit in most living room setups and has a good array of connectivity options.

Samsung HW-N650 review: Price and competition

The HW-N650 can be found for £700 at John Lewis and Hughes. At this price, it’s going up against the £800 Sky Soundbox (which is a mere £249 if you’re a Sky TV customer), the £700 Bose SoundTouch 300 and Sonos Playbase, the £650 LG SJ9, and of course, Samsung’s very own HW-MS750 at £800. Not to mention the HW-MS650 which has now had a price cut down to £390.

Apart from the LG SJ9, none of the above have a dedicated subwoofer. You can, however, purchase the Samsung SWA-W700 subwoofer for £430 – which combined with the HW-MS650 take it up to around £820.

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Samsung HW-N650 review: Design, features and connectivity

The N650 measures 1.1 metres wide, stands 6cm high and is 10cm deep, which makes it noticeably slimmer than its stablemate, the HW-MS650. This makes it easy to accommodate in most living room spaces – you can pop it in front of your TV without it taking up too much room on your AV stand, and it can be wall mounted, too.

Usability is a highlight. The HW-N650 comes with Samsung’s excellent remote, which can also be used as a remote to control your Samsung TV. And if you just so happen to misplace the remote, there are four physical buttons on the soundbar’s right-hand flank: power, source and volume up and down.

Much like its siblings, the HW-N650 has an LED display around the front. Located under the right-hand speaker grille, the display provides information on your selected input source, the volume and the surround sound settings, which can be cycled through with the remote.

For connectivity, there are a few inputs to choose from: HDMI, auxiliary 3.5mm, USB, optical and Bluetooth. There’s a HDMI output (TV-ARC), too. Unfortunately, if you own a HDR TV and you’re looking to minimise the cables by passing the signal via the soundbar, you’ll be bitterly disappointed: the HW-N650 lacks HDR support.

Yet again, there’s no support for aptX codec – so you won’t benefit from higher quality streaming over Bluetooth. Also missing from the list is support for the latest object-based surround formats DTS:X and Dolby Atmos – this probably won’t bother the vast majority of users, though.

This time around, Samsung has chosen to leave Wi-Fi out of the equation. So, you won’t be able to wirelessly stream music through the Samsung Multiroom App.

On a more positive note, the included subwoofer does connect wirelessly to the soundbar – reducing clutter and the need for any extra wires, and gives you the option to place the subwoofer conveniently out of sight.

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Samsung HW-N650 review: Sound quality

The HW-N650’s eight speakers aim to provide proper 5.1 surround sound, and if you include the subwoofer it has an impressive-sounding 360W of total power at its disposal – that’s plenty to fill a large living room space.

Surprisingly, the soundbar doesn’t feature the same Distortion Cancelling Technology as its older sibling, and that comes across in the mid-bass reproduction. The bass punch isn’t as refined or as controlled as the HW-MS650 – that’s not to say the HW-N650 is bad, far from it. For example, when compared to the Sonos Playbase, the soundbar reproduces a much more accurate bass response, which is partly down to the HW-N650 having a dedicated subwoofer.

When it comes to sub bass, the HW-N650’s subwoofer gives it the upper hand over most of its rivals. Unlike other soundbars that cut off at around 40Hz, this one extends far deeper, with the subwoofer adding a powerful low-end rumble. Fire up an action-packed game such as PUBG, and the HW-N650’s weighty bass and crisp, exciting treble sends gunfire sparking across the room in a genuinely unsettling manner.

Overall, the HW-N650 is capable of reproducing a very accurate sound, but it lacks the finesse for voices and instruments in the mid-range that I’d expect from a £700 soundbar. Much like the HW-MS550, (the smaller and cheaper variant of the HW-MS650) I found dialling up the treble to +2 helps. 

In Jay Sean’s ‘Make My Love Go’, the artist’s voice isn’t as present or at the foreground of the song – his voice is a little pushed back. By comparison, the HW-MS650 is excellent in this department, arguably the best in its class.

The HW-N650’s ace up its sleeve is its soundstage: with ‘Surround Sound’ selected through the DSP toggle, the HW-N650’s sound reaches far and wide, and genuinely fills the room with sound.

For example, in Priya Jaye – Falling, the instruments and vocals aren’t just lumped together; each instrument and vocal line floats freely from left to right. In movies, such as 300, meanwhile, you’re put slap bang in the midst of the epic Spartan-Persian battle.

It’s quite remarkable that Samsung’s implementation of two spiral speaker grilles at the top of the soundbar can produce such a positive effect. It’s even more evident when you walk to the left or right side of the speaker – that extra spaciousness to the sound is clearly noticeable.

READ NEXT: Samsung HW-MS550 review: The cheapest all-in-one soundbar from Samsung

Samsung HW-N650 review: Verdict

Samsung’s HW-N650 soundbar isn’t quite perfect. Why? Well, it’s missing a few elements that take it away from a full-fledged five-star review. For instance, if you don’t mind forgoing the wireless subwoofer, then the HW-MS650’s dramatically more precise mid-range puts it in a different league.

Nonetheless, the HW-N650 still deserves plenty of praise. It provides room-filling sound from a relatively compact body, and its subwoofer adds an alluring physicality to the sound  – something which puts it head and shoulders above the competition. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that there’s no soundbar, subwoofer combo that matches the HW-N650 for under £700.

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