Review Price £849.00
It’s Samsung’s latest premium home cinema system, which includes a 3D Blu-ray player, multichannel amplifier and 7.1-channel speaker array. You can connect a variety of sources via HDMI and Bluetooth, stream music and videos via DLNA and access a wealth of online content from Samsung’s Smart Hub.
Last year’s flagship all-in-one system, the HT-F9750W, was an absolute triumph in every area apart from the most important one – price. Costing £1,500 at launch, it was wildly overpriced despite its mind-blowing feature list and impressive performance – ultimately, the sort of money that could get you a much better-sounding separates system.
Thankfully Samsung has learned from its mistakes and this new range-topping system is much easier on the wallet (although £849 still isn’t peanuts). The HT-H7750WM, which is billed as the flagship even though the HT-F9750W continues, boasts a similarly impressive spec but jettisons some of the 9750W’s extravagances to get the price tag looking a little more realistic.
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So what’s in the box? Well, there’s a combined BD/DVD/CD player and receiver, which boasts a 1330W seven-channel amplifier and HD audio decoders. You also get two pairs of tower speakers – one for the front channels, one for the rears – plus a centre speaker and passive subwoofer.
Although there are only six physical speakers, the front towers’ built-in discrete ‘surround top’ drivers take the tally up to 7.1. The rear speakers are described as wireless, but that’s a misnomer as you have to connect their cables to a separate receiver placed at the back of the room – the main unit beams surround signals to the receiver from its built-in transmitter. Granted it’s much tidier than trailing cables across the room but wireless it ain’t.
The front and rear speakers aren’t as glamorous as the F9750W’s silver towers, but look perfectly stylish in their gloss black finish. This understated design, combined with the speakers’ slimmer dimensions, make this system a much less imposing addition to your living room.
Build quality has been improved too. The towers come in three bits – a top section that houses the actual speaker, a hollow plastic column and a hexagonal base. The top section is weighty and well-made, with a metal mesh covering the drivers. A lever on the back lets you tilt the surround top driver upwards to enhance the sense of height, which is a nice idea but it’s stiff and clunky to use.
Moreover, the entire mid section feels plasticky, and overall you don’t get the same sense of stability as most hi-fi floorstanders. The subwoofer also feels cheap and flimsy, although the gloss black finish and compact size at least make it look nice. We’re impressed by the centre speaker – it’s solidly built and tilts upwards slightly to propel sound into the room.
The main unit looks virtually identical to last year’s version, but with such sleek, sexy looks that’s hardly surprising – you don’t expect a football manager to change a winning side. The unit measures just 55mm from top to bottom and it’s styled in Samsung’s customary gloss-black finish, which adds effortless panache despite being an absolute magnet for dust and fingerprints.
The front panel is clean and uncluttered, with a small LED display and touch sensitive controls doing little to upset the minimal aesthetic. On top is a round porthole revealing a pair of red-glowing valves, confirming that this system features vacuum tube amplification just like the 9750W. The right hand corner of the unit stylishly follows the contour of this window.
On the back you’ll find a useful array of sockets, the highlight of which is a pair of HDMI inputs that allow you to play other hi-def sources in surround sound. The HDMI output, meanwhile, supports Audio Return Channel. Optical and analogue stereo inputs, an Ethernet port and FM aerial input complete the rear line-up. On the front is a USB port for music playback from Apple devices and pen drives.
Hooked up to the web over the built-in Wi-Fi connection, you can download a wealth of online apps to your TV, including BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4OD, Demand 5 and YouTube, plus a myriad of game, puzzle, information, entertainment and lifestyle apps. On-demand movies come courtesy of Amazon Instant Video, Netflix and Samsung’s own Video Hub.
There are loads of wireless streaming options. DLNA compliance lets you stream music, video and photo files over a network connection, with a list of supported formats that includes DivX HD, AVCHD, MP3, MKV, WMV, WMA, AAC, FLAC and JPEG. It also supports hi-res audio files, happily playing 96kHz/24-bit FLAC and ALAC versions of tracks from All Will Surely Burn by Sons of Kemet.
