There's much to like about the Samsung HW-S801B 3.1.2ch Soundbar (2022). It has a very slim design, solid bass, and Dolby Atmos sound. And if you're using a compatible Samsung TV, you can also get wireless Dolby Atmos, and audio, too. However, the thin form factor does come with some compromises, such as the lack of an LED display.
- 3.1.2 channels with Wireless Dolby Atmos
- Wireless subwoofer
- Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, mini-HDMI ARC, AirPlay 2, Chromecast, Spotify Connect
The one thing that really stands out is how slim the soundbar is. Compared to my usual LG soundbar, the Samsung appears to be less than 1/5 the width. But its sound is impressive. It's full, filling, and clear. There are a few sound modes you can manually select, including surround, game, and DTS:X. I wasn't a fan of DTS Virtual:X mode for normal stereo sources. It made music and YouTube videos sound hollow. Surround mode, however, does a good job of giving an extra dimension without losing clarity. Atmos is a bit of a hit and miss. Some scenes, the height channels are detectable. Others, like the newspaper-tossing scene in the first episode of Stranger Things 4, felt lacking compared to say, the LG Sound Bar S95QR.
That said, there are other things I liked. Adaptive sound works well to enhance vocal clarity when needed, or you can manually turn vocal enhancement on. If you're using a Samsung TV, you can also get adaptive voice amplifier, which detects when your ambient noise level is loud, and automatically bumps up the dialogue audio. You'll also need the TV to do SpaceFit sound, which helps calibrate the sound for your room. Also, you can skip the cables completely with a Samsung TV for wireless audio, and Dolby Atmos, as well as use the TV as an additional pair of speakers.
One thing to note about the S801B's size: It lacks ports. There's only one ARC mini-HDMI port. It also comes with a power adaptor. The soundbar features Smart Things support, so you can use your phone instead of the bundled remote control. There's Apple AirPlay 2, which means those with iOS devices can stream easily to the speaker, or you can use Bluetooth. There's also Amazon's Alexa, but given the limited features of the voice assistant in Singapore, this is a skip.
At S$1,099, the Samsung HW-S801B 3.1.2ch Soundbar (2022) comes in black or white. You may be able to get it cheaper from retailers, too. It definitely packs a punch in the audio department, but it's not that great for Dolby Atmos. It works best with a compatible Samsung TV. Get it from Shopee or Lazada.
Note: Review unit provided by Samsung.
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