The new HW-MS550 model is the cheapest soundbar Samsung makes in an all-in-one design and it offers the same technology found in its predecessor.
The MS550 is a perfectly capable two-channel, six-speaker all-in-one soundbar. Its sound signature is aimed at those who are looking for fun rather than precise sound, so there’s plenty of bass and it has a surprisingly wide soundstage, ideal for movie playback and gaming.
It has the same sleek design as the MS650, and connectivity is all there, with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, analogue 3.5mm, HDMI and optical inputs all on the menu.
Design, features and connectivity
The MS550 has the same, swish brushed aluminium design as the MS650 and Samsung keeps to the same high standard even at the lower price. It is slightly smaller than the MS650, measuring only 890mm across, but retains the same 131mm depth and, at 71mm, it’s roughly the same height as well.
The soundbar comes with the usual pocket-sized Samsung remote, which can be used to adjust the volume, select sound profiles, tweak the bass and treble and even change inputs. If you also own a Samsung TV it’ll integrate with Eden UX, which allows you to adjust the TV’s settings.
Samsung has conveniently integrated four physical buttons on the right-hand side of the soundbar: volume up/down, input and power, if you do happen to lose the remote control. A front-facing LED display is located under the speaker grill on the far-right side of the front grille, which displays key information like the volume level, current source or input.
Samsung gives you a reasonable selection of ports: There’s an auxiliary 3.5mm input, optical digital input, an HDMI input and output port, a USB port that works for both charging your smartphone (5V, 0.5A output) or playing media from a USB flash drive.
The MS550 also hs Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, which means you can pair it wirelessly with your Samsung TV, your smartphone, or link it to your network through the Samsung Multiroom app. Unfortunately, aptX codec support is not available, which means you won’t benefit from a CD-quality stream over Bluetooth.
There are however more benefits, the MS550 supports 2-channel Dolby Digital and DTS codecs and is capable of playing 24bit 96KHz audio. It's capable of playing a wide range of music files, too; AAC, MP3, WAV, OGG, FLAC and ALAC file types are all supported.
Underneath, the Samsung MS550 has six-speaker drivers – a tweeter and two woofers on either side – that work across two-channel audio. The speakers have a frequency response of 44Hz to 20kHz.
The MS550’s sound quality is good, but it's not up to the standard of the MS650’s. I find this is largely due to the MS550’s shaky mid-bass, which can be heard most clearly when listening to music.
With film and TV, which require good cohesion between the mid-bass and mid-range frequencies, there’s lots of quantity in the 60-250Hz region, but little in the finer details..
Its sub-bass response is also cut-off at 44Hz, whereas the MS650 cuts off at 34Hz, and that extra 10Hz does make a difference.
Its mid-range is also unexceptional, the mids are ever so slightly pushed back and recessed and I had to I dial up the treble to +2 to lift out vocals a tad more. The M650 excels in the mids and so much more superior.
At the high end of the frequency spectrum, things get a little better. The MS550 is able to reproduce a nice sparkle here that injects a sense of real presence into movies and music.
The soundstage is impressive, with Surround Mode enabled, the MS550 is able to reproduce a wide, deep sound, which for a speaker of its size is quite remarkable. Even better, the instrument separation is superb and it’s also able to handle positional cues pretty accurately, meaning sounds effects ping around the room as if they were coming from separate satellite speakers.
Price and competition
Samsung HW-MS550 Review: Verdict
The MS650 has been mentioned several times in this review with good reason as it offers superior quality and can be found for around £400, which is only a little more than the MS550. Despite its distortion cancelling technology, the MS550 lacks the refinement and accuracy of sound of the MS650.
Also see: Samsung MS650 UK Review