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Samsung HW-F750 Soundbar Review

by June 05, 2013
Samsung HW-F750 Soundbar Review

Samsung HW-F750 Soundbar Review

  • Product Name: HW-F750
  • Manufacturer: Samsung
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStar
  • Value Rating: StarStarStar
  • Review Date: June 05, 2013 12:00
  • MSRP: $ 949

HW-F750 Specifications

  • Number of channels: 2.1

  • Sound bar amp: 40 watts per channel (6 ohms, 1% THD, 1kHz) Subwoofer amp: 150 watts (3 ohms, 10% THD, 100 Hz)

  • Frequency Response: Not provided

  • Drivers: 4 1” tweeters and 8 3.5”x1.5” midrange drivers

  • Anynet+ (HDMI-CEC): Yes Crystal Amp: Crystal Sound (Discrete Amp) Pro

  • Audio Processing: Dolby Digital, DTS, 3D Sound Plus

  • Video Features: 3D & Deep Color Passthrough

  • USB Decoding: WAV, MP4, WMA

  • Inputs: Optical, 3.5mm, HDMI, USB, Bluetooth, Soundshare

  • Sound bar Dimensions (W x H x D): 37.1" x 2.2" x 4.6"

  • Sound bar Weight (lb.): 7.7 lbs

  • Subwoofer Dimensions (W x H x D): 6.89" x 13.78" x 11.61”

  • Subwoofer Weight: 15.98 lbs

  • Shipping Dimensions (W x H x D): 39.2" x 17.7" x 13.5"

  • Accessories: 3.5mm audio cable and IR remote


  • Built-in Bluetooth
  • Samsung SoundShare compatible
  • Wireless Subwoofer
  • Versatile on-wall mounting system


  • Below Average subwoofer
  • Poor surround sound simulation
  • Sub-standard auto setup calibration
  • Small soundstage


Samsung HW-F750 Introduction

Soundbars! Soundbars! Soundbars! Come and get your soundbars! Not unlike the headphone market in the past few years, it seems like these units are poised to take over the world. But the one thing holding them back from Skynet-like rule is their questionable sound quality. Soundbars (or sound bars or surround bars or Crystal Surround Air Track Active Speaker Systems, as Samsung prefers) were introduced into the market as budget products. They were a way for people who didn’t care about surround sound to enjoy better-than-TV-speakers sound quality, without all of the jazz associated with a full-blown home theater system. Well, the market has evolved and now consumers want diminutive, sleek soundbars that can compete with larger, bulkier sound systems. Here comes Samsung with their HW-F750 Crystal Air Track Active Speaker System, but I’ll just call it the F750 soundbar, because I’m a simple person like that. With an MSRP of $949.99 and a vacuum tube input section, the F750 is Samsung’s attempt to break into the high-end soundbar market. But, are the tubes just a gimmick? Or does this unit have more than just a premium price?

HW-F750 Features and Overview

I covered the entire Samsung 2013 soundbar lineup in a previous article, including the F750, but was only able to speculate about its actual quality. Before we jump into setup, operation, and sound quality, let’s rehash what you actually get with this soundbar.

Samsung isn’t the first to realize the need for a high-end soundbar solution. I reviewed the MartinLogan Motion Vision ($1499) in January, and Andrew Gash reviewed both the Outlaw Audio OSB-1 ($799, identical to the Atlantic Technology PB-235 but with a different model number) and Harman Kardon SB16 ($699) last year. The F750 sits right in the middle of the pack with an MSRP of $949.99, but the street price is closer to $749. As the market has matured, the design differences between units have become quite drastic. For example, the Motion Vision and OSB-1 don’t include subwoofers, rather, you can buy any sub you want and hook it up. In contrast, both the SB16 and F750 include wireless subwoofers. Other features, like simulated surround, inputs, and overall dimensions vary greatly among soundbars. So, don’t let Joe Shmoe tell you that all soundbars are the same, it’s like saying all TVs or all receivers are the same.

