Samsung HT-F9750 3D Blu-ray/DVD 7.1 Home Entertainment System Review

What can't it do?

by hodg100
Home AV Review

22

Recommended
Samsung HT-F9750 3D Blu-ray/DVD 7.1 Home Entertainment System Review
SRP: £1,499.00

Introduction

It’s an unquestionable fact that the market for multi-channel audio systems is dwindling whilst the relative convenience a soundbar offers is being accepted, widespread, by both consumers and manufacturers alike. The positioning and wiring challenges a 5.1 (or above) system present are as equally incontestable but we’d also like to lay another fact down for you; namely that a 2.1 channel soundbar system can’t possibly offer the same levels of audio immersion provided by a true multi-channel system – even if it is fairly modest one. Not that there’s much modest about the Samsung HT-F9750. It not only offers Full HD 2D and 3D Blu-ray playback but also scaling support for 4K Ultra HD displays as well as the myriad of other functionalities we would expect from a top-tier Samsung product. These include access to Samsung’s online services, DLNA media streaming, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity as well as a clutch of Digital Sound Processing (DSP) modes. The F9750 also provides support for 7.1 audio by including additional drivers on the front surrounds for added height and width effects. Quite how all this works out in practice remains to be seen but it should be fun finding out.

Design and Installation

Be warned that the box your F9750 arrives in will be very heavy so if you’re not going to install immediately, we’d advise enlisting some assistance when trying to stow it somewhere else. The bulk is quite reassuring, however, and you’ll soon discover that the packaging is stuffed to the gills with all the various components necessary to get up and running. Individually, no single component weighs a great deal so once the question of box moving is addressed, you should be good to complete the installation solo. In all honesty, we’re really not looking forward to trying to get it all back in but that’s another (prospectively painful) story.

Samsung HT-F9750W

So what do you get? You get six speakers – four surrounds, a centre and a subwoofer plus bases and stands for the surrounds plus the main amplification unit with the disc drive combined and a further unit that provides amplification for the rears as well as wireless communications with the main unit. You do, of course, also get all the necessary screws and wires essential for setup. It can all look quite daunting, initially, but once you’ve taken the time to identify all the pieces, it’s not a tough jigsaw to build, thanks largely to the fact each component is clearly labelled and the speakers connect to the amplification by means of colour coded plugs.

Samsung HT-F9750W

Once set up, the HT-F9750 all looks quite flashy but there’s no hiding the fact the construction feels rather lightweight, thanks to the fact it’s chiefly made of plastic but once the bases are attached, it all feels solid enough and not likely to keel over. Of a much more solid feel, is the supplied remote control which has a pleasant brushed metal facia and touch-sensitive buttons that can be back-lit for late night operation.

Samsung HT-F9750W

Given the F9750 is an all-in-one solution, it’s nice to have a couple of HDMI inputs so you could connect games consoles as well as your set-top-box, for example, and it’s also Audio Return Channel (ARC) compliant too, allowing you to use the TV as a conduit to the amplification and opening the F9750 up to even more. One can also hook up a device that uses S/PDIF for 5.1 audio and there’s a plain old stereo inputs too so the bases are fairly well covered. On top of that, the HT-F9750 is also Bluetooth compliant, allowing it to stream music from your tablet, smartphone or PC.

Menus

Greeting all users of the Samsung HT-F9750 will be the Home Screen, which is perfectly tailored for the mobile generation with a metroesque interface which has tiles for Movies and TV Shows; Apps; Photos, Videos & Music and Settings. There’s also some smaller tiles for shortcuts to the, newly added, ITV Player, the Web Browser, BBC iPlayer and KNOWHOW Movies – which we’ll admit was a new one on us but it’s a Netflix type service, only it’s pay per view, and created by the owners of the DSG retail group.
We’ll look at the more feature-related stuff below and just take you on a whistle stop tour of the Settings Menu here. Under Settings are 6 further submenus, Display, Audio, Network, Smart Features, System and Support. The Display Menu has the new 4K Output option with choices of Auto or Off – it’s not going to send a 4K signal to your 1080p TV even if on Auto but switch it off if it really worries you. For readers with 4K displays – both of you – please experiment to see what works best with yours, for Blu-ray, and report back in the feedback thread. Thank you.

Samsung HT-F9750W
Samsung HT-F9750W

More conventionally, there’s some settings for all traditional high definition TVs and in the Display settings sub-menu where there are options for 3D, TV Aspect, BD Wise, Resolution, Movie Frame (24fps) and a very interesting DVD 24fps Conversion Option so the F9750 looks like its capable of inverse telecine, which reconstructs the DVD frame rate back in to its original 24 frames per second format. This will only work with NTSC DVD’s, not the PAL versions made for the UK but it’s a promising addition for movie buffs. There’s additional settings for the Smart Hub Screen Size, HDMI Colour Format, HDMI Deep Colour and Progressive Mode. We will look at what effect some of those have later in the review but, as a guideline, we’d 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 operative for DVD’s.

