Sam­sung R6/R7

FOR Clear, bal­anced sound; high-res sup­port; de­sign; app AGAINST In­sipid bass, coarse tre­ble on R7; no eth­er­net port

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Multi-room Speakers -

Sam­sung R6 £330

While multi-room speak­ers are all about fill­ing ev­ery room of the house with sound, the Sam­sung R6 is about fill­ing ev­ery cor­ner too. De­signed to spread sound through 360 de­grees so peo­ple can ‘en­joy mu­sic freely as they move from room-to-room’, it’s un­usual. The dome shape – which re­sem­bles a mod­ern ket­tle mi­nus han­dle and spout – doesn’t just make the R6 look sleek and stylish. Sam­sung says it’s also the best shape for pro­duc­ing om­ni­di­rec­tional sound. But that’s not all…

Down with the bass

In or­der to achieve even dis­tri­bu­tion, a 12.5cm down­ward-fac­ing woofer fires sound to­wards a con­i­cal base, while a 25mm tweeter on the R6’s peak acts in a sim­i­lar fash­ion with a small, arched plate. And it works. With a nice open spread of sound from all di­rec­tions, it doesn’t dis­crim­i­nate whether you’ve got the front-row seat or are in your favourite arm­chair off to the side.

It’s a sound you won’t mind fol­low­ing you around the room, ei­ther. It works its way through ELO’S When I Was A Boy with bal­ance and clar­ity, and enough space, in­te­gra­tion and or­gan­i­sa­tion to keep things co­her­ent.

Show­ing its dy­namic tal­ent, the track’s open­ing pi­ano chords vault for­ward. Jeff Lynne’s melodic ram­blings are ar­tic­u­late and solid in equal mea­sure, and while the R6 isn’t the last word in con­vey­ing tex­ture, there’s de­tectable de­tail within gui­tar chords.

A time of Reck­on­ing

It ap­plies enough weight and power to give the thun­der­ous or­ches­tra­tions in Hans Zim­mer’s Gotham’s Reck­on­ing (24-bit/192khz) their fair due, with­out giv­ing the cold shoul­der to the fainter trum­pets un­der­neath. It all al­lows the Sam­sung to com­mu­ni­cate the track’s de­lib­er­ately men­ac­ing build ef­fort­lessly.

For a hum­ble speaker, the un­der­tow­ing bass is deep and rum­bling, if a lit­tle soft. The driv­ing beat of Drake’s Hold On, We’re Go­ing Home doesn’t kick quite as hard as it should, so a sprin­kle of bass punch wouldn’t go amiss. Favour­ing re­fine­ment over out­right at­tack, the R6 can feel a lit­tle too easy-go­ing at times. Sam­sung hopes you have a se­cure wi-fi net­work, be­cause with no eth­er­net port or phys­i­cal con­nec­tions the R6 can play mu­sic only via wi-fi or Blue­tooth. Au­dio from a Blue­tooth-com­pat­i­ble Sam­sung TV can also be streamed di­rectly to the R6 via Sam­sung’s TV Sound­con­nect fea­ture.

Whether you lis­ten to in­ter­net ra­dio or sub­scribe to a stream­ing ser­vice, Sam­sung has it cov­ered with ac­cess to Tunein, Spo­tify and Deezer, as well as the lesser-known 7Dig­i­tal and 8tracks ser­vices – all ac­ces­si­ble via Sam­sung’s Multi-room app. Build­ing your own dig­i­tal li­brary? Ev­ery­thing from low-res MP3S to WAV, FLAC and ALAC files all the way up to 24-bit/192khz can be played.

The smaller, por­ta­ble side­kick to the R7, the R6 has a six-hour bat­tery life (it can also runs off mains power) so you can DJ your af­ter­noon pic­nic down the park. It’s small enough to tuck un­der one arm, al­though with the semi-ex­posed soft-dome tweeter and a gap be­tween the woofer and base, we’d be care­ful about shov­ing it in a bag as you might the Bose Soundtouch 10.

Touch con­trols a nice touch

Across the bot­tom, a light in­di­cates bat­tery level, while touch con­trols are handy for switch­ing in­puts, paus­ing play­back and chang­ing vol­ume.

Given a 3.5mm jack and more sonic ex­pres­sion and en­ergy, we’d be look­ing at a full star set. But the R6 achieves what it sets out to do: pro­duce sound all around, seam­lessly through­out your home and from a neat, well equipped por­ta­ble speaker.

