Samsung is known as a market leader across several different fields, including television, mobile devices, and even sound systems. They’re certainly a force to be reckoned with, and Samsung sound bars are no exception.
Ever since TVs have gotten more and more flat, the trend of mounting your TV on the wall has become increasingly common. A lot of the bigger sound systems, though, don’t quite match up to the thinness of modern TVs, and so sound bars have come about as a way to provide audio in a much more compact and stylish format. They don’t quite offer the same kind of sound quality as more dedicated surround sound systems, but they nonetheless work fairly well and offer some nice features.
Samsung’s HW-E550 and HW-F550 are meant to be an evolution of the same series, with the HW-F550 being the newer generation to its predecessor, HW-E550. When it comes to decision making, the choice is obviously clear. If you want the latest model, then you would go for HW-F550 but if you want to save some bucks and do not mind going a bit backward, HW-E550 is your option.
But if you want to be more specific and want to know what you will get out of the extra bucks, this review will highlight the differences and improvements in the latest generation. The choice is then entirely yours to make but it should be clear to you what you are paying for.
One interesting design choice in the HW-E550 is its ability to be split into two separate speakers. If you decide that the single bar design doesn’t work for you, you can split into its left and right speakers, placing them however you please. On paper, this features combines the sleekness of a sound bar with the versatility of a traditional sound system.
Also included is a wireless subwoofer, making this a 2.1 sound system. Bass response is one common complain in most early sound bar models that are not equipped with subwoofer. Given the sleekness and dimension of sound bars, this simply is a fundamental limitation that can only be resolved with a separately powered subwoofer. Fortunately, you won’t have to deal with the hassle of wires since the subwoofer will connect to the sound bar wirelessly. Keep in mind though that the wireless communication between the sound bar and subwoofer takes place in 2.4GHz and you have to make sure that they are placed reasonably far away from any WiFi access point.
Despite the system having two speakers, Samsung’s 3D Sound Plus technology can analyze the image on your screen and adjust the sound accordingly, simulating the effect of surround sound. It’s a nifty feature, though it’s certainly not a replacement for actual surround speakers. It’s a nice addition nonetheless.
Its Bluetooth connectivity means that you can stream audio wirelessly from your mobile device (smartphone or tablet), which can be very handy and convenient especially for today’s gadget-driven world.
For ports, it includes 2 HDMI inputs, 1 HDMI output, 1 digital optical input plus the ability to play MP3/WMA over USB storage. Basically you won’t have a problem hooking it up, though it’s preferable if you also have a Samsung TV, and for a good reason.
With its AnyNet+ feature, one remote can be used to control your entire home entertainment system. The sound bar as well as your TV and other devices will all turn on simultaneously, which is a very convenient feature.
The HW-F550 marks a design overhaul compared to its predecessor. First of all, it no longer gives you the flexibility to split apart the sound bar unit. It is unclear to me why such a move. But if you find this idea to be cool, Philips Fidelio sound bar would be your next best sound bar option.
Other than this physical design overhaul, the connection port placement has undergone transformation. In HW-E550, the audio input ports are located in the subwoofer and this has been moved to the main sound bar unit in HW-F550. This makes sense because since the whole idea of wireless subwoofer is to give you flexibility in your subwoofer placement around the room, it does not make sense if the subwoofer has be wired to your TV. The new design of HW-F550 makes more sense and it is the most widely adopted design as the main sound bar is usually placed close to your TV.
In terms of number of ports, the latest model features 1 HDMI input, 1 HDMI output, 1 digital input, 1 3.5mm audio jack input and 1 USB input. Both models are almost identical on this front with the exception of 1 less HDMI input in the latest model. I doubt there is going to be any use for the additional port and what I can say is you are not going to lose out on anything with 1 less HDM input.
The other improvement is the use of 3-speaker instead of 2-speaker systems. On paper, this is supposed to deliver higher audio performance. In simple terms, it means that you will have three different drivers generating audio of different frequencies – low, medium and high. However, given the price point of this sound bar, do not expect notable difference between the two because the drivers will not be of high quality and will not be able to deliver substantial improvement. If you have gone through enough sound bar reviews, you would agree with me to say this is more of a gimmick rather than truly useful improvement.
That is it. You have now seen the differences between HW-F550 compared to its predecessor, HW-E550. Officially, the MSRP of both models are the same. However, being an older model it is, you can probably get HW-E550 at more steeply discounted price now.
What do you think of Samsung HW-F550? Do you think they are worth a buy? Or are you still looking for alternatives? If you do, check out our pick of the best sound bars to go along with your smart TVs.