Impressive performance for a single-body soundbar
Easy to create and handle
Plenty of features
Can be upgraded
Bass much less punchy as we wish
It’s height could be a problem for a few TVs
No actual surround activity
Single HDMI input
In terms of soundbars they are often split into three different categories. In another of them we find the ones that usually include both a subwoofer along with surround speakers and they are supposed to pose an excellent option to full dedicated surround setups. Next we get the soundbar-subwoofer combos that are manufactured with simplicity at heart but try to provide sort of performance and top features of a completely featured system and so trying to cover a middle ground. And last but not least we get the single-body soundbars that are aimed right to those that search for the absolute simplest way to boost their TV’s audio tracks with minimal hustle possible.
Such a soundbar we are testing here today inside our Samsung HW-MS650 review. Samsung has been making soundbars for quite a while now and we’ve seen some pretty amazing units from their website. The MS650 belongs within their Sound+ series which is meant to be their single-body variants that aim at combining the very best sound performance of a primary bar and subwoofer right into a single unit. Make no mistake, this can be an individual unit soundbar nonetheless it has been tested and tuned in Samsung’s California Audio Lab and packs some pretty amazing features to be able to deliver the goods.
The HW-MS650 is actually a 3 channels single-body soundbar that has 6 mid/bass drivers and 3 tweeters, supports Dolby Digital and DTS sound, features HIGH RES Audio and Bluetooth streaming, it really is Amazon Alexa enabled and will be expanded to either 3.1 or 5.1 channels with the addition of a subwoofer or surround speakers. As possible plainly see there is great overall flexibility in this unit both regarding performance together with included features. Are these enough to keep this competitive in it’s respective category and just how much of a noticable difference can a single-body soundbar provide you if you’re searching for a easy to handle solution? Continue reading as we reveal everything below…
Design, Inputs and Features
Usually single-body soundbars, with a few notable exceptions, don’t have a whole lot going for them because they usually target the low tier categories and so we get fairly easy setups in terms of the hardware they use. The MS650 appears to be among the exceptions as this unit could be rated as a 3.0 channels soundbar for leading left, right and center channels but what’s under the hood helps it be even more impressive. We will get into more details in the correct section however the soundbar has a whopping 6 mid/bass drivers along with 3 wide-dispersion tweeters making things even more interesting with regards to it’s performance.
Another interesting simple truth is this unit’s dimensions. Measuring 41.7 x 3.1 x 5.1 inches (1060.0 x 78.0 x 130.5 mm) and with a weight of 13.7 lbs (6.2 kg) we can not say this one is among the biggest soundbars we’ve tested but isn’t small either. And what ought to be noted is that even though many of these units shoot for a low profile to be able never to obstruct the TV’s IR sensors this is often a problem with the MS650 since it goes greater than other similar models. Which means you need to be sure that you won’t cover your TV’s sensor otherwise you will need to think of a solution if you wish to save lots of yourself from frustration.
We really dig the look that Samsung designed for this one. It’s nothing impressive or a thing that we hadn’t seen before but usually with soundbars it’s the tiny details that make a notable difference. The MS650 includes a straight rectangular condition design with simple sharp lines as the upper front corner has been by using a chamfered edge to provide it somewhat of character. The complete front face is included in a metal grille within the front-firing drivers as the remaining body features top quality plastic with a brushed aluminum texture at the top and both sides.
According to usual the soundbar includes a few built-in buttons with Samsung positioning them on the proper side. They are physical buttons shaped according with their functionality and what we get is volume control, input selection and a power button. In all honesty while touch sensitive buttons provide a more premium look we prefer physical kinds as possible simpler to see them at night. There is nothing else at either side keeping an otherwise clean and tidy look.
One thing that people found very practical may be the inclusion of a tiny front display providing you various information about the soundbar’s functions. It’s not really a very big one and has been put at the far right side of leading face which was essential with a center channel being located a thing that some symmetry purists may dislike.
Turning the machine around we find all of the ports grouped together at the guts in the special inset which will help to cover up the cable plugs. Many soundbars have a tendency to divide the connections that can be problematic some times and isn’t helping with cable management so everytime we get the one that groups all of them together is an advantage inside our books. Also there are special wall brackets you need to use in order to stick it on a wall. Samsung in addition has included a wall mounting guide to assist you make the wall holes within their appropriate positions.
Closing we are able to say that so far as it’s design and quality of materials the MS650 left us with very good impressions. Samsung created a good looking soundbar which includes everything essential to make it simple to setup and handle. When there is one thing that could cause some problems is it’s height that may obstruct some lower TVs but otherwise we can not find anything bad about any of it. Good work here.
Here’s where things commence to get more interesting. As we mentioned previously when you visit a 3 channels soundbar usually you don’t expect anything fancy hiding beneath the hood. Alternatively Samsung went a different route and with out a subwoofer it appears these were determined to up the overall game to be able to provide the key unit with the required hardware to handle that.
