But it didn’t reduce the general surround sound. There were some vital audio cues in The Fifth Wave, which I watched on UltraHD Blu-ray. They came startlingly from left rear in a highly effective manner. On the Atmos test disc there was a clip in which I heard a dog barking in the distance to my left. Despite being in a boutique hotel room in the middle of Sydney, I could not stop myself from rewinding a little to repeat the section to ensure it was actually on the disc, so realistic did it sound.
The sound quality was actually quite good, with excellent clarity on movies, and a nice listenable sound on music. Listenable, but not entirely accurate. There was a kind of English mellowness to the sound. That tended to sand off the harsh edges on some music, such as some of the excessiveness of the synth drum in Eminem’s track “Stan”. That said, the sound was well extended into the treble and bass.
Bass? For a while there was way too much of it. That’s to do with me not having set the system up and being unable to properly control it (no manual was provided). I felt like quite the goose when I finally worked out how to adjust the volume and subwoofer level. The button labelled “VOL” only seemed to mute and unmute the sound bar. But it turns out you are supposed to push the volume and woofer buttons forwards and backwards to increase and reduce their levels. Talk about feeling silly. In my defence, it has been several years since I’ve played with much Samsung gear.
Anyway, properly adjusted, the sub seemed to extend a little deeper into the bass than expected, causing some palpable room vibrations at times, and it went quite loud, occasionally sounding a touch stressed when I let things go too far. Samsung seems to have opted for letting the subwoofer go as loudly and deeply as possible within physical design constraints, rather than wrapping it in the cotton wool of limiters and filters. That’s fine. As a consumer you should just exercise a little care, and be prepared to back things off if they become too energetic.
Luckily hotel management didn’t intervene.
Look, I’m the kind of guy who likes more than a hundred watts per channel to his main speakers – including the four ceiling ones – and a several hundred watt subwoofer. So when I say that I thought the Samsung HW-K950 did a quite respectable job, and much better than I’d expected, you can take it that it’s really quite impressive.
And I don’t think you’re going to be able to assemble a full 5.1.4 (Surround.Sub.Atmos) system for anywhere near $1999 anyway. Have a listen.