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Remote Control the Audio Modes

The good news is that the provided remote control has been kept relatively simple while still providing plenty of functionality. I’m also glad that it’s a remote of normal thickness and not one of those credit card-sized numbers. I much prefer this style.

The main soundbar unit in the HW-C450 comes with a single-line display in the front, so this makes it relatively simple to change a few settings, navigate the menu, and so forth. There are even buttons included to change the TV channel, adjust the subwoofer level, and turn on the TV.

The “sound mode” button is particularly noteworthy, as the different modes can make a big difference in how the audio sounds. There is a gaming sound mode, for instance, that would be suitable for your Halo: Reach sessions.

Gaming, Movies, and Sports

To test out the audio quality of the Samsung HW-C450 soundbar, I ran it through several different scenarios. Most of these were done through my Xbox 360 in some shape or form.

For gaming, I tried a few different titles from different genres, including NHL 11, The Beatles: Rock Band, Super Street Fighter IV, and Gears of War. Interestingly enough, I had the most enjoyable gaming experience playing Street Fighter on “Cinema” mode. This is meant for movies, but it works great for games that don’t need surround sound.

Speaking of the virtual surround sound, it’s not quite as “encompassing” as I had hoped. This is still very much a 2.1 speaker system and it does not replace the true 5.1 experience that you would get with a full multi-speaker setup. This held true in both playing video games and watching Hollywood movies.

Switching to sports mode for some NFL football, I found that the “virtual surround” part of the equation lent itself to an almost echo-like effect. I guess this is meant to make for a better roar of the crowd. Don’t use “sports” mode for anything else though, especially regular sitcoms and other TV programming, as the echo can get annoying.

Listening to Music Only

Despite being relatively thin and taking up a relatively small amount of room overall, the Samsung HW-C450 did not disappoint in the sound production department. It has no trouble getting really loud and it is largely able to cover most of the range. The bass from the subwoofer can be a little overpowering at times, but you can dial that down to suit your preferences.

The sound quality is a huge step up from what you’d get built into your usual HDTV, but it is a little odd that the “music” mode was the least impressive of them all. The sound came out a little flat, not nearly as rich as the other modes.¬†For this reason, if you’re listening to music, I’d recommend you not even use the “music” sound mode. Under most circumstances, I found “Cinema” to be the most appealing overall.

Closing Thoughts

Despite claims to the otherwise, this virtual surround soundbar system is not going to give you anywhere close to the same surround sound experience you’d get with a true 5.1 or 7.1 speaker system. However, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t consider buying something like this.

Selling on the street anywhere between $249 – $349 US, the Samsung HW-C450 represents a very good value. The sound output is great, the minimalist installation is very appealing, and the ease of use is fantastic. I had a lot of fun playing Xbox games with this and watching sports is pretty great too. Most importantly, it takes up very little room making it useful for a small media room or bedroom.

The lack of HDMI input is disappointing and I would have liked a better (fuller) surround experience, but when you realize this comes in at less than one-third the price of a full 5.1 system when you factor in an amp and a set of speakers, the Samsung soundbar is a sound purchase (bad pun intended).

Pros

  • Slim design with included wall mount
  • Surprising potent and robust
  • Thoroughly enjoyable gaming experience
  • Wireless subwoofer requires no setup
  • A good value, especially with integrated amplifier

Cons

  • No HDMI input or passthrough
  • Virtual surround sound is uninspiring
  • Simple music playback is mediocre

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

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