on July 7, 2012
Sound System: Samsung HW-E550 2.1 Channel 310-Watt Sound bar
TV: Samsung UN46C7000 46-Inch 1080p 240 Hz 3D LED HDTV
Cost: $359 on sale at Sears
Room Size: 12ft X 12ft
The picture on my TV is fantastic but I've been dealing with sub-par sound for almost a year and a half. The two small rear facing speakers that I have on my TV are about 1/2 inch from the wall and they sound terrible. It was time to do something about the crappy sound I was receiving.
I wanted to stick with the Samsung product line and wanted something that would be near the size of my 46" TV so I picked up the HW-E550 Sound Bar. The price was pretty good ($359 @ Sears), I didn't want to run wires and my room isn't very large. A better sound system (5.1+) would have been a waste in my opinion as I sit against the back wall in the small room.
When I returned home with my new sound system I promptly opened the box and laid out the contents. I discovered there was some "extra" stuff because I wanted to wall mount the system not shelf or stand mount it. After figuring out what I need and what to put back into the box I got started on the assembly of the system.
While putting together the sound bar I discovered a few things.
1 - The only wire that comes out of the Sound Bar is the power cable. There are no extra wires to connect to the Sound Bar. The sound bar should be pre synced with the subwoofer, if it isn't you'll need to press the ID Set button on the back of the sub woofer.
2 - When screwing the 4-6 small screws into the back bracket of the sound bar make sure to stand the bar up on end or screw on a level hard surface. Do not do this on a bed or sofa as you may damage the connection point of the sound bar.
3 - Be careful when screwing in the 4-6 screws mentioned above. I cross threaded 2 of the 6 screws I used. The first one I didn't notice until it was too late. With the second one I was aware of the issue but was unable to thread the screw correctly. The threads seem pretty soft to me.
4 - It's harder to level and center the bar then it is to put it together. I had two friends hold the bar about two inches from the bottom of my TV. I then grabbed a pencil and traced the bottom of the mounting bracket on the wall so I knew about where I wanted it mounted. We set down the sound bar and I grabbed the mounting bracket. There was an arrow on the sound bar mounting bracket so I aligned that with the "S" in "samSung" on the bottom of my TV and used the pencil line above to get it where I wanted. I marked the drill holes through the center of the mounting bracket holes with a pencil, removed the bracket, pre drilled for anchors and mounted the bracket with my anchor screws. I'm not sure if it should have but my kit didn't come with screws or anchors to mount it to the wall. The mounting process was pretty straight forward.
When putting together the Subwoofer this is what I discovered.
1 - My Samsung TV has an HDMI "ARC" connection on the back of it. As per the instruction manual you can only use the TV's Samsung provided remote with the sound bar if you have the subwoofer connected to the sound bar via the HDMI ARC port on the TV on an Anynet+ compatible TV.
If you don't have ARC than you need to use the remote that came with the sound bar.
2 - I have the HDMI (ARC) port on my TV connected to the HDMI Out port on my subwoofer.
Turning it on and setting up the TV options.
1 - In the setup (Menu > Application > Anynet+ (HDMI-CEC) > Setup) there is an option for "Auto Turn Off". This feature turns off the sound bar when you turn off your Samsung TV with your Samsung TV remote. That feature is pretty straight forward.
2 - Unfortunately I could not find any good way to turn the sound bar when the TV is turned on. The sound bar will turn off when you power off the TV but it will not power back on when the TV comes on. I thought that was pretty lame. I hope to see a firmware update with the TV or sound bar to correct this.
3 - You can turn on the receiver manually, with the receiver remote or through the TV options ("Menu > Application > Anynet+ (HDMI-CEC)" and make sure "On" is showing next to Receiver).
Sound Bar Settings.
The bar has a built in scrolling LED screen to give you feedback on the options you choose. When compared to stand alone receivers this sound bar definitely isn't feature rich. It has 6 sound effect presets or you can turn it off. I find that I normally keep it on the Music setting. This system also has 3D sound but it doesn't work for my setup as I sit on the back wall. If I stand in the middle of the room It sounds surround'ish. It mostly sounds like you have a Front Left, Center and Front Right system. I really like the auto dimmer function for the LED screen. If you choose to, the screen will turn off after maybe 15 or 20 seconds. There are other options and features of the system that I'll let you explore and discover.
I find that I am constantly reaching for the remote and changing the Subwoofer Level on the sound bar. At low volumes the woofer doesn't "woof" very much. At higher levels + the correct sound preset + bumping up the SW level the woofer starts to woof around volume level of 15. The last movie I watched on Blu-Ray was Transformers and it sounded great with the Subwoofer. We watched the movie on a volume level of 25 and a woofer level of 5 and it sounded pretty awesome. The woofer level goes up to 6.
