Read through this Samsung T40M soundbar review to find out if this super-affordable audio rig delivers value for money.
The Samsung HW-T400M is an entry-level soundbar that comes with a discrete subwoofer. Samsung promises that the soundbar will produce powerful but compact sound that will fill your entertainment space. This is over and above the attractive pricing that is the soundbar’s opening pitch. We unbox the soundbar to find out what it has to offer.
Samsung T40M soundbar review: Unpacking and first looks
For a budget soundbar, the Samsung T40M comes with a few useful accessories. The package holds the main unit, a subwoofer, a power cable, a remote, some batteries and a user manual. Depending on your location, the manufacturer may include wall mount gear and an optical cable.
Hedge your bets and have your own optical cable at hand. You’ll need it if you’re planning on a wired connection to the TV.
At a glance the main unit is a compact, rectangular soundbar with a simple design and charcoal-black chassis. The plastic chassis of the subwoofer matches the color and aesthetic of the soundbar. Its front cover has a cloth surface that adds a little texture to the plastic that makes up the rest of the cabinet.
We expand on the subwoofer design. Its chassis forms a solid plastic cabinet that stands at 13 inches, with a footprint of approximately one square foot. These dimensions make the cabinet compact enough to fit in tight spaces while providing enough room for a five-inch speaker and some resonance. The back panel of the subwoofer holds a power port, a bass port, a Bluetooth pair button and an LED status indicator for Bluetooth connectivity.
The main unit is just under three feet long. At 2.1 inches high, it sits low enough to allow a direct line of sight to the IR receiver on most TV sets. The front, top and back of the soundbar have metallic grille surfaces, and this adds a premium feel to the unit’s esthetic.
There’s a digital display on the front surface of the soundbar, right behind the mesh. A row of controls sit on a small plastic island at the top of the soundbar. The mesh on the back panel is interrupted by the plastic inlets that hold the sparse input ports.
Samsung T40M soundbar review: Connectivity
This bare-bones soundbar only has an optical port, a USB port and a power port. For whatever reason, the manufacturer chose to omit HDMI and legacy ports. The result is severe limits to the connectivity options and versatility of the soundbar. You’ll need to decide if you’re willing to spend a few extra bucks for more connectivity options.
The Samsung T40M has Bluetooth connectivity, which is how you pair the main unit and the subwoofer. Bluetooth is also one of two ways that you can connect the T40M to your TV. Or to play music off your phone or tablet.
Powering the main unit and the subwoofer should cause them to pair automatically. The LED at the back of the subwoofer will turn solid blue (no blinking) if pairing is successful. On the off-chance that automatic pairing fails, the LED will blink constantly, or cycle between blue and red lights. If this happens, you can pair the components with the help from the user manual. Note that Bluetooth has a 33-foot range. This fact should inform the placement of the subwoofer.
Connecting the soundbar to the TV takes a few steps. Use the optical cable for a wired connection and change the input source to “Digital audio in”. Get into the audio settings of your TV and change the Digital Output Audio Format from PCM to Dolby Digital.
You can also connect the TV and the T40M via Bluetooth. The pairing process is similar to connecting a mobile device to the soundbar. It is a simple task that takes a minute with help from the user guide.
Samsung T40M soundbar review: Ease of use
The remote that ships with the soundbar is useful and easy to use; more so if you have a Samsung TV. You can use the soundbar remote to control the Samsung TV and vice versa. The lack of a HDMI-ARC port makes using remotes from other models of TV difficult, but not impossible.
Operating the soundbar is easy, thanks to an intuitive remote and the digital display at the front of the soundbar. The display reflects what you’re doing back at you, which is way easier than decoding a row of LEDs. This makes it easy to select a USB drive as an input source and play audio from it. That said expect a slight delay as you adjust the volume (you get used to it). A firmware update will resolve any initial glitches.
People with Samsung TVs have the convenient option of using their TV as a user interface. Though a companion app would make for a user-friendly interface, the T40M soundbar has no allowance for one.