As for the HW-F750, it’s busting at the seams with features. One of the most dominant and unusual is a vacuum tube input stage. Vacuum tubes are a staple of high-end audio and can dramatically affect the sound quality of equipment. Samsung doesn’t provide any technical information about the tubes, and sadly they are not replaceable. When most people think “vacuum tubes,” they think of power amplifiers, but the F750 still has a typical class D power amp section. The tubes are part of the input stage of the design, meaning the signal passes through them before it reaches the main amp. I think it was a brilliant marketing idea for Samsung to include vacuum tubes in this design. Not only does it look cool (they’re backlight with dimmable orange lights), it makes a bold statement that this is a high-end soundbar. But, the real question is, “Is it simply a marketing gimmick, or is the rest of the unit also high-end audio-oriented?” Well, you’ll have to keep reading before we get to that section of the review.

Samsung HW-F750 Inputs 

Samsung HW-F750 Inputs

The F750’s inputs and wireless features are on or above par with most other soundbars on the market. It’s equipped with HDMI, optical, analog (3.5mm), USB, Bluetooth, and SoundShare. The HDMI input is accompanied by a single output, so you can pass an HDMI signal through the soundbar. This allows the F750 to receive audio back from your TV via HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel). If you are lucky enough to have one of Samsung’s 2013 TVs with SoundShare, you can dispense with cables all together and wirelessly stream all of the sound from your TV directly to the soundbar. This means all the soundbar would need is power. And when it comes to power, Samsung did it right. Instead of following in the tradition of their other soundbars, which have an internal AC/DC adapter, the F750 has an external power brick. You ask, “So what?” Well, this makes it easy to hide the power cord when the soundbar is wall mounted. It’s against National Electric code to simply drop a 120v AC power cord in the wall. By having an external AC/DC power adapter, you end up with a few feet of low voltage DC cord to run in the wall. Don’t worry if that’s a little hard to visualize, you’ll see what I mean if you actually purchase the F750.

Samsung HW-F750 Horizontal               Samsung HW-F750 Vertical

       Samsung HW-F750 Horizontal                  Samsung HW-F750 Vertical         

Another major feature is its dual orientations—horizontal and vertical. The HW-F750 sits flat when set on a stand, but flips upright when mounted on a wall. When set flat, the dimensions are: 37.1" W x 2.2" H x 4.6" D. However, in vertical orientation the depth and height flip, so the dimension are: 37.1” W x 4.6” H x 2.2” D. This dual orientation is nice because it allows the F750 to be short enough to avoid blocking the bottom of a TV when setting on a stand, but still be extremely thin when mounted on a wall. A few soundbars on the market follow this design, like the Bose CineMate 1 SR ($1499), but it’s uncommon.

In order to make sure the soundbar works well in both positions, Samsung installed two different sets of speakers and LED displays, so the speakers and display are always pointing at you, no matter the orientation. The second set of drivers (pointing straight up when on a stand, and straight down when mounted) are used to supplement the main speakers. The speakers facing away from you play the exact same audio as the drivers facing you, but the volume is reduced. This could give the HW-F750 a bigger, more expansive sound. The downside to this approach is that instead of being able to focus on optimizing the soundbar for one orientation, Samsung had to divide up valuable real-estate and money between both positions. The HW-F750 is packed with 8 midrange drivers and 4 tweeters, for a total of 12 drivers. There are 6 drivers on front and 6 on top (when in horizontal orientation), arranged in a T-M-M-M-M-T configuration. The tweeters are 1” and the midrange drivers are 3.5”x1.5”.

Samsung HW-F750 Subwoofer Internal              Samsung HW-F750 Wireless Subwoofer

   Samsung HW-F750 Sub Amp                   Samsung HW-F750 Sub Rear   

The included wireless subwoofer (no option to hook up a 3rd party sub) is rated at 150 watts into 3 ohms at 10% THD at 100 Hz. It weighs in at 15.98 pounds and sports what I measured to be about a 6” driver and 2” rear firing port. The dimensions are: 6.89” W x 13.78” H x 11.61” D and it weighs 15.98lbs (3lbs more than the Bose CineMate 1 SR Acoustimass Module). If you are familiar with subwoofer specs, some of the above information is quite worrisome. The sub is pretty light and small, but those two things alone don’t mean it’s a bad subwoofer. However, the 6” driver means it likely can’t play very low, and the amp power ratings are listed in a tricky manner so as to significantly inflate the reported wattage (150w). The small port also increases the likelihood of port chuffing (which I could hear during my measurements). Samsung also fails to supply some of the most important specs for a subwoofer: how low it can play and at what SPL. For such an expensive soundbar system, I would expect a much more robust subwoofer. Based off of specs alone, this sub couldn’t hold a candle to most standalone units in the <$300 price range.

