Samsung HT-D6500W Blu-ray 3D Home Theater - Review

The Samsung HT-D6500W Provides and All-in-One Entertainment Package

Samsung HT-D6500W Home Theater-in-a-Box System
Samsung HT-D6500W Home Theater-in-a-Box System. Image courtesy of Amazon.com

The Samsung HT-D6500W is a home theater in-a-box system that combines 3D/Network Blu-ray Disc player that also houses a built-in receiver/amplifier in combination with a 5.1 channel speaker system that includes a wireless receiver module for the surround speakers. The Blu-ray Disc player section includes native 3D, 2D-to-3D conversion, internet streaming, and the ability to access digital media content store on your PC or additional network connected devices.

The HT-D6500W also provides two additional HDMI inputs for connection of other devices, such as another Blu-ray/DVD player or cable/satellite boxes. For more details, read my review. Also, after reading this review, also check out my supplemental Product Photos, as well as a sampling of Video Performance Tests.

Samsung HT-D6500W Overview

General Description: The Blu-ray Disc player section of the HT-D6500W features Profile 2.0 (BD-Live) functionality with 1080p/60 or 1080p/24 Resolution output, and 3D Blu-ray playback capability via HDMI 1.4 audio/video output. Built-in 2D-to-3D conversion also provided.

Compatible Formats: The HT-D6500W can play the following discs and formats: Blu-ray Disc/BD-ROM/BD-R/BD-RE/DVD-Video/DVD-R/-RW/DVD+R/+RW/CD/CD-R/CD-RW, MKV, AVCHD, MP4, Divx and DivxHD compatible.

Video Processing: The HT-D6500W also provides DVD video upscaling to 720p, 1080i, 1080p output via HDMI connection (adaptable to DVI- HDCP).

Networking and Internet capabilities (Smart Hub):

Samsung HT-D6500W employs a menu that provides direct access to online audio and video content sources, including Netflix, VUDU, Hulu Plus, Pandora, plus additional content accessible via Samsung Apps.

Also featured is Samsung All-Share (DLNA), which allows connection into a home network with the ability to access digital media files from other DLNA network connected devices, such as PCs and media servers.

Product Overview - Receiver/Amplifier Section

Video Processing: Direct pass-through of external video source signals (2D and 3D) up to 1080p resolution, DVD and analog input source upscaling to 1080p. 2D-to-3D conversion capability.

Audio Decoding and Processing: Dolby Digital, Dolby Prologic II, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, DTS-HD Master Audio/Essential

Additional onboard audio processing modes include:

SFE (Sound Field Effect - Hall 1/2, Jazz Club, Church, Amphitheater), Smart Sound (evens out extreme volume changes between scenes or sources), MP3 Enhancer (upscales MP3 file playback to CD quality), Power Bass (increases subwoofer output), Virtual 7.1 (creates the illusion of 7.1 channels using a 5.1 channel setup), 3D Sound (Adds more perceived audio depth by pushing front and surround channels forward).

Auto Sound Calibration (ASC): Automatic speaker setup feature using test tones in combination with a provided microphone. Executed as Music Room Calibration (MRC).

Audio Inputs: (in addition to HDMI): One digital optical, One set analog stereo.

Video Inputs: Two HDMI (ver 1.4a - 3D-enabled).

Video Outputs: One 3D and Audio Return Channel-enabled HDMI output (same HDMI output referred to in Blu-ray Disc player section overview), One Composite Video.

Amplifier output: Main unit 165-170 wpc x 3.1, Wireless Receiver for surround channels 165-170 wpc x 2 (speakers and subwoofer rated at 3 ohms impedance - no THD rating given).

Note: No reference given (such as RMS, IHF, Peak, number of channels driven) for stated amplifier power output ratings.

Speaker Connections: On board connections for Center, Front L/R, and Subwoofer speakers, wireless transmitter (slot provided) provided to wireless receiver/amplifier module for powering surround L/R speakers.

Additional Connections: Built-in WiFi, Ethernet/LAN, iPod Docking Station input, USB, and FM antenna/cable input.

