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(Pocket-lint) - The Samsung HW-S800B is the latest lifestyle-oriented soundbar from the brand, and represents a new direction with its stylish and ultra-slim cabinet, combined with a compact subwoofer using a force-cancelling design to generate deeper bass. The result is a discreet system that can conveniently and effectively deliver Dolby Atmos immersion with the minimum of compromise.

Our quick take

The Samsung HW-S800B is aimed at anyone looking for Dolby Atmos from an elegant and discreet soundbar and subwoofer combo. The soundbar itself manages to cram nine speakers into its ultra-slim cabinet, including upfiring overhead channels. The compact sub employs a force-cancelling design to produce deep bass, resulting in a powerful 3.1.2-channel system.

The connectivity has been stripped back, with the only physical port being a Mini HDMI connector. So you’ll need an adapter or the included dedicated cable to connect your TV, and there’s no support for eARC, which is a shame. Wireless is better, with Bluetooth, built-in Wi-Fi and support for AirPlay 2. There’s also built-in Alexa, making the S800B a fully-functioning smart speaker.

In terms of other features, the HW-S800B also supports DTS Virtual:X, plus there’s Spotify Connect, Samsung’s Q Symphony integration for supporting TVs, Tap Sound, Active Voice Amplifier and Adaptive Sound processing. Setup is easy thanks to the very useful SpaceFit Sound room correction feature, which will get the most out of the overall system.

The performance is excellent when it comes to immersive Atmos, with a soundstage that delivers width, height and a surprising amount of bass from the compact sub. If you’re looking for an unobtrusive soundbar system, the S800B won’t disappoint and sounds superb with TV, movies and music. It also has the option to add wireless rear speakers, creating a 5.1.4-channel system.

Samsung HW-S800B review: Super-slim Atmos soundbar

Samsung HW-S800B

4.0 stars
For
  • Immersive 3.1.2-channel performance
  • Deep bass from a compact sub
  • Stylish ultra-slim design
  • Expansion options
Against
  • Uses Mini HDMI connector
  • No eARC support

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Design and build

  • Soundbar – Dimensions: 1160 x 38 x 40mm (WxHxD) / Weight: 1.4kg
  • Subwoofer – Dimensions: 238 x 241 x 238mm (WxHxD) / Weight: 6.4kg
  • Black finish only

The Samsung HW-S800B uses a newly designed ultra-slim cabinet that is discreet and well made, with a robust metal mesh grille. The curved ends and black finish make for an attractive look, while also allowing the soundbar to be unobtrusive when placed beneath your TV. 

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Pocket-lint Samsung HW-S800B photo 7

The soundbar is wide enough to be paired with TVs offering screen sizes of 55 inches or even larger, and there's a choice of stand or wall mounting. If you decide to go for the latter Samsung includes dedicated brackets for this purpose.

The wireless subwoofer is compact, and also styled in black to match the soundbar It appears to be using a force-cancelling design, with back-to-back drivers that fire out to the left and right, thus reducing cabinet vibrations and increasing the maximum output.

Connections & Control

  • Ports: 1 x Mini HDMI (ARC)
  • Wireless connectivity: Bluetooth (SBC); Apple AirPlay 2; Spotify Connect; Wi-Fi
  • Full remote control
  • SmartThings app
  • Alexa built-in

The Samsung HW-S800B has a very limited set of physical connections - so limited, in fact, that they're comprised of a single Mini HDMI output. While the soundbar is certainly svelte in terms of its proportions, there does appear to be sufficient space for a regular HDMI connector and an optical digital input, so Samsung's choice here is puzzling.

Pocket-lint Samsung HW-S800B photo 3

As a consequence of this decision, you'll need an HDMI-to-Mini HDMI adapter or cable (thankfully included in the box) to connect the S800B to your TV.  Since Mini HDMI connectivity only supports ARC, the soundbar is also limited to lossy rather than lossless audio via HDMI. If you have an older TV that doesn't support ARC, the lack of an optical digital connection also means this isn't the soundbar for you.

The situation is better when it comes to wireless connectivity, with the inclusion of Bluetooth (SBC) and Wi-Fi, along with support for Apple AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect. There's also built-in Amazon Alexa, which makes the S800B a fully functioning smart speaker, with an assistant and the added benefit of voice control.

In terms of other control options, there's a well-designed and fully-specified remote that offers extensive control options, but remains intuitive to use. The SmartThings app makes setup easy too, allowing you to quickly create a Wi-Fi connection, configure Alexa, and update the firmware. You can also operate the S800B using the controls on the soundbar itself, or your TV's remote.

Speakers and performance

  • Dolby Atmos object-based decoding
  • Support for DTS Virtual:X
  • 3.1.2-channel output
  • High-res audio support
  • Optional wireless rear speakers

The Samsung HW-S800B confounds its ultra-slim appearance with a performance that sounds considerably bigger than it looks. This is largely thanks to some innovative technology created by the clever scientists at the Samsung Audio Lab in California.

They have managed to cram nine drivers into the sleek enclosure, which create three forward firing speakers (left, right and centre) and a pair of upward-firing speakers for top front left and right. The addition of the wireless subwoofer creates a 3.1.2-channel system overall.

Pocket-lint Samsung HW-S800B photo 8

While the speakers inside the soundbar are fairly small, they manage to produce a clean midrange and detailed treble. The sub uses a force-cancelling design, allowing it to generate impressive amounts of bass, while SpaceFit Sound ensures all these speakers are perfectly integrated.

The result is a cohesive soundstage, with plenty of width and height, plus a solid bass foundation that gives the overall delivery depth and impact. The system is also tonally balanced, making the S800B great with music, which is useful because you can stream lossless audio via Wi-Fi.

With Dolby Atmos soundtracks the S800B is a superb performer, and watching the latest series of Stranger Things reveals an incredibly immersive object-based soundtrack. The Samsung moves sounds seamlessly around the front of the room when our characters are in the ‘Upside Down', and the sub adds some excellent low-end impact.

There are some decent overhead effects as Max tries to escape the ‘Upside Down' to the strains of Kate Bush's Running Up that Hill, and the sub delivers plenty of deep bass. While Samsung hasn't disclosed how much power is built into the S800B, the amplification is capable of being driven hard without running out of stream or sounding clipped and distorted.

As is usually the case with a soundbar and subwoofer combo, the delivery is front-heavy with no real surround effects. This is expected given the absence of rear speakers, but there is the option to add the wireless 9500S rear speakers. These not only add surround channels, but also have upward-firing drivers for rear height channels, creating a fully immersive 5.1.4-channel system.

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The lack of lossless audio support over the Mini HDMI connection isn't a deal-breaker, with most unable to differentiate between Atmos delivered by lossy Dolby Digital+ and via lossless Dolby TrueHD. Given the HDMI limitations, the general lack of DTS:X content and the lack of decoding combined, the inclusion of DTS Virtual:X makes perfect sense.

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To recap

The Samsung HW-S800B rewrites the book on what an ultra-slim soundbar can achieve, with an expansive front soundstage, noticeable overhead effects, and deep bass from its compact subwoofer. It’s handles Dolby Atmos with skill, although its delivery is understandably front heavy. However, there is the option to add wireless rear speakers to create a fully immersive system. There's also built-in Alexa, and only the Mini HDMI connection really disappoints. As a result, this bar is ideal for anyone who wants something lifestyle-friendly, discreet and impressive sounding.

Writing by Steve Withers.
Sections Samsung TV Speakers