- Hugely generous feature list
- Vacuum tube amp adds warmth and punch
- Attractive, welcoming GUI
- Appealing new ‘lifestyle’ services
- Sounds a little brash
- Lightweight, plasticky speaker cabinets
- Slow web browsing
- Review Price: £1000.00
- Smart Hub
- AllShare Play
- Built-in Wi-Fi with Soft AP
- Vacuum tube amplifier
- Built-in Bluetooth
- 1,330W power rating
- Two HDMI inputs
- Front Top speakers and new glass fibre cones
As last year’s HT-D6750W is already one of the most advanced Blu-ray systems on the market, we struggled to imagine what could possibly be added to its successor, the Samsung HT-E6750W. But as always the Korean innovator has dreamed up a bunch of new features that take this year’s version to the next level.
As before, this 7.1-channel Blu-ray system is a complete entertainment hub, offering 3D Blu-ray playback, DLNA media streaming, plentiful web content and excellent multimedia support. But one of the big talking points is its use of valve and digital amplifier technology, which is said to add extra warmth to the sound.
The main unit of the HT-E6750W boasts a sleek gloss-black finish that’ll look good in any living room. Modern and stylish without going overboard, it’s classic Samsung. It’s chunkier than your average Blu-ray deck, but still easy to slot into a rack.
The eye is immediately drawn to the round window on top allowing you to glimpse those newly added valves (more on those later), accentuated by red lights. This see-through section creates a curved section on the fascia that houses the volume controls. Elsewhere the combined display panel and touch-sensitive controls are a great way of consolidating the clutter into one area, not to mention looking very cool indeed.
On the back is a healthy selection of sockets. To start, there are two HDMI inputs, which combined have two benefits – you can listen to external sources through the system, plus the HT-E6750W becomes a switcher, taking up just one HDMI input on your TV.
Analogue stereo and optical digital inputs let you connect even more external sources, while Ethernet provides an alternative to the built in Wi-Fi. With the supplied transmitter card plugged into the slot on the back, the system beams surround sound info to the rear speakers, in turn linked up to the supplied wireless receiver. That does away with messy cables trailing to the back of the room.
The iPod connections (front USB or rear slot) are another massive bonus, allowing quick, convenient hook-up of Apple devices directly or with a dock.
The HT-E6750W’s 1200mm-tall tower speakers look modern and elegant in their gloss black finish, while the exposed drivers are an eye-catching aesthetic feature – particularly with their newly-added silver phase plugs. The top driver can also be tilted, angling the sound upwards into the room. These top drivers have their own dedicated channels, giving you a 7.1-channel system without having to find room for physical surround back speakers.
However, a closer manual inspection reveals disappointing build quality. There’s a plasticky, hollow feel to the front and rear cabinets which raises questions about their ability to resist detrimental vibration. But no doubt this is a cost-driven decision.
The passive subwoofer shares this plasticky build quality, although the supplied centre speaker feels a lot more solid.
The HT-E6750W shares many of the features found on the BD-E8500 Smart PVR, so we’ll keep details brief – for a more in-depth look check out our review of the BD-E8500.
First up is the Smart Hub internet portal, which comes with a wide range of apps (including BBC iPlayer), new ‘signature services’ like Family Story, Fitness and Kids, plus a built-in web browser, Your Video and Search. It’s a terrific feature that could possibly only be improved by more catch-up TV services.
There’s built-in Wi-Fi, alongside handy new features like Soft AP, which allows devices to use the HT-E6750W as a Wi-Fi access point, and AllShare Play, which consolidates all content (including files on your home network) into one place.
In terms of audio technology, it’s a different animal to its predecessor. For this model, Samsung has used a combination of vacuum tube technology and digital amplification in a bid to deliver a warmer sound, making this the world’s first system to do so. After being passed through a high-quality DAC, the signal goes to the vacuum tube pre-amplifier and then to a Class D amp to achieve the required efficiency while keeping the tonal characteristics of the tube. It pumps out a claimed power of 1,330W.
Samsung has also upgraded to glass fibre speaker cones, the extra rigidity of which brings better heat and vibration resistance. Inside the subwoofer, a 10in passive radiator is added to the main driver to improve bass response.
Elsewhere you’ll find a bevy of sound modes, including 3D sound, MP3 Enhancer, Power Bass and Samsung’s barmy SFE settings like ‘Symphony Hall in Boston’. Naturally it decodes Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio soundtracks too.
Then of course there’s the HT-E6750W’s comprehensive multimedia support from USB devices and over DLNA, with CD ripping to USB as an added bonus. Built-in Bluetooth allows you to stream music to the system without hassle, while on the visual side the HT-E6750W offers 3D Blu-ray support with 2D-to-3D conversion.
Completing the picture are not just an FM tuner but, download the vTuner app and, you can stream thousands of internet radio stations.
