Samsung HT-C5500 review
Quality gaming audio on a budget
Once you’ve got yourself a monster PC setup or a console with a Jumbotron-sized TV there’s little else you can do to improve your gaming experience. Sure, you can invest in that La-Z-Boy lounger with the built-in fridge and personal waste disposal system, or just rely on your helper monkey to fetch you snacks and Mountain Dew, but other than visual quality and a rapidly expanding boep you’re essentially getting the same experience as Joe Public playing his PS2 on an aging CRT.
Where you can take things up a notch or two though is in the listening department. Too often we focus on razor-sharp graphics or purebred helper monkeys when instead we could completely revamp our gaming with a simple sound system upgrade. One such sound revolution recently took place in my living room with the Samsung HT-C5500, so I decided to share the experience.
I picked up the system a few weeks ago as a replacement for my LG Scarlet tallboy setup; moving into a smaller apartment meant those monstrous speakers had to go. After reading numerous reviews and harassing countless electronics store salespeople I eventually settled on the Samsung HT-C5500, and I’ve been nothing less than blown away by the amount of stuff you get for the money.
Let’s start with the basic hardware: the system is a home-theatre-in-a-box setup, meaning all the components for a full plug ‘n pray 5.1 setup are included. The receiver functions as the hub of the system by not only being the central point for all the speakers to connect to, but also to house some pretty cool entertainment software as well as being a rather decent Blu-ray player.
The front and rear speakers are quite small (about the size of a medium-sized tub of butter) while the centre speaker is about twice that size. The sub weighs in at around the dimensions of a small PC tower. Despite their small proportions though the sound quality is remarkably clear and packs an impressive 1000W punch; don’t expect audiophile quality here, but it’s damn impressive for the price tag.
The sub gives out a pleasantly deep rumble and provides a good thump or two when needed; it does occasionally gets a tad boomy but it’s nothing that dilutes the experience. Everything is finished in a sexy black veneer and the system even comes with a small cleaning cloth to rid your unit of any fingerprints or drool slobbers.
The HT-C5500 doesn’t slouch on the technical side either. Supporting DTS-HD Master Audio, Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus the system offers audio options we usually only see on more expensive component-based home theatres. This gets even better when you use the wireless LAN adaptor (an optional extra unfortunately) which lets you stream to and from PCs and other media devices, as well as allowing you to run the speakers wirelessly too.
The HT-C5500 offers impressive audio grunt for the asking price
A big bonus for me was the inadvertent upgrade to my PS3’s media capabilities. Before I used to stream video to my PS3 from my PC, or occasionally plug in a flash stick to watch stuff, but the HT-C5500’s media centre supports NTFS drives which means I can now plug my 2TB external drive straight into the unit and browse through all my audio, video and photos using the system’s media interface from the comfort of my couch. I was even more surprised to find that it handled .mkv files with no issues (where the PS3 refuses to even think about playing them), allowing me to enjoy some HD video in full 1080p with full DTS surround sound audio.
The HT-C5500 media center supports NTFS hard drives and FLAK videos
What really impresses me about the HT-C5500 though is the amount of small but awesome extras that really milk the value of the system. There’s an iPod/iPhone dock included that makes listening to your music a breeze, a remote that integrates perfectly with your Samsung TV (if you have one), an auto calibration microphone that sets up the best listening experience for your environment with a single button, an included HDMI cable, and more inputs and outputs than even my old LG system that cost twice the price. Heck, even the front of the receiver lights up like Robocop being electrocuted when you turn it on, complete with a sweet glowing blue volume dial that cleverly sits on top of the unit instead of on the front.
The one downside of the whole system though is the same one that exists for every theatre-in-a-box setup out there: because everything is integrated into one unit, if one piece kicks the bucket then the whole thing becomes useless. This is a rather extreme scenario though and shouldn’t really be a deal-breaker for such an excellent overall package.
Reading back over this it seems like I’m a rep for Samsung who’s giving MyGaming kickbacks for punting their product, but I’m nothing more than a happy customer who’s discovered a gem of a sound system amongst the piles of inferior junk out there. With a RRP of R3 300 for the lot you’ll definitely enjoy pissing off jealous gamer friends and neighbours alike at a cost that’s only slightly more expensive than your monkey.
Hit up the full specs on the manufacturer’s site.
Reviewer’s personal note: If you do decide to give this system a whirl I strongly recommend staying far away from Dion Wired. I endured a long and painful process of returning a faulty system (hey, it happens now and then) and probably the most awful customer service I’ve experienced in ages. Visit one of the numerous other retailers stocking this setup if you’re keen on one.
- Great sound quality for the price
- Media center supports NTFS
- Media center can play 1080p videos and supports MKV video
- Looks great
- Various cool added features
- If one component dies, the whole system is rendered obsolete
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