Product Overview - Loudspeakers and Subwoofer

Loudspeakers: Impedance - 3 ohms, Frequency Response - 140Hz - 20kHz

Center Speaker: Drivers .79-inch Hard Dome Tweeter, Dual 2.5-inch midrange/woofers, Dimensions (WxHxD) 14.17 x 2.93 x 2.7 inches, Weight 1.28 Ibs

Front L/R: Drivers: Drivers .79-inch Hard Dome Tweeter, Dual 3.3-inch midrange/woofers, Dimensions (WxHxD) 3.54 x 13.17 x 2.7 inches (Stand base 4.29 x 3.86 inches), Weight 1.85 lbs.

Surround L/R: Driver 3.3-inch full range, Dimensions (WxHxD) 3.54 x 5.57 x 2.7 inches, Weight 1.28 lbs.

Subwoofer (Passive Design): 6.5inch side facing driver with rear port, Frequency Response 40Hz - 160Hz, Dimensions (WxHxD) 6.61 x 13.78 x 11.22 inches, Weight 8.38 lbs.

Included Accessories: Wireless Receiver/Amplifier module for surround speakers, TX wireless transmission card, speaker cables for all speakers and subwoofer, iPod Docking station, Remote control with batteries, Auto Sound Calibration (ASC) microphone, composite video cable, Quick Start Guide, and user manual.

Additional Components Used for Performance Evaluation and Comparison:

Home Theater Receiver: Onkyo TX-SR705.

Blu-ray Disc Player: OPPO BDP-93 used to play 2D and 3D Blu-ray, DVD, CD, and streaming movie content.

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System Used for Comparison: Klipsch Quintet III in combination with Polk PSW10 Subwoofer.

Video Projector (2D and 3D): Optoma HD33 3D DLP video projector (on review loan)

TV/Monitor (2D only): A Westinghouse Digital LVM-37w3 1080p LCD Monitor

Software Used

3D Blu-ray Discs: Avatar, Despicable Me, Disney's A Christmas Carol, Drive Angry, Goldberg Variations Acoustica, My Bloody Valentine, Resident Evil: Afterlife, Space Station (IMAX), Tangled, Tron: Legacy, Thor, and Under The Sea (IMAX).

2D Blu-ray Discs: Across The Universe, Battle Los Angeles, Hairspray, Iron Man 1&2, Kick Ass, Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Shakira - Oral Fixation Tour, Sherlock Holmes, The Dark Knight, Tropic Thunder, and Transporter 3

Standard DVDs: The Cave, House of the Flying Daggers, Kill Bill - Vol 1/2, Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut), Lord of Rings Trilogy, Master and Commander, Outlander, U571, and V For Vendetta.

Streaming Movie Content: Netflix - Hobo With a Shotgun, 13 Assassins

CDs: Al Stewart - Sparks of Ancient Light, Beatles - LOVE, Blue Man Group - The Complex, Joshua Bell - Bernstein - West Side Story Suite, Eric Kunzel - 1812 Overture, HEART - Dreamboat Annie, Nora Jones - Come Away With Me, Sade - Soldier of Love.

Set Up and Installation of the Samsung HT-D6500W

Setting up the Samsung HT-D6500W is fairly straight forward. However, it is important to mention that you should look over both the provided Quick Start Guide and User Manual, so that you know how to set up the wireless rear surround sound speaker module, how to use the Auto Sound Calibration (ASC) system, and set up the internet streaming functions.

Speaker and Audio Setup

Once you unbox everything, place the Blu-ray Disc player/Receiver combination near your TV, then place the center speaker above or below your TV and the front left and right speakers on either side of your TV or the front of your room.

Also place the subwoofer in spot in the room that will give the you best bass response - usually either on the left or right side of your TV. Color-coded speaker wire is provided to connect the speakers and subwoofer to the main unit.

The next step is to set up the surround speakers. First, insert the TX Card in the main unit and place the wireless receiver module behind your listening position. Then connect the surround speakers to the wireless receiver module using the provided color coded speaker wire. When you turn on the main unit, the wireless signal should lock into to wireless receiver.

