Earlier in the year, Samsung gave us a taste of a high end sound system, the HT-F9750W, which brandishes power like a weapon. Featuring an intense 1330 watts, this is the system if you love movies and love them loud, and we’ve spent some time with it ahead of its release in Australia.
Setup for us in a room at Sydney’s quirky QT Hotel in the old Gowings Building is a speaker system unlike many that we normally see. There is no dedicated heavy boxy amplifier, and while there are several speakers, it uses materials to the likes of which aren’t common in today’s speaker market, at least not from this journalist’s perspective.
Designed to work side by side with Samsung’s premium TV – the ultra-thin F8000 LED TV – the F9750W is a shiny metallic thing of beauty that brings with it some lovely materials, several channels of sound, and the freedom to throw in whatever media you want – Blu-ray, DVD, and CD – and have it send out sheer aural pleasure.
Like that television, there’s a look of brushed metal across the front of every component, with shiny chrome-like speakers inside each box, all of which connects to a black and silver piece of kit that also happens to feature a small circle cut out revealing two tiny tubes that glow deep orange and feel warm to the touch.
Inside, the amplifier is made with Gallium Nitride as well as those glowing vacuum tubes, and according to Samsung’s people, all of this helps to stop fuzz and noise when high volumes are hit, meaning you should be able to turn the sound up without any intense peaking.
Samsung hasn’t just packed in audio tech galore in the main section, as there’s also a Blu-ray drive capable of reading 3D Blu-ray discs, and decode the audio using a DTS Neo Fusion codec.
Smart apps are possible in this section, too, with the integration of Samsung’s Smart Hub, in case you don’t have one of the company’s TVs.
Over in the speakers, there’s more behind the guise of brushed aluminium – a façade that appears to exist to blend in with the designs of Samsung’s high-end TVs – with a heart that’s as high tech as it can possibly be, with a neat speaker design made from a “Ceramic Polypropylene Injection Diaphragm” which is expected to enhance acoustics while making the speaker cone more rigid.
And the front speakers all feature a swivel speaker at the top of each of the two front floor-standing models, which you can reposition with a push of the finger.
Price-wise, Samsung has set the F9750W to come in at $1499 RRP, with the units hitting stores in the next couple week or two, but before you go out and audition it with your own ears, here’s our take on Samsung’s watt-packing theatre system.
First, we dove into movies, and grabbed two for the occasion: Pixar’s “Wall-E” and the recent Bond flick “Skyfall,” two movies which have excellent sound across the board, from the soundtrack to the effects used.
The moment you pop a movie in, you’re taking advantage of every speaker in the Samsung system, from the two floor standers at the front with their extra swivel speakers up front, to the centre, the sub, and yes, the rear speakers, too.
That’s a 7.1 system for your movie with some high-end surround sound decoding happening inside the Blu-ray section, which is also where the glowing vacuum tubes are, which give off the impression that you’re going to get a warmer sound.
In both films, are rear speakers provided background ambience, adding a hint of punch when major things happened on screen, so it was really the front speakers that pushed out the awesomeness in our experience.
Sitting in the middle of the sound, we could hear the proper directionality for on-screen action, with the acceleration of cars in Skyfall, and the zipping of Wall-E and Eve from each direction, showing that there was a decent amount of sound work happening in these speakers.
At points in our reviewing career, we’ve often felt that some sound systems didn’t do a fantastic job of balancing the sound, often blowing some levels well out of proportion, turning us into fanatics that couldn’t let the remote out of our hands for fear the sound was randomly too loud for everyone.
This, however, was one instance where that wasn’t the case, and while the F9750W is designed to push out such an explosive amount of wattage, balance always seemed to be maintained.
Music is the other key area we wanted to explore, so we grabbed our iPad and a handful of CDs to really let us put these big bad boys to the test.
Pop a CD into the tray of the F9750W and you’ll find most of the speakers switch off, with the centre and rear speakers deactivating, and the top two extra directional channels in both of the floor standing front speakers no longer sending any audio in your direction.
Rather, in two channel audio, you’ll find that the important speakers – the left, right, and subwoofer – are completely functional, and only them.
Our first test disc was the Miles Davis classic “Kind of Blue,” with the speakers doing a lovely job of recreating the detail of his trumpets, the warm tonality of the double bass, and the richness of the recordings.
We don’t know what it would have been like to be there for the recording (we’ll start with “awesome” and move on from there), but if this is the way Miles Davis meant the music to be heard, we want more of this in our life.
The other discs in our limited audition with the F9750W were all just as impressive in dimensionality and clarity, with the strong horns in Trombone Shorty’s “Hurricane Season,” and both the softness and sharp attack of Nigel Kennedy’s violins in “Vivaldi” sounding insanely clear and detailed.
While we’re not sure if the vacuum tube is really making a difference for either music or movies, the Gallium Nitride (GaN) appears to stop high sounds from over flowing, which is excellent, and is absolutely worth it for those who love to turn it up.
We suspect we actually bothered a few of the other guests with our high volume recreations of Wall-E and Skyfall.
You can listen to more than just movies and music from a disc, mind you, and we took advantage of the time to see what Bluetooth could do.
Connecting our iPad up wirelessly and running our regular headphone test playlist, the system performed very well, replaying our music with just as much clarity as it had when the media was physical.
There are quite a few connections available to you, and there’s also a USB port on the front of the F9750W in case you want to plug a stick or hard drive in, but don’t bother with an iPod cable here, as it will only pay attention to your photos.
Overall, it’s an impressive effort for the sound system, though it’s not a cheap piece of kit. With a recommended retail price of $1499, it could well be a great accompaniment for someone who has just purchased a new TV, or desires a no-nonsense path to making their current audio sound even better.
It won’t be the only piece of home theatre tech to arrive from Samsung, though, with the company catering to several price points through the new range, even keeping one of 2012’s models around because it did so well.
And those of you who don’t need a full home theatre system will even find more soundbars arriving, one of which takes advantage of the vacuum tube technology and hitting stores with an RRP of $799.