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Samsung HW-A450/ZA 2.1ch Review

This model is affordable and fairly easy to set up, though there are similarly priced options that deliver much better sound quality and advanced connectivity
Samsung HW-A450/ZA 2.1ch
Credit: Samsung
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Price:   $150 List | Check Price at Amazon
Pros:  Low price, includes subwoofer
Cons:  No HDMI connection, weak low end
Manufacturer:   Samsung
By Michelle Powell and Matt Bento  ⋅  Nov 11, 2021
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48
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 11
  • Sound Quality - 45% 4.1
  • Ease of Use - 35% 5
  • Volume - 15% 7
  • Style/Design - 5% 4

Our Verdict

In our soundbar testing experience, we've found that you can give your home theater a significant upgrade at an affordable price, though the Samsung HW-A450/ZA 2.1ch Soundbar is not the pricepoint model we recommend first. It includes a subwoofer that connects wirelessly to the soundbar and features Bluetooth connectivity for when you want to play music off your smartphone. But in practice, its bass sounds are weak and muddy, and its lack of an HDMI connection limits its surround sound capabilities. Despite its attractive price, there are a few options that are much more impressive.

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Price $150 List
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Low price, includes subwooferGreat sound for the price, bluetooth, external subwooferEasy setup, great price tag, subwoofer includedCompact footprint, simple setup, versatile physical inputsDolby Atmos support, easy to set up, Bluetooth connection
Cons No HDMI connection, weak low endNo wifi connection, no EQ controlsNot the best overall sound qualityNo smart features, minimal EQ customizationNot the best sound quality, not voice assistant compatible
Bottom Line This model is affordable and fairly easy to set up, though there are similarly priced options that deliver much better sound quality and advanced connectivityThis is the best sounding entry-level soundbar, and the loudest model we testedThis soundbar is loaded with great features and has an enormous sound, making it an exceptionally good valueThis soundbar sounds great for its size, but can't hold a candle to higher-end modelsThis model delivers with an easy setup and plenty of volume but lacks top-tier audio and customization
Rating Categories Samsung HW-A450/ZA... Sony HT-S350 Vizio V-Series 2.1... Bose TV Speaker Soundcore Infini Pro
Sound Quality (45%)
4.1
7.1
5.6
5.6
3.9
Ease Of Use (35%)
5.0
5.8
6.9
5.9
6.6
Volume (15%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Style Design (5%)
4.0
6.8
5.4
9.0
4.9
Specs Samsung HW-A450/ZA... Sony HT-S350 Vizio V-Series 2.1... Bose TV Speaker Soundcore Infini Pro
Dimensions Bar: 2.1" x 33.9" x 2.9"
Sub: 13.5" x 7.1" x 10.7"
Bar: 2.6" x 35.5" x 3.5"
Sub: 15.4" x 7.5" x 15.13"
Bar: 2.28" x 36.00" x 3.20"
Sub: 9.9" x 8.25" x 8.25"
Bar: 2.6" x 35.5" x 3.5"
Sub: 15.4" x 7.5" x 15.13""
2.4" x 36.6" x 4.7"
External Subwoofer Yes Yes Yes No (optional) No (optional)
Inputs (wired) Digital audio in (optical), USB Digitcal audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC) Digital audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC), 3.5mm AUX VA, 3.5mm AUX, USB Digital audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC), 3.5mm AUX Digital audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC), HDMI in, 3.5mm AUX, USB
Supported Audio File Formats Dolby 2ch, DTS 2ch Dolby Digital, Dolby Dual mono, LPCM 2ch DTS Dolby Dolmy Atmos
WiFi-enabled No No No No Yes
Bluetooth Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Voice Assistants n/a n/a None, but has a dedicated 3.5mm AUX port to connect a VA device n/a n/a
App n/a n/a n/a n/a Soundcore
Remote control? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Max Volume 91dB 102dB 95dB 91dB 95dB
Syncs with: Samsung Wireless Surround Rear Speakers None None Bose Simplesync enabled speakers None