Samsung HW-F750 Setup and Sound Quality

Setting up the F750 is pretty simple. 1) Connect power. 2) Plug in devices. Done! Wait? You’re wondering about using HDMI, optical, or analog? And what about turning off the TV speakers? Or placing the subwoofer? No problem. We’ve got you covered with this handy-dandy video about setting up a soundbar.

Once the soundbar is set in place, you can run Samsung’s ASC, or Auto Setup Calibration. It’s a simple auto setup system that only takes measurements at a single position. The mic is as cheap as they come, without any type of threaded insert for use with a tripod. Once the process starts, you need to leave the room. Just go. Do it. For your own sake. The sounds that emanate from this little soundbar are far worse than any auto setup system I have ever heard, and the old Harman Kardon EZ Set/EQ system was pretty bad. I happened to have my measurement mic setup when I ran ASC, and it recorded sustained 5kHz white noise at 90dB. Not pleasant. To top it if off, the EQ that ASC applied actually made the sound quality worse (measurements and analysis later in the review). Thankfully, the EQ can be disabled by pressing “Sound Effect” on the remote.

If you choose to mount the F750, you will be pleasantly surprised by its well-designed wall bracket. If you don’t over-tighten the screws, it provides for a little bit of level adjustment after the unit is up and with the help of a stepped drill bit you could always add a little more wiggle room. There’s also a convenient arrow on the bracket that you line up with the center of the TV. Sony, Sharp, and Panasonic should take a hint from Samsung in this department. They still employ frustrating keyhole slots.

Samsung HW-F750 Remote 

Samsung HW-F750 Remote 

After setup, you can turn your attention to the cluttered, convoluted, ergonomically challenged remote. Samsung managed to cram 33 buttons on this tiny remote, allowing it full control over the soundbar plus control of a TV. (Ironic, since their 2012 TV remotes couldn’t control the volume on their soundbars. This was fixed for 2013). If I just spent $750 on a soundbar, why do I need dedicated TV volume +, -, mute, ch. +, ch. -, info, pre-ch., power, and source buttons on my soundbar remote? Isn’t it likely that I will use my set top box or TV remotes, or some other universal remote to control everything? Yes, yes it is likely. This poor little remote tries to do everything a unit twice its size couldn’t handle. Samsung, take my advice: forget the TV and make the soundbar remote a soundbar remote. BTW – it does control the soundbar just fine, if you can actually find the button you want.

HW-F750 Sound Quality

I used the HDMI output from my Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray player for movie listening tests. Optical from my PS3 was used for video games. The soundbar was set on my TV stand, about 6’ away from the listening position.

MW3-PS3-Cover       star trek 2009

         Call of Duty                          Star Trek                

PS3 Game: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

It’s not commonplace to use video games as test material when reviewing home theater equipment, but they can provide valuable insights. Some of the most important aspects of a soundbar are: bass output, surround effects, size of soundstage, and dynamic range. All of which can be tested through the use of video games. So, I popped in MW3, logged onto PSN, and jumped into a game of Domination (and a horrible lag-fest). I immediately noticed the midrange was recessed, vocals sounded distant and muffled. I remembered from my measurements that the ASC took a good chunk out of the midrange. So, I disabled the EQ, and the voices became clear and pronounced. The soundbar handled the large dynamic swings of exploding grenades and barrels without a hitch. But, the sub never could quite reproduce the deep, guttural bass that accompanies some of the larger events, like a stealth bomber. The soundstage expanded a little beyond the edges of the soundbar, but not much.

Blu-ray: Star Trek (2009)

I used Star Trek as a test disc in my recent review of the Denon AVR-X4000, so I decided to keep the party going with this review. Early on in the movie, a young Kirk sends his stepfather’s 69 Corvette plummeting to its grave at the bottom of a canyon (Didn’t think they had canyons in Iowa). The H750 cranked out a healthy amount of power, even with the volume only turned up half way. In fact, turning the volume past 50% didn't result in much more output. This suggests that Samsung front loaded the volume control to make it appear that the soundbar could go much louder than it actually can. Consumers would think "Wow, it's really loud and I'm only at 50% of the max volume." When, in reality, they are close to the maximum output capabilites of the internal amplifier. Front loading the volume control is a common practice with entry level products, but something I would have liked to see Samsung avoid.

