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Samsung HW-E551 review

Tom Morgan
2 Oct 2012
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
280
inc VAT

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

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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.

Details

Price£280
Rating****

Connections

HDMI inputs2
HDMI outputs1
Component inputs0
Component outputs0
Output resolutions480i, 480p, PAL (576i), 576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p
Total SCART sockets0
SCART socket typeN/A
S-Video input0
S-video output0
Composite inputs0
Composite outputs0
Stereo phono inputs0
Stereo phono outputs0
Coaxial S/PDIF inputs0
Coaxial S/PDIF outputs0
Optical S/PDIF inputs1
Optical S/PDIF outputs0
Multi-channel inputno
Speaker configuration2.1
Main unit end speaker connection typeN/A
Speaker end speaker connection typespring terminals
Other connectionsUSB2
Wired network portsnone
Wireless networking supportN/A

Playback

Surround sound formatsDolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS
Optical driveno
Region freeN/A
Supported playback disc formatsN/A
Audio format supportMP3, WMA
Video playback formatsN/A
Image viewing formatsN/A
Radionone

Speakers

Speaker configuration2.1
RMS power output310W
RMS power centreN/A
RMS power front160W
RMS power surroundN/A
RMS power subwoofer150W
Wall mountableyes
Centre speaker cable lengthN/A
Front speaker cable length3.0m
Surround speaker cable lengthN/A

General

Extrasremote control, AV cable
SizeN/A
Subwoofer dimensions290 x 290 x 370mmmm
Centre speaker dimensionsN/A
Front speaker dimensions1038 x 55 x 55mmmm
Surround speaker dimensionsN/A
Power consumption standby0W
Power consumption on46W

Buying Information

Price£280
Warrantyone year RTB
Supplierhttp://www.richersounds.com
Detailswww.samsung.co.uk