Being one of Samsung's top models, the HW-J650 is a very sleek 4.1 soundbar with a wireless subwoofer, while also giving you the opportunity to expand the system using wireless speakers for the surround channels.
The HW-J650 is identical to the 651 apart from the 650 being black and the 651 having a silver finish. With dimensions of 41.73" x 2.0" x 2.82" the HW-J650 looks nice with TVs of 40 inches or larger, and as it's only two inches high it also offers minimal obstruction of the TV if placed on a bench. The slim design looks nice with a clean look, no visible buttons when you're seated in the couch, and sides in aluminum.
Hidden on the front behind the grille is a LED display to show you things like selected input and volume level. The display only lights up when you give the soundbar commands to let you know what's going on, but remains turned off the rest of the time. This is actually a nice feature as a bright display can be distracting when you watch movies in a dark room.
The subwoofer that comes with the soundbar is wireless and in the same color as the soundbar. It's equipped with a 7-inch driver and has a bass reflex port on the side. This makes it possible to place it close to a wall for example, without any significant impact on bass performance, although an increase in volume is expected when the subwoofer is placed in close proximity to a large boundary. If this is the case, the volume level can easily be adjusted using the remote.
According to Samsung the HW-J650 is a 4.1 channel surround system, which technically means that they’ve omitted the center channel, but in practice this won’t pose any significant problems as the soundbar does a pretty good job with the centered audio (like dialogue for example) – it sounds very clear and focused while the overall sound image remains large and spacious.
Now, you won't get a proper 4.1 channel audio out of a soundbar with sound actually coming from the rear, but we're nonetheless very pleased with the overall performance. For obvious reasons the subwoofer won't play extremely deep bass, but the cohesion between the soundbar and the subwoofer is pretty good thanks to a relatively low crossover frequency, making placement easier as it mostly plays non-directional bass, which in the end results in a more enjoyable movie and music experience.
Being Wireless Multiroom Compatible, the HW-J650 can be used as a part of an extended multiroom system with other compatible Samsung devices. But before we delve into that, we take a closer look at the inputs and outputs as well as some of the main features of the soundbar.
The in and outputs are placed in recesses at the back and can be a bit tricky to reach depending on how you place the soundbar and what types of cables you're using. There's only one HDMI input and one output (ARC), so you can only connect one HDMI source device, in our case a Blu-ray player, and it would have been nice with at least one more HDMI input for a gaming console or a set-top box for example. If you have more than one HDMI device the option is to connect those to the TV and use that as the audio source using the Audio Return Channel or the optical digital input.
Apart from the HDMI input and the already mentioned optical digital input you'll also find a network port, a USB port for playing audio files from a USB drive, and an analog auxiliary input (3.5mm) for analog music players, for example.
Bluetooth is also available, providing a quick and easy way to listen to audio using your phone or other Bluetooth devices, and if you happen to own a newer Samsung TV (TV Sound Connect compatible, 2013 or newer) you can also send audio from your TV to the soundbar via Bluetooth. This feature reduces the need for an extra cable, but the downside is that it only works with audio, not video,
So far the Samsung HW-J650 seems to be a run-of-the-mill soundbar, both in terms of looks and features, but compared to most of its competitors it actually has a nice little perk; the ability to add an extra pair of wireless speakers for the rear channels to get a bit closer to a true 5.1 experience.
To do this, all you need is Samsungs Multiroom App (Android, iOS). In the app you simply select the HW-J650 and designate two separate speakers for the rear channels. We used Samsung’s Radiant360 R1 Wi-Fi/Bluetooth Speakers for this, but any Wireless Multiroom Speaker from Samsung can be used. Clear instructions and voice prompts from the speakers ensures that the installation and setup is done quickly and easily.
In a perfect world you would place the rear speakers at an equal distance from the listening position for optimal performance, but for less than perfect situations the Multiroom App gives you the ability to adjust the volume of each speaker to compensate for any difference in distance. In our fairly large and somewhat irregularly shaped listening room we had to increase the volume slightly to achieve a balanced level between the soundbar and the rear speakers.
Although the HW-J650 soundbar and subwoofer handles virtual surround sound pretty well and does a good job at providing a decent surround sound experience, adding the extra rear speakers makes a significant difference. Spatiality and placement of sound effects is of course improved, adding to the overall atmosphere of any given movie scene, while still handling the pin-point effects fairly accurately – voices are firmly centered while effects like flying bullets, explosions, rain and thunder provides a very dynamic and enjoyable movie experience.
The HW-J650 is ultimately quite impressive in the surround sound department, especially considering the modest price, but it can't really reach the performance level of a fully fledged 5.1 surround sound system, but that is however not expected.
