This £200 slim-line soundbase packs more of a bass punch than you might imagine
At 35mm high, Samsung’s first ever soundbase (or ‘SoundStand’ as the Korean corp calls it) is one of the slimmest on the market, allowing it to slip virtually unnoticed under your flatscreen. It also steers clear from the typical design blueprint, opting for a more streamlined look with sleek angles and curves. The brushed top panel flows seamlessly into the angled fascia, which is adorned with a large, legible LED display.
Build quality is reasonably good, although a manual inspection reveals a plasticky feel to the casing. It’s not a patch on the other three models, all of which feel more solid and hefty, That said, it claims to have no trouble supporting TVs up to 60in/35kg. Unfortunately, I didn't have such a monster telly to hand to put that claim to the test.
Rear connectivity is better than expected. There’s an HDMI input and ARC-enabled output, which support 3D passthrough but not 4K.
Hooking up your TV to the optical input represents the most convenient method of inputting audio, although you’ll bypass the built-in Dolby Digital and DTS decoding since most TVs only output PCM. A 3.5mm minijack input and USB port complete the line-up, the latter allowing you to play MP3, WMA, FLAC, AAC, WAV and OGG files – a rare talent among soundbases.
There’s wireless connectivity, too, in the form of Bluetooth. The lack of NFC means you have to pair devices manually. Although often that actually proves easier to do...
Aligned to that is SoundConnect, which uses Bluetooth to beam sound to the soundbase from a compatible Samsung TV. Good for people with a cable phobia. The HW-H600 is stuffed with other features, including a clutch of sound presets – Music, Voice, Sports and Cinema – plus Surround Sound Expansion, which attempts to widen the soundstage.
The speaker array comprises four mid-range drivers and two built-in subwoofers. In action the HW-H600 is easy to use thanks to the clear, informative LED display and full-size remote. Button placement is spot-on and the dedicated keys for subwoofer volume and sound modes make it simple to tweak performance on the fly.
Although it doesn’t bring the thunder like some of its peers, the HW-H600 still produces a louder and bassier noise than you might expect given its slender dimensions. With Pacific Rim the Samsung’s dual woofers put in an admirable performance, underpinning the all-important battle scenes with a hearty rumble. As massive robots and monsters lumber about the screen you get a feel for their size and heft.
A touch of overhang restricts the overall punch and clarity of those bass notes, which can leave it sounding muddy. However, given how much low-frequency fun Samsung has squeezed out of this wafer-thin speaker I'll cut it a little slack.
Of greater concern are the HW-H600’s mid and high frequencies. Samsung’s sonic character is overtly bright and crisp (regardless of the sound preset), which guarantees a dynamic, exciting sound for day-to-day TV listening and iTunes-purchased pop songs, but it can sound hard when tested with screeching monsters and metal hitting metal. Crank up the volume and these cinematic effects become a chore to listen to.
The HW-H600 also lacks the finesse and love of treble detail offered by the Canton DM 75 (in particular), although that’s hardly surprising given it's twice the price.
The Surround Sound Expansion mode does a good job of opening up the soundstage and making dialogue clearer (despite its complete lack of anything resembling surround sound) and for that reason I recommend leaving it switched on – movies sound flat without it.
This soundbase is much more at home with TV programmes where the bright, lively tone is a blessing. Speech comes through clearly and the meaty low-end lends depth to theme tunes and roaring sports crowds.
Bluntly, the HW-H600 is the least impressive soundbase in this group test, but Samsung should be commended for coaxing a surprisingly weighty sound from such a slender speaker. And at around £200 (or even less), it’s also the cheapest model of the four, which could count for a lot when making a decision.
Price: £200 Approx
Highs: Slim, attractive design to mirror your slim, attractive TV; USB music playback; impressive bass output; affordable price tag
Lows: Bright, hard tone; strains at high volumes
Drive units: 4 x midrange drivers; 2 x subwoofers
Connections: HDMI input; HDMI output (ARC); optical digital input; 3.5mm minijack input; USB port
Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD MA: No/No
Separate sub: No
Remote control: Yes
735(w) x 36.5(h) x 360(d)mm
Features: Bluetooth with NFC; Standard, Music, Voice, Sports and Cinema presets; Surround Sound Expansion; MP3, WMA, FLAC, AAC, WAV, OGG playback; 3D passthrough; TV SoundConnect; Dolby Digital/DTS decoding
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