Samsung HW-A450/ZA 2.1ch Review
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Samsung HW-A450/ZA 2.1ch
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|Pros||Low price, includes subwoofer||Great sound for the price, bluetooth, external subwoofer||Easy setup, great price tag, subwoofer included||Compact footprint, simple setup, versatile physical inputs||Inexpensive, good connectivity, great dialogue enhancement mode|
|Cons||No HDMI connection, weak low end||No wifi connection, no EQ controls||Not the best overall sound quality||No smart features, minimal EQ customization||Overall audio quality is unimpressive|
|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 connectivity||This is the best sounding entry-level soundbar, and the loudest model we tested||This soundbar is loaded with great features and has an enormous sound, making it an exceptionally good value||This soundbar sounds great for its size, but can't hold a candle to higher-end models||This soundbar is sure to improve your home theater experience and is easy to plug in and start enjoying, though the audio quality is far from top-notch|
|Rating Categories||Samsung HW-A450/ZA...||Sony HT-S350||Vizio V-Series 2.1...||Bose TV Speaker||Yamaha YAS-109|
|Sound Quality (45%)|
|Ease of Use (35%)|
|Specs||Samsung HW-A450/ZA...||Sony HT-S350||Vizio V-Series 2.1...||Bose TV Speaker||Yamaha YAS-109|
|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""
|2.13" x 35" x 5.13"|
|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, USB (update only), Ethernet, Subwoofer out|
|Supported Audio File Formats||Dolby 2ch, DTS 2ch||Dolby Digital, Dolby Dual mono, LPCM 2ch||DTS||Dolby||Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS Digital Surround|
|Voice Assistants||n/a||n/a||None, but has a dedicated 3.5mm AUX port to connect a VA device||n/a||Alexa|
|App||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||Yamaha Sound Bar|
|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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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