While I may have two complete 5.1 systems in my living room and master bedroom, I'm still intrigued by soundbars for I find many of them to sound rather good for what they are and be supreme value-for-the-money products. Take for instance Samsung's newest 2.1 soundbar, the HW-D450 reviewed here. It features an industrial design inspired by Bang & Olufsen, comes with a wireless subwoofer and retails for a manageable $349.99.
The HW-D450 measures 37-inches wide by nearly four inches tall and a slender one and three quarter inches deep making it ideal for small to medium sized HDTVs, be it LCD or LED. The HW-D450 can rest atop a dresser or piece of AV furniture just as easily as it can be mounted flush to a wall - no doubt the result of its featherweight design that tips the scales at a whopping five pounds. Of course the powered subwoofer weighs a bit more and cannot be mounted to your wall, but it is wireless and can be placed virtually anywhere in your room. Like its subwoofer, the HW-D450 is a fully powered design meaning you don't have to pair it to an AV receiver. Because no AV receiver will be required, it's important to note that the HW-D450 can decode and playback both Dolby Digital and DTS Audio codecs. As for connectivity the HW-D450 has one analog audio input and two digital audio inputs. There is an iPod dock that can be purchased separately that will interface with the HW-D450 seamlessly should you require such a thing.
In terms of sound the HW-D450 is one of the better soundbars that I've heard in recent memory, possessing a well balanced sound that while a bit cool isn't overwhelmed with boxy colorations. The HW-D450's bass response is solid but not earth shattering, but one can and should only expect so much from an affordable soundbar / wireless subwoofer combo. The HW-D450's high frequency performance isn't bad, possessing a rather polite, smooth demeanor that errs on the side of omission when driven hard. Dynamics are good when volume is kept within reason and the HW-D450's ability to create a convincing surround sound performance from a single source is better than average. The nice thing about the HW-D450 is that you can turn it up a bit more than most before it starts to misbehave, though when it does, it just flattens out and compresses a bit versus going to hell in a handbasket.
Read about High Points and Low Points, the Comparison and Competition and the Conclusion of the Samsung HW-D450 soundbar on Page 2 . . .
• The HW-D450's look is crazy-sexy-cool and looks decidedly more high-end than its asking price would have you believe, provided you don't get too close. It's one of the better looking, better built soundbars I've encountered recently at or near its price point.
• The addition of a wireless subwoofer is a nice touch. Also nice is the fact that Samsung carried over the soundbar's good looks to the subwoofer as well.
• The HW-D450's sound is overall nicely balanced though a bit cool and a touch lean. It doesn't suffer from boxy colorations and can play louder than most with greater authority - two things that are essential if you're going to be watching your favorite Hollywood blockbusters.
• The HW-D450's ability to decode and play back Dolby Digital and DTS Audio tracks is another huge plus.
• The HW-D450 has no speaker grill so those of you with children may want to take extra precaution to ensure curious fingers don't damage the small drivers.
• At its asking price, I feel the HW-D450 should include Samsung's iPod dock.
Competition and Comparison
At a penny under $350 the Samsung HW-D450 soundbar faces some stiff competition beginning with Vizio's VHT-210 soundbar, which on paper looks to be nearly identical to the HW-D450, though not quite as sleek. Still the VHT-210 retails for $269.99, which is more than just a little cheaper than the Samsung HW-D450.
If you're willing to spend just a little more, then I recommend checking out Aperion Audio's SLIMstage 30 by Soundmatters Soundbar system. At $599 direct it's more expensive but it is one of the finer sounding soundbars you'll find at any price period. Hands down the SLIMstage 30 is better sounding than the Samsung HW-D450 and worth the extra investment if you're looking for a product to enjoy long term.
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For $349.99 retail the Samsung HW-D450 soundbar is more than just a pretty face for it packs an impressive amount of performance into its supermodel physique. While there is stiff competition in and around the HW-D450's asking price, it's still worth an audition for few match beauty with brains the way the Samsung does.