CEA forecast that factory-level sales of amplified soundbars will grow 18.3 percent to $388 million following 2012 growth of 46.4 percent and 2011 growth of 53.4 percent. No wonder that soundbars have proliferated in recent years.
So how is any soundbar expected to stand out in the crowd? Samsung turned to a retro tube preamplifier section to make a technological and visual statement with the $799-everyday HW-F750, which is the industry’s first soundbar with built-in vacuum-tube technology. The tubes are visible through a window in the soundbar’s metal chassis, making the tubes’ warm glow visible to consumers.
Samsung combined modern “digital” Class D amplification to deliver the power, compact size and efficiency of a digital amplifier with a tube preamp that the company said delivers a truer, more immersive sound than digital preamp sections.
“The vacuum-tube preamp really is a breakthrough, combining the warmth and natural sound of analog with the best of our digital audio technology,” said Jim Kiczek, director of digital audio and video at Samsung Electronics America.
The soundbar also incorporates multiple wireless connectivity technologies. “In our effort to eliminate one of the biggest headaches for audiophiles, we’ve equipped the HW-750 with unmatched wireless connectivity,” Kiczek said.
“The wireless subwoofer gives consumers greater flexibility in setting up the system. For owners of select Samsung TVs, the soundbar can even be connected without any audio cables, meaning the only physical wire needed to plug and play is the power adapter for the soundbar and wireless subwoofer.”
The company “also recognized that consumers often store their music in different ways and places,” he continued. “Built-in Bluetooth technology enables them to stream music from their Bluetooth compatible devices.”
The soundbar also connects to and plays music files from external USB mass storage devices such as USB sticks. For those audio sources, the bar is equipped with a variety of audio decoders, such as MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, FLAC and or OGG. The soundbar also charges USB devices via its USB port’s 5-volt/0.5-amp output, and the soundbar will control the connected USB device’s play/pause, fast-forward/back, previous/next track, and repeat/random functions.