Among Samsung’s copious range of soundbars, the HW-B550 serves as the entry-level model alongside the HW-B450 and HW-B650, with which it shares much in common. That’s why we advise you to read our test of the HW-B450 Upstream to fully understand it.
In terms of design, almost nothing has changed. The acoustic fabric protecting the HW-B450’s loudspeakers gives way to a metal grille that’s much more pleasing to the eye, but also gives a sense of increased sturdiness. The size remains the same but the weight increases from 1.4 kg to 2.1 kg.
The connections part is pretty much taken care of in this HW-B550. Here we have to the right two HDMI ports (one input and one ARC output) in addition to an optical port and USB-A. As for the HDMI input, it manages to read 1080p/120Hz streams but not 4K or HDR. Of course there is no question of VRR support. However, the bar is supplied without an HDMI cable. Compatible audio formats are the same as those supported by the HW-B450.
Onboard features and controls are similar to the HW-B450. Only the return screen is different: it has been moved to the right side of the bar and its display area has been reduced, which is very sad for us.
Unlike the HW-B450, we didn’t notice any brownouts during our Bluetooth use. Latency is about equal between the two models.
If there’s one point where the HW-B550 stands out from the HW-B450, it’s the audio part, and not in a really good way. Overall rendering remains relatively balanced, but the HW-B550’s housing is particularly performant and intrusive. Then we reduce the level of the subwoofer to -6 dB for a more pleasing result. Also, the accuracy in the bass is quite disappointing.
The path from the subwoofer to the bar is also badly managed, creating a hairline lackluster low mids level and preventing good separation of the sources. The intelligibility of the dialogues also suffers, even with Clear Voice mode on. In addition, the bar creates an audible distortion peak around 10 kHz, which is caused by the vibrating screw inside the bar.
Finally, the HW-B550 features DTS Virtual:X mode which is supposed to create an immersive sound bubble around the listening position. If some effect extends even slightly beyond the physical limits of the bar, the rendering is completely distorted. We recommend sticking to Standard mode to enjoy this soundbar.