So Samsung opt to include 6 4.3″ x 2″ oval mid/bass drivers along with 3 wide-range inverted dome tweeters. This signifies that each channel is by using a dual mid/bass driver plus a single tweeter setup and if you consider that every driver has it’s own 20 watts amp you can recognize that what we get will be a lot for such something. But Samsung didn’t stay only there because they included a few technologies that could truly make the included hardware really shine.
Precise multi-speaker control together with the soundbar’s unique distortion cancelling technology, that may predict the distortions as a result of low frequencies because they happen making the required adjustments, provide better and deeper overall low frequency performance that according to Samsung can go only 39 Hz which is amazing if you feel that there is absolutely no subwoofer here.
Also the wide-range inverted dome tweeters can cover a broad frequency range and will also ensure the very best acoustic result isn’t confined to an individual sitting spot making the MS650 suitable for family based spaces like living spaces.
With no subwoofer no surrounds it appears that Samsung wished to raise the soundbar’s hardware features so that you can create a unit that you wouldn’t feel just like it had been without either power or bass handling. So they married some pretty impressive hardware because of this category with some pretty amazing technologies and it only remains to be observed how each one of these translate inside our testing which will follow shortly.
Let’s speak about connectivity now. As we mentioned previously all of the connections are grouped together which requires a thumbs up from us however the most crucial here’s what we do get as much times we’ve seen manufacturers offering the absolute minimum in this regard. The Samsung MS650 did surprise us somewhat in this regard as we get a lot of options to play with.
But let’s begin from the apparent kinds first. On the proper side we get yourself a HDMI input and an HDMI output that is included with ARC functionality. The HDMI ports are both HDCP 2.2 enabled this means they support 4K, 3D together with HDR pass-through and addititionally there is HDMI-CEC and therefore you can control the soundbar making use of your TV’s remote if that is a function that’s also supported by your TV. In this manner you can minimize the quantity of remotes in use that can be very practical.
On another deeper degree of the inset we discover a digital optical input, a microUSB that can be utilised to hook up a particular dongle so that you can hook up wireless surround speakers and subwoofer to the key unit and a 3.5mm analogue audio tracks input.
But what’s special in the MS650 and rather unique is that next to the two-pin power input there is another power output you need to use in order to hook up your TV. In this manner you can avoid by using a separate power cable from it to the energy outlet and keep things a lot more tidy and beautiful. You just have to be sure your TV doesn’t have higher requirements than what this port will offer otherwise this is an extremely smart move although we don’t understand how much persons are likely to use it.
Lastly the soundbar supports both WiFi (2.4 and 5GHz) in addition to Bluetooth for wireless streaming.
The HW-MS650 includes different method of control and the most evident is through the included remote. If you’ve ever used a Samsung TV during the last few years you then will be greeted by a familiar design as this soundbar’s remote resemble quite definitely Samsung’s One remote with it’s curvy look and minimalism design.
The amount of buttons are kept at the very least getting a huge thumbs up from us with the circular navigation buttons sitting in the centre with only three buttons above for power, settings and input selection while below there are three buttons for surround, sound mode and smart mode. Lastly two buttons in the bottom control the quantity and bass.
If you want an alternative solution to the included remote you should use Samsung’s Multiroom iphone app which is quite interesting and feels improved in comparison to other Samsung phone apps. Menus are straightforward and simple to understand while grouping is performed through a particular menu where you enter and will link the many devices together.
Lastly addititionally there is support for Amazon’s Alexa if you want to use your voice instead. But since there is absolutely no built-in microphones in that one you need to use an external speaker as an Amazon Echo product for that to work. Then Amazon Alexa needs the SmartThings software that you will need to download to your phone and use Alexa during that. The manual provide clear and simple to understand steps how to do it and that means you shouldn’t have any problems finishing setup very fastly.
If there is a very important factor missing is actually Google Assistant. As we progress a lot more devices support both these major voice control platforms so when we test a device that’s missing among the two then it will be looses some points. Apart from this Samsung ensured to provide a good amount of options in this regard making our life as consumers easier.
Extra Features and Services
The soundbar supports various music formats including 2 channels LPCM, Dolby Digital and also DTS. Even though for Dolby Digital it accepts the entire 5.1 audio tracks signal at first it might support only 2 channels DTS formats. Since that time it appears that Samsung has released a firmware update and today in addition, it supports 5.1 channels DTS which means you need to be sure to update from the first moment to make certain you obtain it. Even though there are HDMI ports that could support the newer Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio however there is absolutely no support for these in the MS650.
For it’s sound modes there are 5 available you can select from with an individual press of the sound mode button on the remote. The kinds available include Standard gives you the sound without the processing, Music, Movies, Sport and Clear Voice plus they function accordingly with their names.
Now there certainly are a handful of separate modes you could permit by pressing their dedicated buttons on the remote. The first one is named Smart mode and what this does rather than you choosing each and every time the correct sound mode the soundbar optimizes the sound files in line with the content being played. That is like an all in a single solution if you don’t want to work with settings every time.
The other mode is named Surround Sound Expansion which basically is some sort of virtual tech that tries to include volume and depth to leading soundstage. Since there are no dedicated surround speakers performance in this regard is always lacking so modes such as this are somewhat trying to rectify this. But how good is this mode we will test on our movies testing that follows.
