SAM­SUNG HW-MS650

Computer Shopper - - SOUNDBARS -

£419 • From www.cramp­to­nand­moore.co.uk VER­DICT A clean, ac­cu­rate sound and top-qual­ity con­nec­tiv­ity make the HW-MS650 an out­stand­ing pre­mium sound­bar

IF YOU’RE LOOK­ING for su­per­charged movie au­dio with­out the clut­ter of mul­ti­ple speak­ers and trail­ing cables, Sam­sung’s lat­est sound­bar might be just the ticket. At £419, it’s a lit­tle pricier than some, but with nine driv­ers and a raft of au­dio-wran­gling tech­nol­ogy hid­den be­neath its jet-black ex­te­rior, the HW-MS650 prom­ises se­ri­ous bass from a sin­gle box.

The brushed alu­minium de­sign and rounded edges make for a lovely-look­ing sound­bar, but be warned that this is no Mag­niFi Mini in the size de­part­ment; at 1,060mm across, 131mm deep and 78mm tall, it won’t fit un­der ev­ery TV. If you al­ready have a wall-mounted TV, you can get a rather in­ge­nious bracket for the HW-MS650 that al­lows it to at­tach to your telly with­out the need to drill any ad­di­tional holes, al­though it will set you back another £70.

LEAD IN­STRU­MENTS

A sleek, easy-to-use re­mote is in­cluded in the box. With it, you can change in­put modes, ad­just the vol­ume, bass, tre­ble and sur­round sound, flick though dif­fer­ent sound modes, tog­gle play/pause, or skip tracks. Bet­ter still, if you own a Sam­sung TV, it in­te­grates with Sam­sung’s Eden UX, and pro­vides ac­cess to your sound­bar’s set­tings on your TV screen. Thank­fully, you’re not out of luck if you lose the re­mote down the back of the sofa: there are phys­i­cal but­tons for power and vol­ume source on the sound­bar’s right-hand side.

Sam­sung has also opted to move the LED dis­play on its 2017 sound­bars from an off-cen­tre po­si­tion to the right-hand side. The small dis­play en­ables you to view key in­for­ma­tion such as the cur­rent au­dio source or sound modes, or pre­cisely ad­just the vol­ume level.

Un­der­neath the sound­bar, you’ll find its con­nec­tions: there’s a power in­put and out­put (so you don’t need two wall sock­ets to power both the sound­bar and TV), an optical dig­i­tal in­put, ana­logue 3.5mm in­put, and HDMI in­put and out­put (TV-ARC). The con­nec­tiv­ity op­tions don’t stop there, as the HW-MS650 has Blue­tooth and Wi-Fi, too. It’s mildly

dis­ap­point­ing that aptX sup­port isn’t present, as this would im­prove au­dio qual­ity over Blue­tooth con­nec­tions.

On the plus side, the HW-MS650 has sup­port for both Dolby Dig­i­tal 5.1 and DTS 2.0 codecs, and is ca­pa­ble of han­dling 24-bit 96kHz au­dio with­out the need to down­sam­ple. This means you’ll be able to play hi-res loss­less, FLAC, ALAC, WAV and AIFF au­dio di­rectly through the sound­bar.

Sam­sung’s Mul­ti­room app pro­vides a clean, sim­ple in­ter­face that al­lows the HW-MS650 to in­te­grate with ser­vices such as Spo­tify, Tidal and TuneIn ra­dio, among oth­ers. Fire up the app and you can play mu­sic di­rectly from your de­vice’s in­ter­nal stor­age, or stream it from the var­i­ous mu­sic ser­vices.

You can also ad­just the tone of the HW-MS650 via the app’s 7-band equaliser, and add other com­pat­i­ble Sam­sung de­vices to your net­work to cre­ate a mul­ti­room setup.

STAGE MAN­AGER

The HW-MS650 houses six woofers and three tweet­ers, each of which has a ded­i­cated am­pli­fier that con­nects to a sin­gle dig­i­tal sig­nal pro­ces­sor (DSP). The DSP does the hard work of di­rect­ing mul­ti­chan­nel in­puts to the ap­pro­pri­ate driv­ers: for ex­am­ple, be­cause the HW-MS650 sup­ports Dolby Dig­i­tal 5.1 in­puts, and the sound­bar uses a three-chan­nel driver setup (each chan­nel has three ded­i­cated driv­ers), the DSP re­sam­ples the dig­i­tal six-chan­nel sig­nal to suit the 3.0 out­put.

The re­sult is not true sur­round sound, but none­the­less, the out­put is su­perb. Sam­sung’s dis­tor­tion-can­celling tech­nol­ogy seems to be very ef­fec­tive in­deed, and this is most

ev­i­dent in the HW-MS650’s po­tent re­serves of mid-bass slam, with the nine driv­ers work­ing to­gether to pro­duce a fan­tas­ti­cally clear, crisp and punchy sound. Com­pared to the LG SJ8 and the Mag­niFi Mini, this sounds vastly more com­posed and ac­cu­rate.

The lack of a sub­woofer means that the bass won’t ex­actly shat­ter the earth, but still, the HW-MS650 puts out an im­pres­sive amount of low end. Higher up the range, it gets even bet­ter: vo­cals are ac­cu­rate and lifelike, in­stru­ments with com­plex high fre­quen­cies such as cym­bals are re­pro­duced flaw­lessly, and the clar­ity re­veals minute de­tails in both movies and mu­sic. No mat­ter how loud you push it, the HW-MS650 never sounds jum­bled or con­gested.

The sound­stage is another tri­umph, with a wide, room-fill­ing sound that spreads far be­yond the sound­bar’s di­men­sions. The HW-MS650 pro­vide oo­dles of depth, and in­stru­ments are all clearly po­si­tioned across a deep, wide sound­stage.

BET­TER OFF SIN­GLE

If you’re des­per­ate for that missing bit of extra bass rum­ble, you can pair up the HW-MS650 with Sam­sung’s wire­less SWA-W700 sub­woofer. We’ve tested this as well, and it does in­deed take the sound­bar to the next level: the bass gains much more depth and im­pact, with­out be­com­ing too muddy or un­de­fined, while the mids and tre­bles are por­trayed just as won­der­fully as they are with­out the sub­woofer.

There’s a big catch, how­ever, and that’s the price: at £499, the SWA-W700 is even more expensive than the HW-MS650 it­self. What’s more, buy­ing both would cost more than the HW-MS750, which has sub­woofer-qual­ity bass built right in.

Frankly, we’d be happy to have the HW-MS650 with­out the sub­woofer. Be­sides the lack of aptX sup­port, Sam­sung has con­cocted a winning com­bi­na­tion of dy­namic sound qual­ity, am­ple con­nec­tiv­ity and at­trac­tive de­sign that ab­so­lutely makes it worth shelling out for.

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