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Review: Samsung HW-S60T – small soundbar with a large soundstage

Review: Samsung HW-S60T – small soundbar with a large soundstage
3 - 1 review

The HW-S60T is the first Samsung soundbar of model year 2020 to reach our test room. This minimalistic device is not big, but it still manages to produce a 4.0 sound with a lot of power. And that without a separate subwoofer. But also: in terms of design, the rounded shapes and the Kvadrat fabric mean a break with the techno designs that Samsung used to love.

Samsung HW-S60T soundbar

This brand new soundbar is really as new as can be: a few days after the first models reached our region, Samsung already sent us a few test devices. This test of the HW-S60T is therefore a small first, soon you will also read a review of the equally new HW-Q800T top model . Both sound bars are part of the Cinematic series, which should offer the best that Samsung has in terms of sound reproduction. And that is something, we already know from the tests of Samsung sound bars that we have carried out in the past. Unlike the Q800T model, this model does not have a Q-Symphony on board.

When we take the HW-S60T costing 399 euros, we spontaneously think of the Harman Kardon Citation Multibeam 700 that we tested a few weeks ago. They are certainly not the same devices (and there are also differences in technology), but they do speak a similar design language. Like the Harman Kardon, the HW-S60T is a smaller soundbar that tries to squeeze a lot from a compact form in terms of sound reproduction. It comes standard without a subwoofer, which is in line with the idea that there are people who want better TV sound but do not want a big soundbar and a separate large sub. Minimalism, that's what this Samsung is all about. Those who want more can (afterwards) expand the HW-S60T with the SWA-W500 wireless subwoofer and the SWA-8500 wireless speakers that you can place next to your sofa. You see this modular approach more and more and we find it positive. It's fun for people who want to spread their purchases and remains optional for those who don't want it. However, we have not tested the HW-S60T with the expansions, only in its “pure” form. Incidentally, there is also an HW-S61T. This is exactly the same device, but instead of a black color, this soundbar is wrapped in a light gray fabric. The differences between the HW-S60T and HW-S61T are therefore almost non-existent, but the latter will be slightly more subtle in some living rooms.

Kvadrat design

“If only we had bought shares in Kvadrat.” We are now gradually starting to think that when we unpack a new soundbar. The Danish textile manufacturer – an established name in design furniture for years – is causing a furore with more and more audio manufacturers. Samsung sister brand Harman Kardon has been using their fabrics for several years to make their products more in line with contemporary interiors, now Samsung itself is also following. It makes this HW-S60T not look like a soundbar product as the Korean manufacturer released in previous years. Often these were more angular and sleek devices. Due to its curves and the use of a beautiful fabric, the HW-S60T looks much more fashionable, better suited to a modern interior. At the same time: we are not the big textile experts, but the Kvadrat fabric used in this affordable mid-range is less luxurious or distinctive than more expensive devices. According to Samsung, it would be easy to dust and clean.

The HW-S60T is a compact device of 76.4 cm high and 6.6 cm high. There are even smaller sound bars, but this format is still very modest. It did not take up much space on our TV cabinet. Besides that its smaller size integrates more subtly in the right interior, dot also means that the device visually fits well with smaller screen sizes. Compared to the televisions in our living room and test room of 55 and 65 inches respectively, the HW-S60T is of course really a junior soundbar. Symmetry lovers prefer to have a soundbar that is just as wide. But something smaller can also be just what someone is looking for.

Samsung firmly chooses a minimalist approach in all areas. Take the controls on the soundbar itself. The HW-S60T has only a few buttons and they are also very discreetly mounted on the top. A display? Is not there. Samsung has already opted for an unobtrusive screen that was mounted behind speaker dust in previous soundbars, but here it is even gone. How do you know which sound mode you choose or adjust your settings? Well, the soundbar speaks. That's right, the HW-S60T tells you which sound mode you have selected and which setting you adjust. You can choose the language in which you wish to hear these comments. English is standard, French or German is one of the other options. Dutch is not an option, however.

