Samsung HW-MS650 review: Lose the subwoofer, drop the bass

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MSRP: $449.99

The Good The Samsung HW-MS650 offers very good music replay and an excellent array of features, especially for Samsung TV owners. The sound bar features HDMI in and out with 4K support, and its array of Wi-Fi features are second-to-none.

The Bad Lightweight bass leads to less-intense sound with movies. Wi-Fi streaming your TV's sound is more hassle than just connecting a cable.

The Bottom Line The Samsung HW-MS650 boasts advanced technology and a pleasing sound, but can't match the bass of competitors with separate subwoofers.

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7.7 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 9
  • Sound 6
  • Value 8

Sound is invisible. Sound bars are not. People want sound bars to be invisible. The Samsung HW-MS650 makes the subwoofer disappear. You've got to start somewhere.

The Samsung is an "all-in-one" sound bar which integrates an onboard woofer instead of requiring an additional box to lurk in your living room corner. Does this approach work? It can, as in the case of the excellent, bass-rich Zvox SB500. In Samsung's instance though, it's a little reticent when it comes to bass, and there isn't yet the option to add a sub if you want more. Samsung informs us it is readying a separate wireless sub for later in 2017.

Feature-wise it's right there with plenty of connectivity, and its ability to pass-though 4K HDR means it will remain future-proof for the time being. If you want something that's easy to hook up and which will also do streaming music, the Samsung is a fine option. However at the price rivals such as Yamaha and Zvox can put up a better performance, especially when it comes to watching movies.

The Samsung HW-MS650 is available now for $450, £549 or $799.


Most sound bars, like the HW-MS650, are designed not to draw attention to themselves. The Samsung offers a gun-metal body and a black steel grille at the front, which is intended to mirror the flagship HW-K950 and HW-K850 models.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Along the right-hand side of the speaker you'll find the capacitive control panel with a power switch, input selector and volume buttons. At the front right lives the corresponding LED display, which indicates volume level and inputs. One thing we found with the display is that the grille can obscure the text, particularly if you are off-axis.The bar lacks an onscreen display, so the LED and the Samsung Multiroom app are the two ways to adjust the sound bar's settings.

As a speaker the Samsung is fairly compact at 3 inches high, but you should watch that it doesn't block your TV's infrared sensor. The speaker is 41.7 inches long, which should meld well with a 46-inch screen.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The speaker comes with a pair of wallmount brackets in the box, but as the speaker juts out five inches into your room you'll want to be sure your wall can handle its 13.7 pounds (6.2 kg) weight.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Samsung comes with a stylish control wand, based on the company's TV remotes, that offers most controls you'd want including volume, bass level and a settings button.


The $420 HW-MS650 is a 3.0-channel sound bar, and its features are commensurate with its price. It's here where it gets the better of its main rival, the Zvox SB500. First and foremost, the HW-MS650 offers not only a 4K HDR-ready HDMI in-out but also Samsung's Multiroom music app. The app offers access to a dozen different streaming services including Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio and Tidal.