Soundbar Roundup Samsung HW-F750
Why does a modern, mass-market product like the HW-F750 have tubes? According to Samsung’s Website, the combination of the tubes and the HW-F750’s switching amplifiers gives the soundbar “the best of both worlds—clarity and warmth.” Of course, all of this tube/analog/digital/warmth/whatever stuff is debatable, but this ain’t the place for that.
The tubes aren’t user-replaceable, but line-level tubes last long enough that they won’t burn up anytime soon. To my amusement, the tubes start glowing immediately when you turn on the power, backlit by orange LEDs to enhance the glow of the tubes’ actual heating filaments.
At $699, the HW-F750 is the most expensive soundbar here by a wide margin. The driver array in the soundbar is not specified, but by shining a flashlight in, I gathered that each channel has a 1-inch tweeter and a couple of round woofers. According to Samsung, there’s a matching set of drivers on the top, and it adjusts the mix of sound automatically depending on the way it’s turned. The sub has a 6.5-inch woofer. An included microphone works with an internal routine to compensate for your room’s acoustics automatically, and Dolby Digital decoding is built in. Total power is spec’d at 310 watts on the Website. The input section is also nothing special: HDMI in and out, TosLink optical in, 3.5mm analog in, and a top-mounted USB connector for playing material from USB sticks. At just 2.2 inches deep, the 37.1-inch-long soundbar is the slimmest tested here. Without much space for air inside the unit, Samsung had to build a cooling fan into the bar’s right side.
The HW-F750 doesn’t learn controls from a TV remote, and the included remote is the same unappealing, stubby unit Samsung includes with its other soundbars. But if you use the HDMI connection, the ARC function allows your TV remote to control the HW-F750. The soundbar also has a SmartShare feature that lets it connect wirelessly to Bluetooth-equipped TVs.
“This thing sounds robust and well made—it’s fundamentally very good,” my listening notes said. I was able to get 100 dB average, 104 dB peak on loud scenes, the best output I measured in this test. In bypass mode, the sound seemed small, confined to the soundbar, which wasn’t so bad for music but sounded uninvolving with movie soundtracks. But the 3D Sound Plus mode produced a nice, natural soundfield expansion on old faves like U-571 and The Fifth Element.
I described the sound as “lush,” an adjective I never thought I’d use to describe a soundbar. I liked it. Geoff and Lauren didn’t like the sound much, describing it as muffled and boomy, but I later realized that at least part of their audition was with the wretched-sounding Movie mode.
The HW-F750 is a very cool and décor-friendly design, and in my tests, it sounded great as long as I avoided most of the surround modes. The big downside is that big price.
Samsung HW-F750, left (purple) +3.40/–3.07 dB from 200 Hz to 10 kHz; –3 dB @ 240 Hz, –6 dB @ 215 Hz.
Subwoofer (blue) Normalized to level @ 80 Hz: lower –3 dB @ 45 Hz, –6 dB @ 40 Hz; upper –3 dB @ 166 Hz.—MJP