Despite its slim dimensions and modest power rating of 280W, the HW-C450 musters a surprisingly rich and powerful sound. The Dolby Digital soundtrack on the Jurassic Park DVD is reproduced with impressive energy, drive and clarity, the likes of which no flatpanel TV could ever hope to muster.
There’s a pleasing crispness to the high-frequencies that allows detail and sonic textures to shine through, making Isla Nublar seem wonderfully atmospheric – the hiss of driving rain and the rustle of bushes are clear, while the sound of loud, screeching dinosaurs is conveyed without making your toes curl.
Also key to the system’s success is the subwoofer, which delivers tighter, deeper bass than you might expect. It’s subtle, responsive and doesn’t swamp the soundstage like most passive budget subs do. That’s probably helped by the fact that it has its own power source and built-in 120W amplifier. As a result it brings tension and menace to the T-Rex’s iconic introduction – its thumping, water-rippling footsteps have punch and power, and its low growl is incredibly deep.
We’re also impressed by the width afforded by the virtual surround technology. It’s no match for real surround speakers, but as Dennis Nedry makes his escape through the driving rain you’re almost convinced that sound is coming from either side of you. Later, the herd of Gallimimus sweeps past the camera and the sound moves from one side to the other.
Speech is consistently clear and the brass and strings that permeate John Williams’ majestic score sound rich and smooth, boasting genuine warmth at the bottom end. That warmth and fluidity can also be heard during CD playback, making this a safe choice if you love music as much as movies.
With Blu-ray players steadily replacing DVD decks as the disc spinner of choice in UK homes, the lack of Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio decoding means we can’t give the HW-C450 our wholehearted recommendation. An extra digital audio input wouldn’t have gone amiss either. But if you’re happy to settle for Dolby Digital and DTS, then the Samsung is an impressive proposition offering terrific sound quality and a discreet, stylish design. For under £200, you can’t say fairer than that.
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