Let The Music Play
The Multiroom App not only gives you an opportunity to add extra rear speakers and set up a multiroom system, it also gives you the ability to stream music from your local network.
The majority of the most common and popular music services are available, but this can vary depending on your region. You can also play files from a USB drive or your local network, and the HW-J650 can handle just about any file format there is, including high resolution.
The Multiroom App has a nice design, is intuitive to use, and works really well. Selecting and playing music worked more or less flawlessly without any lag or hiccups.
The HW-J650 plays music with a fairly large soundstage, have plenty of clarity and detail, although it can sound a bit small-ish compared to a proper two channel music system, but then again we used it in a relatively large room, and a smaller room may provide a different result. Nonetheless, the soundbar and subwoofer combination works really well with music, giving voices a clear and nice fullness and also managed to keep instruments separate and avoiding muddying the soundstage. Ultimately, it provided us with a nice 'live' feeling, although at a smaller scale. It is not often we come across such a musical soundbar at a price of less than $500 - impressive.
With a modern design, a decent subwoofer and a very attractive price, the Samsung HW-J650 is an excellent choice for anyone looking to improve upon the puny sound from their TV speakers.
Add to this a well designed app that is easy to use, and the option to expand the system with additional speakers, and it looks like an even better bargain.
The only real weakness, although a minor one, is the subwoofer. Don't get us wrong, it does a good job, but it could do with a bit more speed, agility and sophistication. But that's just us nitpicking...
GET IT ON eBay!
- Current Price: $691.31
- Ends: Nov 8, 2016 3:13:48 CET
- Current Price: $161.90
- Ends: Nov 5, 2016 16:52:25 CET
- Current Price: $161.99
- Ends: Nov 21, 2016 17:06:47 CET
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• Wireless Multiroom Compatible
• Wireless Active Subwoofer
• Samsung Audio Remote App
• Easy Setup
• 320 Watts: 160W Sub, 160W Soundbar
Enjoy a clutter-free home entertainment system. TV SoundConnect lets you instantly enjoy movies, music, and TV shows with more impactful sound.
BLUETOOTH® POWER ON
Connect wirelessly for one-touch control of your Soundbar from Bluetooth®-compatible devices. Simply select the Soundbar for pairing and power it on automatically for a seamless home entertainment experience.
SURROUND SOUND EXPANSION
Experience the full power and depth of your favorite movies and TV shows with a wholly optimized audio experience. Samsung Clear Voice enhances voices and dialogue so you won’t miss a single line in your favorite scene.
4.1 CHANNEL SYSTEM
Enjoy powerful sound, incredible clarity, and a greater sense of audio depth with all of your favorite movies and TV shows.
DOLBY® DIGITAL 5.1 CH
Dolby® Digital delivers the ultimate in high-quality, 5.1 channel audio for a truly cinematic home entertainment experience. Hear your digital music files the way they were meant to be heard with High Frequency Restoration. Restore notes and sonic details normally lost in digital file compression.
Enjoy your favorite movies, shows, and sports with higher quality audio. The HDMI® connection transmits digital video and audio over a single cable, delivering a superior entertainment experience.
WIRELESS ACTIVE SUBWOOFER
Feel the action of your favorite movies, shows, and sports with dynamic, powerful bass for a lifelike home entertainment experience.
Samsung Clear Voice enhances voices and dialogue so you won’t miss a single line in your favorite scene.
Enjoy your favorite streaming services, as well as audio from your mobile device. Control the Soundbar and connect to your multiroom entertainment system.
DIMENSIONS (INCHES WxHxD):
• SOUNDBAR: 41.73 x 2.00 x 2.82
• SUB WOOFER: 17.80 x 13.19 x 6.06
• SHIPPING: 43.90 x 18.94 x 8.11
• SOUNDBAR: 5.29
• SUB WOOFER: 14.99
• SHIPPING: 25.35
POWER CONSUMPTION (WATTS):
• SOUNDBAR STANDBY: 0.45
• SUBWOOFER STANDBY: 0.45
• SOUNDBAR OPERATING: 43
• SUBWOOFER OPERATING: 28
• MP3: YES
• WMA: YES
• AAC: YES
• OGG: YES
• FLAC: YES
• WAV: YES
• ALAC: YES
• AIFF: YES
• 7” PORTED BASS REFLEX SUBWOOFER: YES
• 4 DSP SOUND MODES: YES
• REMOTE CONTROLLER: YES
• OPTICAL CABLE: YES
• USB CABLE: YES
• WALLMOUNT KIT: YES
• SCREW: YES
• BATTERY: YES