The Samsung HT-E6500W is a scaled down version of the HT-E6750W 7.1 system we raved about back in February. This one reduces the speaker count to 5.1 and swaps the tall towers for compact bookshelf speakers, making it more living room friendly than its £1,000 bigger brother – but that also makes it easier on your wallet. Crucially it retains the vacuum tube technology used by the flagship version, which contributed to some of the best sound quality we’ve heard from a Samsung system.
As expected, this is one swanky-looking system. All of the components are styled in a gloss-black finish, which makes up for in allure what it lacks in originality. Although much less imposing than the 6750W’s towers, the front speakers are reasonably large – housing two glass fibre cone woofers and a tweeter – but the rear speakers are smaller, sporting a single full-range driver. Both use similarly shaped cabinets with straight lines and eye-catching silver phase plugs poking out from the cones.
The centre speaker is similarly styled but longer and horizontal, which makes placement on your TV stand a cinch. It too uses two woofers with a tweeter in between them. The setup is completed by a disproportionately large side-firing subwoofer, which is of the passive (not powered) variety – hardly surprising but not ideal. It looks nice though, again dressed in a gloss-black finish with a large circular port on one side.
A closer inspection reveals that the speakers’ build quality is typical of an all-in-one system – the cabinets are fashioned from plastic, which isn’t as rigid or robust as we’d hoped.
Like the HT-E6750W, the main Blu-ray receiver is unremarkable and rather chunky, but the black finish is sleek and tasteful. A couple of things catch the eye – the red glow of the valves through the circular window on the right, and the central touch-sensitive LED panel, which keeps front panel clutter to a minimum. A flap below the volume controls on the right hides a USB port and an input for the auto calibration microphone.
Rear connectivity is generous. Helpfully it provides two HDMI inputs for external source switching as well as a 3D-ready HDMI output and composite video output, while optical digital and analogue inputs accommodate other audio sources.
There’s also a socket for the supplied iPod dock – we told you it was generous – and a slot for Samsung’s optional rear speaker kit (the one supplied with the HT-E6750W). There’s also an Ethernet port for those who want network functionality but can’t take advantage of the system’s built-in Wi-Fi.