Our Analysis and Test Results

While the Samsung HW-A450/ZA 2.1 ch Soundbar comes poised to bring the rumble with its included subwoofer, our testers are underwhelmed by its overall sound quality. This budget model eschews an HDMI connection for optical and USB and includes an intuitive and simple to use remote, though setting this soundbar up isn't quite as easy as true plug-and-play models

Performance Comparison


This soundbar sounds worlds better than built-in TV speakers, but...
This soundbar sounds worlds better than built-in TV speakers, but there are better options at this price point.
Credit: Laura Casner

Sound Quality


This Samsung soundbar does not achieve high marks in our sound quality testing. Compared with other models (one of which is less expensive), dialogue sounds muddy, likely due to its lack of a true center channel. Though the included subwoofer gives the system a bass-heavy sound, it isn't punchy, clear, or very immersive. This model features Samsung's Adaptive Sound Lite Technology that claims to automatically equalize dialogue, noise, and background music for an optimal listening experience. In our actual listening experience, we heard a thin and echoey sound that made us question whether the subwoofer was properly in sync with the soundbar.

The subwoofer adds power and body to the system, but it also takes...
The subwoofer adds power and body to the system, but it also takes up additional space.
Credit: Laura Casner

Ease of Use


This model isn't difficult to set up, but it lacks some key features that prevent it from being a truly plug-and-play device. The subwoofer needs to be manually linked to the soundbar, and the instructions are fairly confusing on how to do this. Again, our scoring here is relative, and its score reflects the fact that other models are significantly easier to set up.

The included remote is intuitive and simple, with power and volume toggles, and there are power, volume, and input settings that also can be adjusted via buttons on the soundbar, which has a light display to indicate which sound mode it's in.

The controls on the soundbar are inconspicuous. Unfortunately, the...
The controls on the soundbar are inconspicuous. Unfortunately, the lint that collects on the cloth covering is not.
Credit: Laura Casner

Unfortunately, this soundbar doesn't offer digital assistant smart speaker support or wifi connectivity, though it can connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth.

As far as EQ and sound adjustments go, this soundbar keeps things simple, limiting to just treble and bass adjustments. It also features multiple presets, including surround, a bass boost, game mode, and adaptive Sound lite. Due to its lack of an HDMI ARC connection, the surround mode isn't impressive, and while the bass boost adds some low end you can feel from the subwoofer, the overall bass sounds from the soundbar itself remain very weak.

A compact remote is included with the Samsung HW-A450.
A compact remote is included with the Samsung HW-A450.
Credit: Laura Casner

Volume


We observed a reading of 91 dBa when operating this Samsung model at maximum volume, which is about average among the soundbars in our tests. This is plenty of volume for a theater-like experience, though the sound quality is still a limiting factor.

Design/Style


This model has an all-fabric casing with plastic end caps, giving it a classic look, though the fabric is more difficult to keep dust-free than metal or plastic surfaces. It's 33.9" long, so it won't look out of place with 40" TV, and it can be mounted to the wall. The subwoofer has a footprint of 7.1" x 10" and can be placed anywhere in the range of an electrical outlet since it connects wirelessly to the soundbar.

This soundbar has a much smaller footprint than the Sonos Arc and...
This soundbar has a much smaller footprint than the Sonos Arc and the Bose Smart Soundbar 700.
Credit: Laura Casner

Value


Among the models tested, the Samsung HW-A450 is relatively inexpensive. But, several other models we tested have similar price tags while offering much better performance and features, so we don't consider this soundbar a killer value.

One optical connection for the TV and a wirelessly connected...
One optical connection for the TV and a wirelessly connected subwoofer are exponentially easier to set up than a multi-speaker surround sound system.
Credit: Laura Casner

Conclusion


The Samsung HW-A450/ZA 2.1 ch Soundbar provides a rich and immersive experience compared to built-in TV speakers, and the uninitiated will surely appreciate the improvement, but after our extensive testing of multiple soundbars, we believe your ears and your wallet can do better.

Michelle Powell and Matt Bento

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