Samsung HW-E551 review

A 2.1 Air Track TV audio system that's a soundbar and hi-fi

Samsung HW-E551
You can arrange the Samsung as a single soundbar or split it in two for a conventional hi-fi style

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The Samsung HW-E551 is arguably the most sophisticated 2.1 system currently available. The hybrid design is neat and the wireless sub behaves impeccably, shutting down when required.

We liked

The versatile 'transformer' soundbar design is excellent, and Bluetooth compatibility for mobile phone streaming is extremely useful.

The system's feature roster is good too. Purely from a convenience standpoint, the inclusion of Bluetooth has to be considered a plus, and the user display on the soundbar is also a welcome convenience.

We disliked

However, while fun with Drive and Dexter, a lack of genuine depth on the subwoofer means it doesn't really pull off more complicated audio. Not only does it fail to deliver anything of note below 50Hz, it's not exactly whistle-clean at the higher registers, either.

There is some unwanted hash around 10kHz, which undermines wider clarity, and the 3D surround sound mode is unconvincing.

Final verdict

As a sonic upgrade for a TV, the Samsung HW-E551 represents fine value, and the punchy sub is a crowd pleaser. Sonically it's not perfect, but for general TV viewing these caveats are unlikely to prove an issue.

Steve May
Home entertainment AV specialist

Steve has been writing about AV and home cinema since the dawn of time, or more accurately, since the glory days of VHS and Betamax. He has strong opinions on the latest TV technology, Hi-Fi and Blu-ray/media players, and likes nothing better than to crank up his ludicrously powerful home theatre system to binge-watch TV shows.