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Samsung HW-S800D review: Sleek, stylish and immersive

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £750
inc VAT

The Samsung HW-S800D is a lifestyle-friendly Atmos soundbar that manages to deliver cinematic slam despite its slimline dimensions


  • Surprisingly expansive soundstage
  • Compact sub delivers deep bass
  • Ultra-slim design


  • Front-heavy audio
  • No DTS:X support

The Samsung HW-S800D is the brand’s latest lifestyle-friendly soundbar. It offers immersive Dolby Atmos object-based audio from a stylish slimline cabinet combined with a compact wireless subwoofer that delivers surprisingly deep bass despite its size.

This new model would suggest that Samsung has been listening to review feedback because the S800D directly addresses the three main criticisms aimed at its predecessor the HW-S800B. To the S800D, Samsung has added eARC support, an option to add wireless rears and included a Mini HDMI to HDMI cable in the box.

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Samsung HW-S800D review: What you need to know

The Samsung HW-S800D comprises an ultra-slim soundbar containing nine drivers and a sub with a 6.5in woofer and 8in passive radiator. Combined, these create an immersive 3.1.2-channel system that supports both Dolby Atmos and DTS Virtual:X but not DTS:X.

There’s also SpaceFit Sound room correction, smart assistant support, AirPlay 2 and Chromecast, along with Samsung-specific features such as AI Adaptive Sound and Q Symphony for TV integration.

Samsung HW-S800D review: Price and competition

The Samsung HW-S800D is attractively priced at £750, putting it in direct competition with several similarly lifestyle-friendly soundbar systems.

The Philips Fidelio FB1 (£799) and Sonos Arc (£760) are both solid choices but use larger cabinets, and don’t include a separate subwoofer.

If you’re after something capable of creating a more substantial surround sound soundstage, it’s worth considering last year’s Samsung HW-Q930C, which can be picked up for £799. This system includes a soundbar, subwoofer and two rear speakers for a combined 9.1.4 channels, though the soundbar itself is significantly larger than that of the S800D.

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Samsung HW-S800D review: Design and features

The Samsung HW-S800D retains the same super-slim cabinet used on previous generations, with a robust metal mesh grille, curved ends and an elegant design. The build quality is good, while the choice of black or white finishes makes for a soundbar that can be discreetly stand- or wall-mounted. If you decide on the latter, you can use the included-dedicated wall mounts.

The soundbar itself measures 1,160 x 40 x 38mm (WDH), making it ideal for TVs with screen sizes of 55in or even larger. The wireless subwoofer measures 238 x 238 x 241mm (WDH) and combines a 6.5in woofer with an 8in passive radiator to reduce cabinet vibrations and increase the output, thus generating deeper and more powerful bass from a compact cabinet.

The S800D supports Dolby Atmos, along with the wireless version of the format that allows it to be transmitted via Wi-Fi from supporting Samsung TVs. While the soundbar doesn’t support DTS:X, it does include DTS Virtual:X, which uses psychoacoustic processing rather than discrete channels to upmix non-Atmos audio to 3.1.2 channels, creating a more immersive experience.

Both formats are limited by the lack of rear channels, but thankfully Samsung has now made the S800D compatible with its optional wireless rear speaker package (SWA-9500S). These surrounds include upward-firing drivers to handle rear height effects, which means for an additional £249 you can create a fully immersive 5.1.4-channel system for rendering Dolby Atmos or DTS Virtual:X spatial audio.

The inclusion of SpaceFit Sound makes getting the most out of the S800D incredibly easy, with a built-in microphone that measures the acoustic properties of your environment to better integrate the subwoofer and optimise the room correction. As a result, the soundstage is tighter and more composed, with smoother bass and improved tonal balance between the speakers in the system.

In terms of other Samsung-specific features, there’s the Adaptive Sound mode that automatically enhances voice clarity at low volumes, as well as optimising the sound based on scene-by-scene analysis of the content. There are also several other modes including Standard, Surround, Game and Night, plus Active Voice Amplifier (AVA), which I found helpful in noisy surroundings.

The Q-Symphony feature allows owners of compatible Samsung TVs to make full use of their extra speakers by simultaneously synchronising sound from both devices to produce a bigger and more immersive front soundstage. There’s also Hi-Res Audio support, and Tap Sound for instantly connecting with supporting Samsung devices by simply touching them against the cabinet.


