The HW-N650 is newest soundbar to emerge from Samsung’s state-of-the-art Audio Lab in California. The corporate’s funding in audio improvement has already paid dividends, with quite a lot of very spectacular soundbars launched over the previous couple of years. This yr sees Samsung construct on that success with a completely new vary, and the N650 is the primary to reach in shops.
It contains lots of the identical options discovered on final yr’s fashions, however provides Samsung’s new Acoustic Beam know-how. Focused at film followers and players, that is supposed to create an even bigger and extra immersive audio expertise. If the N650 can ship the panoramic soundstage that Samsung guarantees, then it could be simply the ticket.
The N650 makes use of a really comparable design to earlier Samsung fashions, with a easy rectangular form and an all steel development. The look is practical fairly than eye-catching, however the construct high quality is superb, with a strong really feel and substantial weight.
This solidity extends to steel grilles on the prime and entrance, together with a brushed steel end to the perimeters and sides. The N650 is barely out there in black, however its fashionable end will match most trendy TV designs; given its width of 1100mm, it must also complement bigger screens.
Nonetheless, regardless of being fairly extensive, the N650 additionally has a reasonably low form-factor, with a top of simply 560mm: this implies it ought to slot in entrance of most TVs with out blocking the display screen. You even have the choice of wall-mounting the soundbar, and Samsung embrace a devoted bracket for that function.
On the entrance of the soundbar, over on the far proper, there’s a easy LED show. This lights up while you use the controls, and gives info on the amount, inputs and varied settings. To the precise of this show, on the top plate, are some fundamental controls for energy, enter choice and quantity.
The supplied distant is superb, and a far cry from the credit score card-sized controllers typically included with soundbars. It’s properly designed and comfy to carry, with all the mandatory buttons sensibly laid out, making controlling the N650 as intuitive as potential.
The connections are positioned in two recessed sections on the backside of the soundbar. Within the left hand recess you’ll discover a USB port, a three.5mm auxiliary audio jack, and an optical digital audio enter. The suitable hand recess has an HDMI enter, an HDMI output with ARC (Audio Return Channel), and a connector for the separate energy provide.
Not like a lot of Samsung’s current soundbars, the N650 comes with a separate wi-fi energetic subwoofer. It measures 215 x 385 x 304mm (WxHxD), weighs 7kg and is designed to enhance the soundbar itself. The 2 ought to pair routinely, and there’s a management on the distant to regulate the subwoofer stage, guaranteeing the bass is properly built-in.
Design TL;DR: The N650’s minimalist design and extensive physique will complement many massive display screen TVs, whereas the very good construct high quality and wi-fi subwoofer promise an expansive sound.
The N650 makes use of a 5.1-channel speaker configuration, with a claimed frequency vary of 42Hz to 20kHz and a complete claimed energy of 360W. There are three forward-firing channels, every composed of a mid-range driver and a tweeter. This configuration means the soundbar has a devoted centre channel, which is essential for dialogue in films and narration in TV programmes.
Together with the three entrance channels, there are additionally two upward-firing channels – however that is the place issues get fascinating. The N650 contains Samsung’s Acoustic Beam know-how, so these upward-firing channels are composed of two pipes, every with 28 holes in them. Tweeters hearth into these pipes, making a sequence of acoustic beams emanating from every gap – a bit just like the pipes in a church organ.
These beams head upwards and sideways, bouncing off the ceiling and partitions to create a a lot wider, greater and extra immersive soundstage. Though this know-how isn’t new, and Yamaha has been doing one thing comparable for years, Samsung’s strategy is actually distinctive.
As talked about, the N650 comes with a wi-fi energetic subwoofer. This bass-reflex mannequin makes use of a forward-firing 6.5-inch driver, coupled with a rear port to ship first rate bass extension.
Dimensions: W1100 x H59 x D100 mm
Speaker configuration: 5.1
Claimed audio energy: 360W
Connections: HDMI enter and output with ARC, optical digital audio enter, three.5mm audio jack, USB, Bluetooth
The connectivity of the N650 appears good on paper, particularly while you issue within the inclusion of Bluetooth. This not solely lets you stream music out of your smartphone or pill, but in addition obtain wi-fi sound from a suitable Samsung TV.
On nearer inspection, nevertheless, the connectivity isn’t fairly as spectacular, particularly when in comparison with final yr’s soundbars or the competitors. To start out, Samsung has dropped built-in WiFi, which implies the N650 doesn’t assist Samsung’s multi-room system and thus can’t run wi-fi rear audio system.
The variety of HDMI inputs can also be fairly stingy contemplating the value, however you possibly can at all times use ARC to ship audio from the TV to the N650 by way of HDMI. In actuality you’re going to have to do that, not solely if you wish to join multiple HDMI supply, but in addition if you wish to take pleasure in the advantages of HDR.
