Design, Installation and Setup
The HT-F6500 comes with four satellite speakers that mirror the gloss black and silver finish of the main unit and there's a matching centre speaker. This is good because by using the same speaker for all five channels, the soundfield created retains its tonal cohesiveness. The similarities to KEFs classic egg design notwithstanding, the speakers have a decent amount of weight to them considering their size. There is also a wired and passive sideways firing subwoofer that again uses the gloss black finish found on the rest of the system. Setting up the speakers is very easy thanks to the provided colour-coded cables and dedicated connectors. The speakers all have stands making them easy to install but they can also be wall mounted if necessary. We found that when it came to the subwoofer, careful placement was important to ensure it was well integrated into the rest of the system but otherwise installation was simple enough.
At the rear, there's two HDMI inputs and an HDMI output that is ARC (Audio Return Channel) compliant. There's also an Ethernet port for those that can't take advantage of the built-in WiFi, analogue stereo inputs, an optical digital input and an aerial socket for the built-in FM tuner. Also at the rear you'll find the colour-coded connectors for the speakers, a socket for a two pin power cable and a fan. Whilst the disc mechanism in the Blu-ray player is reasonably quiet in operation, there is some noise from the fan, although it will depend on how far you sit from the main unit and the volume at which you watch TV.
The HT-F6500 ships with Samsung's standard remote but this is no bad thing as the simple black plastic controller is a text book example of intuitive design. It is well laid out, comfortable to hold and easy to use. All the buttons that you need are sensibly positioned, making it simple to control any aspect of the system and overall the HT-F6500 was both quick and responsive to commands.
Under Display, thee are options for 3D, TV Aspect, BD Wise, Resolution, Movie Frame (24fps) and a very interesting DVD 24fps Conversion Option which provides inverse telecine. This returns the frame rate for films on NTSC DVDs back in to the original 24 frames per second format - handy for some movie buffs. There’s additional settings for the Smart Hub Screen Size, HDMI Colour Format, HDMI Deep Colour and Progressive Mode. Generally we advise switching off Deep Colour – unless playing back AVC HD material from a video camera; leaving Movie Frame (24FS) at Auto for smooth Blu-ray playback and the same for Progressive mode to ensure non-24p film cadence detection is effective for DVD’s.
Whilst the HT-F6500's smart system might be a scaled down version of the one available on Samsung's TVs, there is still plenty of choice. If you click on the Apps tile you will see an excellent selection of apps and crucially the HT-F6500 offers almost every major catch-up or VoD service. That means you can not only access the previously mentioned BBC iPlayer, ITV PLayer and Wuaki.TV but also 4OD, 5 on Demand, Netflix, LOVEFiLM, YouTube and Blinkbox. This currently puts Samsung's players and all-in-one systems in a unique position and makes them a genuine one-stop shop for all your video needs.
The HT-F6500 uses a dual core processor and it proved exceptionally competent when deinterlacing a 1080i signal, even with very fine details under movement. As with 1080i content the, Samsung's excellent video processing was also brought to bear when dealing with standard definition DVD content. It was able to fully reproduce the SMPTE 133 resolution test for, correctly scaling the full 576i/50Hz signal without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing and in the cadence tests the HT-F6500 also performed flawlessly, correctly detecting the most common types 2:3 (NTSC - USA/Japan) and 2:2 (PAL - European). The inverse telecine feature also works well and for those with large collections of NTSC discs, it really does help restore the look of film – if you haven’t double dipped with the Blu-ray version, it’s well worth a look.
The HT-F6500 isn't going to fill a large room with earth shattering sound but that isn't what it's designed for and in a normal living room it can create a suitably impressive surround experience. The matching speakers give the entire sound a tonal cohesiveness, whilst the subwoofer is able to under pin the low end, resulting in a lively and enjoyable experience. There is sufficient power to create an immersive experience and whilst the HT-F6500 lacks the dynamic range of bigger and more expensive systems, it does make for a great first foray into the world of multi-channel sound. Samsung's attention to detail and overall audio quality has certainly resulted in an all-in-one system that offers great value and can hold its own against the competition.