Samsung HW-S800D review: Connections and control

The Samsung HW-S800D only has one physical connection – a Mini HDMI port with eARC – but now that Samsung includes a Mini HDMI to regular HDMI cable this is less of an issue. Wireless connectivity includes Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Chromecast and AirPlay 2, which is fairly comprehensive.

I found the setup simple thanks to the excellent SmartThings app, which takes you through every stage, including connecting to your Wi-Fi, running SpaceFit Sound, configuring any smart assistants, and updating the firmware. There’s Alexa built-in, plus the S800D works with Google Assistant.

The well-designed and intuitive app also makes for a great controller, especially given there’s no digital display on the soundbar itself, but the included remote offers equally extensive control options and is ergonomic to use. You can also operate the S800D using some basic controls on the top of the soundbar itself, with your voice via the smart assistants, or with your TV’s zapper when connected via HDMI-CEC.

Samsung HW-S800D review: Sound quality

The Samsung HW-S800D delivers a surprisingly big soundstage for such a slimline cabinet, which is good news because it means you don’t have to compromise on audio quality just because you want a more compact soundbar. This capability is in part due to design innovations developed at Samsung Audio Lab in California – specifically the smaller drivers and subwoofer.

The soundbar contains nine of these drivers that create three forward-firing speakers (left, right and centre) and a pair of up-firing speakers on the left and right. The speakers inside the soundbar might be small, but they manage to produce a clean and clear midrange and some pleasing detail in the treble.

The subwoofer may be compact but I was impressed by the punch it packed. Its sonic performance is important because it’s doing a lot of heavy lifting – not just generating the lower frequencies but also the lower midranges due to the smaller size of the drivers and the very slim nature of the cabinet.

While the depth and height are limited, the cabinet is fairly wide and this allows for some decent stereo separation. When combined with the well-integrated sub, the S800D proved to be a good soundbar for music and revealed a pleasingly composed and expansive delivery while I was listening to Hans Zimmer Live in Prague, with detailed strings and guitars combined with pleasingly deep drums.

I felt the overall performance was balanced and cohesive, with a soundstage that has width and height, plus a solid bass foundation that gives the overall delivery plenty of control and impact. While I was watching TV shows, the dedicated centre speaker ensured clear and focused dialogue, while the stereo imaging was good as well, but with no surround envelopment due to the lack of rear speakers.

Now that the S800D supports eARC, lossless Dolby Atmos can be sent back to the soundbar via HDMI, and the result is an object-based performance that’s largely very good. I got a nice sense of scale from the front soundstage, along with a degree of immersion thanks to the clarity of the overhead channels, the effectiveness of which will depend on the reflectivity of your ceiling.

During the opening scene of Mad Max: Fury Road, I was impressed by the way the voices in Max’s head floated around in three-dimensional space above and to the sides of the TV screen. The subterranean LFE that accompanies the revving engines and explosions was also rendered with skill, and overall the S800D produces a visceral sonic experience that enhances the action.

There’s excellent precision in the placement of audio objects, but this spatial effect is limited to the front third of the room due to the absence of rear surround or height channels. This is easily addressed by adding the wireless rear speakers mentioned above, and doing so will place you in the middle of a fully immersive bubble of sound.

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Samsung HW-S800D review: Verdict

The Samsung HW-S800D is an excellent evolution of the brand’s lifestyle-friendly soundbar, taking what made its predecessors great and addressing most of their limitations. The stylish and discreet ultra-slim cabinet is combined with a powerful but well-integrated subwoofer to produce a detailed and composed front soundstage that sounded considerably bigger than I expected.

Setup is easy, there’s a solid choice of control options and a decent set of features that includes support for Dolby Atmos and DTS Virtual:X. The Mini HDMI port now supports eARC, and there’s an adapter cable to make connectivity easier. The S800D is also compatible with Samsung’s rear expansion pack, allowing you to create a fully immersive system if you don’t mind extra speakers and are willing to stretch your budget by a couple of hundred pounds.

There’s still no DTS:X decoding, but given the limited support for this format that’s hardly a great loss. As such, I’m happy to recommend this lifestyle soundbar and subwoofer system to those who want cinematic Atmos sound from an incredibly discreet package.

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