Samsung R1

Score

Pros

  • Compact upright design
  • Superb smartphone app with most music services
  • Powerful omnidirectional sound

Cons

  • Loses composure at high volumes
  • No OLED display
  • No TIDAL or SoundCloud

Key Features

  • Review Price: £169.95
  • Omnidirectional Ring Radiator technology
  • Dual-band Wi-Fi & Bluetooth 4.0
  • Spotify, Deezer, Murfie, Napster, Qobuz, 7digital, 8tracks, TuneIn, Rdio
  • High-resolution audio support
  • Multiroom App 2.0

What is the Samsung R1?

The R1 is the smallest and most affordable of Samsung’s new multiroom speakers, sitting below the R3, R5 and R7

in the range. It may be the cheapest of the new models, but Samsung

hasn’t skimped on features – it does all the same tricks as the more

expensive speakers but from a more compact enclosure. Aside from

multiroom functionality, the R1’s key feature is its omnidirectional

speaker tech, which delivers the same sound quality from anywhere in the

room.

Related: Best portable speakers 2015

Samsung R1 – Design and Connections

The

R1 is a scaled-down version of the R5, measuring around 8cm shorter.

Its smaller size, upright enclosure and small footprint make it even

easier to place on desktops and furniture. The speaker itself is shaped

like a cylinder that flares at the top, with a gap between the base and

speaker that disperses sound from the woofer.

Samsung R1

The minimal black finish lacks the glitz of the egg-shaped R7,

but it’s a memorable look. Build quality is excellent – the speaker

feels weighty in the hand and it’s solidly pieced together, plus the

black cloth wrapped around the edge is a classy touch.

The

pièce de résistance is the UV-coated top panel, the entire surface of

which is a touch-sensitive control pad. Swipe your finger to the left or

right and it skips back or forward a track, while a single tap pauses

playback. The R1 eschews the OLED display on the R5 for a basic LED in

the middle that blinks when it detects activity.

On

the outskirts of the panel are volume and Mode controls, also of the

touch-sensitive variety. The Mode button toggles through the inputs –

Bluetooth, TV SoundConnect and Wi-Fi. A female voice lets you know when

various inputs are “ready”. A long press on the panel puts the speaker

into standby, but it will shut down automatically after 15 minutes of

inactivity.

A recess beneath houses the power inlet, a micro-USB

for service use and a button that helps you connect the speaker to a

network. There’s no 3.5mm mini-jack for external sources – this is a

strictly wireless affair. A hole in the bottom edge keeps the power lead

nice and tidy.

Samsung R1 – Features

The feature list is

the same as the R5 apart from the drivers – it uses a 3.6-inch woofer at

the bottom as opposed to the R5’s 5-inch driver, but the 1-inch tweeter

at the top remains the same. These drivers each disperse sound through

an Acoustic Lens, spreading the waves evenly in all directions. Samsung

calls this Ring Radiator technology.

Most people walk around

doing other things while listening to music, so the aim of this

technology is to deliver the same sound quality no matter where you are

in the room, eliminating the so-called “sweet spot”.
    
The

R1 also boasts dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. If you have several

Samsung speakers around the house you can create a multiroom system,

conducted by the Multiroom App 2.0. The app is now available for the

Samsung Gear S and Apple Watch, allowing you to access the song queue

list and speaker list, or control playback and volume.

Using the

app you can stream music from your smartphone, DLNA devices and a

generous array of online services, including Spotify, Deezer, Murfie,

Napster, Qobuz, 7digital, 8tracks, TuneIn and Rdio. The lack of Tidal is

a shame and there’s no SoundCloud either, which I’ve seen on other

multiroom systems.

Samsung R1

The

R1 plays hi-res audio, including FLAC, ALAC, AIFF and WAV files up to

192kHz/24-bit. Of course, you can also play lossy formats such as MP3,

WMA, AAC and OGG. Finally, TV SoundConnect beams sound from a compatible

Samsung TV to the speaker.

Samsung R1 – Setup

Unlike

Samsung’s previous multiroom speakers, the R1 doesn’t need a Wi-Fi Hub,

which simplifies the setup process. What’s more, Samsung’s revamped

Multiroom app makes operation a cinch.
 
