Samsung HW-D550 HT Sound Bar

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Dec 8, 2011 by Mike Chin

Product Samsung HW-D550
2.1 Home Theater Audio Bar System
Manufacturer Samsung
MSP $450

High definition TV is a cash cow for the consumer electronics industry. With the wealth of high definition media hitting theaters, Blu-ray discs, broadcast and Internet TV, a HD TV has become mandatory for any self-respecting modern. But HD does not end there. There's the need for a Blu-ray player, media content purchases, subscription to HD TV services, and once you get a bit into it, a home theater sound system, which often requires an AV receiver as well as multiple speakers. Some people want better sound than what their spanking new HD TV delivers — is it any surprise that the sound quality of these TVs is never good enough to match the video? — but without the expense or complexity. Hence the creation of "home-theater-in-a-box" sound systems, of which the Sound Bar is a variant.

As the moniker suggests, a sound bar is a single long (or wide) speaker system that sits under or directly in front of the big screen TV, usually with a separate subwoofer off to the side. This is considerably less cumbersome than a typical 5.1 system (with five speakers and a sub) or even a 3-piece stereo speaker and sub 3.1 system. The amplifier is usually housed in the sub, so no receiver is necessary. This is not a bad solution if you're pressed for room or don't want the headaches of a higher end discrete system.

At $450, the Samsung HW-D550 2.1 Home Theater Audio Bar System is relatively affordable. Sound bars can run thousands of dollars, but start as low as under $200, so it's modestly priced. It has a couple of features that make it stand out a bit. First, the connection between the soundbar and its subwoofer is wireless, which is not unique, but a nice bonus for WAF. Secondly, its remote works with most current Samsung AV products. The remote doesn't give you the full range of function for every Samsung component, but the oft-used features are accessible. For the many Samsung TV owners out there, this is a very handy bonus.

The Samsung HW-D550 carton is nearly four feet wide.

Contents include 42" wide sound bar, 14" tall subwoofer (about 0.7 cubic foot or 20 liters in volume), small infrared remote control, and analog audio cable. A mini-HDMI to HDMI cable and a simple wall mounting bracket should also have been in the package, but they were missing in our sample... most likely because they were not returned by the reviewer who last had this unit.

Samsung HW-D550 Features
Feature & Claimed Benefits Our Comment
Dolby® Digital delivers high-definition sound that’s just as stunning as your TV's picture. With advanced lossless, multi-channel audio codec technology, you’ll be immersed in sound that’s identical to the studio master recording. The benefits are a bit overstated. Dolby Digital would be expected in an AV product of this price.
Sync movies from PC with DivX HD
Watch downloaded movies on your TV, in all their big-screen glory. With DivX playback, your Blu-ray player can read DVDs and CDs containing DivX movie files you’ve downloaded to a PC-without needing an adapter.
It doesn't seem that fantastic when you consider what <$100 media streaming devices like the WD TV Live can do.
Take all your remotes and condense them into one simplified solution. With Samsung’s Anynet+ you’ll enjoy one-touch control for all your HDMI-connected compatible devices like your Samsung TV, Blu-ray Disc player, AV Receiver and Home Theater.
This is possibly very useful. Anything to reduce the clutter of multiple remotes!

Samsung HW-D550 Specifications
Number of Channels 2.1
Total Power (W) 80W x 2 + 150W
Audio Processing Dolby Digital - Standard audio signal format used on DVDs and other purely digital media. This surround technology delivers high-quality digital audio of up to 5.1 discrete channels to produce a
directional and more realistic effect.
DTS - provides a discrete 5.1 CH digital audio signal for both music and movie content and uses less compression than Dolby Digital for richer sound
Smart Volume - Regulates and stabilizes volume level (compression for reduced peaks, useful when others may be disturbed by the program sound)
Front Speaker two 3-way
Subwoofer yes; wireless connection
Inputs/Outputs Analog in - 1
Optical in - 2
HDMI in - 2
HDMI out - 1
USB - only for firmware update
Width, Height, Depth
41.6" x 3.2" x 1.8" (sound bar)
6.89 x 13.78 x 11.61" (sub)
Optional Accessory
Wireless iPod & iPhone Dock HT-WDC10 - $99
Weight 4.5 lbs (sound bar)
12 lbs (sub)
Finishes Gloss Black, Gloss White

The usual range of specifications for loudspeakers, such as frequency response, crossover frequency points, distortion or maximum output level are conspicuous by their absence. It is clear that the sound bar must have a D/A converter within, to convert the digital signal from HDMI or optical connections into an analog signal for the speakers, but no details are provided. It's also not clear whether the radio signal to the subwoofer is analog or digital; the latter would require another D/A converter in the sub.

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