Wi-Fi Direct lets you side-step a router altogether, while screen mirroring replicates an Android phone on your TV. Built-in Bluetooth makes wireless audio streaming even easier, particularly if you use NFC, which lets you pair compatible phones by touching them on the logo on the unit’s top panel.
Another nifty feature is multiroom support. With compatible Samsung devices dotted around the house, including the M5/M7 speakers and BD-H6500/8900 players, you can create you own music ecosystem and orchestrate playback using Samsung’s new Multiroom app. We didn’t have access to this while testing but having been impressed by the M7 speakers, we can imagine the HT-H7750WM slotting in very nicely.
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Audio features are headlined by DTS Neo:Fusion II, developed in partnership with DTS and exclusive to Samsung. It creates a 9.1-channel soundstage using the top drivers in the front speakers to create a sense of vertical expansion. This processing worked brilliantly on the HT-F9750W where it made its debut, so we’re hoping for more of the same here.
It’s joined by a range of Sound Effect modes with wacky names like Philharmonic Hall in Bratislava, which aim to replicate their titular environments. Under the DSP menu are Power Bass and MP3 Enhancer settings, while the Sports menu offers Announcer and Stadium settings with the impending World Cup in mind. A Virtual Surround setting gives stereo material a 5.1 effect. As you can see, there’s plenty to play around with.
We’ve mentioned that the HT-H7750WM features a combination of vacuum tube and digital amplification, but for the latter it doesn’t use Gallium Nitride like the HT-F9750W – a necessary cost-cutting sacrifice. Also gone are the 9750W’s CPID speaker drivers.
On the Blu-ray side, the system offers 3D playback and 4K upscaling, as well as decoding Dolby True HD, DTS HD Master Audio and their predecessors.
Let’s not sugar coat it – setting up the HT-H7750WM is a slog, but to be fair Samsung at least tries to make it easy. There are loads of bits in the box – the three-part tallboy speakers require slotting and screwing together and then there’s the wireless rears to set up (you’ll need a spare mains socket for the receiver). But the front and rear cables are pre-attached and everything is labelled and colour coded to avoid confusion.
Once the hardware’s installed, the onscreen stuff is a breeze. Samsung’s foolproof onscreen wizards guide you through the Wi-Fi network setup process, with a slick virtual keyboard to punch in passwords, and other tweaks are easily located in the Settings menu.
The HT-H7750WM employs the same operating system seen on Samsung’s latest Blu-ray players, bringing pleasing consistency across the range. The Home menu uses the same large panels for each section, showing a collage of stills and poster art for available content.
The sections are Play Disc; Films and TV Shows (content from on-demand services); Multimedia (your own DLNA/USB content): and Samsung Apps (internet content). It looks terrific – bright and eye-catching, sophisticated but not overly fussy, you’ll make your way around with no hassle.
A row of icons along the bottom provides short cuts to the system’s myriad inputs, plus a selection of downloaded and recommended apps.
Dig into the various menus and you’ll find the same logical design and attention to detail. Samsung Apps features a large grid housing downloaded apps. New apps can be added from the ‘Most Popular’, ‘What’s New’ and ‘Categories’ options at the bottom.
The Multimedia menu is awash with large thumbnails and graphics, while the straightforward menu sequence makes it easy to find that elusive file. This really is a first-rate menu system, made even better by a speedy dual-core processor.
Samsung has simplified the remote this year, making it much smaller and stripping down the buttons to the basics. It works well on the whole, with keys organised into logical sections. However most of the buttons are a little too small and clicky (we prefer Samsung’s usual chunky rubber keys) and the direction pad needs to be more clearly marked. We don’t like the fact that you have to hold down the chapter skip keys to fast-forward or rewind either.
