Samsung R3 360 Wireless Speaker Review
A clever answer to a modern problem
What is the Samsung R3?The R3 is another in Samsung's growing range of 360 wireless speakers and sits between the entry level R1 and the more expensive R5. The R3 uses an attractive and fairly unique cylinder design that allows the speaker to deliver omni-directional sound. The idea behind Samsung's development of 360 degree sound is based on consumer research that has highlighted how we actually listen to music these days. It's less about critical listening and more about convenience and the R3 addresses this with a combination of wireless connectivity, a remote app, multiroom capability and the ability to deliver a balanced sound regardless of where it is in the room. The Samsung R3 costs around £249 as at the time of writing (January 2016) but does it do enough to stand out in a crowded market place?
DesignThe R3 uses an identical design to the other two speakers in the range and is essentially a cylinder with a cloth cover around the outside. The finish is dark grey and the top has a brushed metal effect with touch sensitive controls and an OLED display. The overall design is attractive and the build quality is very good.
At the bottom of the speaker is a slot around the base that is also finished in brushed metal and allows the acoustical lens to spread the audio out in every direction. The R3 is intended for table top placement and proved suitably stable in testing. There are physical connections at the bottom and overall the R3 felt solid, measuring 273 x 145 x 145mm (HxWXD) and weighing in at 2kg.
The R3's cylindrical design stands it - and the other speakers in the range - out from the competition.
Connections & ControlSince the R3 is a wireless speaker it includes Bluetooth 4.0 and 2.4/5GHz dual band WiFi, allowing you can connect it to your smart device or home network. It can also be connected to other Samsung speakers to create a multiroom system using Multiroom Link and it can be connected 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, a connector for the power cable and a speaker add/WiFi setup button.
At the top of the R3 there is an OLED display, along with touch sensitive controls that include a Mode button that toggles through WiFi, Bluetooth and TV SoundConnect. When you select a mode the speaker tells you what you have selected using a voice audio user interface, as well as letting you know when it's connected and what surround setting 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. In addition you can control the R3 using Samsung's Multiroom App 2.0 for iOS or Android.
Features & SpecsThe main innovation in the R3 is the use of omni-directional technology to create a 360 degree sound field, thus eliminating the sweet spot. As a result the speaker can deliver a spacious and more balanced room-filling sound. Samsung use ring radiator technology to create the omnidirectional soundstage, combined with a 1” tweeter at the top and a 4.2” woofer at the bottom. There are Acoustic lenses built into the speaker that radiate the audio out in a 360 degree sound field.
The R3 can 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 as part of a multi-channel setup. The R3 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 R3 supports MP3, FLAC, ALAC, WAV and AIFF and can handle up to 192kHz/24-bit.
The R3 offers excellent file support and flexibility, with an effective remote app.
Setup & OperationSetup is straightforward, all you need to do is download the Multiroom app, plug in the R3 and pair it with your smart device using Bluetooth. You then launch the app on your smart device, type in your WiFi password and you can start using your new speaker. For the best audio performance you should use the WiFi connection but you also have the option of using Bluetooth. If you own a recent Samsung TV you can also wirelessly connect the speaker to it using TV SoundConnect.
The app gives you direct access to your music as soon as you open it up and the home page has all the controls that you need to listen to your music. It also allows you to navigate the speaker list and browser, as well as access the wheel dial to browse your music. There's depthless play to access music content without a screen change and background colour change by album art, along with universal search to find any music you want from diverse sources. Finally there's an improved queuing function that allows you to edit the queue and create your own music list.
The Multiroom app allows you to listen to music from your smart device, as well as Internet radio and music streaming services such as Spotify and Deezer. You can install additional speakers using the app, as well as control different speakers in different rooms or group them together, so you can listen to the same music all at once. Finally you can set the speakers up as surrounds in a multi-channel set up by using the Surround Mode which allows you to select the speaker and location.
PerformanceThe R3 delivered an accomplished audio performance with a spacious but nicely balanced sound field that was able to fill a decent sized room. The omni-directional technology allows the speaker to produce a well-defined audio performance that sounds good regardless of where you position the R3 within the room. The audio retains its tonal balance even as you move around the room, making it an ideal choice for anyone who wants a speaker to provide background music whilst they do other things. The R3 also works very well within a multiroom setup, allowing you to enjoy music from one room to another without losing balance due to a sweet spot.
Of course by eliminating the sweet spot the R3 does lose a sense of stereo separation but the sound quality remains very good. The mid-range is nicely rendered, as are the higher frequencies and whilst the speaker isn't that large it manages to retain a reasonable bass presence. We listened to a variety of different file types and the R3 handled them all with ease although, as you'd expect, the better the quality of the source, the better it sounded. The same applies to how you choose to connect with the speaker and using WiFi certainly delivers the best performance. Overall we really liked the sound of the R3 and found that regardless of what style of music we chose the speaker delivered a well-rounded performance.
The R3 delivered a well-balanced sound that is capable of filling a decent sized room.
- Excellent sound quality
- No sweet spot
- Effective multiroom app
- Easy to setup and control
- Loss of stereo separation
Samsung R3 360 Wireless Speaker ReviewThe Samsung R3 is an attractively designed and well constructed wireless speaker that offers a tempting combination of performance and features. The use of a cylindrical shape is interesting and the omni-directional technology delivers a balanced 360 degree sound field. The Multiroom App is an effective way of connecting and controlling the speaker, although the touch sensitive controls make for a useful alternative. The R3 is designed to connect to your home network via WiFi but you can also use Bluetooth and there's also TV SoundConnect for connecting to a compatible Samsung TV.
The R3 can also form part of a multiroom system and we found set up and control very easy. The performance of the R3 was very good, with 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 audio remains balanced. The mid-range and higher frequencies are well rendered and despite its size there was a decent amount of bass presence.The R3 recognises the reality of how we listen to music these days but it does so by providing a solution that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice sound quality for convenience.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £249.99
Value For Money9
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