Samsung is back in 2020 with its entry-level soundbar, the HW-T550. It comes with a 2.1Ch configuration comprising a wireless subwoofer to add that extra oomph. The build quality is reliable, and the overall sound is well-balanced to cater to those looking to upgrade from their barely listenable TV speakers.
It employs the usual soundbar form factor and comes with several nifty sound enhancement options to amplify your content-watching experience. It also comes with 7-band EQ, DTS Virtual:X, and Dolby Digital to power up your favourite movies. Also present are several Samsung Sound Modes that we have seen in other soundbars from the manufacturer.
Is the soundbar worth its price? We find out in our Samsung HW-T550 review.
List of specifications
|Product Dimensions||33.9 x 2.2 x 3.4 inches (Soundbar)
7.9 x 13.8 x 11.4 inches (Subwoofer)
|Weight||2.1 Kg (Soundbar)
5 Kg (Subwoofer)
|Amplifier output||160W (Soundbar)
|Wireless Audio Protocol||Bluetooth|
|Audio Decoding Codecs||Dolby Digital, DTS Virtual:X|
|Connectivity||1 x HDMI In – Audio/Video
1 x HDMI Out – Audio/Video
1 x Optical TOLINK – Audio
- Good build for the price.
- 7-band EQ is a rarity in the budget segment.
- Balanced output.
- 2.1Ch configuration downmixes high-quality content.
- Lacks support for Samsung app.
What’s in the box?
- Samsung HW-T550 bar
- Remote Control (AH81-09748A)
- 2 AA Batteries
- AC Power Adapter
- Two AC Power Cords
- 58-inches Optical Digital Cable
- 2 Screw-Holders
- 2 Screws
- 2 Wall Mount Brackets
- Wall Mount Template
- 1-Year Limited Warranty Card
Design and build
The Samsung HW-T550’s predecessor, the HW-R550’s bar had more flair due to its angled edges and overall feel. The current-gen model does away with that and takes in an approach that we find with the pricier models. The front of the main bar is encapsulated in a metal grill, whereas the rest of it is plastic.
The subwoofer hasn’t changed since the last iteration. Instead of opting for a plastic build, it comes with pressed wood with fabric at the front and ports at the back. It stretches 7.9 x 13.8 x 11.4 inches and weighs 5 Kg, which is similar to most other subwoofers out there. The bar is 33.9 x 2.2 x 3.4 inches and comes at 2.1 Kg, making it shorter than its predecessor and fits in perfectly beneath most 55-inches screens.
At the back on the bar, you will find two openings, one for the inputs and other for the power cable. The soundbar supports wall mounting, and you will find a hole on its underside for the same purpose. The subwoofer also follows the overall clean and minimalistic approach, and it has the power port on the back. The placement of the power cable is at the bottom to allow better management.
Overall the Samsung HW-T550 is well-built and feels solid to manage. The wood on the subwoofer instead of polycarbonate makes its longevity questionable and will require careful handling. Also, the use of fabric makes it prone to dirt and will require regular cleaning.
The Samsung HW-T550 package comes with a remote similar to the last model and lets you handle all the settings of the device conveniently. There are the traditional volume up/down keys, power button, settings, option to skip tracks, and much more on the board.
The bar of the Samsung HW-T550 also comes with some useful toggles. It has the power on/off, volume up/down, and change input buttons located at its top. At the front, you get a 3-digit small screen in the front of the device, which shows you the setting that you are currently changing.
It is a pity that the Samsung HW-T550 doesn’t ship with the Samsung app support. The decision to skip it in the current edition, even though the previous version had it make it all the more surprising. All you have now is either the physical remote or the toggles on the bar to manage the device. Thankfully, it comes with HDMI CEC allowing the TV’s remote to control its essential features.
The Samsung HW-T550 is a confusing proposition, and we have already informed you some of the reasons. The absence of a 3.5 analog jack is another such reason, given that the HW-R550 had it in 2019. Apart from that, the soundbar comes with an optical jack, HDMI ARC, HDMI In/Out and USB to connect several devices of your choice. All of these are on the back of the bar and are easily visible to the naked eyes.
