6 Products That Expanded Shape Wireless

Samsung HT-X810 2.1 Channel Home Theater System - Onscreen Logo


Sonos has ruled wireless multiroom home audio for years. No one -- not Bose, not LG, not Samsung -- has been able to take a significant share of the market away from the relatively small, Santa Barbara-based company. But at a press event held in the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan, Samsung showed it's getting much more serious about its Shape multiroom WiFi audio gear.

Although the event served mostly as a showcase for Samsung's new line of curved TVs -- the clever reason the company chose the curving, sculptural Guggenheim Museum as the venue -- there was a room off to the side where it showed its latest audio products. I expected Samsung to introduce maybe one more Shape product but was surprised to see five Shape products, plus the Shape M5 speaker shown at CES 2014.

The company also doubled the number of online streaming services offered through Shape, by adding 8tracks, iHeartRadio, Rdio and Spotify Connect.

Breakdown of Shape Wireless

Shape is a wireless multiroom audio technology that relies on a WiFi network to send audio all around your house. As explained in our in-depth review of the Shape M7, you can use any Shape product with your WiFi router with no other components required, but if you want multiple Shapes to play in sync for multiroom use, you have to connect Samsung's Hub to your WiFi router.

You control playback of all the devices through the Shape app running on your phone, tablet or computer. Through the app, you can stream music stored on your networked computers and hard drives, or access Internet streaming services. Each Shape device can play its own thing, or any Shapes can be grouped so all the ones in the group play the same thing. So you can get light jazz playing on multiple Shape units throughout the house for your dinner party, while the kids can play their own music on the Shapes in their bedrooms.

Shape products also include Bluetooth for easy'n'quick connection to smartphones and tablets.

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Samsung Shape WAM-270 Link Mate

shape box

Brent Butterworth

This box lets you connect legacy audio gear, such as a high-quality, traditional audio system, to a Shape system. Thus, you can add WiFi streaming and Bluetooth to your system easily, and get the same functionality you'd get from one of the Shape M7 or M5 speakers. And here's something interesting: According to Samsung, the WAM-270 will let you stream music in up to 24-bit/192-kilohertz resolution, so it should work with high-res files you download from HDTracks and newer, more heavily hyped high-res download sites.

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Samsung Shape HT-H6500W HTiB System

shape HTIB
Brent Butterworth

Samsung's included Shape capability (plus Bluetooth) in two home-theater-in-a-box (HTiB) systems, the HT-H6500W shown here and the HT-H7730W, which wasn't on display. Both are 5.1-channel systems with wireless surround speakers. The more expensive HT-H7730W substitutes "tall boy" tower speakers in the front left/right channels, and also includes an amplifier module that uses vacuum tubes in the preamp section.

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Samsung Shape HW-H750 Soundbar

Shape soundbars
Brent Butterworth

That's the new HW-H750 in the background (sorry, we didn't realize until a little later that the soundbar in the foreground, the HW-H550, doesn't include Shape). The HW-H750 seems to be basically last year's high-end HW-F750 with Shape capability added.

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Samsung Shape M5 Wireless Speaker

Shape M7x3
Brent Butterworth

I've already talked about the new M5 speaker, but Samsung's added a feature to it: It can be used in a wireless 5.1 surround-sound system in conjunction with some of the newer Samsung TVs. So you can connect M5s and M7s to the TV without wires, and use the speakers in any surround-sound channel: front left/right, center or surrounds. Will a Shape Sub, along the same lines of the Sonos Sub, be next?

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Samsung Shape BD-H6500 Blu-Ray Player

Now here's a great idea. The BD-H6500 Blu-Ray Player has Shape wireless audio built in, so if you add it to your home theater system, you get Shape capability in the bargain. So it's an inexpensive, easy way to add WiFi audio to a home theater system. The BD-H6500 also has the usual BD player features, such as upscaling to Ultra HD (4K) resolution.

Unfortunately, the player wasn't in attendance, so there's no photo available.