The Samsung HW-F751 is extremely easy to set up. The only real difficulty comes when cramming all the cables into the back and getting it to lie flat. Of course, wall-mounting is a little more involved, but with all the bits in the box it should be a breeze for anyone who’s handy with a drill and Rawlplugs.
Optimising the sound is easy. Using the supplied mic to measure test tones, the ASC system tweaks the levels and EQ of the soundbar and sub according to the listening position. The process takes about two minutes to complete. If you decide not to use it, manual audio adjustments are easily accessible – the remote has dedicated subwoofer level and audio sync controls.
The other potential banana skin is the subwoofer, which communicates with the soundbar using a 2.4GHz wireless system. But the two devices are already paired and should link up as soon as you turn them both on. If not, there’s a pairing button on the that you hold down for five seconds. We also had no trouble pairing the Samsung HW-F751 with our Bluetooth-equipped iPod Nano.
The remote is easy to use thanks to its ergonomic shape and thoughtful button layout. All of the keys are clearly labelled and the direction pad for controlling menus even glows in the dark. There are buttons for all the main features and sound modes, and it’ll also control Samsung TVs. A source button lets you toggle through inputs, with each one clearly displayed on the OLED panel.
As soundbars go, the Samsung HW-F751 is sounds fantastic - it even gives regular home cinema systems a run for their money with its potent, room-filling sound. It’s a loud, entertaining listen with both TV and movie material, and will surely make you wonder why you put up with your TV’s speakers for so long.
Key to its success is the use of a vacuum tube amp, which makes movies sound richer and deeper than many soundbars. The Samsung HW-F751’s sound is warmer and beefier than a mug of Bovril and it's bolstered by a competent active subwoofer that has the welly to engulf the room.
Its talents are forcefully demonstrated while watching The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on Blu-ray. The Samsung HW-F751 lends a remarkable sense of scale to the film’s relentless action scenes – the Stone Giants battle is conveyed with astonishing power for such a slim unit.
And as the dwarves battle their way through an army of Goblins, the gang’s footsteps have satisfying weight on the wooden bridge, and they thump foes aside with a tight burst of bass. When the Goblin King stops them in their tracks, the Samsung HW-F751 really makes you believe his size and heft, while the pounding score has plenty of warmth and grandeur.
But it’s not all about power and bass. There’s crisp detail in the mix too, from the metallic chink of swords to the creaking wooden bridge, while the robust midrange makes it easy to pick out dialogue amid the action.
Its soundstage is also immersive, but that’s due more to the power and scale of the speakers than clever virtual surround processing. With 3D Sound Plus engaged, there’s no obvious relationship between the sonic ‘movement’ and 3D pictures, but it does lend extra width and fullness to the soundstage.
The subwoofer does a great job, subtly blending with the soundbar without drawing undue attention to itself. Bass notes are muscular without being too flabby, although you shouldn’t set it any higher than 1 as it starts to shudder a little.
The Samsung HW-F751 isn’t entirely comfortable at loud volumes, either. Push it past the 30 mark (the max is 40) and The Hobbit’s boisterous scenes start to sound sharp and shouty, particularly when creatures start shrieking and roaring. You’re not likely to listen at this sort of volume unless you want to damage your ears, but volume junkies should bear it in mind.
The HW-F751 also makes a good fist of music via Bluetooth, lending more of that irresistible warmth to the sound and topping it off with twinkling detail, although it still lacks the finesse of a good hi-fi separates system.
The Samsung HW-F751 is Samsung’s best soundbar yet. The use of vacuum tube amplification lends a warmth and richness to movie soundtracks that’s all too rare among soundbars, while its impressive power and detail handling contribute towards an thrilling home cinema experience.
The feature list is also full of nice surprises, but it’s the design that really seals the deal. With gorgeous metal bodywork, nifty flourishes and flexible installation, it’ll turn heads in any living room.
The downside? This cool functionality, snazzy styling and exciting sonics will set you back a hefty £600, which is higher than your average soundbar – but then, the Samsung HW-F751 isn’t your average soundbar.
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