As far as wireless connectivity goes, it comes with Bluetooth and allows pairing two devices at the same time. But there is no Chromecast or Apple AirPlay here which is a significant hindrance for content lovers.
Talking of codecs, the Samsung HW-T550 has support for Dolby Digital and DTS Virtual: X, which are typical for Netflix and other OTT platforms. But there is no Dolby Atmos here, and the 2.1Ch configuration means that it downmixes content to accommodate them.
It has Full HDMI support which can play PCM files but doesn’t support 5.1 content. Also present is an optical jack to give users some versatility. The Samsung HW-T550 doesn’t support 4K Passthrough, which is acceptable given its budget pricing.
The Samsung HW-T550 setup delivers a well-balanced sound for its price tag. It has a good stereo response, and the subwoofer adds the necessary weight to the bass. The soundstage feels more extensive than the bar somehow, even though it doesn’t do anything to enhance the output further. The sound has good focus, and it is easier for the users to locate the source. It is a significant upgrade from other budget offerings where it is impossible to ascertain the same.
The Samsung HW-T550 is a powerful soundbar, and the 320W output doesn’t disappoint. It is suitable for large rooms or gatherings, and it doesn’t creak at a maximum volume which is a significant plus. Unfortunately, it lacks a dedicated center channel which makes the dialogue performance fudgy and the 2.1Ch is unable to get enough focus in this area.
The Samsung HW-T550 has a poor surround sound performance, and it converts the signal to stereo to play them. Also, it has only the left and the right channels, which makes the imaging inaccurate and unimpressive. Whatever the user represents, the sound feels like to be coming from the front and not from around you.
Contrary to the configuration limitation, the Samsung HW-T550 comes with a bucket load of sound enhancements to propel the overall output. Although there is no room correction present here, there are four different presets – Surround, Smart, Game, and Standard.
If these are not giving you the desired output, the soundbar also has a bass adjustment, treble adjustment, 7-band EQ, and virtual surround options to let you fiddle with the sound more precisely. The Samsung HW-T550 has AV Sync and DRC to ensure that it adjusts to any kind of input in the most optimum manner. And for those who are looking for more options, Samsung also sells an optional Wireless Surround Kit to upgrade to a 4.1Ch configuration.
The Samsung HW-T550 is a decent entry-level offering with a reasonably neutral output and good hefty bass. If budget is a hindrance, it is one of the best you can get without spending too much. But the South Korean company’s offerings have several corners cut to ensure the lower-end pricing for itself.
Here is how it stacks up against the competition –
As mentioned before, the Samsung HW-T550 is the successor of HW-R550, and there isn’t a lot of difference. The 2019 edition had a 3.5 mm analog jack which is missing here, and the support for the app to control the device gives it a miss too.
But the 2020 edition sounds better and has an overall cleaner sound with lower distortion. The soundstage is a bit wider and the build commensurate with the higher-end soundbars now.
If you are looking for 2.1Ch soundbars specifically, the Yamaha YA-209 is amongst the best you can get. It supports 5.1 PCM format and has a much deeper bass. The sound is not neutral as the Samsung HW-T550 and can appear dark to users. But it has support for WI-Fi and Ethernet making it much more versatile.
The Samsung HW-T550 claws back by offering more sound enhancements and a more neutral sound. The build quality is roughly the same, and both of them are viable in that aspect.
If you are looking to consume a variety of media, the Samsung HW-T550 is an excellent offering looking at its budget-friendly price tag and neutral sound. There is ample bass to enhance the overall experience due to the subwoofer, a rarity in this price range.
It doesn’t support Atmos, and the lack of a 3.5 mm jack can be a deal-breaker for some. If we keep them aside, the soundbar does a commendable job in most scenarios, and the sound enhancement features help in finding the right balance for the users.