Samsung HW-B450 review: a simple and refined 2.1 soundbar

Manufacturing

HW-B450 is a rudimentary soundbar without frills made exclusively of plastic elements and acoustic fabric that protects the speakers. Only the two sloping ends could pass for a little extravagance in terms of design. Its size and weight are quite restrained: 85.9 x 5.9 x 7.5 cm for 1.4 kg. The manufacturing quality is also a bit “easy”, especially due to the plastic plate placed on top, which easily retains fingerprints, is easily scratched and is complicated to clean. The acoustic fabric is of good quality, although it would have benefited from being denser.

The HW-B450 looks very small in front of a 65 TV

The HW-B450 looks very small in front of a 65 “TV

The subwoofer is also quite compact (18.4 x 34.3 x 29.5 cm for 4.5 kg) and will easily be discreet next to a TV stand. The plastic in the rod gives way here to chipboard, and we find the acoustic fabric that covers the front and thus the box’s single speaker. A bass reflex aperture is also present on the back.

Samsung HW-B450: a simple and refined 2.1 soundbar

The HW-B450 comes with a remote control, an optical cable, two power cables and a wall bracket system for hanging the bar directly on a wall.

Editor's rating: 3 out of 5

User experience

The user experience is at the helm: simple and hassle-free. The HW-B450 has four physical buttons on the top to control the volume, turn on the bar or switch source. These buttons are complemented by a sleek remote control, but well equipped with options. The buttons are physically present at the bar, but also include a button for Bluetooth pairing, one to change the listening mode or one to adjust the level of the subwoofer. It is also possible to access advanced settings such as a seven-band equalizer or control audio / video synchronization.

The screen of the HW-B450 is located in the middle behind the acoustic fabric.  Its small size (six characters are displayed) remains acceptable for occasional navigation in the configuration menus of the bar.

The screen of the HW-B450 is located in the middle behind the acoustic fabric. Its small size (six characters are displayed) remains acceptable for occasional navigation in the configuration menus of the bar.

While listening, we noticed some micro-cuts when we were connected via Bluetooth, which can be painful at times. Fortunately, these random cuts did not appear when the rod was put in optically.

It is also possible to control the volume of the bar using the infrared remote control for your television after a little manipulation.  Please note that only a few brands of televisions are compatible with this option (Samsung, Vizio, LG, Sony, Sharp, Philips, Panasonic, Toshiba, Hi ...

It is also possible to control the volume of the bar using the infrared remote control for your television after a little manipulation. Please note that only a few brands of TVs are compatible with this option (Samsung, Vizio, LG, Sony, Sharp, Philips, Panasonic, Toshiba, Hisense, RCA).

Finally, we measured a latency of about 215 ms in Bluetooth, which makes it particularly uncomfortable to watch a video. The bar must therefore definitely be connected optically to limit latency, but even in this case we noticed a slight delay of about 75 ms: nothing very dramatic in itself, but extremely sensitive people could get annoyed.

Impulse response delay measurement in Bluetooth (blue), optical (orange).

Impulse response delay measurement in Bluetooth (blue), optical (orange).

Editor's rating: 3 out of 5

Sound

For its entry-level soundbar, Samsung kept it simple and equipped only the HW-B450 with two speakers that offer stereo reproduction. A subwoofer accompanies the bar to expand the bass reproduction.

Various sound modes are available on this HW-B450: Standard, Surround, Game, Bass Boost and a final one, Adaptive, which automatically juggles between the other four modes depending on the program being broadcast. Surround mode has the effect of expanding the sound picture very little at the expense of a completely cluttered reproduction and randomly placed sound elements: you will therefore need to go back to the cash register and get the SWA-9100S surround rear speakers to hope for the benefit of the. of a true surround reproduction. Game mode adds an unmistakable extra reverb effect, while Bass Boost mode expands the bass extension a bit at the expense of much less precision in that area. The standard mode, which offers unprocessed sound reproduction, is actually the most compelling. We will therefore focus on this for our analysis.

Frequency response measurement (normalized to 85 dB SPL at 1 kHz at 1 m).  Standard (black), Surround (blue), Play (orange), Bass Boost (pink) mode.

Frequency response measurement (normalized to 85 dB SPL at 1 kHz at 1 m). Standard (black), Surround (blue), Play (orange), Bass Boost (pink) mode.

In standard mode, the audio signature on the HW-B450 is therefore particularly balanced. The subwoofer plays its role well by providing a nice presence in the bass, without exaggerating it. The beats are well marked and the expansion in the extreme bass is satisfying, although we would not have been against a little more depth on certain effects in music, or in action scenes for example.

One of the main strengths of this HW-B450 is the rendering of dialogues, clear and distinct. Activating the Voice Enhanced mode is therefore completely useless, especially as it completely attenuates bass and treble. In movies or by listening to music, the voices stand out naturally, no matter the circumstances, also thanks to a particularly precise phantom center … provided they are relatively centered in front of the bar. The HW-B450 also demonstrates a good reproduction of the stereo scene, although it remains quite limited in width, making it easy to identify the location of the sources and to distinguish them from each other.

Measurement of harmonic distortion in standard mode (normalized to 1 kHz at 1 m).  Normalization at 85 dB SPL (red), at 79 dB (green).

Measurement of harmonic distortion in standard mode (normalized to 1 kHz at 1 m). Normalization at 85 dB SPL (red), at 79 dB (green).

The heights are unfortunately worse off than the rest of the spectrum. The handling of distortion is actually not ideal in this area, which generates a certain inaccuracy, a lack of detail, which is especially noticeable on the voices (in the form of slight sibilance on the sounds [s], [f] and [ʃ]) or on the pelvis, the brass may have a slightly sparkling sound. Not surprisingly, this inaccuracy worsens as the volume increases, fortunately it is not necessary to push the bar too honestly to its limits to place yourself at a comfortable sound level and therefore adequately protect yourself from this defect (which can be accompanied as a bonus by that a crushing of the dynamics).

Samsung SWA-9100S

Introductory price € 199


Samsung SWA-9100S

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This is how the price table works

Strengths

  • Well-balanced audio signature (in standard mode).

  • Good reproduction of the dialogues and the stereo scene.

  • Easy handling.

Weak points

  • Inseparable surround effects.

  • Perfect precision of the treble.

  • Rakitis connection.

  • Average build quality.

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