I am unusual among lovers of electronica in that I can’t be bothered with full-on surround sound, so I’ve never been particularly attracted to having speakers in every corner of the room, with all of the attendant wiring and faff. I do, however, appreciate the various options around these days for improving the often dreadful sound from flatscreen TVs, so I am a fan of the sound bar and its latest manifestation, the soundbase – such as the excellent OrbitSound SB60 I reviewed in January.
This handsome HW-F751 soundbar from Samsung is somewhat old-school, with its separate, wastepaper-bin-sized subwoofer (the sub does, for simplicity’s sake, connect wirelessly with no effort from the user, so credit to Samsung for that). What makes the HW-F751 even more retro is that it sports a valve amplifier, whose glowing tubes are visible through a glass window at the front of the unit, which makes for a good talking point. Some would call this a gimmick, but I don’t think it is – valves provide an old-fashioned, full-bodied sound that is unusual and not unwelcome these days. The result is a remarkably mellow gramophone-ish audio quality that’s almost redolent of valve-warmed polished-wood radiograms. My only criticism is that the instructions are lamentable; either install by trial and error, or, better still, insist on your retailer setting it up. But overall, this is a classy addition to a TV.