Samsung HT-C6930W BD-Receiver System Page 2

The Musical Room Calibration is a fanfare that repeats several times in each channel. It was loud enough to warrant ear protection, something the system cryptically warned against by saying, “Please be careful not to be surprised.” Its effect on the speakers was impressive: The woofers moved visibly by about a quarter-inch. Since the speakers have no grilles—and look great without them—it was impossible not to notice.

I inspected the auto setup’s results and was unimpressed. The system incorrectly showed a 6foot discrepancy in the distances of the front left/right speakers, although it had no problem with the surrounds. I made the necessary corrections manually, and in the process, I noticed some tonal shift as the non-musical test tone shifted among the variously sized speakers.

The wireless speaker connection worked like a charm. All I had to do was insert a card into the BD-receiver’s back panel, set up a book-size receiving device in the back of the room, and connect the latter to the surrounds with color-coded speaker cables. The mating process occurred automatically. I didn’t have to fiddle around in the menu or even press a button.

The wireless surround feature applies only to the side-surrounds: They are the only channels that lack hardwired speaker outputs on the BD-receiver. This may seem odd if you’re running backsurrounds, which would require a longer cable run than side-surrounds. But if you’re running front height channels, using wireless transmission for the side-surrounds makes perfect sense.

Movies and Music on Disc
When powered up, the system displayed its main content menu at the bottom of the screen, with large icons for Internet@TV, Video, Music, Photos, and Settings. On the top of the screen, the Samsung also listed five recommended Internet content sources: Rovi, Blockbuster, Netflix, VUDU, and Pandora. The remote’s up and down keys shifted between these top and bottom menus.

Loading time, with a dozen randomly chosen Bluray Discs, was an average of 24 seconds from pressing Play to pre-content (logos, previews, etc.). After that, the disc drive took an average of just over four seconds to get to the disc menu. It took eight seconds to load a CD. While the disc drive made clunking sounds in its underdamped chassis, I was quite satisfied with its speed.

The Blu-ray demos, all with DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks, started with Good. Viggo Mortensen plays a shy academic in Nazi Germany faced with painful moral choices. Male voices were noticeably split between the center speaker and sub. The center’s high placement may have been part of the problem. In a system with the high crossover point mandated by limited-bass satellites, placing the center and sub as close together as possible will minimize discontinuity. Bass extension and smoothness may not be optimized with the subwoofer in this location, however. Voices were still commendably intelligible. Music sounded decent except in one isolated moment when significant bass content came booming out of the sub, poorly focused in pitch and out of proportion with the rest of the soundtrack.

Splice is a gripping story about genetic experimentation gone wrong. The not-quite-human creature’s squealing vocalizations and assorted violent scenes were easy to take. Music was smooth, if not terribly detailed. Surround effects were muted enough (without manual correction) to undermine the soundfield. Still, I prefer a compact system that errs on the side of vagueness to one that screeches fatiguingly.

In The Karate Kid (2010), Jackie Chan, now a character actor of some stature, mentors Jaden Smith—Will’s son—a skillful and engaging child actor. The movie’s exploration of the age-old (but suddenly topical) theme of bullying kept my attention. In the climactic martial-arts scene, the soundfield wasn’t as enveloping as it should have been. On the plus side, dialogue was intelligible both on and off axis.

The Italian Tenor, a Sony Classical CD of mixed works sung by Vittorio Grigolo, showed the system’s strengths and weaknesses simultaneously. While the voice wasn’t spatially focused, its overall tone was pleasing, if slightly thin. The center/sub bass split didn’t seem as pronounced. My only disappointment was the soundfield: What was coming out of the surrounds was so weak, there was virtually no difference between Dolby Pro Logic II Music mode and stereo. I had to put my ear to the surrounds to make sure they were operating. I manually double-checked the surround channel levels, and they were correct, leaving me to wonder why the surrounds seemed so ineffectual with program material. I’d recommend purchasers of this system try bumping up the surround channel levels a few decibels.

Fun with DLNA
Network-related amusements beckoned. I started with the system’s DLNA-certified ability to pull media from a connected PC. When I selected the Music option from the main menu, with no disc in the drawer, the Samsung prompted me to “change devices.” The choices were “no disc” or my Lenovo desktop PC. I selected the latter, and after a few moments, a pop-up on my PC monitor invited me to activate sharing. I did so, and content became available.

The system located both the Windows-default My Music folder and my own Music folder, where most of the goodies are. It could also reach beyond folders, locating music by artist, album, genre, playlist, etc. Before long, I was playing Glenn Gould’s lone Sibelius album: Three Sonatines for Piano. Though ripped in MP3 at 192 kilobits per second, it was decent enough for background listening. After a while, the system lapsed into a screensaver that showed artist and track name in a small, roving inset.

I clicked the Photos icon. The system missed the PC’s main photo folder—labeled Pictures—but did locate the My Pictures folder (Windows nomenclature) and even some album artwork in the Music folder. It displayed pictures in the correct aspect ratio. When left alone, the system began a slideshow.

A/V Apps
Ready for more movies, I considered the options. Netflix was not willing to show me a trailer unless I signed up for membership. Blockbuster was willing to show me trailers regardless. CinemaNow took a long time to scroll through titles, with a few seconds of load time between each one, which soon grew tiresome.