The first thing you need

to do is download the Multiroom App 2.0 onto your smartphone. Select the

“Add Speaker” option in the setup menu and the app searches for

available speakers. Once discovered, key in your Wi-Fi password and it

joins the R1 to your network. A female voice tells you that the

connection is complete.

Samsung R1 – Multiroom App

Samsung’s

smartphone app is easy on the eye and even easier on the fingers. The

layout is simple and streamlined in a way Samsung’s previous multiroom

app never was, allowing you to dip in and out of various music sources

with consummate ease. Yes the sophisticated colour schemes and jazzy

backgrounds are pretty, but they don’t get in the way of usability.
Samsung R1
Everything

can be accessed from the app’s first screen. Tap the Music Source

banner at the top and a dropdown menu displays a list of music services

and available DLNA devices.

You

can browse songs using a sidebar on the right, or edit the playback

queue by tapping the track name. At the bottom of the screen are

playback controls and a volume slider, while the Options menu offers an

equalizer with Pop, Jazz and Classic presets. A virtual jog dial in the

middle of the screen lets you skip tracks simply by dragging your finger

round the edge.

Controlling

a multiroom system is easy. Each speaker in the system is displayed in a

box with individual volume sliders and EQ settings. You can send

different sources to each speaker, or group them together and play the

same thing through them all. To do that, simply drag the boxes on top of

each other.

Samsung R1 – Performance

The first thing to say

about the R1’s performance is how surprisingly powerful it is for such a

slender speaker. It fills the room easily, and thanks to the wonders of

Samsung’s Ring Radiator tech, the sound remains deep and detailed no

matter where you are in relation to the speaker. The R5 is slightly more

potent, but there isn’t much in it.

I placed the R1 at the other

end of the room – a good five or six metres away – and controlled the

music from the smartphone app. Even from that distance I could feel the

rhythms and basslines pulsating, while sparkling hi-hats and tambourines

give the music a wonderful sense of air and space.

Basslines

are deep, fulsome and tightly controlled by the impressive woofer. The

reggae-tinged bassline of “Know Who You Are” by Pharrell Williams

bounces along nimbly without an ounce of fat, making head-nodding

compulsory. Notes start and stop decisively and integrate well with the

kick drums and keyboards. There’s a chance that some listeners might

find the R1’s bass output a little too full-on, but if so, you can

reduce it using the app’s equalizer menu.

Elsewhere, the R1 makes

sense of intricate, multi-layered songs such as “Sleepwalkers” by

Jarrod Lawson, spreading its attention equally between the vocal

harmonies, drums, flutes, piano solos and basslines. There’s plenty

going on, but the R1 separates the elements clearly and offers an even

balance across the frequencies.

It’s an exciting listen too,

thanks to the characteristically crisp treble. Snare drums snap and

guitars have a textured twang, but the R1 stays just the right side of

brightness. Turn up the volume loud, though, and a touch of hardness

creeps in – particularly when playing certain EDM tracks and pop songs

from Spotify. Play “Sax” by Fleur East and the sharp claps and synths

test the limits of the tweeter, but on the whole the R1 copes well for

such a small speaker.

Samsung R1

Should I buy the Samsung R1?

The

R1 might be the smallest of Samsung’s new multiroom speakers but it

gives the larger R5 a run for its money. You get the same extensive

feature set and living room-friendly design – but, most impressively, it

delivers more of the same powerful, punchy sound. There are some

sacrifices to be made, but on the whole it does a similar job at a lower

price.

This slender cylinder effortlessly fills the room with

omnidirectional sound, allowing you to walk around without any change in

tone or bass depth, while crisp treble makes for an exciting listen.

Its soundstage is slightly smaller than the R5, and it loses poise at

higher volumes, but it still holds its own sonically against price

rivals such as the Denon Heos 1.

What’s

more, the smart design and small footprint make it a welcome addition

to any room. Plus, thanks to Samsung’s excellent smartphone app, it’s

remarkably easy to control as part of a multiroom system.

Samsung R1 – Verdict

Samsung’s

entry-level multiroom speaker is stylish, easy to use and bursting with

features, while clever Ring Radiator tech delivers powerful and

detailed sound wherever you are in the room.

Overall Score

Latest from Trusted Reviews