At the full price of $400 this system is a little expensive for the lack of options that you receive. At the Sale price of $359 this system is a little more reasonable. In my opinion this is a $349 system that should go on sale for $299 from time to time. The system was easy to setup and mount, it's compatible with my Samsung TV and it fills my little room up with some great sound and bass. The setup instructions were a bit lacking but that didn't bother me as it was all very easy to figure out. Unlike other users my sound bar doesn't lose the settings. Also, I don't use a Harmony remote and I don't have the issues that another reviewer did. This sound bar can get very loud. The volume goes up to 50 but I have never had a need to go above 30. At 40 the sound starts to degrade and is VERY loud. I can also use my iPod / MP3 player, USB and Bluetooth to listen to my music how I choose. It's nice to be able to turn on my phones Bluetooth and pipe the sound right through my sound bar.
If you don't have a want / need to setup a 5.1 and don't care about the true surround experience this may be the setup for you. This Sound Bar is 5,000% better than my TVs built in speakers. For me, in my little room, this is a great setup. I'll give it 4/5 stars.
For more information check out the HW-D550 reviews. The HW-E550 is nearly the same as the HW-D550.
on August 12, 2012
I was looking for compact home theaters for a really long time. My requirements were the following:
- great sound quality, of course
- no wires running all over my living room
- wireless connectivity to play music from my ipad ( air play or bluetooth)
- more recent model, preferably 2012 one
- hdmi or optical connectivity
- seamless integration with my tv and switch between dish network cable programming, netflix, vudu apps without additional buttons to press
- look elegant and match my new 46" led tv
- reasonably sized subwoofer (not like the ugly Bose ones)
I did a lot of research, looked at compact home theater systems and sound bars, including Bose cinemate, Energy Power Bar elite, Polk audio, Boston accoistic sound bars, and other stanadard Sony, LG ones, and finally settled on this.
- meets all my requirements listed above (this was in fact the only system that did)
- as a bonus, I could split the sound bar into two separate towers with attached base- looks awesome
- sound bar remote automatically operates my Samsung tv- another bonus feature
- expected Samsung to provide better instructions to asemble. Took quite a while for me to figure out the optimal connectivity. Bluetooth connection with my ipad was easy and I could wirelessly listen to my Pandora staions immediately. But for seamless integration with Tv, I figured out after some google searches that I should use the HDMI-ARC port in my TV. ARC stands for Audio Return Cable.
- unit turns off with my tv when using my tv remote, but does not turn on. Have to use the sound bar remote to turn it on.
Overall I am pleased with the functionality, sound quality and the looks, and would highly recommend this product.
on June 15, 2012
I had recently purchased a new Samsung TV and wanted to add a good solid sound system to it. I wanted to avoid wires all over the place but wanted to still get at least decent enough surround sound. When I saw that this included "wireless" connectivity between the speakers, I figured this was perfect. It was just "ok". First, the instructions that come with it are not that terribly helpful. They were even confusing as to choice of layouts and how to best set up based on those layouts. If you dont have the right tools, nearly impossible to put in the screws in the right places to hold these things up. And "wireless", hardly. Everything made it sound as if the large bass base unit was "wireless" when it is not. That is not so bad, unless you were hoping to move it away from everything else. The bass all devices (2) must be connected and then the bass must be connected to the television. So that limits where you can put it or else you end up with wires all over the place, the one thing I wanted to avoid. The seperate speakers can be put together into one "unit" but the sound basically sucks, and for $400 I expected something better. I know there are systems that sell for a lot more with fantastic sound, and I wasn't paying for that. But still, at $400 I did expect it to be better. So I split the speaker bar up and again, unless you want wires showing every place, you can not really seperate them at that far. I did place them on the tv stand on either side of the television and the surround sound is better. My other complaint is that the system doesn't seem to remember my settings. So each time I turn it back on, I have to change the surround sound settings and some other ones to get it the way I like it. A hassle but ok. I wanted to give this a better rating, but it is just ok. One of these days I will have to spend a lot more to get what I had hoped this would deliver.
on December 10, 2012
I went back and forth on whether this was worth $329. Then I saw it was advertised on NewEgg.com for $279 on 12/8. I got it from BestBuy and they price matched NewEgg's $279 price (though I just re-checked NewEgg on 12/10 and no longer see that price). When I walked into BestBuy, they had Christmas music streaming from Pandora playing through the HW-E551 and it sounded great. The sound really carried and decent bass. For $279, definitely worth it. I looks so much sleeker than the HW-E450 model, which is priced around $230-$250 right now. Not as good of sound as some other systems (like the Bose Cinemate II), but for the price it is a great compromise.