Another feature that people find may be the inclusion of HIGH RES Audio support but since there is absolutely no USB port you could use to stream audio tracks your only other substitute for do this is through a radio connection or with Bluetooth. The MS650 supports all of the known HIGH RES Audio formats including FLAC, ALAC and WAV as well as the more usual MP3, AAC and OGG files.
A very important factor we liked quite definitely is that as the soundbar offers an extremely basic 3.0 channels setup you can expand this to your will. Would you like a supplementary bass boost? No issue since you can purchase separately the SWA-W700 subwoofer and create a 3.1 channels system. Or possibly you want the excess immersion of the surround audio. Then your SWA-9000S Wireless Rear Speaker Kit may be the one you will need for a 5.0 channels system. Not to mention you can go completely and have them both for a complete 5.1 system that may cover everything but naturally will rise the price considerably at levels approaching the $1,000 mark.
Streaming is actually one the strong points of the MS650 since you can either use Bluetooth or WiFi for that. Obviously you can stream music localy if it happens you to truly have a local network drive or NAS server or you should use among the supported streaming services through the Samsung Multiroom iphone app which includes Spotify, Deezer, Qobuz, TIDAL, Napster, JUKE, 7digital, Murfie, and TuneIn radio amongst others if that is more to your liking.
Overall we are happy with what we on the MS650. For a soundbar that’s well south of the $500 mark Samsung tried to add enough features to produce a very intriguing proposal. Featuring enough sound settings along with strong streaming options and the capability to expand the essential unit to a completely fledged 5.1 system makes this unit pack a whole lot of value.
We were always saying that among the key goals a soundbar has is to supply a streamlined experience by offering plug-and-play consumption to it’s user. This implies ease to create and hook up and everyday use. The HW-MS650 makes things a lot more simple as there is absolutely no subwoofer you have to hook up so there can be an additional step you can skip here.
Basically you hook up the soundbar to it and hook up to a power socket. There are always a couple of slightly more complex music settings including treble together with adjusting sound for various frequency bands but apart from these there isn’t much to accomplish. You can go on and opt for the desired sound mode and if you wish to permit the Surround Sound Expansion. But if you don’t want to wreck havoc on these each and every time you can just do it with the Smart mode and allow soundbar handle everything for a far more informal experience.
Nothing else could be said here as everything is virtually straightforward. Only understand that when positioning the soundbar before your TV you might have a problem with the IR sensor of your TV so be sure that this is simply not blocked.
Without subwoofer we were curious to check a movie that’s very bass heavy to be able to determine how low it could go with the included drivers. And what better movie to test compared to the 4K UHD version of Godzilla: King of the Monsters. In all honesty we were a lttle bit disappointed with the sequel since it didn’t capture the magic of Gareth Edwards original film that people greatly praised. But even while such the sequel includes a lot going on during it’s running time with the Titans wreaking havoc around the world.
The UHD disc includes a fantastic Dolby Atmos mix but however here we are able to only benefit from the core 5.1 channels Dolby Digital mix as this is merely supported by the HW-MS650. So let’s get the clear taken care of first. One thing that becomes apparent is how full leading soundstage felt. The machine made good make use of the quantity of drivers it offers and we got a good sound wall that some times extended beyond the physical limits of the soundbar.
Having a dedicated center channel helped to bring the dialogue forward and keep it separated in center space from all of those other sound effects even though all hell was breaking loose. Panning over the channels felt very distinct and precise without the notable delay. Now a very important factor that you may well be wondering about is approximately it’s bass performance and here things aren’t clear cut. Obviously you won’t get the planet earth shuttering performance a dedicated subwoofer will offer nor it could go as low and as deep and keep a well defined outcome. But also for what it really is we were happy to hear the machine dive as deep since it did and it’s outcome was greater than other single-body soundbars that had more often than not an extremely flat and uninspiring bass performance.
The other thing we have to speak about is surround activity which however there was none. All of the activity was positioned firmly before us and even effects which were supposed to result from the trunk were being heard at the front end. This is a universal problem that plagues all soundbars and there is nothing wrong with the MS650 specifically. We next tried to permit the Surround Sound Expansion mode to see if we’re able to get anything better from it. With this the sound perceived to have more volume and become a lttle bit more three-dimensional than before bringing the action nearer to our sitting position but again didn’t push it behind us. It appears that the only path to get any meaningful surround action is to get the optional surround speakers kit.
We also tried another all times favorite film with the Blu-ray version of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King being next in line for testing. Here things felt far better as this one isn’t so heavily reliant on surround activity therefore the core DTS mix that people got was just as good as you’ll expect. With the film being heavily dialogue driven the HW-MS650 were able to keep every thing clear and distinct at the guts space as the left and right channels given ample power and authority all of those other action.
This mix is heavily orchestrated driven and the MS650 appears to favor this as Howard Shore’s score was beautifully rendered although it enveloped all of those other action on screen. We watched the most part of Minas Tirith siege by Sauron’s army and the machine were able to provide very good resolution to even the tinniest of effects while keeping an outstanding balance over the whole frequency spectrum that was re