In an attempt to make the sound actually expand beyond the edges of the soundbar, I engaged “3D Sound Plus Movie” mode. The soundstage instantly doubled, but at times it sounded “weird”, a sort of fuzzy, diffuse sound that can happen with simulated surround modes. More experienced listeners will recognize this as the sound of out of phase speakers. Even though the soundstage widened, I never heard sounds beside or behind me. There was clear left/right channel separation, and the voices emanated out of the middle of the soundbar, thanks to a phantom center. The vocals were clear, but lacked the fullness I am used to with my main system. Part of this is because the subwoofer has to play much higher frequencies than is preferred in order to compensate for the small drivers in the soundbar. This caused the sound of some male vocals to be split between the soundbar and subwoofer. There isn’t much Samsung could do about this, as it’s a problem with any speaker system with small drivers (less than 4” typically). In the end, the F750 ran through the entire movie without any major hiccups, but without impressing me much either. It went loud enough, the subwoofer rumbled and boomed when it was supposed to, the dialogue was easily understood (though a little recessed), but it failed to deliver the “wow” experience I would expect in this price range. It was more on par with what I have heard from soundbars in the $400 range.

CD: Metric – Fantasiesmetric-fantasies

Metric’s 2009 album Fantasies isn’t a staple of audiophile recordings, but following the logic of using MW3, I thought it fit this review well. I’d imagine that more people are going to listen to Metric on the F750 while cleaning or cooking, than sit down and critically listen to Schubert. Taking one step closer to practical use, I loaded up the tracks onto a flash drive and ran them off of the F750’s built in USB port. One of Metric’s more popular tracks, “Gold Guns Girls”, is carried by a continual, rapid drum beat, and accompanied by a typical indie ensemble of female vocals, bass and electric guitars. I wasn’t as readily able to pick out individual instruments and their positions as I am used to, but each musician had their own space within the limited soundstage. “Help I’m Alive” is the real leading track on this album, and for some reason it was just the song for the F750. The vocals were clear and the sub fell in line after I adjusted it down a few dB. The system really opened up, and presented a larger, more coherent sound than I had heard on any of my other tests. This inspired me to go down a Hip Hop, synth heavy trail of music and load up some Family Force 5 on the thumb drive (a love it or hate it style of music also called “Crunk Rock”). “Drama Queen”, from their album Business Up Front/Party in the Back, proved to be another winner on the F750, bass that stayed within the limits of wireless sub, and synthesized vocals that played on the enhanced treble. Through the rest of this album the F750 seemed right at home. I continued on with a few other styles of music and artists, which lead me to this conclusion: The F750 is poised to handle modern, mainstream music quite well, but it doesn’t quite do full justice to the intricacies of higher quality recordings. 

Samsung HW-F750 Measurements and Conclusion

All measurements were taken in-room utilizing an OmniMic measurement system. 1/12th octave smoothing was employed and a 5ms blended response to help remove room interaction from bass frequencies.

 HW-F750 2m left channel response

In-room 2 Meter Frequency Response

The above graph shows the soundbar’s frequency response from 150Hz to 20kHz. The large peak at 280Hz can be partially explained by room interaction. The sharp drop off at about 280Hz shows an abnormally high, high-pass filter. This explains why I heard vocals come through the sub during my listening tests. I have no doubt that the overall sound quality of the system would improve if the crossover frequency was lowered. Otherwise, the response is remarkably flat, other than a hump between 600Hz and 1kHz. It should be noted that this is a measurement of the left channel alone. Significant comb filtering was shown in measurements that used both channels, a predictable problem with the wide tweeter placement.

 HW-F750 gp subwoofer response

 Subwoofer In-room 1 meter Groundplane Frequency Response

Normally I would measure the subwoofer without the rest of the speakers in a system enabled, but since this subwoofer is wireless, the soundbar also had to be active. Therefore, the above graph does not show a clear roll-off from the subwoofer’s low-pass filter. Still, you can see the high-pass filter kick in at about 50Hz, leading to a rough frequency response of 50Hz-250Hz +/-5dB. With a 6” driver and 2” port, I wouldn’t expect the unit to play any lower. In fact, when given a constant 50Hz tone, port chuffing was audible. 