Given the price, you’d expect a better performance than the usual one-box system fare, and thankfully that’s exactly what you get. There’s a level of composure, richness and dare we say sophistication about the Samsung’s sound that makes it uncharacteristically satisfying for an all-in-one system.
Sure, a few flaws remind you that you’re not listening to a separates system, little chinks in the sonic armour that hint at the system’s value-led ethos. But if this represents your first foray into the world of home cinema then we don’t think you’ll be disappointed in the slightest.
Load up The Desolation of Smaug on Blu-ray, for example, and the HT-H7750WM delivers the action with a lively dynamic character. When Beorn chases the dwarves through the woods, the system’s vigorous tone and hearty bass output lend the scene a wonderful sense of drama. From the score’s driving drums up to the beast’s snarl and shouting dwarves, everything is rendered with such clarity and force that it’s not hard to get caught up in the action.
Then, as the beast slopes off, the grunts that come through the rear channels are precise and localised, showing the system’s terrific separation and control of surround information. That continues during the movie’s final showdown between the dwarves and Smaug, as whooshing wings and roaring fire effects are thrown brilliantly around the room, wrapping you up in a 360-degree vortex of sound.
Most processing modes are frankly a waste of silicon, but DTS Neo:Fusion II actually does a terrific job. Switch it on and the soundstage is bigger and louder. It’s possible to pick out effects circulating above the speakers, particularly non-directional, ambient sounds, which makes the movie’s finale all the more immersive.
Elsewhere there are other positives to report – dialogue is nicely handled, whether it’s an Orc’s nasal tones or Gandalf’s authoritative growl. The Necromancer’s voice sounds suitably threatening too – rich and raspy.
The system has clearly been EQ’d to make top-end detail sparkle, which makes everything crisp and airy. Effects like the crackle of fire and crunch of twigs come through clearly. That said, it’s a little too bright at times, particularly with DTS Neo:Fusion II activated.
While we’re on the negatives, the subwoofer’s bass output could do with being a bit tighter and punchier. Its big, rumbling low frequencies bring heft and depth where needed, but inevitably for a passive unit there’s a lack of agility and slam. It’s a little overpowering too, but that can be rectified using the speaker settings in the setup menu.
Another issue is that with the volume up high, certain midrange and high-frequencies sound a little harsh, lacking the smoothness and absolute composure of a good separates system. But considering how much the HT-H7750WM packs in for the money we don’t think you’ll have much trouble overlooking small foibles like these.
The HT-H7750WM is also a superb purveyor of pictures, shepherding pixels from Blu-ray disc to TV screen without any problems to speak of. Whether you’re watching in 2D or 3D, colours look deep and realistic, with nicely-blended colour gradients and nuanced skin tones. It slaps you round the face with dazzlingly sharp detail and emphatic edges too, and there’s no judder or tracking issues when reproducing fast movement. 3D discs boast tremendous depth and stability.
The deck also loads Blu-ray discs as quickly as Samsung’s standalone players, taking an impressive 20 seconds to start playing the Java-heavy Terminator Salvation.
With a more reasonable price than the obscenely expensive HT-F9750W but an equally impressive feature list and performance, the HT-H7750WM is definitely deserving of your cash. It replays movies with aplomb, offering a big, lively and detailed sound that’s enhanced by impressive DTS Neo:Fusion II processing.
It’s not perfect, as the occasional harshness, loose bass and plasticky build quality will testify, but such shortcomings are beaten into insignificance by the sheer magnitude of the feature list. And when you add the system’s stylish looks and slick operating system to the mix, there’s really no excuse not to give it a whirl.
The only major caveat would be whether it's ever worth spending so much money on an all-in-one system that would be difficult to upgrade should the urge ever take you. But then we don't envisage anyone needing to upgrade this system for quite some time.
Samsung’s wonderful all-in-one system is stuffed with more tricks than Paul Daniels’ garage and delivers exciting sound quality – all for a more reasonable price than its predecessor.
Next, read our Samsung HT-F9750W review
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