Among Samsung’s prolific range of soundbars, the HW-B550 serves as the entry-level model, alongside the HW-B450 and HW-B650 with which it shares a lot in common. This is why we advise you to read the test of the HW-B450 upstream to fully understand it.
In terms of design, almost nothing has changed. The acoustic fabric protecting the loudspeakers of the HW-B450 gives way here to a metal grille that is much more attractive to the eye, but also offers an impression of increased robustness. The size remains the same but the weight increases, from 1.4 kg to 2.1 kg.
The connection part is much more provided on this HW-B550. We have here the right to two HDMI ports (an input and an ARC output) in addition to an optical port and USB-A. As for the HDMI input, it manages to read 1080p/120 Hz streams but not 4K or HDR. There is of course no question of VRR support either. However, the bar is delivered without an HDMI cable. The compatible audio formats are identical to those supported by the HW-B450.
The onboard features and controls are identical to those on the HW-B450. Only the return screen is different: it has been moved to the right of the bar and its display area has been reduced, much to our chagrin.
Unlike the HW-B450, we didn’t notice any brownouts during our Bluetooth use. The latency is equivalent between the two models.
If there is one point where the HW-B550 stands out from the HW-B450, it’s the audio part, and not really in a good way. The rendering remains relatively balanced as a whole, but the housing of the HW-B550 is particularly demonstrative and intrusive. We then tend to lower the level of the subwoofer by -6 dB to find a more pleasant rendering. In addition, the precision in the bass is quite disappointing.
The passage from the subwoofer to the bar is also rather badly managed, which creates a lack of hairline at the level of the low mids and prevents the good distinction of the sources. The intelligibility of the dialogues also suffers, even with the Clear Voice mode engaged. In addition, the bar creates an audible distortion peak around 10 kHz, which is likely attributed to a shaking screw inside the bar.
Finally, the HW-B550 has a DTS Virtual:X mode that is supposed to create an immersive sound bubble around the listening position. If some effects extend very slightly beyond the physical limits of the bar, the rendering is completely distorted. We recommend staying in Standard mode to enjoy this soundbar.
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