Samsung R1 360 Wireless Speaker Review
A small speaker with a big sound
What is the Samsung R1?The R1 is Samsung's latest wireless speaker and represents the entry level product in what the manufacturer calls their 'Classic' speaker line-up. The R1, along with its stable-mates the R3 and R5, uses a cylinder design with omni-directional sound. These new speakers are intended to compliment the existing R6 and R7, which use an oval design. The new speakers are less expensive in terms of construction when compared to the R6 and R7, thus they can be priced more competitively whilst still offering many of the same features. The idea behind the use of omni-directional sound is a recognition of the way people listen to music these days, which is often in the background or in a number of rooms. The R1 is able to deliver a balanced sound regardless of where it is in the room, as well as offer wireless options and multiroom capabilities. The Samsung R1 can be picked up for £169 as at the time of writing (December 2015), which puts it in line with the competition, so let's find out how it performs.
DesignThe R1 uses a cylindrical design that does exactly what it suggests, creating a speaker that is in the shape of a cylinder. The finish is in dark grey and there is cloth all around the cylinder shape and a brushed metal effect at the top. Here you'll find touch sensitive controls and a simple LED display. The design is attractive and the build quality is good, although not quite as impressive as the R6 and R7, but then the R1 is much cheaper. The R1 is designed for table top placement and we found it was suitable stable in testing and unlikely to fall over. There are physical connections at the bottom and overall the R1 felt solid, measuring 233 x 123 x 123mm (HxWXD) and weighing in at 1.4kg.
The cylinder design is simple but effective, whilst the touch sensitive controls work well.
Connections & ControlThe R1 is intended to be used as a wireless speaker, either on its own or as part of a multiroom system. So it includes Bluetooth 4.0 and 2.4/5GHz dual band WiFi. As a result you can connect the R1 to your smart device or home network, as well as other Samsung speakers in a multiroom configuration using Multiroom Link. You also have the option to attach the R1 to any Samsung TV with TV SoundConnect. At the bottom you'll find a screw attachment for adding a compatible third-party stand, a USB port for service and a connector for the power adapter. There's also a speaker add/WiFi setup button.
At the top there are touch sensitive controls and an LED display. On the left is the Mode button which you can toggle through to select WiFi, Bluetooth and TV SoundConnect. When you select a mode the R1 tells you what you have selected using a voice audio user interface, as well as letting you know when the speaker is or isn't connected and which surround setting if the speaker is being used in a surround setup. On the right hand side is the volume up and down touch control. Finally if you tap the top, the speaker will pause and if you tap it again it will start playing. A long touch puts the speaker in standby whilst swiping left will play the previous track and swiping right will play the next one. You can also use Samsung's Multiroom App 2.0 (iOS/Android) to control the R1 but more on that later.
Features & SpecsThe big selling point of the R1 is its use of omni-directional 360 degree sound to eliminate the sweet spot and deliver a spacious and room-filling soundstage. To achieve this Samsung are using 'ring radiator' technology to create an omnidirectional 360 degree soundstage. The R1 uses a 1” tweeter at the top and a 3.6” woofer at the bottom which, when combined with acoustic lenses, radiate audio in a 360 degree sound field. Aside from the unusual design of the R1 itself, the other major feature is the multiroom capability. As already mentioned the R1 has built-in WiFi for connecting to your wireless network, along with Bluetooth 4.0 and Samsung TV SoundConnect.
The speaker can either be setup as an individual speaker or it can be used as part of a multiroom system with speakers in different rooms. You can also group speakers together, using them as a stereo pair, or if you have more than two you can even use them in a multi-channel setup. The R1 uses Samsung's Multiroom App 2.0, which allows you to directly connect your speaker to your wireless network via your smart device and then control it remotely. The app includes direct access, depthless playback and easy navigation via wheel dial. The app also provides access to music streaming services like Spotify, TuneIn and Deezer. The R1 supports MP3, FLAC, ALAC, WAV and AIFF and can handle up to 192kHz/24-bit.
The R1 is controlled using the latest version of Samsung's highly effective Multiroom App.
