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Samsung HW-F751 review

Tom Morgan
27 Apr 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
600
inc VAT

A classy sound bar with wireless sub, plus bonus Bluetooth audio streaming

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We’re big fans of surround sound here at Expert Reviews, but we understand not everyone has room for multiple speakers and all the wires that come with them. Sound bars, which attempt to emulate surround sound from a single speaker, are growing in popularity, and Samsung’s latest is aimed right at the high-end. The HW-F751 is a gorgeous-looking aluminium bar, with a matching wireless subwoofer that should be able to replace a multi-speaker setup.

The silver brushed metal finish gives the HW-F751 a beautifully high-end appearance, although it’s available in black (Samsung HW-F750) if you think it’ll clash with your TV. A small window takes pride of place in the middle of the bar, giving you a glimpse of the valve amplifier within. Samsung is a strong believer that valve amps produce warmer, more natural tones than digital ones, and whether or not you agree, it undoubtedly looks fantastic, especially when powered on. It glows orange, with the touch-sensitive buttons below it lit by complementary white LEDs. There are Power, Input Select, and Volume controls on the device; all the other functions can be accessed through the remote control.

Samsung HW-F751

The subwoofer, a plain yet sturdy box that’s roughly the size of a waste paper basket, has no ports bar the power connector, it connects to the sound bar wirelessly. You don’t even need to sync the pair: just plug them both in and they’ll find each other automatically.

As the bar can be positioned flat or wall-mounted, Samsung has fitted two single-line LCD displays (one on the side and one to the left of the amplifier) so you can see it regardless of its orientation. It’s a little on the small side, despite there being plenty of room for a larger display, and this can be irritating when trying to change sound effect presets; you must wait for the line of text to scroll in order to see what you’ve just enabled or disabled.

There’s a single USB port on the top of the bar, but the majority of the inputs are at the back of the unit. You get one HDMI input, one ARC-compatible HDMI output to send data to an amplifier or other device, a 3.5mm auxiliary jack and a digital optical input. With HDMI, you won’t have to worry about extra cables solely for audio, although there’s no standby pass-through and there’s no on-screen interface. As everything is controlled through the single-line LCD display, you have to remember which settings and presets you’ve enabled. All the ports are recessed into the unit, so they won’t get in the way if you wall-mount it.

Samsung HW-F751

If you already own a Samsung TV, you can use Samsung’s SoundShare feature to pair it to the sound bar wirelessly using Samsung’s own HD audio codecs. It’s neater than running a cable between the devices and sound quality barely changes.

The USB port reads the MP3s, WMA and AAC tracks on a flash drive or portable hard disk and plays them by file name. There’s no option to shuffle or create playlists, so you’re better off using the HW-F751’s secret weapon: Bluetooth.

Rather than just play audio from your Blu-ray player or games console, with Bluetooth you can turn the sound bar into a streaming music player. It uses A2DP rather than the higher quality aptX, but you’ll be hard pushed to tell the difference. You must change the input on the sound bar to start the music, but after that you’ll have complete control from anywhere in the room, using your phone or tablet.

We tested the HW-F751 with Blu-ray films, games and music tracks from a range of genres. Using the bundled calibration microphone, it set itself up for our testing room with a series of test tones, although it made little improvement over the presets because we had placed it dead centre. If you’re looking for a sound bar to sit in one corner, it’ll make a much greater difference.

The sound bar automatically adjusts its audio processing depending on its orientation, so we tried it in both orientations, but preferred to have the valves facing upwards. Audio sounded clearer and more precise because we weren’t blocking one set of speaker drivers.

For films, a sound bar needs to create a sense of virtual surround, which the HW-F751 mostly delivered. If you’re in an average-sized room and sit no further than seven feet away, there’s a real sense that sound’s coming from the sides and above the speakers. It can’t quite mimic rear speakers, but it does a very good job. In a larger room, the effect is somewhat muted and not quite as convincing. Enabling the 3D sound setting produced an echo effect that we didn’t like.

Samsung HW-F751

You can see the valve amplifier inside through a small window

Despite the presence of valve amplification, its sound quality’s best described as crisp, rather than warm. Audio sounds disappointing on anything bar the music and Auto Sound Calibration (ASC) presets, but once we’d enabled these presets it sounded fantastic, with great balance between the mid-range and high-end. It’s not quite as well-rounded as the Sonos Playbar, but it’s still good.

We couldn’t hear any delay between sound bar and subwoofer when watching films or playing games, although the bass it produced wasn’t quite as room-shaking as we’d have liked. You can increase its volume, but it then gets stuck on more complex layers of bass, producing general rumbles rather than perfect thumps and booms.

At its current price, the HW-F751 has one big advantage over its main rival: it comes with a wireless subwoofer in the box. That makes it around £600 less than a Sonos Sub and Playbar combination, and although it lacks the ability to upgrade to 5.1, and you’re limited to Bluetooth audio playback rather than the excellent Sonos player, Samsung’s soundbar still looks like fantastic value. Yes, there are cheaper alternatives, but none with as many features and such an eye-catching design.

Details

Price£600
Rating*****

Connections

HDMI inputs1
HDMI outputs1
Component inputs0
Component outputs0
Output resolutions480i, 480p, PAL (576i), 576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p
Total SCART sockets0
SCART socket type0
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 configuration2.0/2.1
Main unit end speaker connection typeN/A
Speaker end speaker connection typeN/A
Other connectionsUSB, calibration mic
Wired network portsnone
Wireless networking supportBluetooth

Playback

Surround sound formatsDolby Digital Plus
Optical driveno
Region freeN/A
Supported playback disc formatsN/A
Audio format supportMP3, WAV, WMA
Video playback formatsnone
Image viewing formatsnone
Radionone

Speakers

Speaker configuration2.0/2.1
RMS power output310W
RMS power centre160W
RMS power frontN/A
RMS power surroundN/A
RMS power subwoofer150W
Wall mountableyes
Centre speaker cable lengthN/A
Front speaker cable lengthN/A
Surround speaker cable lengthN/A

General

Extrasremote control
Size943x120x57mm
Subwoofer dimensions291x291x369mm
Centre speaker dimensionsN/A
Front speaker dimensionsN/A
Surround speaker dimensionsN/A
Power consumption standby0W
Power consumption on44W

Buying Information

Price£600
Warrantyone year RTB
Detailswww.samsung.co.uk

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