The Audio menus naturally contain quite a number of options, first and foremost of which is the ability to set speaker distances and levels for each of the components. Arguably, you won’t need to do this if you make use of the included microphone and Auto Sound Calibration feature but you might find a little manual tweaking will improve matters. Further tweakability comes in the form of the Graphic Equaliser, just beneath the Auto Calibration option. For those disturbed by the volume inequalities between various channels and content, you can also elect to engage the Smart Volume system and from here one can also activate ARC, let the receiver know what speakers you want active and engage the Dynamic Range Control for Dolby content. We prefer to leave it off and adjust volume accordingly but it is effective in making late night viewing more socially acceptable. Further options allow for downmixing of multi-channel to stereo and the ability to set Audio Sync to match the pictures with the sound in the time domain.

Features

Starting, as you should, from the Home Screen and, sitting to the top left of the interface, is the Movies & TV Show Portal. Samsung has partnered with certain VoD service providers to include a recommendation engine style of interface that will track your viewing habits, through the portal, and then suggest further viewing material based thereon. The service requires that you have a Samsung.com account (easy enough to sign up). The interface is clean and allows for searching of crew and cast members, of a given item, as well as bringing up related content for you to browse. The new S Recommendation isn’t universal to all the VoD services and doesn’t yet seem to integrate Netflix but it’s a promising start. Samsung is also now one of the providers, allowing you to purchase movies for download. Going forwards we can only imagine Samsung will try and capitalise on their presence in so many living rooms by acquiring more content and partners.

Not that Samsung is currently bereft of VoD providers for the Smart Hub; on the F9750 the slimmed down version of what we see on the Samsung TVs is known as Apps but it amounts to much the same thing. Pre-loaded on the Apps screen we have the likes of BBC iPlayer (of course), Netflix, LOVEFiLM and blinkbox. Samsung now provides all the free-to-air based catch-up services meaning 4OD, ITV Player and 5 on Demand have joined the iPlayer which makes them unique amongst Smart TV platform providers. As well as the pre-installed apps, there are also plenty to choose from through the Samsung Apps store – accessed from top left of the Apps Page.

Samsung HT-F9750W
Samsung HT-F9750W

The Photos, Video & Music portal is basically the media player which obviously plays very nicely with Samsung’s own AllShare PC software but will happily talk to other media servers. The Media Player seems very robust and handles all the usual suspects, including MKVs but we did get a bit too much buffering when streaming HD video over a wireless connection. Other notable features include a Web Browser which is very slow but OK for very light use and the ability to mirror the TV screen and instantly share photos and video between the F9750 and a Samsung Galaxy S3 (and of course soon S4) but since we’re not the owners of one, we didn’t get to try it out. The Samsung F9750 is a very smart little box indeed.

Video Performance

As we have mentioned in previous Blu-ray player reviews, any 3D Blu-ray player should be able to output the content on the discs equally as well over HDMI because it is a digital signal. It should therefore come as no surprise to discover that the overall 3D performance of the HT-F9750 was excellent with the content playing flawlessly on a number of different 3D displays. We had it matched with Samsung’s own (superb) 51-inch F8500 (review coming soon) and the Philips PFL60008 and so had a mix of active and passive technologies with which to test. We threw in our now well used copy of The Hobbit and the F9750 was up to the challenges of delivering all that depth on offer. The same could be said for Dredd, which also uses a lot of negative parallax but just to check the F9750 was capable of delivering pop-out-the screen moments, we used some of our underwater test footage that had the marine life in our face, as we would expect.

As with the 3D performance, the digital nature of the content means that any Blu-ray player capable of outputting 1080p24 should be, more or less, identical to any other when using the HDMI output. Provided one doesn’t mess with the Picture Mode options accessed from the Tools button on the remote, the F9750 will faithfully reproduce all your Blu-ray discs in pristine fashion, with no unwanted effects on the colour or luminance channels nor any sneaky noise/film grain reduction – something Samsung products have been known to do in the past.

The F9750 uses a dual core processor and it proved exceptionally competent with deinterlacing a 1080i signal, even with very fine details under movement. Clearly the quality of your display will have an effect and in our testing interlaced pictures looked far better in the plasma than they did on the LED but at least we know the player is keeping its end of the bargain here. 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-F9750 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.

Audio Performance

Samsung has designed the HT-F9750 so it outputs a clean yet warm audio quality; the inclusion of the World’s first GaN AMP is intended to make signal processing very clean, whilst the added Valve Amp is there to bring some cordiality and mellifluousness to proceedings. As we found with Samsung's HW-751 soundbar, the valve amp doesn’t really bring much to the party but the F9750 does produce incredibly crisp and detailed audio. It might even be a little too clinical for some but we warmed to it over time and there’s enough options in the user menus to tweak a little added warmth, if needs be. If we’ve one major criticism, it would be that the subwoofer lacked a little bit of presence, despite its relatively large cabinet. You can, of course, notch it up but it then has the tendency to overtake the rest of the soundtrack or distort, a tad.