Sam­sung R7 £430

A di­nosaur egg prop from the set of Juras­sic World? An un­plugged lava lamp? Try again. The R7 is a Blue­tooth and wi-fi (multi-room ready) speaker that shares a dis­tinct like­ness to its lit­tle brother, the R6. Sam­sung calls it a ‘stand­ing model with deeper bass’, with the aim of de­liv­er­ing 360-de­gree sound.

“How?” you might ask. While the elon­gated-dome shape was de­signed to fa­cil­i­tate omni-di­rec­tional dis­per­sion, it’s mostly down to the 12.5cm down­wardfac­ing woofer fir­ing sound to­wards a con­i­cal base and out in ev­ery di­rec­tion, and a 2.5cm up­ward-fac­ing tweeter on the top. Peek through the gap and you can see Sam­sung’s ‘ring ra­di­a­tor tech­nol­ogy’.

It’s more of a show­stop­per than the podgier R6, and it’s nice to see the of­fer of big-scale sound in some­thing that’s not a bland box. The base has a rather small foot­print, al­though Sam­sung will point you to its quirky tri­pod stand. Ei­ther way, it’s best to keep it out of reach to avoid dam­age to the semiex­posed tweeter.

A strok­able fin­ish

It re­quires some willpower not to stroke its stylishly smooth rub­bery plas­tic, and touch con­trols across its waist­band give it a stream­lined look. Its re­flec­tive base is equally un­spoiled, be­ing free of any in­puts or sock­ets. And by ‘any’ we mean not even an eth­er­net port, so all net­work play­back – that of your dig­i­tal li­brary up to 24-bit/192khz, stream­ing ser­vices and in­ter­net ra­dio – is over wi-fi. There’s also Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity and a TV Sound­con­nect fea­ture so the R7 can play au­dio from a Blue­tooth-com­pat­i­ble Sam­sung TV.

Stream­ing ser­vices in­clude the likes of Tunein, Spo­tify Con­nect and Deezer, with the more off­beat 7Dig­i­tal and 8tracks nestling in Sam­sung’s Mul­ti­room app. The only over­sight is Google Play Mu­sic and Tidal – which are both on Sonos’s radar.

It’s hardly sur­pris­ing that the R7 shares its sib­ling’s weighty, laid­back sonic char­ac­ter, its de­cent in­sight and strict bal­ance serv­ing up a sound that’s easy to lis­ten to whether you play Avicii’s crash­ing beats or Sixto Ro­driguez’s croon­ing nasal twang.

But where there are ups, there are downs. Like its mini-me, it strug­gles to get into the jol­lity of I Won­der, let alone get pumped up for Martin Solveig’s In­tox­i­cated – it’s not quite the pick-me-up it is through the Sonos Play:5, which is a crisper, more up­beat lis­ten (and takes the Sam­sung for clar­ity and bass punch too).

While it pounds out more (and deeper) bass than the R6, it can feel loose and muggy, and up top the tre­ble has a coarse, grav­elly tex­ture to it that not even a long run-in can purge.

To boot, we find it flus­tered at high vol­umes, dy­nam­i­cally flat at lower vol­umes, and lack­ing a happy medium.

Which one’s bet­ter?

Why buy the R7 over the R6? In cov­er­ing ev­ery an­gle of the room, the big­ger unit of­fers a larger scat­ter of sound and has a greater pres­ence. But, size and scale aside, we’d take an R6 (or two if you’re ready to dip your toe in the multi-room pool) for its cleaner sound and more com­pet­i­tive price.

In a mar­ket where speak­ers have to fight even against their own kind, sonic suc­cess is the key to sur­vival. So while the R7’s app is ex­cel­lent, and hi-res, multi-room and stream­ing ser­vice fea­tures are a high­light, over­all our praise sadly stops short of ‘good’.

Multi-room ver­dict

Down­load the Sam­sung multi-room app (free, IOS and An­droid) and it walks you through the busi­ness of con­nect­ing your speak­ers to your home net­work in min­utes. There’s a tu­to­rial for stream­ing novices too. It picks up our R6 and R7 sam­ples in no time, and if au­to­matic set-up fails it can be done man­u­ally.

Not only is the app your go-to for gen­eral play­back (nei­ther speaker comes with a re­mote), but for multi-room tasks too – where it re­ally shines. It makes easy work of group­ing speak­ers to­gether – two can pair to play a song in har­mony, or act as left and right chan­nels. Two can also be used in a movie set­ting by pair­ing them with one of Sam­sung’s wire­less sound­bars for a 4.1 pre­sen­ta­tion.

For its cleaner

sound and more

com­pet­i­tive price,

the R6 trumps its

big­ger sib­ling

Stylish, yes, but the

shape, along with


woofers, also aids

360-de­gree sound

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