Samsung Sound+ Soundbar: The Gizmodo Review

I expected something wonderful. The Samsung Sound+ has eleven drivers, Wi-Fi audio capabilities similar to the Sonos Playbar, and a very attractive design. In short, I was hoping for a cheaper version of the Sonos Playbar, and in many ways that's very much what you get, particularly if you're using a Samsung TV, which it magically pairs with. Yet a slightly lower price tag than the competition comes at a significant ding to audio. This thing did not fill my home with music or explosions. Instead it just offered a decent upgrade to the dinky speakers on my TV.

All images: Alex Cranz/Gizmodo

It's very easy to buy a cheap sound bar for an OK audio upgrade. If you want to upgrade from there, it usually requires a major investment, skipping from the $100-$500 range and jumping straight into the $800 and up range, where great bars from Sonos, Yamaha, Sony, and others reside. The Sound+ HW-MS750 sits in that range too, at $999. But when you leap in price like that you should expect a big improvement in sound.

Unfortunately, the Samsung Sound+ is a half-step between a simple upgrade to your TV audio, and fully embracing fancy home theatre setup. It's got five channels of sound out of the box coming from 11 drivers, each powered by its own amp, which means this thing can put out a lot of power, but for five channels of sound pointed at my head I hoped for a lot more sense of space. When David Bowie started singing "Life on Mars?" I couldn't hear a distinction between his voice and the piano that I would have preferred.

Buttons on the side let you control the bar if you can't find the remote.

While music sounds way too muddy for the price, it still has moments where it surprised me. While playing Destiny 2, I could hear the crunch of feet on gravel as bad guys tried to sneak up behind me. Explosions had a satisfying impact, thought they lacked rumble since the bar doesn't ship with a separate subwoofer. The internal subwoofer is supremely middling. While testing less challenging audio sources, like Netflix's Mindhunters, the Sound+ remained clear when handling all those different voices.

If you're tired of the crummy sound from your TV or the barely-there upgrade of a cheap sound bar, then you'll appreciate the way the Sound+ handles audio, despite its drawbacks. It almost sparkles -- and that excellence in the mid- and high-end areas means the audio can still envelop you, even if it doesn't set deep in your bones like it might with a bar with better bass.

There are a ton of ways to connect to the Sound+.

Sadly, it's just too pricey for the user experience. When I had it plugged into my Vizio P-Series TV I was constantly reaching for the remote. Sometimes to switch the audio setting, sometimes to adjust the volume, other times to turn the speaker on when it would power down before the TV.

Compared to the slightly pricier Sonos Playbar, itself a wireless audio soundbar solution that can be upgraded with additional speakers over time, the Sound+ just doesn't pass muster. The Playbar is so easy to set up it feels like magic. There's only one input beyond wi-fi, and the Playbar automatically attunes to your primary remote. The Sound+ has more options, including analogue, HDMI, and Bluetooth, but setup requires more work, a comfort with the included remote, and it's only truly magical and easy if you already have a Samsung TV.

The only place the Sound+ excels against Sonos or other wireless audio sound bars is in the price department. This bar is pretty cheap for the features included! If you don't mind paying more than $999, you can tack on two additional wireless speakers and a subwoofer for genuine 5.1 surround sound. That's about $1800 for a wireless 5.1 home audio solution. To do the same with Sonos, the best wireless audio solution at this point, would cost about $2500.

If you already have a recent Samsung TV then it's a no brainer, the Sound+ is an upgrade for all but the priciest Samsung sets. But for most people, you should consider something cheaper or just grab the Sonos Playbar. Because if you flop on the couch and want nothing more than to hit the power button and not think, then the Samsung Sound+ is a pass. This is a good sound bar, but the Sonos Playbar is a whole lot better.

README

  • Powerful 5-channel speaker that handles your talky TV drama well.
  • Audio isn't as clear as it could be. In busy scenes of films expect to lose a sense of space.
  • Sets up with minimal fuss on a Samsung TV, but requires some effort for TVs from other brands.

SPEC DUMP

Dolby Digital 5.1 • 4K 60Hz Video Pass Through • HDCP 2.2 • Wi-Fi • Bluetooth 4.0 • 1 x HDMI • 1 x Digital Audio • 1 x Analogue Audio • USB 2.0


Comments

    I disagree with this review, but have very limited experience.

    Also no mention of the app and multiroom, which is a big reason for me to purchase.

    That said, wouldn't use this for my main TV anyway, don't think it's designed for that... unless you have a tiny room.

    With the possible exception of aesthetics or limited available space, I can't understand why someone would pay $1000 for a soundbar over a proper 5.1 amp/speaker setup. :/

    As soon as you start talking about adding sub and/or rears, you'd be far better served by the K850 or K950 Atmos bars (RRP $1499 and $1999 respectively).

    Also, while at $999 it's a bit of a middle of the road in terms of price/performance, the MS750 has recently been on sale for $699 which is actually pretty great.

    I can guess that a soundbar will be a great upgrade over standard TV Speakers but i wouldn't spend any more than $400 on one

    I like the spec dump of a speaker that doesn't give any audio specs at all.

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