REVIEW: New Samsung Dolby Atmos Soundbar Even Makes Superman A Bigger Hero Than Ever
Superman has never sounded better and Like Marlon Brando in the original Superman films, Russell Crowe and that fabulous deep voice played a key role in 2013’s Man of Steel as Superman’s Kryptonian father Jor-El.
This is not a review about a movie it’s a review about the all new Samsung Dolby Atmos HW-K950 soundbar and attached wireless speakers which suddenly do what technology Companies have been predicting for years, shifts the theatre right into the living room in the most spectacular way.
The Man of Steel Movie that is now out on 4K Ultra High Definition Blu Ray, when played on an 80” Curved Samsung Ultra High Definition TV connected to the new Samsung Dolby Atmos HW-K950 soundbar delivers a whole new movie watching experience, that’s as good as any Cinema.
You suddenly realise that a new era in sound technology has arrived and it is not going to break the bank.
I fell in love with this soundbar cuddled up on a settee in a suite at a Sydney boutique Hotel, even my wife fell in love with this soundbar claiming it “does make a massive difference”.
If your sitting in a cinema the chances are that you would have seen the words Dolby Atmos sound splashed across the screen.
Dolby Atmos burst onto the scene a few years ago. Often referred to as “object-based surround sound,” Atmos (and its counterpart DTS:X) revolutionised cinematic sound with a variety of technologies at play, including overhead speakers that spin sound effects in a hemispheric pattern, engulfing listeners in a globe of sound.
Now that technology is available from Samsung in a soundbar that only costs $1,999.
For the technically minded out there the system has nine channels (5.1.4), including the five standard surround channels, four “overhead” channels via speakers designed to bounce sound off the ceiling, and a bass channel.
The bar houses dual 2.5-inch midrange drivers and a single 1-inch tweeter for each of its three channels, along with dual 2.5-inch height drivers for Atmos.
Each of the satellite speakers boasts a 2.5-inch speaker each for the height and surround channels, and an eight-inch side-firing driver sits inside the sub cabinet. The power plant offers a claimed 500 watts — it’s a whole lot of power, and you’ll feel it when you’ve got Atmos firing on all cylinders as I did with the Man of Steel Movie.
In fact, I was half expecting Hotel management to come knocking on the door to tone down the noise.
Samsung’s HW-K950 is the latest, and the first to offer not only satellite speakers with integrated Atmos drivers, but wireless surrounds at that.
Along with Atmos, the system offers Dolby TrueHD, and Dolby Digital. However, it decodes DTS in stereo. The design leaves all of your DTS-only discs to be handled by the bar’s surround sound DSP.
Other features include multiroom support, allowing the system to link up with any Samsung multiroom speakers or sound bars, as well as control via Samsung’s remote app.
The only pain in the backside for me was the three remote controls, TV, Blu Ray Player and Dolby Atmos soundbar. Personally I would have preferred one remote which I most probably could have got with a remote app via my Samsung smartphone.
The jewel of Samsung’s audio offering and the first to be fully developed in-house at its new US audio lab, the K950 is a big gamble for Samsung, and potentially a major foothold in Samsung’s quest to dominate home audio.
Out of the box the Samsung Dolby Atmos is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. In fact, it looks like any other “ordinary” soundbar.
48” in length the bar is almost obstinately ordinary, composed of four components cut into plain black cubes, it has a low profile for a sound bar, and the unit is also thin enough to rest beneath your TV, it’s an excellent example of innovation in compact design.
When switched on and you load a Blu Ray 4K movie your world explodes with sound you have never heard before on a $1,999 home theatre sound system.
For the best Dolby Atmos experience, you’ll also need to set your Blu-ray player’s audio output to Bitstream (rather than PCM). Dolby Atmos signal is registered by a blue LED at the bar’s right corner and a flash of “Dolby Atmos” across the display.
The system comes with six available effects, including choices like Clear Voice, Sports etc. We recommend sticking with the Standard or Movie options for best results.
When it comes to Dolby Atmos, the HW-K950 offers nothing less than heart-pounding, pupil dilating thrills. Superman becomes a hero in more ways than one and every word that Russell Crow utters is crystal clear.
This baby while small and compact is a serious kick arse soundbar which will turn a top end Ultra High Definition TV into a perfect cinema experience.
I took along a Dolby Atmos sample disc that I got at CES and when you close your eyes and simply listen to the sound you actually think that you are in a rain forest or surrounded by birds and wildlife.
For the price, this is a serious high performance soundbar that is going to make a lot of top end Hi Fi Companies who have not yet released a Dolby Atmos soundbar weep.
For them it’s going to be very hard to deliver a more expensive model that delivers better sound.