Setup & OperationThe R1 couldn't really be easier to setup, all you need to do is connect your smart device to your WiFi network and download and install the free Samsung Multiroom app for either iOS or Android. Then connect the power adapter to the R1 and pair it with your smart device using Bluetooth. To do this all you need to do is turn on the speaker and enable Bluetooth on your smart device. Then select [Samsung] R1 from your Bluetooth list and the two devices will be paired. You then launch the Multiroom app on your smart device, type in your WiFi password and you're good to go. From an audio quality perspective the primary method of connection should be over your wireless network but you also have the option of using Bluetooth. If you own a recent Samsung TV you can wirelessly connect the speaker to it using TV SoundConnect. To do this just cycle through the mode button until you hear “TV SoundConnect is ready", then a pop-up will appear on your TV screen and you just need to select continue.
In terms of the app itself the interface has been redesigned and now gives you direct access to your music as soon as you open up the app. The now playing home page has all the controls that you need to listen to your music and it allows you to navigate to the speaker list and browser. It also includes wheel dial navigation to browse your music, depthless play to access music content without a screen change and background colour change by album art. The latest 2.0 version of the Multiroom app also adds a number of useful new features, including universal search which allows you to find any music you want from diverse sources. If you're using the Android version of the app there is also the instant control by widget, which allows you to conveniently control the app via a widget function. Finally there's an improved queuing function that allows you to edit the queue and create your own music list.
You can access and play various sound sources and streaming services with the Multiroom app. So you can listen to music on your smart device, you can listen to Internet radio and you can listen to streaming music sources such as Spotify and Deezer. The Multiroom app also allows you to easily install additional speakers by selecting the Add Speaker icon on the app. As well as controlling different speakers in different rooms, you can group them together, so you can listen to the same music all at once. When there are two or more speakers connected to the app, you can press the Group button to automatically run the setup group feature. You can then move to the full list of speakers and select the ones that you want to setup as a group. Finally you can set the speakers up as surrounds in a multi-channel set up by using the Surround Mode; this allows you to select the speaker and drag and drop it into the desired location.
PerformanceThe R1 delivered a surprisingly good performance considering its size and anyone looking for a nice sounding wireless speaker to use in a smaller room could certainly do worse. Since we had already reviewed Samsung's R6 and R7 we knew what to expect in terms of the omni-directional sound. The R1 was able to deliver a big open sound that filled the room, regardless of where it was positioned, and as you moved around the audio remained consistent. This omni-directional performance comes at the expense of stereo separation and imaging but that isn't the point of Samsung's 360 range of wireless speakers. They're designed to match the way that many people listen to music these days - either whilst doing something else or moving from room to room. So whilst there are better wireless speakers from the perspective of critical listening in stereo, that's really missing the point.
As it is the sound produced by the R1 was very good, with great detail and well defined mid-range and higher frequencies. The speaker doesn't have a great deal of bass presence but that's to be expected when you consider its size. However we used the R1 for long periods in our study and the quality of the audio was excellent, always delivering a well defined sound in the room and never becoming fatiguing. Stable audio performance was best when using the WiFi connection, but the Bluetooth connection was a viable alternative if signal strength varies. The R1 handled all the different file types we threw at it and we found controlling the speaker from the Multiroom App was very easy and setting up a multiroom system with other Samsung speakers was straightforward. Overall the Samsung R1 proved to be a capable little speaker that offers great value.
For a small speaker the R1 has a large and open sound but, unsurprisingly, it was slightly lacking in bass.
- Excellent sound quality
- No sweet spot
- Effective multiroom app
- Easy to setup and control
- Loss of stereo separation
- Slightly lacking in bass
Samsung R1 360 Wireless Speaker ReviewThe Samsung R1 is a nicely designed and well made wireless speaker that offers some genuinely useful features. It's cylindrical shape is unusual and the touch sensitive controls make for an effective alternative to the Multiroom App. The R1 is designed to connect to your home network via WiFi but you also have the alternative of using Bluetooth. For those with a compatible Samsung TV there's also TV SoundConnect and the R1 can form part of a multiroom system. We found setting up and controlling the R1 easy and the performance was very good, with the speaker creating an open and room-filling sound. The omni-directional nature of the design means that you can place the speaker just about anywhere and even when moving around the room the sound remains balanced. The mid-range and higher frequencies are well rendered and although bass is a little lacking, it's still a good sounding speaker that delivers value for money and is worthy of a recommendation.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £169.99
Value For Money9
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