If you've grown out of your budget soundbar, there are plenty of higher-end upgrades that can often match the sound quality of a home-theater system comprising separate speakers. One great example is Samsung's new$700 HW-MS750, which vies to become the audio centerpiece of your home theater. It has almost all the features you'd want and can be expanded with other Samsung speakers, though you'll need to buy a $500 subwoofer to get the best possible bass out of it
With its dark-gray metal exterior, The MS750 lends an air of sophistication to your home theater. It's both attractive and doesn't shout out for attention. At 45.3 x 5.1 x 3.2 inches, it's a long soundbar, best suited for 50-inch or larger TVs. It's also taller than many soundbars, so make sure you've got enough clearance for it.
The unit is packed with 11 separate drivers. Two of those speakers are on the top of the unit, although it doesn't support Dolby Atmos, the latest audio standard that adds height to the mix. Even without the extra channels of audio, those top speakers help it fill the entire room with sound.
When Keanu Reeves and Common battled in Rome in John Wick 2, the MS750 made the gunshots and breaking glass sound sharp and realistic.
The MS750 offers plenty of ways to connect: two HDMI inputs, an optical digital audio input and a 3.5 mm auxiliary input, as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It features an LED display on the front so you can tell which input or sound mode you've selected.The display turns off when you're not actively switching modes or changing the volume — a nice touch that many soundbars haven't implemented.
The included remote has plenty of buttons, but it includes a few nonstandard functions that require you to relearn some basics. For example, there's a single volume button; you push it up to raise the volume, down to lower it, and in to mute.
The MS750 delivers very crisp, detailed sound with just enough bass — though it won't rumble the floors unless you add the $500 wireless subwoofer. For dialogue, it benchmarks well against the Sonos Playbar, but the Playbar generates a lot more low end.
When Keanu Reeves and Common battled in Rome in John Wick 2, the MS750 made the gunshots and breaking glass sound sharp and realistic. The witty banter between Luke Cage and Jessica Jones in The Defenders was easy to hear, as were the clangs of Elektra's swords as she fought Daredevil. But dialogue and action lacked the resonance that the Playbar's deeper bass provided.
The MS750's clarity also made music sound bright and full. The sharp treble came through vibrantly on acoustic music such as Lindsey Buckingham's guitar on Fleetwood Mac's "Never Going Back Again." On songs like St. Vincent's "Los Ageless" I could hear the bass well, unlike on the Playbar. Still, those who really love bass may be disappointed with the MS750 without adding the subwoofer.
The MS750 gets loud enough to listen in a large room, and uses a 1 to 100 scale for volume — which allows for very fine adjustment.
The MS750 is easy to set up. It can be connected by optical digital audio or HDMI, and the HDMI supports 4K video pass-through — a feature that's becoming more essential. I opted for optical digital because the HDMI connection didn't add any extras, like an on-screen menu.
The speaker allows for a fair amount of adjustment to get the sound the way you like it. Through the remote's setup menu, you can adjust the treble and front top levels — useful if you want to bring out the dialogue more. There's a dedicated button for bass, which I raised to the max to help overcome the lack of subwoofer. However, unlike the Playbar, the MS750 doesn't include room-modeling software to automatically adjust the sound to your environment.
You can also choose from preset sound modes, such as movie, music and sports, or go with Smart Mode, which was effective at processing the sound on the fly and delivered the best overall sound of the options.
The MS750 supports Samsung's multiroom audio, so you can connect to other Samsung speakers that use the standard. Plus, you can add Samsung's $180 SWA900s/ZA Rear Wireless Speakers to turn it into a true 5-channel surround-sound system.
The Samsung HW-MS750 is a feature-rich soundbar, with 4K video support, and HDMI, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth inputs. With multiroom support, you can make it a centerpiece to build an even better system if you add other Samsung speakers. While it has limited bass on its own, you can opt for the $500 SWA-W700/ZA wireless subwoofer and really shake the walls.
But that's a rich investment in a home theater audio system, and the MS750 can't decode Dolby Atmos — something you'll likely want in the near future. If you're planning to just buy a soundbar and you have $700 to spend, the Sonos Playbar delivers better sound quality for the money. But if you're thinking bigger — adding the subwoofer and rear wireless speakers, or creating a multiroom system — and you value crisp, detailed sound, the MS750 is a good start.