This soundbar, from Samsung’s new lineup, is a single-enclosure that doesn’t require an external subwoofer to deliver deep bass. Instead, it uses a unique speaker array and excellent distortion reduction technology to give films that muscular definition, combined with a dedicated center channel and new wide-range tweeters.
There is no Dolby Atmos support, but otherwise the list of features is great, including wireless music streaming, multi-room, Bluetooth, and a variety of sound modes. In general, everything you need for a 4K home theater. But the main feature of the Sound range line is simplicity: the absence of a subwoofer combined with minimal cabling, as well as a single remote for soundbar and TV, keep problems and interference to a minimum.
Samsung HW-MS650 review
The HW-MS650 is a very well made soundbar with a level of reliability and durability not expected for the money. The metal speaker grill and high-quality cabinet design evoke the idea of a high-end model. The austere rectangular shape isn’t very captivating, but Samsung has spiced it up with beveled corners, gentle curves and an elegant matte-effect top panel.
A curved version (HW-MS6500) is also available – a good addition to Samsung’s 4K curved TVs.
The entropy of ergonomics rests at the minimum mark. At one end of the panel is a row of stylized volume, power and input select buttons. The front LED display is located in the right corner, not in the center. This can be a bit annoying for fans of symmetry, but is necessary for the MS650 dedicated center speaker. The display is smaller than on previous models, but it is still informative and clearly shows the inputs and menu options.
With a width of 1,060 mm, the MS650 is a large soundbar and has a good visual match for TVs over 50 inches. Unlike, for example, the Bluesound Pulse Soundbar, the MS650 sits elegantly and low on the stand and does not interfere with the infrared sensor of the Samsung UE55KS9000 TV.
But if you’re having trouble, you can buy an optional Samsung One Mount to hold your TV above the soundbar. Plus, the bracket kit includes a single power cord that will power both the Samsung 4K TV and the soundbar, making the system more austere and tidy. You can also wall-mount the soundbar using the supplied hardware.
Key features of the HW-MS650 are Multi-Speaker Control and Distortion Canceling, which enable the MS650 to deliver powerful bass without the need for an external subwoofer. The three-channel soundbar uses six 4.3 x 2-inch mid-bass drivers (two for each channel). Multi-Speaker Control monitors the movement of these speakers in sync, while Long Travel Technology increases the depth of movement of their cones, all resulting in increased bass levels.
But the biggest spoonful of honey is Samsung’s patented Distortion Canceling technology, which predicts low-frequency distortion as the speaker moves and adjusts it ahead of time to deliver deeper, more detailed bass.
Each channel also features a wideband inverted dome tweeter that minimizes “smear” – high frequency coloration caused by interference between drivers. This is due to the use of crossovers with a wider range than conventional tweeters (600 Hz and above, as opposed to the standard 2.5 kHz). In practice, this provides wider directionality and a pleasant treble sound wherever you sit in relation to the soundbar.
Samsung also claims that its dedicated center channel improves voice clarity over traditional soundbars when sound comes from a single device without a subwoofer.
The HW-MS650 panel offers the usual Samsung streaming features. Built-in Wi-Fi and multi-room support lets you play audio from NAS drives, PCs, and streaming services and send it to other Samsung speakers around your home. You can even create a 5.1 wireless system with a pair of Samsung speakers as surround channels.
This is all controlled by Samsung’s multi-room app, which offers a rich selection of music streaming services including Spotify, Deezer, Qobuz, TIDAL, Napster, JUKE, 7digital, Murfie and TuneIn.
There is also built-in Bluetooth, which works not only with phones, but also with Samsung 4K TVs, which allows you to further reduce the number of cables required.
There are many EQ presets – Standard, Music, Clear Voice, Sports and Movie – plus a Surround Mode that adds “depth and space” to an already good sound. Bass, Treble and Sound Timing settings let you customize the sound to your liking, while Smart Sound selects the best settings for the content you’re currently listening to.
The only thing missing at first glance is Dolby Atmos support, reserved for the HW-K950 and HW-K850 soundbars, which will continue the lineup this year. The upcoming HW-MS750 will have higher power drivers, but no Atmos support either.
Samsung has gone to great lengths to ensure the panel is easy to install, from eliminating an external subwoofer to a single cable connection. Everything will be ready to go in a few minutes! You can connect your Blu-ray player via HDMI and take advantage of the built-in Dolby Audio and DTS 2.0 decoding.
Alternatively, you can connect all sources to your TV and stream audio to the MS650 via optical cable, ARC, or Bluetooth, including sound from built-in streaming services or a tuner. To use ARC, you need to make sure HDMI CEC is enabled in the TV setup menu. Bluetooth requires a compatible TV and must also be configured in the system setup menu. Fortunately, this is very easy and simple to do.
