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
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.
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.
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.
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Recent Forum Posts:
Regardless of the warm glow that soundbar may have, it is still a Samsung audio device. No different, the sound dock they offer (vac tube/dig amp) sounds no better than the audiovox alarm clock radio I have next to my bed! None of these gimmicked devices are worth the time and money.
I'm not saying everything the company offers is worthless. Samsung has some great displays, phones, and home appliances. We have owned many of each offering in our home and have been extremely happy with the performance of various Samsung products. Sadly, the audio gear offered by Samsung has always seemed lackluster to me.
In this case, Samsung should have their tubes tied and give up the upper-end game with audio products.
Having just purchased this soundbar I can say for certain this is not aimed at an audiophile no way in hell. You can tell simply be looking at the control, or lack thereof, of the unit's sound behaviour. It's aimed at audiophile as much as a DSLR camera from Nikon or Canon that has a full frame sensor yet doesn't have aperture or shutter speed controls is aimed at camera enthusiasts. Having said that though, it doesn't mean the vacuum tubes are for nothing because the HW-F750 produces are very pleasant sound at least to me.
Having read a few people say that the HW-F750 doesn't sound any better than the HW-F450 I can only conclude that those people need their ears cleaned out with an electric drill. My mother has an HW-F450 and I can only call that unit horrible. It constantly produces this awful, overdone and out of control subwoofer grumble like it seriously has no idea what to do and in its confusion throws out anything out of the subwoofer in a panic. Listening to the HW-F450 is like having a plastic bag taped over my hear and I'm gasping for air now I know how The Boss and The Rabbi felt at the end of Lucky Number Slevin. Sorry mother but I wouldn't wish the HW-F450 on anyone!
The HW-F750 on the other hand produces sound that holds together extremely well. As a standard and so you know where I'm coming from, I typically use 2 audio sources for cinema and music and this unit does very well at both. The first is Transformers where many systems throw out the “clanking” of the machines in one horrible mess with one sound being indistinguishable from another. The music sample of choice is The Unfolding by Lisa Gerrard and I was hugely impressed by the HW-F750's ability to hold it together for this. There are a couple of music style that this doesn't like so I would listen to it with what you like to play before if it matters to you.
Don't get me wrong, the HW-F750 is far from perfect. The subwoofer is small and there's no getting around that. If you like your subwoofer to thump out the audio so that you're not only annoying your neighbours you're annoying your entire suburb this is not for you and I suggest you look elsewhere. For my own purposes though, as I have a limited space to put a subwoofer without pretty much putting it in the middle of my sitting room the size is fine. I also typically watch TV at night where I don't need or want the excessive volumes. Furthermore I more watch TV series for the most part so the cinematic 5.1 experience is less important. I'm not even sure if I get a 5.1 sound signal from my satellite service provide half the time. No matter what the manufacturer's spam says a soundbar isn't going to give you anything but 2.1 sound so if you want 5.1 buy a 5.1 system. At best I can get a 3.1 plus a left and right given my sitting room so no matter what 5.1 system I looked at it was always going to result in a front heavy sound anyway so why bother with all the crap and all the piles of cables?
Given the width of the speaker unit you may find that it impedes the IR sensor of your TV if you're below 46“. I have a Samsung 46F6670 and while it is a few cms within the TV's width I notice I have to point my remote more at the TV rather than previously not caring where it was pointed. The bonus part of the HW-F750 for me though is that when in tabletop orientation it has an extremely low profile. My Samsung TV has pedestal stand rather than the more typical 4 prong stand and as such it sits very low. The very low height of the main speakers means I can actually place it on top of the pedestal I neither have to raise the TV nor do I need to place it in front of the pedestal which saves me a huge amount of depth making it occupy no more space than the TV already does. Being on top of my pedestal it covers my cables at the rear from sight and allows me to regain 15-20cm back from my room if I cared to replace the furniture it sits upon which is rather significant. By the way, the HW-F750 doesn't sound spectacular when you're close up to it. Whether it's a thing with this unit, soundbars in general or the placement of my subwoofer (which isn't in the best place for optimal sound) I'm not sure but I wouldn't recommend being closer than 2.5m from it.
When it comes to the irks firstly, the ASC setup is horrendous. Why there seems to be no other way to initiate it other than when you plug in the sensor nor does the sensor have a clicker on it which is mental. With the lit display on the unit itself it is really cute how that if it's in a tabletop orientation it uses the thin side to light up and when it's wall mounted it uses the other side. It's cute up until you want to use the buttons on the unit when it's in tabletop mode, and where the expected vertical position of the unit is at waist height or lower, and you can't see [email protected]#$ because the front display is active and not the top display. If you're pushing the buttons both should light up! I don't know where the eyes are on a Samsung engineer but for normal people the answer is ”not there!“. And just an FYI, I've seen a lot of pictures of the HW-F750 sat in the wall mounted orientation but on a table in front of a TV. It doesn't work either you're impeding the speakers else if you turn it over it doesn't work (the display lights up but it doesn't work when upside down). It's a little weird that wall mounted the speakers are forward and down and when in the other orientation they're forward and up. I guess there's some interesting insight into the logic process of a Korean.
I know that Samsung were royally stung by Apple for over a $ billion but to not add wifi to HW-F750 and have this as an AirPlay (and I guess their own AllShare) destination is crazy, that goes for their TVs as well which already have wifi. With the addition of AirPlay/AllShare it would enable me to wall mount these all over the place for an ”all over the home" solution rather cheaply and neatly. For that matter it may even go really nicely as an unobtrusive desktop computer sound system. I don't get the closing off of the potential versatility of this unit for the sake of pennies.
Overall though I really like the HW-F750. It's a well performing soundbar and while it isn't perfect and does have its limitations, and will do better/worse depending on the particular circumstances one has (more so than a 5.1 unit), it perfectly suits my usage and physical constraints, not to mention came at a price that's far more reasonable that other solutions.
Steve81, post: 971088
I'm hearing product of the year buzz
Great Guess Steve!
I'm thinking about it. But I'm also considering the Bose CineMate 1 SR
Did you see the Acoustimass module with that beast? Dude, it weighs nearly 14 pounds! That would probably take 3 people to place in a room!
I bet that could put out, I don't know, maybe a 100Hz note at reference volume levels for a fraction of a second. Mind blown! That's some deep, bowel shaking bass!
And the price is a bargain, only $1500. Man, I'd pay $1500 just for the Bose name badge. In fact, I might try to get some and slap them over the logos on my current stuff. Who's heard of crappy brands like MartinLogan, Denon, or Emotiva anyway!
Can't wait to get one in for review. I will probably end up keeping it and using it as my reference speaker system.
admin, post: 971086
But hold up, if you haven't read the review yet, take a guess in the forum thread on what you think we found.
I'm hearing product of the year buzz