If the Samsung N950 Dolby Atmos soundbar was around in 1954 when Bill Haley and his Comets were belting out the famous ‘Shake, Rattle and Roll’ it may well have bought the house down – literally.
Such is the power of Dolby Atmos where you can hear sound objects all around you. Samsung has done Thomas Dolby proud with its 7.1.4 implementation. And we have come a long way from Bill Haley’s 1.0 – mono!
Let’s explain Dolby Atmos
Mono 1.0: 1 channel for all sound
Stereo 2.0: 2 channels (Left and Right separation)
Stereo 3.0: Three channels (Left, Right and centre – often called clear voice)
Add a subwoofer: it makes 2.0 become 2.1
Surround sound 5.1: Front left/centre/right, rear left/right and subwoofer
Surround sound 7.1: Front left/centre/right, rear left/right, overhead left/right and sub-woofer
Sound frequency response is from 20Hz to 20kHz – the limit of a human hearing range
Bass starts at 50Hz and goes to 400Hz
Mids start at 400 and go to 2,000kHz
Treble (high) start at 2,000kHz and goes to 20,000kHz
But Dolby Atmos takes those all those channels and adds spatial awareness. It does not change the sound but allows it to move around by adding two front left/right upwards firing speakers (5.1.2) or four with rear left/right upwards firing speakers (7.1.4) enveloping you in sound.
The Samsung N950 is incredible.
Audio engineers at Samsung’s California-based, state-of-the-art Audio Lab developed it. The lab has with two anechoic chambers – allowing for near-perfect isolation. Harmon Kardon tuned it and it supports DTS-X UHQ 32-bit upscaling, Hi-res audio, and Dolby Atmos.
Technically it has 13 speakers in the sound bar – 10 x 18W and 3 x 10W. It easiest to say that this bar is 5.1.2 (including the separate subwoofer).
6 x front Left and Right (High Linear Excursion Transducer – Linear excursions up to 3.6mm enhancing low-frequency performance)
2 x upwards firing front left and right
2 x side firing left and right
3 x centre channel (NextGen Wide Range Tweeter – inversed dome-type aluminium tweeter for wider soundstage -600Hz-20Khz)
The two rear speakers add the 7.1.4 component
3 x rear (left or right)
1 x upwards firing (left or right)
The 8” subwoofer is 162W.
Total output is 512W.
Volume wise it should reach over 100dB with minimal distortion. At the launch, it was 85dB at 2.5 metres.
Frequency response showed bass kicking it at 50Hz – excellent and relatively flat just falling off closer to 20kHz. You can’t ask for more. This is superb.
But there is more to the Samsung N950
Three HDMI (inc ARC and 4K Dolby Atmos passthrough), Optical Audio Toslink in, Wi-Fi AC Dual Band, and Bluetooth 4.0 make this an easy one to set up. All will transmit TV sound. Samsung SmartThings app or Alexa can control it.
Sound formats include UHQ 32-bit audio, Dolby Atmos Upmix, Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, MPEG-H, DTS:X, DTS 5.1, MP3, WMA, AAC, OGG, FLAC, WAV, ALAC, and AIFF.
At this time, it does not support Google Home voice control or Chromecast (but you can add that with a Google Home mini).