The “one remote” concept allows you to control the soundbar with a Samsung TV remote when connected via HDMI, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or optical input. In addition to volume and power, the remote can be used to adjust the equalizer and sound modes, which appear as options in the main menu of the TV.
The HW-MS650’s own remote is linked to the Smart Remote included with the latest Samsung TVs. Its curved ergonomic shape and limited set of buttons make it a pleasure to use. There are assignable keys for switching with two light touches between sound modes and volume and bass control. Treble control has been moved to a separate menu with audio sync.
The Samsung Multiroom app is impressive. It ditches the flamboyant graphic design of Samsung’s earlier phone apps, instead opting for a sparse, straightforward layout that neatly organizes the contents of your NAS and streaming services.
A side menu displays all the available speakers in your multiroom system, and an intuitive Now Playing screen provides access to commonly used features such as equalizer and play queue.
Grouping speakers is easy, although unlike some applications, you won’t be able to drag and drop speakers on top of each other – you need to select the “group” option and then indicate which speakers to connect. But after grouping, you can easily control individual volume levels and choose which songs to play.
When listening to a single-body soundbar, the big question is whether it can deliver enough bass that movie fans won’t notice the lack of an external subwoofer. So the HW-MS650 does it with aplomb, creating a massive soundstage with tons of bass.
There is plenty of power under the hood, as they say, allowing the volume to be dramatically raised when needed and easily filling a large room. It is a beefy entertainment performer, the perfect antidote to low-powered TV speakers.
The amount of bass produced is significant for a soundbar with such a limited cabinet volume. Most impressive, however, is how well this soundbar controls the bass output, keeping persistence and distortion to a minimum. This does not compromise the clarity of the mids and highs, but instead adds a natural sense of depth and maintains a pleasant overall balance. The dense, crisp bass gives the action scenes a tremendous sense of drama and movement.
The MS650 also reproduces dialogue with surprising clarity. The built-in center channel plays a decisive role here, which gives speech a clear increase. Compare, for example, with the Canton DM100 – and it has a very impressive sound base – so Samsung has a clearer and more pronounced voice both in films and in music.
Above the 70% loudness mark, the sound takes on a touch of fragility, although this level far exceeds what would be considered “optimal” for listening. The greatness of the MS650 lies in the fact that the volume does not need to be cranked up to this maximum for an immersive, convincing sound. And at lower levels, the MS650 delivers dynamic sound with good enough attack.
Admittedly, competing subwoofers like the DALI Kubik One deliver softer sound and handle stupidly loud levels a little better, but the energy of the Samsung MS650 makes it more interesting (and cheaper as well).
In fact, this is one of the most impressive soundbars Samsung has released, much to the chagrin of some of its famous rivals. For example, the Bose SoundTouch 300 is a similarly priced, single-body soundbar, with the same solid soundstage, but when it comes to detail, clarity, and exaltation, Samsung puts everyone on the shoulder.
When replacing movies with music, the HW-MS650 also handles a wide variety of materials. In fact, this is arguably the most musical soundbar Samsung has made. The key to musical success is bass reproduction that integrates much better with the rest of the music than in previous models from Samsung.
The HW-MS650 is not full of connections, but they should be enough for most users. One HDMI input and one HDMI ARC-ready (Audio Return Channel) output carry 4K signals with full HDR, 60p, HDCP 2.2 – great news for UHD Blu-ray players and the Sky Q platform.
Another HDMI port or two could end the battle for inputs between Skyboxes (satellite boxes), disc players and game consoles. But having a lot of HDMI cables sticking out of the back of the soundbar doesn’t fit Samsung’s concept of simplicity, and there are plenty of ways to get around it anyway.
There is also an optical input for non-ARC TVs and a 3.5mm analog input for portable devices. The sockets are located in recesses under the soundbar, which allows for neat cable protrusion and allows for recessed wall mounting. Also located at the bottom are the Wi-Fi and Speaker Add buttons, which connect the HW-MS650 to the network of other Samsung wireless speakers.
To conclude our review of Samsung’s HW-MS650, we add that the manufacturer has come up with the perfect soundbar for those who crave a home theater thrill but don’t have room for a subwoofer. Thanks to the company’s knowledge of acoustics, the Samsung HW-MS650 delivers high-quality room-filling bass from a single cabinet. Throw in premium design, easy installation, and an abundance of features that leave more expensive rivals behind – and you get a guaranteed must-buy (must be purchased).
The MS650 is Samsung’s most musical soundbar to date, offering detailed, dynamic sound, yet ease of installation is decisive for your purchase. Without a subwoofer, with one remote control, one power cord and a TV connection, installation is quick and easy.