Pros See summary
Cons See summary
Summary Let me start off by saying I have a very keen ear. I rate many audio setups and speaker systems. All true audiophiles know that a HTIB just simply cannot replicate the sound quality of a component system made up of true, high-quality manufactured speakers. That being said, you will not find a closer alternative than this new Samsung system with vacuum tubes. I have owned 4 HTIBs from different manufacturers and I have found Samsung and LG to be at the top, with Sony coming in close behind LG.
Audio - The main reason one would spend this amount of money on a system is for the audio. You want your blu-rays, video games, audio cds and mp3's to come to life and spring out of every speaker. Does this system do that? Absolutely. There is no denying the work that Samsung has put into approaching the high-end audio side of things. These speakers clearly sound better than previous Samsung systems and I feel for people who purchased last year's D model of this system. Of course, knowing Samsung, by next year a new version of this will be out and I will be feeling sorry for myself for this purchase. But that's the market. Always something coming out that's better and that is another downfall of HTIB's. Every year they improve upon the previous year's model and the old model is left in the dust. Component systems have longevity and are able to be upgraded as the owner sees fit. But as I stated earlier, you will not find a better alternative to a component system, at least not right now. Also note that the dual-unit subwoofer is bigger, louder, and way clearer than previous year samsung models. The "boom box effect" that many people complained of is not present with this sub. It produces the highs and lows accurately.
Video - Personally, I feel that blu-ray is clear on any player and that the quality of your video will depend on your television set. I have tested over 20 blu ray players from many brands and while some elements may have been different such as the ability to darken or lighten the screen, or a complicated menu style, the raw blu ray presentation stayed relatively the same. So I cannot advocate purchasing this system based on improved video quality over any other blu-ray player or last year's model for example. Same goes for dvd upconversion. It seems exactly the same as last year's model, although, there are some blu-ray players that do upconvert dvd's better than others. Samsung is pretty good with that on the 4 players I tried out and they were consistent with each other.
Features - There are many apps, including a full web browser but I found it to be choppy and slow. I'll stick to my laptop for surfing the web, although it is a nice idea. The other apps are just like previous years models and have nothing new that I care to comment on. I could not recommend buying this system strictly for the web apps either since many blu ray players, tvs, and HTIBS include different variations of each one.
Worth the price? No. This is where I must warn potential buyers. First off, this is NOT a 7.1 system. Sure there are 7 speakers and a sub, but the 2 front speakers on the top of the towers are simply mirrors of the speakers under it. If you do not have the system in 3D sound mode, nothing will come out of these top 2 speakers, even if you are viewing a blu-ray with a 7.1 audio track selected. This is clearly a marketing scheme by Samsung to trick people into believing they are getting a 7.1 system. The speakers sound great though and the subwoofer does seem to get louder with the 3D sound enabled. Also, there is an equalizer so one may adjust certain settings if they are familiar with what each khz setting does. I am, and I found it to be useful and it made a difference with the material I was listening to.
Overall, I would say to purchase this system when the price goes down to at least 5 or 6 hundred dollars, but by then, next year's model will probably be out and will improve on this year's somehow. Still, for those curious about the vacuum tube amp addition that Samsung made a huge deal out of, I would say that it does significantly improve audio so it is not just a big hype. But this is not a true discrete 7.1 system and that is a disappointment.
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Hope this helps, good luck!
Pros Very sleek design, Plenty of power, Nice and compact, Near audiophile sound when tweaked, Flawless Video and Audio performance, Integrates seamlessly with any ARC supplied TV, Menus are intelligently laid out
Cons If one expects to get the best sound out of this system it takes some careful exploration of ALL of the audio setup features. You must properly set up the output levels of each speaker, than consider use of the DSP/3D sound adjustments.
Summary All in all this is one of the very best solutions to the one package does all. It is delightfully devoid of complexity and yet offers a ton of adjustments and tweaks to get all manner of performance where you want it. The system looks very sleek and attractive with other black components such as the stands and tv's out there. Being an audiophile for many years I can concur the tube preamp DOES add to the sweet distortion free nature of this sound system. If I were to have changed anything I would have loved to have had a wireless active sub self powered to about 200 Watts and a variable crossover dial from say 60-120hz. Also have the sub go down to at least 35hz. Otherwise this system is as close to ideal as one can expect short of piecing components one by one together.
Pros Sounds great, when working properly. Love the tubes!
Cons For a long time, I couldn't figure out why the screen kept going blank for a few seconds intermittently when watching TV/DVD. I thought it was the cable box. Process of elimination points to this receiver. Still unresolved with Samsung support.
Summary It really upsets me to not be able to use this system. I tried using thee hdmi1 and hdmi2 ports, changing various settings recommended by support, many options. Everyone in the house is frustrated that at just the worst time in a movie on dvd, tv, etc the screen will blank out for a few seconds, then keep doing it again and again. Very upset at spending so much on this system and having to deal with that. Bad decision to buy it.
Pros Good sound for the money
Cons No headphone jack
Summary Hard to believe, but there is no headphone jack on this otherwise fine system. This was confirmed to me by Samsung customer service as well as Brands Mart. At the latter location in South Florida the employee told me all new Samsung products of this type had this flaw, and he deals with weekly complaints as a result. Due to soudn considerations where I leave, I now have to disassemble this whole system and try to sell it used before getting another system that has this important (to me at least( function. Why on earth would Samsung do such an idiotic thing?