Samsung HW-N700 Soundbar
Samsung’s dedication to improving the fidelity of its soundbars through science has paid generous dividends over the past few years. Its Sound+ series of soundbars provide great looks and fidelity for the money, I reviewed two models last year—the HW-MS650 ($427.99 on Amazon) and HW-MS750 ($627.99 on Amazon)—as well as the Sound+ wireless sub and all were “Top Choice” selections. But there was a catch—neither soundbar was a proper aesthetic match for the wall-mounted Q9F because they were primarily designed to sit on a TV stand. With the HW-NW700 ($697.99 on Amazon), Samsung offers a soundbar that is a perfect match for its premium wall-mounted TVs.
Features and Specifications
The HW-NW700 is a wide (48″) and tall (5.5″) soundbar that only protrudes 2 inches from the wall when it’s mounted. Contained within the chassis are a total of 7 drivers—three wide-dispersion tweeters and four mid/woofers—each with discrete amplification. As with other premium Samsung soundbars, this model offers distortion canceling technology.
Samsung’s most stylish soundbar includes a dedicated center-channel driver for enhanced vocal clarity, and it can render virtual surround effects. it is also compatible with physical wireless rear speakers (SWA-9000S, $112.44 on Amazon) that are available as an optional add-on. And for home theater-worthy performance, just add Samsung’s wireless SWA-W700 Sound+ sub ($347.94 on Amazon, which I reviewed here).
This Soundbar has wireless capability in the form of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, plus it offers the option of connecting to Samsung TVs—either wirelessly or using a cable. However, that cable will not be an HDMI cable, because this soundbar does not feature HDMI input or output. That’s because it’s not really engineered to be a general-purpose soundbar, after all Samsung has plenty of other options in that category. The point of this particular model is to be a perfect match for Samsung’s contemporary wall-mounted premium TVs, so it only has one wired input, a digital-optical connection. There is also a port that is labeled “wireless” that is for the transmitter that comes with the optional SWA-W700 subwoofer or SWA-9000S surround speakers.
Unlike many soundbars at this price point, the HW-NW700 uses an external power supply. The specific advantage of this approach is that Samsung gets to use a thinner power cord than would be the case if it used an ordinary power cord. Moreover, the cord from the power supply to the soundbar is 10 feet long plus you get five more feet out of the power cord that plugs into the wall, for a total of 15 feet. The point is that Samsung took this approach for the sake of aesthetics within the context that this soundbar will only ever be mounted on a wall.
It almost goes without saying, this soundbar comes with a wall-mount bracket. It’s a minimalist bracket set, just a single steel plate with three slots for screws. it’s designed to accommodate the included cable and allows you to attach or remove the soundbar by simply lifting it up. As long as your wall can support it and you have a drill, a level, plus a screwdriver, hanging the soundbar takes just a minute or two.
Samsung makes hanging the HW-NW700 simple.
The user manual is thin because this is a minimalist, well thought-out soundbar.
This Samsung Sound+ soundbar keeps the listening modes down to a few easily understood options: Standard, Surround and Smart. Basically, Standard sounds clean and offers a surprisingly broad soundfield, but if you want to be enveloped then you can press the Surround button. Samsung says Smart mode optimizes sound for the content that’s playing.
The soundbar includes a remote control, one that will be familiar to anyone who owns a contemporary Samsung. It includes a D-pad as well as discrete buttons for power, input, Bluetooth pairing, mute, selecting the sound mode, and changing the options. It also includes a volume control and a separate bass level control. Of course, part of the appeal of pairing it with a Samsung TV is that you control everything with a single remote, the TV’s remote. Regardless, the HW-NW700 has its own remote that allows you to access all the options, and a monochrome info display behind the soundbar’s grill tells you its status and facilitates setting adjustments.
The remote is a lot nicer than what ships with many soundbars and has a dedicated bass level control.
Finally, the Wi-Fi functionality of the soundbar allows you to use Samsung’s SmartThings app with your mobile device in order to connect the soundbar and stream music to it as well as adjust settings. And if you’re the sort that likes to use voice control, compatibility with Amazon Echo products means you can use the SmartThings app to give this soundbar name and then you can control it with Alexa.
I evaluated this Soundbar on its own, without the add-on subwoofer or surround speakers. As is it did a great job, with bass extension that’s genuinely deep and adds a sense of solidity to sounds.
What’s more, this soundbar projected an expansive, enveloping soundstage that likely benefits from the driver separation afforded by its generous physical width. What’s more, peeking behind the grill offers a good hint as to why this soundbar did so well in the bass department: The diameter of the mid/woofers is just about the entire height of the soundbar.
