Samsung HW-N950 soundbar worthy award winner

News Corp Australia
7th January 2019 8:37 PM
UPDATED 8th January 10:59 AM
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Samsung N950 sound bar system.
Samsung N950 sound bar system.

 

SAMSUNG is best known for its flagship phones and industry leading televisions.

But following the acquisition of sound specialists Harman Kardon, it's also becoming the new, loud, impressive kid on the block when it comes to television sound.

We have been putting the Samsung HW-N950 to the test over the holiday period, and let's just say things have got a whole lot louder in our living room.

After all, to really test the Dolby Atmos and DTS:X experience you have to crank it up to truly appreciate the 512 watt power of its 17 speakers.

It's only then you see the pumping power of the soundbar, subwoofer and separate rear speakers which are designed for a true surround sound experience.

The combination includes two width drivers and four upward firing speakers.

Whether you're wanting a cinema-like sound experience in your loungeroom or just want to hear every instrument in your favourite song, the N950 is probably like nothing you've heard.

But it's not without its critics. Some customers have slammed it for glitches, including loss of connection to rear speakers.

In our testing, we did find some frustration in trying to set up with Samsung's phone app and we did notice it drop connection to the TV a couple of times towards the end of testing.

Overall, however, the experience was more than satisfactory.

Out of the box, the first thing you notice is how heavy, well constructed, stylish and good looking it is.

There are metal grilles and a nice brushed metal finish to the edges and rear.

Set up is pretty simple - you just plug in all the speakers to power and then connect the system through Bluetooth to your TV and smartphone.

Great sound and design: Samsung's N950 speakers were developed with audio industry leader Harman Kardon.
Great sound and design: Samsung's N950 speakers were developed with audio industry leader Harman Kardon.

When you turn the system on there is just a simple white LED display at the far right of the front of the long rectangular soundbar.

This provides information on volume, settings and inputs.

The small remote is comfortable to hold and simple to use.

The soundbar has two HDMI inputs and a HDMI output with ARC (Audio Return Channel).

There also an optical digitial input as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

For the best sound, you are advised to put the rear speakers directly behind your couch on the left and right hand side.

While they are wireless, they do need power so if you don't have a nearby power outlet, you might still need an extension cord, which can be hard to hide.

There are buttons on all of the speakers to manually pair them if the normal process doesn't work.

One of the real selling points of the N950 is that it is a genuine 7.1.4 speaker configuration.

 

Harman Kardon has been involved in audio for more than 65 years so it's not surprising that the soundbar supports Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Atmos, along with DTS Digital Sound, DTS-HD Master Audio and DTS:X.

The system has a range of different sound modes, including a smart mode which analyses the incoming signal and chooses the best available processing.

Watching movies or television, we found the surround sound mode offered the best experience, especially in high volume, action-packed movies.

Samsung's N950 soundbar is one of the best on the market.
Samsung's N950 soundbar is one of the best on the market.



Samsung points out that the performance of the upward-firing drivers will largely depend on your ceiling.

A lower and more reflective ceiling will generate a better sense of the sounds from overhead so a well-designed media room will make it sound better.

While it's well designed for epic movie sound tracks, I found myself searching for great music videos to watch on the big screen while being immersed in the beautiful sounds filling our living room.

Just as you find when you listen to music on a good set of headphones, having a great soundbar can make playing music clips from YouTube or Spotify on your phone a much richer experience.

When it comes to its price tag, the Samsung HW-N950 is not cheap with a RRP of $AU1999.

But if have the latest, best TV and want the sound to match, it's probably on par with the cost of a decent 9-channel AV receiver and speaker package.

The fact that its taken out the 2019 Sound Image soundbar of the year award is certainly in its favour.