Setting up the HT-E6750W is an unavoidably long-winded procedure, given the amount of components in the box. The three-part front and surround tower speakers require lots of screwing, while the need to locate the wireless receiver near a power socket and hide the wires could also be an issue.
But a few things ease the process, such as the colour coded speaker wires/plugs and the automatic calibration system, which sets the sonic parameters for you using the supplied microphone – great news for home cinema newcomers.
The rest of the setup procedure – configuring Wi-Fi and all the related network features, setting up the speakers, selecting inputs and making key tweaks to Blu-ray playback – are all a complete doddle thanks to the clear onscreen menus and text.
Once installed, day-to-day navigation is easy. The HT-E6750W shares the same dazzlingly crisp and colourful menu design and architecture as the BD-E8500, which is a good thing. However the use of a single core processor as opposed to the dual core used in the BD-E8500 makes it more sluggish – particularly the web browser, which is slow almost to the point of being unusable. Even using a mouse doesn’t help.
The remote uses roughly the same design as the BD-E8500, apart from a few extra buttons. It boasts perfect placement of the menu and playback controls, excellent labelling and a generally comfortable and ergonomic shape. We also like the sleek brushed black styling, which brings a bit of panache to the coffee table.
The system boots up incredibly quickly and loads discs quickly. It took 41 seconds to start playing the Java-heavy menus of Terminator Salvation, while a less tricky disc like Thor takes 25 seconds, which is excellent.
With movies, the HT-E6750W delivers a dynamic and exciting sound that’ll easily satisfy home cinema newcomers. The sound seems more coherent and well-balanced than equivalent Samsung systems from previous years, and beats out some rivals too.
It goes suitably loud, generating an impactful, room-filling noise when turned up to between half and two-thirds of the full volume. But that power comes with a pleasing level of control and restraint by all-in-one system standards – it’s a little rough here and there, but high-frequencies don’t sound unreasonably harsh or resonant and there’s a better overall depth to the sound, presumably brought about by the use of valve amp technology.
This new system helps the tower speakers reproduce low-frequencies with greater warmth and depth than expected, even without the support of the subwoofer. That leads to a punchy sound with a more seamless crossover between the satellites and the subwoofer – they’re not separate, disjointed entities.
The scene from Thor on Blu-ray (DTS HD Master Audio 7.1) in which our titular hero and friends battle the Frost Giants of Yodenheim is a blast. The HT-E6750W’s tower speakers project the barrage of effects with considerable force, such as the sound of Thor’s hammer smashing through rocks, or the ground cracking open. Towards the end of the scene a huge alien creature chases them to the edge of a cliff, and when it roars the sound is powerful and raspy without hurting your ears.
It’s a loud and gratifying sound with plenty of energy. Also impressive is the wide and spacious soundstage created by the satellites, with accurate effects placement and seamless steering. The ‘front top’ speaker arrangement is no match for real surround back channels, but does add an extra sense of immersion over conventional 5.1 systems. The sats are acoustically matched, which eliminates tonal differences between channels, and the centre speaker generally makes dialogue audible.
Those are the positives, but there are a few negatives to report – most notably a lack of finesse and polish. The sound is a bit too brash and ‘crunchy’ to attract the attention of the more discerning audiophile market, lacking the smoothness in the high frequencies that you’d get from a decent separate speaker system.
We also feel the HT-E6750W’s speakers could pick out subtle background detail a little better, although to achieve the level of transparency and clarity we’re alluding to would require significantly more expensive speakers, which defeats the object.
And although the subwoofer does a reasonably good job of underpinning the low frequencies, it could be tighter and punchier. There’s a lack of variation or subtlety about its performance – it’s either rumbling or it’s not. But this is a common trait with passive subwoofers.
Surprisingly, music playback is very good, benefitting from crisp top-end frequencies, solid timing and pleasing purity with vocals and instrument solos. There’s inherent warmth to the sound that you don’t always get from all-in-one systems. A clip in Dolby True HD of Jane Monheit and John Pizzarelli performing They Can’t Take That Away From Me sounds delightful, with standout features being the smooth, mellifluous tone to Monheit’s voice and the chunky reproduction of the double bass.
We can’t fault the system’s picture quality. Blu-ray images are crisply defined, punchy and rich in colour. It handles subtler aspects of the picture like skin tones, textures and shading with great competence and it passes 3D pictures to our TV without any glitches. The result? Deep, absorbing stereoscopic images that you can dive right into.
Overall, the Samsung HT-E6750W is a Blu-ray and surround sound system designed to offer maximum bang for buck, and on that score its gratifyingly powerful sound does the job. Although there are certain sonic shortcomings, it’s an improvement on previous models and the vast array of features on board makes any foibles easier to swallow. There’s very little this system can’t do, marrying the usual networking, multimedia and web features to fun new tricks that will keep you entertained for hours on end.