These are considerably larger than the drivers (with multiple times the surface area) from drivers you would find on a stand-mount soundbar that’s designed to be low-profile—so doesn’t block the front of the TV. Freed of this constraint, the HW-NW700 packs some powerful (for a soundbar) bass drivers—one each for the side channels and two for the center.
The Standard sound mode of this soundbar proved very appealing to listen to, it genuinely competes with a modest stereo system in terms of delivering an engaging listening experience and can tease out a soundstage considerably wider than the physical dimensions of the soundbar, just by taking advantage of what’s in the musical mix. to make a long story short, HW-NW700 is a surprisingly good-sounding audio system for music, and that proved as true for classical music as it did for dubstep.
I measured the frequency response of the HW-NW700 using Room EQ Wizard and found and the Samsung HW-NW700 bass output reaches as low as 20 Hz, at which point it begins a steep descent into nothing. However, this is not really audible bass. Usable bass response picked up around 30 Hz, which was roughly the -10 dB point when including room gain in the equation. And this was not weak bass, I could both hear and feel it with the volume turned up.
Measuring bass is one thing, but it also helps to just listen to some sine waves playing at various specific frequencies. Using this method, I confirmed that this soundbar offers legit bass from 30 Hz on up. So here’s the crazy part: When I queued up some music using Roon on my PC—with optical-digital as the output—at first I wasn’t sure if I done something wrong because it absolutely sounded like there was a decent subwoofer in the mix. The there was not; all the bass I heard was coming from the soundbar.
Measuring from 1 m away revealed that the remarkably linear response with a “textbook” curve that gently slopes down as the frequency goes up, with no unusual bumps or dips all the way up to 20 kHz. At my main listening position that translated to a frequency response—and consequently an overall sound—that was extremely similar to what I see from speakers that have been subjected to room correction. Then again, I kind of expected this quality because I heard the soundbar at CES 2018 and it stood out at that show, too.
To my ears, movies sounded great in Standard mode, but there is no question that selecting Surround allowed the DSP in the HW-NW700 to render virtual surround effects that put listeners inside the action and also took proper advantage of the dedicated center channel. I watched scenes from Avengers: Infinity War, Ready Player One, Annihilation, Star Trek: First Contact, The Doors Movie, and to get a feel for how it handles cinematic sound and truth be told, it blows away anything you’ve ever heard come from a TV, and also embarrasses many soundbars that cost about the same.
As is usually the case, my entire gaming experience with the soundbar consisted of sessions inside Grand Theft Auto 5, playing off a GTX1080-equipped PC. It all sounded quite good and in this instance I found using the Surround mode preferable as it was more appropriate to the game to have the larger and more immersive soundfield. Notable, I’ve added the After Hours update that includes a music-centric element to it and the soundbar was able to deliver the “thump” of the dance floor with surprising vigor.
If your TV hangs on a wall and you plan to get a soundbar, you should definitely consider models designed for that application, like this HW-NW700. Samsung clearly understands that a quality Soundbar is a crucial component in contemporary lifestyle AV entertainment systems. The company has put much effort into ensuring it has some of the best performing soundbars. With the HW-NW700, it delivers this sound quality in a form factor that’s an aesthetic match for its TVs and looks fantastic on a living room wall.
For casual TV and movie viewing, as well as listening to music at modest volume levels, this soundbar is the complete package all on its own. Its fidelity is in a league of its own amongst soundbars under the $1000 price point, a fitting accompaniment for Samsung’s QLED TVs.
Make no mistake, this is a soundbar made by Samsung explicitly for its wall-mounted TVs. However, it’s still perfectly usable with any wall-mounted TV, so long as you are OK with using an optical-digital or Bluetooth connection. The fidelity it offers in this form factor is not easily found in other soundbars at this price, regardless of their shape. Its most compelling quality is the combination of its sleek aesthetic and the engaging, full-range, quality listening experience it provides. The Samsung HW-NW700 excels as an all-in-one soundbar at its price point, while offering the option to add a (very good) wireless sub and surround speakers to the mix.
The HW-NW700 is a viable wall-mount soundbar solution for modern living rooms where viewers want a home theater experience without the cables and complexity. Because it performs at such a high level, and is part of a larger Sound+ ecosystem, it earns a “Top Choice” designation with one simple qualifier: It’s best for wall-mounted TVs only and offers the most functionality when paired with a Samsung TV.