The HT-F6500 was also no slouch in the music department and whilst we remain unconvinced of the benefits of a vacuum tube pre-amp, the sound did have a pleasantly warm feel. The smaller speakers mean that you're never going to get the kind of precise performance you would from a dedicated system but then the HT-F6500 is designed to be a jack of all trades rather than a master of one. In stereo we found the localisation of instruments and voices to be very good and the clarity was acceptable with plenty of openness with orchestral recordings. The decent mid-range, along with some reasonable bass meant that rock music was also nicely reproduced. The system's effective reproduction of the higher frequencies meant it could also handle acoustic music with a delicate touch, delivering pianos and female vocals without any harshness. If you like dance music then the passive subwoofer could certainly give the beat plenty of emphasis without overpowering the rest of the mix.
- Superb video performance
- Entertaining surround sound
- Very easy to set up
- Feature-set is excellent
- Bluetooth streaming
- Decent connectivity
- Gorgeous design
- Attractive price
- Subwoofer can be tricky to integrate
- Glow from vacuum tubes can get annoying
- Some fan noise
Samsung HT-F6500 5.1 Channel Blu-ray All-in-One System Review
The provided remote control is one of Samsung's standard designs, which is good because their remotes are a text book example of intuitive layout and comfortable use. For those that would rather use their smartphone or tablet to control the HT-F6500, the current iteration of their app is excellent, with a stylish interface. The provided speakers include four identical satellites and a matching centre that mirror the black gloss finish of the main unit. Their shape may be reminiscent of KEF's famous eggs but they're well made and easy to install. The included subwoofer is a passive side-firing design that is styled to match the rest of the system. Setup is made very easy thanks to colour coded connectors and the excellent menu system, which allows you to set the levels and delays. The only points worth noting are that the subwoofer requires careful placement in order to better integrate it into the rest of the system and there is some fan noise.
The HT-F6500 doesn't only have built-in Wi-Fi but also Bluetooth, so the streaming possibilities are extensive if that's how you like to listen to your music. The smart platform is trimmed down from the all singing, all dancing version found on Samsung's TVs but is still very extensive for an all-in-one system. It is accessed from the Home page, where you have a choice of Films and TV Shows, Apps and Photos, Music & Videos; along with some regularly used apps, a Web Browser and the Settings sub menu. The support for video-on-demand and catch-up services is benchmark, with every major service available from one device. There’s also Samsung’s new S Recommendation feature which suggests further viewing based on your tastes. If all that wasn't enough, there's also an excellent media player, Wi-Fi direct and mirroring (if you own a Galaxy S3/4), all powered by dual core processing.
As we would expect from Samsung, the video side of things is excellent with both 2D and 3D Blu-rays displayed flawlessly with no signs of background noise reduction or unwanted manipulation of the signal. Moving onto the audio side of things and the HT-F6500 proved itself to be a very capable performer. The system isn't going to fill a large room with earth shattering sound but that isn't what it's designed for and in a normal living room it can create a suitably impressive surround experience. The matching speakers give the entire sound a tonal cohesiveness, whilst the subwoofer is able to underpin the low end, resulting in a lively and enjoyable experience. The use of a vacuum tube pre-amp does give music in particular a slightly warmer feel and dialogue had a pleasantly natural feel to it. The DSP features tended to muddy the overall soundfield and we generally preferred to listen with no added processing because the HT-F6500 didn't need help in creating an immersive soundstage.
The Samsung HT-F6500 is a great all-round performer, providing everything you could want in a single system. For those looking for a single-box solution or those thinking of dipping their toes into the multi-channel waters, the HT-F6500 offers a great value option.
Ease of Use
Value for Money
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