Just to alleviate confusion, the HW-E551 and HW-E550 are the same item, just silver and black, respectively. I have a 55" Samsung LED TV and it works awesome. After plugging in the soundbar and subwoofer to their respective power plugs, and running a single HDMI from the subwoofer (HDMI out) to my Samsung TV (HDMI ARC port), everything synced automatically. My Samsung Blu_Ray still works fine being HDMI'd to the TV. I didn't have to run the BluRay HDMI to the subwoofer as the instructions lead you to believe. Like I said, I haven't exhausted all of the potential configurations (I have a 3 year old, so I was limited in time). If you already have a late model Samsung LED Smart TV and Blu-Ray player, this soundbar will work nicely with your system.
Blue-toothed music from my Samsung Galaxy S3 to the HW-E550 no problem. Though it was randomly pausing and skipping tracks at first when I was using GooglePlay or PlayMusic apps. But I switched to RocketPlayer app on the phone instead of GooglePlay/Playmusic and didn't have this problem. Not sure why this was happening. But anyways, music sounded great. It passed my Rage, Tool, Korn test. Bass sounds decent.
Other reviewers have pointed out that you definitely need to either run a HDMI or optical cable from the TV to the subwoofer. If this is true, then this is a HUGE difference between the HW-E450 and HW-E550/E551. The HW-E450 has no (zero, none) cable inputs on the subwoofer and instead connect the system to the TV via an HDMI connection between the soundbar and the TV. Whereas the HWE550/E551 has many ports on the back of the sub (2 HDMI in, 1 HDMI out, 1 digital audio (optical) in, AUX in, USB). So it would seem that the E450 and E550/E551 models differ in which component is cabled to the TV. I have not experimented yet with other cabling configurations, but as of right now things are working great with one HDMI cable going from subwoofer (HDMI out) to the ARC HDMI on the TV.
on September 13, 2012
Most "wireless subwoofer" systems have a sound bar for midrange and treble located right above or right below the TV. The sound bar is the control center; is wired for the audio inputs and source selection, and is wired to the TV. It then sends a wireless signal to the subwoofer, which can be located anywhere in the room (since low bass frequencies are non-directional).
This system is exactly the reverse. It is not a wireless subwoofer -- it is instead a heavily wired subwoofer with a wireless sound bar.
Your sources are hard wired to the HW-E550's subwoofer, though the sound bar remains the "control center" and remote control receiver, which means the subwoofer can be out of sight as long as it's cabled to your sources and to your TV. I have the following hooked up to the subwoofer: a cable box and a blu-ray player going to the HDMI inputs, a DVR/DVD burner going to the analog aux audio input, plus a toslink fiber optic cable from the TV to the subwoofer for when we want to watch the direct cable input (we get some channels directly that aren't available from the cable box). AND we have an HDMI cable from the subwoofer to the HDMI input on the TV. That means our "wireless" subwoofer has FIVE cables connecting it to other components.
The manual states the subwoofer can be placed up to 10 meters (33 feet) from the sound bar. If we were to put the subwoofer across the room under the coffee table or at the end of the sofa, we'd have to get five 30-foot cables to make the same connections!
That said, I've discovered several benefits to the setup. I have the subwoofer on the floor next to A/V cabinet, and it's pretty unobtrusive. Pushing back up against the wall to get it further out of sight actually made it sound better. I also have the sound bar mounted on brackets mated to the TV wall-mounted swivel mount so it swivels along with the TV, and it's nice not to have all of the cables going up to the sound bar and back to the TV. So, if you plan to mount the sound bar by a wall-mounted TV, the setup is good. If you want the subwoofer some distance from the TV and source equipment, not so good.
As for sound -- it's may be a little disappointing at first, especially if you have a larger TV that provides good sound from the TV speakers. There's a button on the sound bar remote that lets you toggle between the sound bar and the TV speakers. Doing an A/B comparison shows that the sound bar sounds different, but it takes a while to get used to the different sound. After the first installation, I thought the TV sounded at least as good. After listening to the sound bar, though, switching back to the TV showed that the TV was very weak on bass, had a bit of a "tinny" sound, and made voices sound thin. The sound bar system is better, but not "Wow".
I suppose I thought going from TV speakers to the sound bar system would be like going from an AM clock radio to an FM receiver. The difference noticeable, just not that dramatic at low volumes.
