What We Like
What We Don't Like
Samsung has been around a while. The South Korean technology giant was first founded in 1938, starting out as a tiny trading company which dealt primarily in dried fish. How the times have changed, right?
Like many soundbars, Samsung have designed the HW-M550 to be unobtrusive and discreet. This serves a couple of purposes, but the most important of these is that it allows for an incredible versatility when it comes to locations for placing the device. It’s slim enough to fit below a TV without providing any kind of visual distraction or clutter, and the black exterior means it looks good without ever drawing your attention away from the action on the screen.
Looking more closely at what looks from a distance to be just a black bar, you will notice a number of nice touches which help to develop the sense that this is a premium product. The ends of the soundbar are capped with a gently mirrored finish which feels luxurious, weighty, and substantial. The bar itself is finished in a metallic mesh which is incredibly tactile and robust.
The overall effect is of a soundbar that looks great and feels even better, and the form will work just as well in a standard configuration as it will if you choose to wall mount it using the bracket and guide which are supplied out of the box.
Unlike many soundbars, the HW-M550 features an in built display. When you turn the device on, the word ‘Hello’ drifts past on the screen. It’s a simple touch, but a nice one nonetheless. And there are more practical considerations here. Crucial information like volume level is displayed on this little screen, and helpfully vanishes after around 15 seconds so as not to serve as a distraction.
As you would expect, Bluetooth streaming is available so that you can connect your Bluetooth enabled device to play music through the soundbar. More excitingly, Samsung have added a USB port so that you can play MP3 files. The wireless subwoofer is a gorgeous looking device finished in matte black. A small LED indicator displays its status, and you would be surprised just how much of a difference it makes.
Samsung have created a technology they called Surround Sound Expansion which they claim “adds depth and brings a new dimension to deliver a more realistic and immersive audio experience”. Refreshingly, there is a lot of truth in this promise, and the various modes on offer do make a significant difference to the quality of your playback.
As you will find with any good quality soundbar, the first impression they provide entirely blows your TVs tinny speakers out of the water. This is especially true of the HW-M550. Set up takes a matter of seconds, and once you hear the immediate upgrade there’s just no turning back.
The overall performance is best described as immersive and powerful. The bass response in particular is worthy of a mention as the wireless subwoofer does a great job of creating far more presence than a relatively small box seems like it should be able to output. Mids are well defined, and this is important as it’s the range at which dialogue tends to sit in the mix. Highs are crisp and sparkle where appropriate. All in all, there is a whole lot to like here.
A truly gorgeous design conceals some seriously powerful internals that show a night and day comparison between the default TV audio experience and what Samsung have to offer with the HW-M550. A very strong choice.