Also, if you desire to mount one or more speakers on the wall, the built-in speaker stands om the front left/right speakers can be detached. Wall mounting hardware is not provided.

To determine if all your speakers are properly connected and active, you have two options: You can either use the manual speaker settings option to set the distance and volume level for each speaker (a microphone and built-in test tone generator is provided), and/or you can use the Samsung Musical Room Calibration (MRC) feature that uses the microphone and test tone to perform these tasks automatically.

One interesting thing is that any manual speaker settings are separate from the automatic Musical Room Calibration Settings, allowing you to select either listening option according to your preference. Also, besides speaker distance and volume levels, a built-in graphic equalizer is also provided for you to fine tune speaker frequency response in relation to your room or personal preferences.

Internet Setup

The other major setup options include either wired or wireless connection to your home network and the internet. The HT-D6500W features built-in WiFi, which is very convenient if you have a wireless-enabled internet router, but you also have the option of connecting the system to your router using a wired connection using an Ethernet cable. I did not have any difficulty using either connection, however, in many cases a wired connection is best for streaming audio and video as it is more stable. Use the option that works best for you.

Video Performance

The Samsung HT-D6500W provided a well-balanced image with very good detail, color, contrast, and black levels with Blu-ray Disc playback. This HT-D6500W did very well on several Blu-ray Disc examples, detailed close-ups of Jason Statham and Natalya Rudakova (who has a heavily freckled face) in Transporter 3, the opening bank robbery scene contrasted with the many night scenes in the The Dark Knight, and the saturated colors in Hairspray.

Video performance tests conducted using the Silicon Optix (IDT) HQV Benchmark DVD revealed that the HT-D6500W's built-in video processor and scaler did well in some cases, such as extracting detail, minimizing jaggies and accurately deinterlacing 1080i to 1080p, and below average in others, such as minimizing video noise and film/video cadence detection, giving it a just-slightly above average rating with regards to deinterlacing and scaling standard definition video sources. For a closer look at, and further explanation of, the video processing capabilities of the HT-D6500W, check out a sampling of Video Performance Tests.

3D Performance

To evaluate the 3D performance of the HT-D6500W, I enlisted the Optoma HD33 3D DLP video Projector and RF 3D Active Shutter Glasses (on review loan)

On the Blu-ray player end of the 3D equation, I found that the 3D Blu-ray discs did take longer to load than standard Blu-ray Discs, but the HT-D6500W is a fast loading machine. Also, once the 3D content was accessed, the HT-D6500W had no difficulty playing 3D discs. There was no playback hesitation, frame skipping, or other issues that could be attributed to the player. Based on what I could determine, the HT-D6500W performed properly in terms of supplying the correct 3D signal to the connected 3D video projector.

Although the HT-D6500W also has the ability to perform real-time 2D-to-3D conversion, the quality of the result is not on par with the viewing of native 3D content. The conversion process does add depth to a 2D source image, but the depth perspective is not always accurate.

Internet Streaming

Using the oncscreen Smart Hub menu, users can not only access streaming internet content from well-known providers, such as NetflixVUDU, and Pandora Internet Radio, but clicking on the Samsung Apps portion of the menu you can add a host of additional internet streaming services.

Playing the available content is easy, however, with Netflix, you do need access to a PC to initially setup a Netflix account or add HT-D6500W to your existing account. However, once that step is complete, you can add to your Netflix Queue directly through the HT-D6500W's Netflix menu.

One word of caution for those that do not have experience with internet streaming - You need a good high-speed internet connection to access good quality movie streaming. However, Netflix does have the ability to test your broadband speed and adjust accordingly, however, image quality is compromised at slower broadband speeds.

In addition to broadband speed, there is also a lot of variation in the video quality of the content provided by streaming sites, ranging from low-res compressed video that is hard to watch on a large screen to high-def video feeds that look more like DVD quality or slightly better. Even the 1080p content streamed from the internet will not look quite as detailed as 1080p content played directly from a Blu-ray Disc.