For causes finest know to itself, Samsung has chosen to not assist HDR passthrough, regardless of utilizing HDMI 2.zero connections. It is a unusual omission for a soundbar costing this a lot and aimed toward film followers and players, each of whom will most likely wish to take pleasure in HDR audio via their audio system.
The N650 helps the 5.1-channel variations of each Dolby Digital and DTS, however it will possibly’t decode lossless codecs and thus doesn’t assist Dolby Atmos or DTS:X. This makes connecting all of your sources to your TV, after which sending the audio again utilizing ARC over HDMI, all of the extra logical.
In case you’re a gamer, the N650 has a terrific little characteristic designed particularly for you. Samsung’s 2018 TVs can detect when you choose a linked video games console, and routinely go into recreation mode. This extends to the soundbar, which may also routinely choose a devoted Sport sound mode.
The N650 has three sound modes in complete: Customary, Encompass, and the aforementioned Sport. The Customary mode simply makes use of the entrance three audio system and is finest for music and a few TV programmes; the Encompass mode is designed for films and TV dramas; whereas the Sport mode is clearly supposed for gaming.
Options TL;DR: Samsung’s Acoustic Beam know-how guarantees a bigger and extra immersive entrance soundstage, and is designed to boost films and video games. There’s an honest set of options and connections too, though the absence of HDR passthrough is a thriller.
Samsung has been making some spectacular strides by way of sound high quality, with final yr’s MS750 being a very excessive watermark. So it was rewarding to find that the N650 continues that development, though in a barely completely different style.
While the MS750 was all about pure sound high quality due to its entrance channels and distortion-cancelling know-how, the N650 is extra about spatial consciousness. The Acoustic Beam know-how actually opens out the entrance soundstage, creating larger depth, width and top. It primarily generates a wall of sound that completely enhances films and video games.
Nonetheless inside this immersive sound subject, dialogue stays clear and targeted, whereas results are positioned with actual precision. The addition of a separate subwoofer offers the audio a strong basis of bass, and these low frequencies are successfully built-in inside the remainder of the soundstage.
The sound modes work significantly properly, with the Encompass mode making a extra cinematic expertise, while the Sport mode lets you give attention to sound results. So when you stick on a film like Deepwater Horizon, you’ll end up diving for canopy because the oil rig blows up. Nonetheless, when you change to a session of Star Wars Battlefront, then the N650 will instantly immerse you in a galaxy far, distant.
Because of the Customary sound mode, the N650 additionally sounds nice with music. On this mode solely the entrance three audio system are used, creating a wonderful stereo expertise. Element retrieval is spectacular, while the clear mid-range and efficient tweeters mix with the subwoofer to ship loads of readability and dynamism. The Samsung proved very able to delivering the layered guitars and driving beats of Resistance is Futile by Manic Avenue Preachers.
Efficiency TL;DR: The N650 produces an impressively massive entrance soundstage, that enhances films and gaming by immersing the viewer. Dialogue stays clear and targeted, while the bass is deep and well-integrated. It additionally sounds nice with music, making this a wonderful all-round soundbar.
There’s no denying that the N650 sounds incredible, and it has the scale and construct high quality that goes a way in direction of justifying its £699 value. There’s additionally an honest set of options and a wi-fi subwoofer, however the restricted variety of HDMI connections and lack of HDR assist are merely weird at this worth level.
Different soundbars to think about
In case you just like the look of the N650, then it’s positively price contemplating Samsung’s HW-MS750. This soundbar doesn’t have a separate subwoofer, however contains distortion-cancelling know-how, upward-firing drivers, multi-room capabilities and HDR assist. It sounds very good and is available in on the identical £699 price ticket.
Additionally in the identical worth bracket is the LG SJ9, which sports activities an analogous stage of construct high quality and comes with a wi-fi subwoofer. It’s additionally a part of LG’s multi-room system, whereas together with extra HDMI inputs and might HDR passthrough. Better of all, it has upward-firing drivers that assist Dolby Atmos, making the SJ9 a tricky act to beat.
The N650 is a superb soundbar that boasts a strong construct high quality and a minimalist design, mixed with an honest set of options. Samsung has stripped away a few of the options from final yr, and the shortage of HDR assist is curious, however the addition of a wi-fi subwoofer and Acoustic Beam know-how helps justify the pretty hefty price ticket.
The sound high quality is superb, with an open and immersive entrance soundstage that lends itself to each films and music. It’s no slouch with TV programmes both, and the centre channel ensures dialogue stays crystal clear. Music additionally sounds nice, making the N650 an outstanding all-rounder, and worthy of advice when you’re on the lookout for a brand new soundbar.