HW-F750 Auto Calibration  

In-room Auto Setup Calibration Comparison 

This last chart simply shows the results of running Samsung’s Auto Setup Calibration system.  The measurements were taken at my listening position, with all settings (including subwoofer level) at default. I have never measured such poor results from any setup system. With a nearly 15dB cut at 3kHz and 7kHz, it’s easy to see why the EQ made voices sound muffled and recessed during my listening tests. Most auto setup systems are shifting their focus to do less correction in the mid and high frequencies, and instead make large changes in bass response. This was obviously not the case here. Luckily, as I said earlier, the EQ that ASC applied can be easily disabled.

HW-F750 Suggestions for improvement

The F750 is a form over function product, so naturally, I have a number of suggestions to improve its functionality. First, the remote needs to be redesigned. It should do one thing well, rather than two things poorly. Focus on the soundbar. If Samsung is worried about easy remote integration with other devices, then they should follow the lead of other manufacturers, like Polk Audio and Boston Acoustics; both of whom incorporate IR learning into the soundbar. This way, the soundbar can learn to respond to any IR remote.

I would also ditch the dual orientation, or at least implement it more effectively. It has a sort of “cool factor”, but the cost of having two sets of drivers, two IR receivers, two LED displays, and the gyro to detect orientation cuts into the available space and money for a single set of high quality components.  A single orientation design might allow for a bass reflex or transmission line system, or the use of larger drivers. If they are concerned about making a soundbar that’s too tall, blocking the IR signal for the TV, then incorporate an IR receiver on the front of the soundbar and an IR blaster on the back. This allows the soundbar to pass through the IR signal for the TV. Yamaha does this with their $249 YAS-101. If Samsung wants to stick with dual orientation, then I would recommend using some sort of DSP to more effectively use the second set of drivers. Instead of simply playing the same audio as the main drivers, just quieter, use them for surround effects.

Samsung HW-F750 Vaccum Tubes 

Samsung HW-F750 Vacuum Tubes and Display

The subwoofer coupled with the F750 is very disappointing. I would expect to see it packaged with soundbar/sub combos in the $400 range, but the F750 combo costs double. It can’t dream of competing with a true, standalone subwoofer. Pioneer’s SW-8MK2 for a poultry $159 outpaces it in every area, except built-in wireless and glossy finish. Even the subwoofer packaged with Harman Kardon’s $599  SB16 soundbar has a glossy finish, is wireless, weighs over double the F750’s subwoofer, and has a 10” driver (granted, it’s pretty large as well).

The Auto Sound Calibration performance was also dismal, at least in my listening area (these systems can work better/worse in different listening environments). And the surround effects, as noted in the listening tests, were very poor as well. I might suggest buying existing technologies for these two areas, like Dolby Virtual Speaker for surround effects.

And what about the vacuum tubes? From the onset I was worried that the tubes were simply a ploy to lure in unsuspecting self-proclaimed audiophiles. Surely, it was a genius marketing move. It set the F750 apart from any other soundbar on the market and created a lot of buzz. But Samsung didn’t carry the promise through to the end. The focus on sound quality stopped right after the fancy tubes, died a little with the dual orientation/driver quality, and completely fizzled out with the subwoofer.

HW-F750 Conclusion

I applaud Samsung for daring to make a more expensive soundbar than any of their immediate competition, but they failed to realize that the hi-fi market plays by different rules. Entry level products need to focus on features in order to gain attention. With Audiophile products, an excess of features is often viewed as a sign of poor quality. The HW-F750 sounds as good as any Samsung soundbar I have heard in the past. I’m sure it would look great mounted under a slim LED TV, and for the average consumer the sound quality will be impressive. In my opinion it's still a better deal than the overpriced/under-performing Bose CineMate 1 SR. But, when you charge a premium price and tout the inclusion of vacuum tubes as a signal that the product has exceptional sound quality, you better be prepared to bring the goods. But no such goods were brought. In the end, the HW-F750 has the looks, features, and decent sound quality demanded by the mass market, but true Audiophiles should move on.

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
Build QualityStarStarStar
Treble SmoothnessStarStarStar
Midrange AccuracyStarStarStar
Bass ExtensionStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStar
About the author:
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Cliff, like many of us, has always loved home theater equipment. In high school he landed a job at Best Buy that started his path towards actual high quality audio. His first surround sound was a Klipsch 5.1 system. After that he was hooked, moving from Klipsch to Polk to Definitive Technology, and so on. Eventually, Cliff ended up doing custom installation work for Best Buy and then for a "Ma & Pa" shop in Mankato, MN.

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