Media Player Functions

The Samsung HT-D6500W has the ability to play audio, video, and image files stored on flash drives or an iPod. I found using either a flash drive or iPod via the front mounted USB port was very easy, the onscreen control menu loaded fast and scrolling through menus and access content was fast and easy. In addition, an iPod dock is also provided which allows access to video files stored on compatible iPods.

In other words, if you just want to access audio files from an iPod, you can plug it in directly to the HT-D6500W's front mounted USB port. On the other hand, if want to access both audio and video files from your iPod, you need to use the provided iPod docking station that plugs into a special port on rear of the HT-D6500W.

Also, HT-D6500W also has the ability to access audio, video, and still image files stored on a network-connected PC or media servers.

Audio Performance

The speakers provided with the HT-D6500W have a compact, stylish, closed cabinet, exposed driver design (no speaker grills). The two front left/right speakers come with attached stands, but the stands are removable for wall mounting (optional mounting hardware required).

The center channel speaker correctly anchored dialog and vocals, but needed a little boost to provide more prominence from the left and right channels (I usually set the center channel one or db above the left and right channels). Also, although the center channel speaker anchored dialog and vocals well, the vocals and dialog didn't have a lot of depth or texture.

On the other hand, the left and right front channel speakers project sound well into the room and provide a wide sound stage, and the sound is surprisingly full for compact speakers.

Also, the wireless surround speaker setup worked very well. Setting up the wireless surround speaker unit is easy, and the wireless surround unit had no problem locking in with the main unit. I did not notice any audio lag, and the wireless receiver provided the needed power to the surround channel speakers to provide a good result. Also, for this review, I placed the surround speakers about two feet above and several feet on either side of my head position and found that movies with an emphasis on overhead sound effects (such as rain, rear explosions, planes/helicopters) were directed very well to an overhead listening position.

However, the main weak point in the system is the subwoofer. The subwoofer does provide adequate low frequency response. However, the bass is just sort of "there”. The subwoofer tends to flatten out a little high (but is not boomy) and does not reproduce lot of detail, especially when faced music tracks that include acoustic bass. For movies, the subwoofer does provide some needed punch, but does not provide a lot of texture or differentiation between multi-layered bass effects.

Another audio performance weak point is that the included FM tuner is Mono-only. In other words, no FM Stereo listening. Even though an increasing number of consumers listen to Internet Radio and music streaming services, if you are going to make the effort to include an FM tuner as part surround sound home theater system, the user should be able to listen to FM in stereo, or even surround sound, when certain surround processing options, such as Dolby ProLogic II, are activated.

To sum up the audio performance of the Samsung HT-D6500W (excluding the FM tuner), I came away with the opinion that it does well, considering that you working with an entire system that is priced less than $700, including the speakers and the subwoofer. However, if have a large room, and/or are a frequent music-only listener, you might desire something more substantial in the audio department.

Final Take

TThe Samsung HT-D6500W packs in a lot into is small package and price point. The Blu-ray player section offers everything you need, 2D, 3D, interent streaming, and network connectivity. The receiver.amplifier section also includes additional inputs, iPod connectivity, an FM radio, and a complete speaker package (with the bonus of a wireless surround capability).

In addition to packing in the features, taken as a whole, the HT-D6500W performs well. The Blu-ray disc player provides great Blu-ray Disc playback, and although the DVD upscaling is not perfect, it is certainly on par with many of more moderately-priced Blu-ray Disc players I have reviewed.

Also, even though I disappointed with the mono-only FM tuner and wasn’t totally satisfied with the subwoofer performance, overall, the HT-D6500W is fine for someone looking for a modestly-priced option to enjoy Blu-ray, internet streaming, and to enhance their audio listening experience, especially for movies, but doesn’t have the budget, or the space, for a larger home theater receiver/speaker setup. Also, for someone that already has a substantial system in their main room, the HT-D6500W makes a great all-in-one second system entertainment option for an extra room, such as a bedroom, or small entertainment area.

For the price, the Samsung HT-D6500W is definitely worth consideration.

For more on the Samsung HT-D6500W, also check out my product photos, and video performance tests.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.