Samsung HW-D550 Speaker Bar - Test Setup and Testing

Article Index
Samsung HW-D550 Speaker Bar
Closer Look at the HW-D550
Features and Specifications
Test Setup and Testing
Final Thoughts on the HW-D550

Test Setup & Installation:

Testing a speaker set is very subjective at best.  For our testing we plugged the HW-D550 into an Xbox 360 through HDMI and outputted to our 40" Toshiba 1080p TV.  Other analog audio was input into the sound bar through the standard 1/8" stereo jack.  We also connected our Blu-Ray player and watched some movies, as well as HD TV and a lot more.  Overall, we used the HW-D550 like any average consumer and have come up with some impressions and thoughts on overall sound quality and usage. 

Installation, if you can call it that, is super simple.  Thanks to the HDMI-in and HDMI-out, as well as Digital-In ports, you can easily hook up the sound bar to almost everything you own.  I doubt that anyone will need a user manual as this entire process is super simple and well-labeled.  The wireless sub-woofer needs no sync'ing and it connects and works out of the box - just as it should. 

Listening Tests:

No audio review is ever complete without listening tests. To this end I invited a few friends over to provide an unbiased opinion.  These are people that know and enjoy good audio, and I feel are qualified to provide a "general consumers" opinion on this subject.  We watched several movie scenes and music tracks that I feel have great overall audio quality. I asked them to rate each of the systems based on several different criteria.

  • Crispness: Does the speaker produce high frequency sounds well?
  • Bass: Does the system produce low sounds well?
  • Accuracy: Does the system reproduce the sounds  in the way they were originally intended?
  • Annoying Resonance: Do you hear any buzzing or whining from the system?
  • Imaging: Do the speakers blend well around you, making you feel immersed?
  • Volume: Was it loud enough without being distorted?

 

Each rating was done on a scale of 1 to 5 with 0 being the blown subs in my friend's lowrider and 5 being very good. So without further delay lets see what they thought of these speakers.  I averaged their thoughts (that were very close) as well as my own observations and came up with the following chart.

Audio Quality Rating

 

Other Thoughts:

All of the inputs on the HW-D550 seem to work well.  We used mostly the HDMI and analog inputs on the device as I didn't have any extra optical cables around the shop or the house.  Samsung has included a handful of DSP (Digital Signal Processing) presets that can be used to maximize your experience - depending on what you are watching.  Included DSPs are: Game, Sports, Cinema, Drama, News, Music & Pass (none).  They don't appear to be able to be combined effectively with the 3D-Surround mode, but they do work well with Smart Volume.

 

Smart Volume itself works not too bad.  The idea here is that the volume of the sound bar will be boosted if the content on the TV is quiet and it will scale down a bit during an excessively loud scene.  It works pretty decent, but I do find myself still reaching for the remote to adjust in some areas.  

If you are having a bit of an "echo" between the sound bar and your TV, Samsung has equipped the HW-D550 with an Audio Sync feature that allows you to increase the audio lag on the sound bar up to 300ms in 25mn increments.  If you are using a simple pass-through from your TV, I'm sure that this won't be required at all, but because it does do 3D HDMI pass-through, at times there may be some processing delay and this may be required.  For Skyrim on the Xbox 360 - it worked fine out of the box.

On the last page we'll put together our final thoughts as we wrap up the review.