Samsung HT-F9750W

We were obviously keen to see what added height and width the extra drivers in the front surrounds provided by engaging Samsung’s proprietary DSP and we have to say we were extremely impressed with what it can do with 2 or 5.1 channel sources. The DTS HD MA soundtrack for Wreck it Ralph has some excellent room-filling moments – especially when the cy-bugs are involved - and the F9750 provided pans that were smooth, with very good imaging and fairly precise placement of effects. Our current TV series addiction is The Tudors which isn’t necessary the most demanding fare but some of the scenes in the Tower of London were made genuinely more engaging – and also disturbing – by adding in some of the 3D Sound magic. It’s usually the case that we tend to use Bypass modes with these packages but Samsung has genuinely added something worthwhile with their efforts in their R&D labs here.

Samsung HT-F9750W

It’s quite often the case that systems more designed for movie soundtracks don’t lend themselves quite so well to music but the F9750 was actually quite a tuneful performer, albeit with that slightly clean edge we mentioned earlier. Whilst the sub might not pack the meatiest punch it is very crisp and attentive and coped well with the complex bass in John Grant’s Pale Green Ghosts titular track 1 and the meandering synths were well suited to the system’s characteristics. Same album, different vibe - GMF - has a much warmer sound and we could just sense that the vocal track was being overwhelmed by the rest, if only slightly. The 3D modes are interesting with music rather than hugely successful; we could make a case for it engaged at the ‘Low’ setting with some music but, unlike with TVs and Movies, we preferred a 2.1 output.

Video Review



Verdict

8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

The Good

  • Superb video performance with 2D, 3D and DVD
  • Very easy to set up
  • DSP is genuinely very good
  • Precise surround sound placement
  • Feature-set is excellent
  • Bluetooth streaming
  • Impressive connectivity

The Bad

  • Sub is a bit lacking
  • Vocals sometimes get swamped with music
  • Pricey

Samsung HT-F9750 3D Blu-ray/DVD 7.1 Home Entertainment System Review

As the All-in-One nature of the system would suggest, the Samsung HT-F9750 comes with all you need to enjoy a high definition multi-channel experience in the home. The 7.1 speaker system is augmented by a 3D and 4K scaling capable Blu-ray player and is a synch to hook up thanks to the colour coded cable terminals. To cut down on the trailing cables, Samsung has made the rear surrounds semi-wireless by including a separate amplification unit that doubles up as the wireless communicator to the main unit. Considering these types of product tend to be a bit closed off, connectivity options are generous with 2 HDMI inputs as well as ARC functionality, which should mean most, if not all, your sources can be replayed through the F9750.

With Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built-in, the streaming possibilities are near endless and the former makes accessing the (slightly trimmed) down Smart Hub just that bit easier. Samsung’s new tiled Home Screen is excellent and, in fact, the whole feature set will take some beating in this sector. There’s more VoD services than you could ever possibly need, some of which tie-in with Samsung’s new S Recommendation feature which suggests further viewing based on your tastes. There’s also an excellent media player, Wi-Fi direct, mirroring (if you own a Galaxy S3/4) and a Web Browser, which is not too bad, at all, thanks to the dual core processing.

The video side of things is very well taken care of with both 2D and 3D Blu-rays displayed excellently with no signs of background noise reduction or unwanted manipulation of the signal. For the lucky few out there with Ultra HD displays, the F9750 will even scale your Blu-ray’s to match the higher resolution but we think that’s more of a headline grabber than a truly useful feature. Audio wise there’s very little to fall out with either; the F9750 is incredibly crisp and detailed, especially with movie soundtracks, although there’s just a touch of missing presence emanating for the sub. Samsung’s DSP is probably the best we’ve heard from a non-specialist audio manufacturer and really added something to the sense of height, in particular, with the extra speaker driver in the front surrounds.

The F9750 is also quite musical with the snappy bass and clean delivery suiting electronics-heavy tracks, in particular. Our major criticism, musically speaking, would be that vocals can sometimes find themselves lost amongst the rest of the mix but it’s possible to largely tweak that out in the Settings menus.

As an all-in-one system, the Samsung HT-F9750 is undoubtedly very successful. It looks attractive, handles video superbly, packs in plenty of connectivity options and sounds very good. Perhaps the stumbling block, for some, will be the £1,500 price-tag when Samsung’s main competitors pitch their similar systems far lower but that doesn’t stop the F9750 from receiving an AVForums Recommended Award.

Recommended

Scores

Build Quality

.
.
.
7

Connectivity

.
.
8

Ease of Use

.
.
8

Picture Quality

.
.
8

Sound Quality

.
.
.
7

Features

.
9

Value for Money

.
.
.
7

Verdict

.
.
8
8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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