Looking for the highest-quality home sound system possible, but struggling with space or design considerations? Well, turn your ears to CES 2016, where Samsung Electronics will unveil a category-leading wireless soundbar package with Dolby Atmos technology.
The HW-K950 is not only Samsung’s first soundbar to feature Dolby Atmos, but may be the industry’s first soundbar package that includes Atmos-capable wireless speakers in the box. Building on Samsung’s Wireless Audio 360 series, the soundbar measures just 2.1 inches high, and comes with three forward-facing and two upward-firing speakers to produce Atmos’ trademark three-dimensional sound environment.
Connecting wirelessly to both the subwoofer and rear units, the HW-K950 appears to offer a practical and seamless solution in any living room, especially for audio enthusiasts who have ruled out ceiling-fitted speakers at home.
Introduced in 2012 to augment the theatrical moviegoing experience, Dolby Atmos opens the door to immersive, three-dimensional audio. Sounds don’t just come from right, left, or behind the viewer, but seem to emanate from designated points in the room. By using the third dimension of height, a more realistic audio environment can be created. (A competing technology, DTS:X, emerged soon after the introduction of Dolby Atmos.)
While movie theaters have been slow to invest in hardware, filmmakers are eager to utilize Dolby Atmos, and in 2014 it became available for home theater systems. Films (starting with Transformers: Age of Extinction) and video games (like Star Wars: Battlefront) are now being released for home consumption in the Dolby Atmos format.
Consumers are only just starting to adopt Dolby Atmos at home. The technology requires not just receiver upgrades, but new speakers, plus wiring that nibbles at real estate. But Samsung’s complete multi-room package delivers 5.1.4-channel sound, wireless satellites, and a variety of design-friendly finishes. Kudos to Samsung for seeing the potential for a streamlined system that’s also easier to integrate into home environments.
Keep in mind that you’ll still need to pony up for a Dolby Atmos compatible receiver, and pricing and a ship date for the HW-K950 are yet to be announced. While we’re guessing it won’t be cheap, at least the good news is you won’t have to invest in a new Blu-ray player at the same time.
Editor’s note: Samsung’s press release touted the height of the soundbar as 2.1 inches. During our hands-on visit at CES we measured the soundbar at 3.25 inches.