Hardware and sound
The main soundbar unit has two channels. Each channel has its own stereo driver array, which takes care of the treble and mid-range frequencies. The subwoofer has a 5-inch speaker that covers the bass frequencies.
How does this bare-bones configuration translate in terms of sound quality?
1. Sound: Frequency range
The treble range hits highs of 19 KHz, which is just about as far as the human ear can hear. On the other end of the spectrum the subwoofer extends to lows of around 45Hz.
While the subwoofer does a decent job of separating and blending adjacent frequencies, the main unit falls a little short. You will notice a lack of detail in mid-range frequencies; as if the soundbar has a sparse palette to work with.
The end result is thumping bass and sound effects, with dialog that easily drowns in ambient sound. That’s just out of the box, though. If you manage to find the equalizer, you could make some improvements on the sound from the main unit.
2. Sound: Distortion at peak volume
The soundbar can get as loud as 85dB. At this volume, the treble and mid-range elements retain much of their accuracy. However the bass elements start to lose detail as adjacent frequencies merge into each other.
In the end, you get a soundbar that sounds better than your TV speakers, but without the extra power of premium models. This simply means that the Samsung T40M performs best when you put it in a smaller space, where it can fill the room.
3. Sound: Sound stage, surround sound and extra features
The Samsung T40M soundbar makes an impressive attempt of simulating surround sound. In the main unit, individual drivers are positioned in such a way as to direct sound forwards, sideways and upwards. This allows you to enjoy a soundstage that is wider and bigger than the soundbar’s dimensions.
Clever placement of the subwoofer expands the soundstage to something close to actual surround. If you want to add some dimension to the sound that comes out of this setup, treat yourself to some wireless satellite speakers from the manufacturer.
It almost goes without saying that this isn’t the type of soundbar that adjusts its sound stage to cater for the shape and size of a room.
4. Sound: Equalizer, audio presets
This budget soundbar comes with a few audio presets, namely: Standard, Surround sound and Game mode. Standard plays content as is, while surround mode expands the sound stage as detailed in the previous section. Game mode puts more directionality to sound output in an attempt to create a more immersive gaming experience.
The seven-band equalizer available to the soundbar is accessible via a hidden function in the remote.
Here’s how to access this function: Hold down the settings button for about five seconds to bring up the equalizer. You can use the left and right buttons to select the frequency band you want to adjust. Use the up/down arrows to make adjustments.
5. Sound: Audio format support
If you’re looking to play USB files, the Samsung T40M has you covered across audio formats; ranging from mp3 to WAV to OGG to AAC. The soundbar also processes Dolby Digital and DTS audio signals to simulate immersive sound.
- Nice design
- The remote that ships with the soundbar can control other devices, which is convenient
- A digital display makes it easier to use the soundbar
- Support for satellite speakers from Samsung
- A nice level of detail and clarity in the bass range
- Presence of a seven-band equalizer (you’ll need to work hard to find it)
- A lack of HDMI and legacy ports limits the function of the Samsung T40M soundbar. It also makes the Samsung T40M unsuitable for older TV sets
- Choosing the optical connection requires you to make some changes to the TV audio settings. This wouldn’t be an issue with an HDMI connection
- User reviews point to some glitchy behavior, so you may need to perform a firmware update
- There’s a moderate lack of detail in the mid-range and treble frequencies. You may need to tweak the equalizer settings
- The soundbar would struggle to fill a large room with powerful sound
- No companion app
Samsung T40M soundbar review verdict: A good soundbar for small rooms and modern TVs
The Samsung T40M covers the basics. It upgrades the sound coming out of your TV while offering the convenience of a wireless audio setup. Owners of modern Samsung TV sets (TVs with optical or Bluetooth) can make use of this soundbar.
In contrast, the person who needs to connect a bunch of external devices should find something with HDMI and legacy ports. The same goes for the person with a large entertainment room.
Where do you fall between the two categories of user? Thanks to this Samsung T40M soundbar review, now you know. Click here to learn more about this soundbar.