The system does much better at louder volumes, especially with movie sound tracks and sound effects. When played at a reasonably loud volume, the opening cannon salvos for "Picket's Charge" in the movie "Gettysburg," along with the swelling music, do add quite a dimension not matched by the TV speakers. However, we notice very little stereo effect -- a speaking scene with characters on far opposite sides of the screen has no differentiation in their apparent audio location. Even when I stand right up next to the sound bar, the sound coming from the left end sounds identical to the sound coming from the right end. Playing a music CD with very definite stereo effects does provide perceptible stereo separation, as long as one is within 3-4 feet of the sound bar. From further away, the right and left channels merge and it sounds like a mono sound source from normal TV-watching distance. The "3D" surround setting on the speaker bar system has no audio effect at all that I can detect.
Overall, I was surprised by the "wireless" subwoofer actually being heavily wired with a wireless sound bar instead. Since the subwoofer locates easily on the floor by the A/V cabinet without getting in the way, I actually like the setup because even though the subwoofer is not wireless, the sound bar itself is. The sound knocks the rating down a notch. I heard some very good sound bars while wondering through store displays, and ordered this one because I have a Samsung TV we're very happy with and thought this would match up to the TV well. I'll see if it continues to grow on me, but at present I'm open to replacing it with something that sounds better.
on May 23, 2013
I love the look of the sound bar and the sub-woofer. I bought this system after reading the reviews thinking I'd have a different experience, turns out I was wrong.
The system looks great, it has LED display behind the speaker grill that I think just looks awesome. The can be split into to two separate speakers or can be connect together to rest on you TV stand or it can be easily be mounted on a wall. When you change the controls by remote a light displays on the right side of the speaker to let you know that a command was recognized, a very nice touch. The subwoofer's shape looks good and it has a nice piano black finish to boot. The remote has very simple layout and can control Samsung branded TVs. The sound quality is decent in my opinion, it's clear and the bass is solid and not overpowering.
The design, I have to say wasn't fleshed out enough. All of the ports and I mean all are on the subwoofer which requires an outlet. Which causes the subwoofer to stay very close to your TV. Is it wireless, Yes, that's if you go all bluetooth! As for that, the bluetooth feature didn't work well across all my devices that well. With my iPhone it worked perfectly, my iPad not so good for some reason, and with my PC it was unplayable. Basically the signal or connection would constantly drop in and out causes the audio to skip heavily or disconnect. The speaker itself also requires an outlet, if you want to split the speaker in two you will have to run a speaker cable. between the two which is very tacky looking. Also, bluetooth aside, the audio had syncing issues from using my digital optical cable which is pretty much my preference of audio cable. I discovered the same issue with the HDMI passthrough connection. After tinking around a bit, I found that the best solution was to use a audio cable, the one that are used for PC speakers or headphones to hookup to this device. That's the only way to get a solid performance from it.
on January 6, 2013
1. Best sound I found for a system under the $400 mark.
2. Split design works really well if you have you TV on a table and dont/cant want to mount the system on the wall.
3. Being able to move the sub to a different part of the room from the speakers give a nice surround effect.
1. Not really Wireless (I'll go more in to that below). No system can be truly wireless, so I didn't knock off a star.
2. The display is a little bright. You can dim it, but the setting doesn't stick on power cycles.
3. Screwing in the stand was a bit finicky, be careful when you attach the stands. It would be really easy to strip the threading.
I'd been looking for a sound system that could fit on the table my TV is on and still put out good sound. I considered this bar, and Panasonic's version of this bar and the sound difference was considerable. For the footprint this system takes up, it puts out a nice sound. The sub-woofer can be a bit overbearing but you can control the levels easy enough and since it's "wireless" from the speakers, you can play with placement a bit more.
On the wireless part. To the people complaining about it not being wireless, your idiots. No speaker system is without wires. Unless your using only Bluetooth and running your stuff on batteries, its not physically possible. However, this system is a bit odd in its configuration so take note. The sub-woofer is where all the inputs are plugged in and then it sends out the signal wirelessly to the speakers. Not an issue with your setting it next to the TV but if you want to move it like I did, you need to figure out how your going to run your cables.
About the inputs. This system has the ability to run ARC (Audio Return Channel), which is awesome if your using a Samsung TV with Anynet+. If your not using a Samsung TV with Anynet+, its going to do absolutely nothing with ARC. I have a Panasonic with ARC, but its not compatible with the ARC system they have in place. However, Samsung was lighting fast in getting back to me on this issue, I just wish I'd asked their customer support about it before I bought the system so I wouldn't have bought a HDMI cable I didn't need. Tho amazon sells this lovely flat HDMI cable for $10
Aurum Flat Series - High Speed 90 Degree (Right Angle) Flat HDMI Cable with Ethernet (25 FT) - Category 2 Certified - Supports 3D & Audio Return Channel [Latest HDMI Version Available] - 25 Feet (RED/BLACK)
It does have 2 HDMI inputs, so it'll work well for a HDMI hub/switch. I didn't end up needing to use it as such since I have enough inputs on my TV, but I tested it out and it ran beautifully. I just ended up running an optical cable to the system, just make sure if you do the same, that you select it in your TV's sound options.
