The Bottom Line
The HW-J355 2.1 is a hugely popular soundbar and with good reason. Samsung has made an excellent entry level soundbar here that stands out above all its rivals in the £80-£120 price bracket. Originally costing £150, it has travelled down massively in price, meaning now you can transform your viewing experience for less than £100.
Features like Bluetooth and USB playback, plus the fact that you also get a dedicated subwoofer in the box only add to the bargain.
How Does It Sound?
The HW-J355 delivers its sound from two tweeters and two midrange speakers that have a combined power of 120W. The stand alone subwoofer has another 60W to power it. This might not give you the total bone rattling power of some of the more expensive models, but it is more than adequate for even large open plan rooms (and will probably stop next door from banging on the walls).
The sound produced by the bar is accurate and clear. Dialogue is handled particularly well due to Samsung’s “clear voice technology” that identifies human speech and delivers it differently to background noise. We were even able to hear what whispering Phil Mitchell was saying during our review. The subwoofer provides the bass and while it does give you a bit of extra oomph, it lacks the sonic definition of the bar. That, in a nutshell, is probably the main drawback of this model.
It also has what Samsung calls 3D Sound Plus that is meant to emulate a full surround sound experience, though we are not sure we really felt much of a difference. There are four presets – sport, voice, cinema and music as well as the option to adjust things to your own specific settings.
You can also independently control the volume of the subwoofer, so if the kids have gone to bed you don’t have to worry about waking them up.
There is a very slight delay between what’s happening on TV and the sound coming out of the speaker when using the TV Connect option. Most of the time this is not really noticeable, but when there is suddenly a quick change in volume, e.g. an explosion, you can pick this up. If you find it to be a problem you can connect via an optical cable (which is included in the box) and the problem will go away.
Do I Really Need A Soundbar Though?
The answer is yes, probably. TVs have come a long way in design in the last ten years and while the display has continued to improve, sound quality has been a major victim of the relentless drive to make TVs ever more thin.
Samsung has phoned in the design here, opting for just two standard black boxes for both the soundbar and subwoofer. It’s not an inspiring look, but neither is it offensive and it fits in pretty well with most TVs.
There’s Bluetooth tech included, so you can easily pair it to devices other than your TV. If you are having a party this can come in handy because you can quickly connect your phone and play tunes through Spotify and other apps. It also has a USB port so you can physically connect your laptop or other external devices.
You can connect the soundbar wirelessly if you have a Samsung TV that has the sound connect feature, otherwise you will need to connect through the optical audio input. The subwoofer is wired rather than wireless, which can restrict the positioning in larger rooms.
Setup is straightforward and the device has a helpful quick start guide that will have you ready to go in less than 3 minutes. The remote makes tweaking the system to your own set up really easy, and there is a scrolling display on the front of the soundbar that keeps you in the loop with what’s going on. The controls on the actual soundbar are touch sensitive and, as you would expect from Samsung, don’t require you to press extra hard to get a response (a problem for some of the lesser known brands you find in supermarkets).
Conveniently, works natively with a Sky remote. It will also turn itself on when a previously connected Bluetooth device attempts to connect again.
The device can also be wall mounted
UPDATED: 23RD JANUARY 2017