Samsung’s New Soundbar Is a 16-channel Dolby Atmos Monster
Samsung introduced a lot of new products at CES 2021, including robotic vacuums, smart fridges, massive MicroLED TVs, a digital cockpit concept for driverless cars, a new Chromebook with a QLED screen, and even the future home robot of your dreams. But the company has been remarkably quiet when it comes to its new soundbars for 2021, which is odd because they look like they might be pretty spectacular.
Related: The best soundbars of CES 2021
It’s a small lineup, with only three new models, but it’s clear that Samsung isn’t messing around. Its new flagship, the HW-Q950A, boasts a stunning 11.1.4 channel configuration with 21 custom-designed speakers. Four of those are height-channel up-firing drivers (two of which are located on the surround speakers) which provide the immersive 3D sound needed for both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
The sleek, black soundbar comes with a fairly sizeable wireless subwoofer. You can’t tell from the official photos, but that subwoofer contains Samsung’s Auto EQ technology: A built-in microphone with Samsung’s AI Equalizer technology measures how sound travels and reflects around your room.
Samsung refers to this system as Space Fit, which is essentially a new name for Adaptive Sound. Unlike other soundbars that require the use of an accessory mic for room tuning, or Sonos’ Trueplay, which needs you to wave an iPhone around for the same purpose, Space Fit is fully automatic. Better yet, if you pair the HW-Q950A with a Samsung 2020/2021 QLED TV, the TV’s built-in microphones can be used for even more precision.
Those room-sensing mics are also used with Samsung’s Active Voice Amplifier which boosts dialogue volume when the room has background noise.
On a related note, pairing the HW-Q950A with a 2020/2021 Samsung QLED TV also enables Q-Symphony, which synchronizes the TV’s top speakers with the soundbar’s up-firing drivers for an even more immersive sound.
Samsung’s embedded Tap Sound feature uses NFC so you can simply tap a compatible smartphone to the soundbar and begin streaming audio over Bluetooth without needing to mess around with pairing procedures. Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant is built-in, but we expect the soundbar will also be controllable via Google Assistant if you already own a Google Assistant smart speaker.
Rounding out the HW-Q950A impressive feature set is HDMI ARC/eARC, a one-click bass-boost function, and a Samsung One remote.
How much will the HW-Q950A cost? We can’t say for sure, but when you consider that its predecessor, the HW-Q950T usually sells for $1,800 and has fewer channels and features, we’re guessing $1,800 is the least you can expect to pay when it eventually debuts later this year.
If that’s too rich for your blood, you may want to consider the HW-Q800A, a Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundbar that shares the same design and many of the HW-Q950A’s features.
With a 3.1.2 channel setup, it will likely be a lot more affordable than the flagship. The current HW-Q70T, which is also a 3.1.2 system, looks like it’s the closest match and it currently sells for $700. What’s appealing about the HW-Q800A, is that you can augment its immersive audio capabilities with an optional set of wireless surround sound speakers, which would bring it up to a 5.1.4 system.
Among the features from the HW-Q950A that the HW-Q800A also adopts are Samsung Acoustic Beam, Q-Symphony, Space Fit sound, Adaptive Sound, Active Voice Amplifier, Tap Sound, 1-click Bass Boost, and Game Mode Pro.
Finally, Samsung included an image of a product it’s simply referring to as a Lifestyle soundbar. We know almost nothing about it other than it appears to have a rounded shape that is further softened by the use of a fabric wrap that covers the entire speaker. Side-firing speaker grilles can be seen on the ends and a set of top-mounted controls are also visible. It’s hard to tell, but it looks like it’s narrower than the HW-Q950A, perhaps a short as 27-inches, which might make it a good choice for bedrooms as well as the main TV room.
There’s obviously quite a lot of info we don’t yet have, but as soon as we get more details from Samsung, we’ll update you with everything we learn.