Other cables. If you use the sound bar as a bar, the only other cable you have to deal with is the power cable running to the bar. If you split it up in to two speakers, you will have to attach speaker cable (included) between the speakers. They give you a huge run of speaker cable with this thing, I dont think I used more than a 1/4 of the cable for my 50inch TV.
Since this thing needs to use a remote for its inputs you're going to have to add another remote to your collection. However I found this system works just fine with a Logitech Harmony remote. The speakers are where the IR signal is sent, so you dont have to worry about the sub-woofer being visible.
on November 20, 2012
I was looking for a 2.1 Home Theater system and I picked this system simply because of the ability to setup the speakers as towers. Setup isn't simple, as you will have to unpack the contents from multiple layers of styrofoam trays. You will need a screwdriver regardless of whether you will set the system up as towers or as a soundbar, as the bases for either setup have to be screwed on. As other reviewers have stated, the wireless aspect of the "Wireless Subwoofer" is really just that the link between the speakers and subwoofer is a wireless connection. Otherwise, you still have to run two power cables: one for the speakers and one for the subwoofer. If you are doing a soundbar setup, no additional wires are needed. For the tower setup, you will have to run a wire between the two towers in addition to the power cord. HDMI and/or optical cables are all run to the subwoofer. Once setup, the system turned on and connected to my sources and TV perfectly. The "Anynet" feature is neat in that you can control the sound system volume and on/off function through your TV, but you will need to have the TV connected to the system using an HDMI cable for this to work.
In regards to the sound quality: it is awful. I found the sound to be muddled, as the mids and vocals were not clear and distinct. They were drowned out by high background music in movies. Playing with the sound modes did yield noticeable differences, but did not help to produce quality sound. I would have to turn up the system to hear dialogue that when background music started playing, it would come out too loud and require me to turn the volume down. I ended up testing the system setup in both the towers as well as the soundbar, but there was no difference in sound quality (not that I expected any, but I tried for the heck of it).
I was disappointed enough in the sound quality of the system that I ended up returning the system and exchanging it for a Sony CT-150. The Sony is a standard soundbar and not the towers I wanted, but the Sony's sound quality is drastically better than this Samsung's. Overall, I would not recommend this system and suggest looking at alternatives like the Sony CT-150 for a soundbar. If you really want a 2.1 tower system, there don't seem to be other alternatives in this price range. The closest thing I can think of is the Bose Cinemate II, but that is significantly more expensive.
One last note: I have a Harmony One remote that I setup to use with this system. The system is not very responsive to the Harmony's commands. In order to remediate this, you will need to go through the Harmony application's troubleshooting wizard to change a setting (I think it's called Repeat Rate or something) to 2.
on November 8, 2012
I previously purchased a Samsung sound bar and was thoroughly impressed. It had a wireless subwoofer.I got to hider the subwoofer out of sight. Good thing, that black box didn't fit the decor. The box said wireless subwoofer. That's why I bought it. Now I purchased this model for the same reason " wireless subwoofer" . Says it on 5 of the 6 sides of the box! This subwoofer is even larger than the previous model! And it sure as hell is anything but wireless! Your equipment inputs and outputs go through the subwoofer!!!!
on December 2, 2012
Liked the idea of two vertical speakers vs a horizontal soundbar. The two speakers are connected via speaker wire and power only connected to the right speaker. HDMI or optical cable from TV and other devices connect to the subwoofer and sends sound to the two speakers wirelessly. This means the sub must be close to the TV.
Problem started day one. It took almost 10 minutes trying to figure out how to sync the sub wirelessly to the speakers. Instructions for this is a joke. I'm still not sure how I eventually got it working but I did. Less that an hour later I hear loud static and then nothing. Only sound was coming from the sub and the speaker was showing an error message 'Check Subwoofer'. So I look-up this error in the manual but nothing. So I try powering off each speaker and try to re-sync. I finally got it to work. A day or two later same thing. Now it happens on a daily basis. NOTE: My sub and the right speaker are less that 10 inches apart so it's not a distance issue.
I'm returning it now before I'm stuck with a +$300 non-working speaker. Be warned.