Just about sound bars and their height

The modest height of 6.6 cm seemed to us to be ideal at first, but after a conversation with our image expert Eric Beeckmans we look at it differently . The trend with a number of TV manufacturers is to provide very low stands for their new televisions, so that the bottom edge of the screen floats only 1 to 2 cm above the surface. A soundbar such as the HW-S60T thus covers part of the screen. Only a problem with this Samsung? No, absolutely not, it is a general fact. Sound bars only 1-2 cm high are simply extremely rare. We haven't received a single device in the past two to three years… We even shudder a bit at the idea that a soundbar would be so compact, because that would mean that it would contain very small drivers. It seems like most TV manufacturers do not take sound bars into account, even if they have a department that produces such devices. A little research shows that Samsung is an exception to this trend, because most TV models of the Koreans do have enough clearance to place a soundbar well under the screen. With Philips and LG on the other hand… In any case, it is important to check when buying a soundbar that it is not too high and will beep over your screen. With wall mounting you can easily adjust the height of the screen, so you are less likely to have this problem. As usual, the HW-S60T comes with the necessary to do wall mounting (except for screws and plugs).

Free installation

You don't always come across a lot of technical gadgets in middle class cars. The HW-S60T is also a relatively simple device, but still uses some smart things to send sound wider into the room. Two horn speakers on the side, for example, ensure that you get a nice separation of the left and right channels, so that moving sound effects are well transferred. When a car enters the screen from the left to the right, you really experience that movement. The condition is that those side speakers can do their job. If you put this soundbar in a niche of a TV cabinet, it will not work. It is therefore best to place the Samsung soundbar freestanding in front of your television and not pushed under it. Why the latter? After all, the HW-S60T applies a second trick to give you the impression that sound is coming from the screen. The sound from the tweeters is distributed through a series of holes (56 pieces!) That run across the full width at the top, a technique called Samsung Acoustic Beam. You can't see these holes, but they push some of the sound higher into the room – perhaps just where the TV screen is. That is why with this HW-S60T you will less likely get the idea that your TV sound comes from a separate cabinet, rather than from the TV itself. That may seem less important, but it is crucial to really immerse yourself in your movies or TV series. It helps “to suspend your disbelief”, the ultimate goal of every filmmaker. We don't think it's a good idea to hang this soundbar above the television because of Acoustic Beam, because you just let the sound sound away from the screen. Incidentally, this technique also creates the necessary space in the reproduction so that music sounds a bit more realistic. The stereo separation is good for a soundbar. And that too is a crucial thing to really get carried away by your music.

Better SmartThings

A while ago, Samsung started pushing the SmartThings app as the remote app for their sound bars. This app is intended as the place where you can operate and bind all possible smart devices, both from Samsung itself and from third parties. Yes, including lighting, refrigerators and vacuum cleaners. We didn't think that was a positive step at first, because that SmartThings app offered far fewer options than the dedicated apps that used to be for Samsung soundbars. You also received little help and information when setting up.

This is much better with this HW-S60T. Samsung takes a big step by extending the SmartThings app with a real remote part. Setting up the soundbar (including logging into the WiFi network) is done via a simple step-by-step plan. Everything is presented clearly, you also get spoken feedback via the soundbar and we actually had no problem configuring. Fine.

If you tap the soundbar in SmartThings, you now also get all the settings that you can change via the remote. Frankly, that is much smoother than through the spoken feedback on the soundbar itself, yet when it comes to adjusting the bass and treble and the separate volume levels for the side speakers and the speakers at the back.

Don't worry if you don't like working with an app. Samsung provides an excellent remote. We recognize it immediately, because this slender with curved back can be found in some form with many Samsung TVs and sound bars in the box. For example, it is very similar to the remote of the Samsung UE60KS7000 TV that usually hangs in our test room (but has been temporarily replaced by a Sony KD-A9F). The great thing is that this One Remote just looks very solid and yet graceful, and that with a relatively cheap soundbar.

Beregoed

At just under 400 euros, the HW-S60T can be called a middle class. So we don't expect to find too many connections – and that's the case. There is only one HDMI input, which you use to connect your TV. It is only ARC compatible, not eARC. But with a device like this, that doesn't seem like a deal breaker; ARC can already handle Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS DS 5.1. DD 5.1 is the mode you will use most when watching movies, as this is the codec used by Netflix, Amazon and Disney +.

The optical input gives you an alternative way to connect a TV or other audio source, such as a console or CD player. And that's it in terms of physical connections. If you want to listen to music, you can stream over Bluetooth or play Spotify over WiFi. It's very easy: when the HW-S60T is connected to the network, it automatically appears as a speaker in the Spotify app. Tap and the music plays. Those who are subscribed to another service, such as Apple Music or Tidal, will only be able to play their music via Bluetooth. Also keep in mind that certain music services release apps for smart TVs, and you can send music to the soundbar as well. But the fact remains that you will not find Chromecast or Airplay streaming with this soundbar. Good to know: the HW-S60T has Alexa on board. Before you ask: no, no Google Assistant or Siri. Only Alexa. With some hacking, you can also use Alexa with us and play her music through a number of services. For the time being, however, we believe that this is of no added value to the average consumer in the Benelux. You still can't speak to Alexa in Dutch (French, German and English are your options) and it is really a mess to connect Alexa to Apple Music, for example. As long as Amazon Alexa does not officially launch in our region, it will remain less attractive.

Maybe in these times you need a movie that will spice you up a bit? May we recommend an evening with the mischievous bear Paddington found on Netflix? Paddington 1 and 2 are both films that completely avoid cynicism and sarcasm, yet are very witty. And also: they also have nice musical soundtracks. A very nice scene with a beautiful surround reproduction is at the barber, where Paddington has to fill in for the hairdresser. It is not long before chaos rears its (in this case) charming head. While Paddington gets entangled with the clippers and vibrates through space, all sorts of things fly through the space, which the Samsung soundbar transmits just fine. Not surprisingly, we do miss the large surround sound with the listener in the middle (the extra rear speaker kit would help with that), but the HW-S60T puts a fairly wide soundstage at the front of our TV so that sound effects look far outside the screen to sit. The overhead tweeter openings on the device also ensure that all those small details hang loose in the room, something that rarely works with a cheaper, smaller soundbar. In terms of detail, this soundbar does well.

We can also make the same comment during the race in “Ready Player One”. You get a lot of detail presented in this incredibly rich soundtrack, which without a doubt gives you a wow feeling compared to typical TV speakers. Tires scream with great conviction, fireworks explode high in the air and cars pop with a strong crunch against barriers. It is quite clever, although we miss the heavy impact in our test room of approximately 25 m2 when King Kong jumps on buildings and exploding vehicles. We are sorry that we do not have that optional subwoofer at home, because that would have yielded a very nice total result. Now we miss the spectacle feeling, that was more the case with the Multibeam 700. But on the plus side, the HW-S60T very effectively conveys the mood with soundtracks that combine music with more subtle audio effects, such as “Roma”. We like to use this movie with its Oscar-winning sound design at Dolby Atmos soundbars to test how good they are at positioning sound effects. The HW-S60T does not have the technology on board to display Atmos content, but it does manage to provide that huge soundscape for the most part. A great achievement in this segment. It is also recommended to turn on the adaptive sound mode, because it sounds a lot better than the standard mode. We also notice that the Samsung effectively normalizes the sound: with many sound bars you sometimes experience a huge volume difference when after silent dialogues suddenly something noisy happens on the screen, which makes many people reach for the volume control. But with the HW-S60T you have those contrasts less often, which actually also helps to keep you 'in' the film.

Conclusion

Convinced film buffs may opt better for a higher model with Atmos and more dynamics, but those looking for a compact soundbar that can still consider a lot of atmosphere and drama are chiseled with the new HW-S60T. You will not find many gadgets and streaming options here, but it is a solid reproducer that does a good job and for its price you get a nice sound upgrade.

Cons

  • Relatively few streaming options
  • S ensemble seekers go optional sub need

Pros

  • U extension with sub and rears possible
  • V clear and well positioned representation of dialogues
  • G detailed
  • Great for music

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