With the increasing popularity of large screen televisions and the continued addition of further OTT (over-the-top) services, more users are looking to establish a theater-like experience in their homes. On top of that, social distancing measures have required people to go out less, stoking their desire to enjoy premium visual and audio experiences from home.
Full, clear and deep sound plays a crucial role in ensuring that content is delivered as it was originally intended. Paving the way for new audio experiences, Samsung Electronics introduced its high-end soundbar models, the HW-Q950A and HW-Q900A, in May of this year. The new premium models take sound quality to the next level with up to 16 channels and a host of enhanced functions that bring even greater satisfaction to users. Samsung Newsroom met with the product experts of the 2021 soundbar models to find out the secret behind their powerful and precise sound.
11.1.4-Channel Surround Sound That Fills the Entire Room
Thanks to our ever-evolving content culture, sound is getting richer, fuller and more expressive. The days of one-directional (mono) sound are long gone as we have ushered in the era of multi-directional channels that allow sound to fill up the surrounding space. “Sound is becoming increasingly important as people nowadays watch a wide variety of programs that place more emphasis on audio quality, such as music shows and films,” says Haekwang Park, Principal Engineer from the Sound lab at Samsung’s Visual Display Business.
To live up to consumers’ heightened expectations, Samsung has spared no effort in developing high-quality soundbar products that deliver very realistic sound. In 2016, Samsung brought its first 5.1.4-channel soundbar model to market. This soundbar was equipped with left, right and middle channels, two rear channels, a subwoofer and four upward-firing speakers, and delivered immersive, three-dimensional surround sound. More channels were added to later models, including a surround channel on the side of the soundbar and a wide surround channel to deliver sound from the front and sides. In 2020, Samsung introduced a 9.1.4-channel model.
In 2021, Samsung went a step further with its latest 11.1.4-channel model, the HW-Q950A, which features two rear surround channels. Product planner Mingyo Oh explained that, “The newly added channels are located on the sides of the rear surround speakers. They add liveliness to dynamic scenes involving things like airplanes in flight and car chases by allowing the sound to hit the side walls before it bounces back to where the audience is positioned.” The premium soundbar delivers an outstanding audio experience by filling previously quiet moments with powerful, immersive sound.
Delivering Sound Exactly as Intended With Advanced Rendering and Waveguide Techniques
A channel is a passage for sound that dictates which direction it travels. This is why having a higher number of channels provides better, smoother sound. It usually requires costly equipments to offer 11.1.4-channel sound, but Samsung’s HW-Q950A is able to provide a breathtaking 3D surround sound experience with only four speakers thanks to its unparalleled rendering and waveguide techniques.
Rendering is the process of creating a way for the audio output to deliver sound exactly as the artist intended. The Samsung developers made it possible to deliver an optimal acoustic experience with the soundbar system by tapping into its cutting-edge rendering technology. “To provide the most natural audio experience to users, we have carefully designed our products to deliver sound seamlessly. The HW-Q950A soundbar delivers sound that is reflected in various directions and arrives at users’ ears at the optimal angle,” related Shinhye Choi.
An advanced waveguide technique is also indispensable when it comes to delivering next-level sound. A multi-channel speaker emits sound in multiple directions, and the waveguide technique allows components in the speaker to deliver sound in the direction intended by the developer. Haekwang Park reported that, “Top-tier experts at the Visual Display Business’s Sound Lab and Samsung Audio Lab in California came together to design the parts that went into the speakers. Our soundbar models are meticulously constructed to deliver world-class sound performance.”
How SpaceFit Sound+ and Q-Symphony Further Elevate the Viewing Experience
Usually, most of the sound emitted by speakers hits walls or curtains before reaching the audience’s ears. This explains why the same sound is heard differently depending on the dimensions and layout of the viewing environment. Samsung’s HW-Q950A soundbar and 2021 TV models deliver stunning sound that tunes into users’ viewing environments by analyzing the dimensions of the space they’re in using SpaceFit Sound+.
SpaceFit Sound+ combines SpaceFit Sound technology, which delivers optimized audio, and Auto EQ (auto equalizer) technology. Together, the SpaceFit Sound and Auto EQ solutions use embedded microphones to thoroughly survey the viewing space, and then feed that data to the soundbar to enable it to deliver a tailored sound experience.
But the collaboration between the Samsung TV and the soundbar does not stop there. Samsung’s innovative, proprietary Q-Symphony technology additionally combines and enhances the sound generated by the TV and soundbar to guarantee optimal sound quality. Normally, when you connect a soundbar to your TV, the sound is emitted only from the soundbar. What’s more, some technical issues involving out-of-sync sound and tone disparities between the two devices had been observed. Q-Symphony overcomes these issues by incorporating a stereoscopic sound effect that allows sound to play through the speakers that wrap around the TV in addition to through the soundbar, providing richer and more realistic sound compared to when sound is produced through the soundbar alone.
Combining Truly Rich Sound With Highly Convenient Functionality
As with other models, Samsung has placed great emphasis on creating a new level of acoustic immersion with the HW-Q950A. But that doesn’t mean it can’t also include a host of convenient features. To begin with, the Active Voice Amplifier (AVA) feature clarifies dialogue in the viewer’s favorite shows to help them hear on-screen conversations clearly amid a variety of background noises. With an embedded microphone, the soundbar automatically measures noise levels and enhances voices if the noise continues for more than three seconds or surpasses a certain threshold.
And the HW-Q950A optimizes sound for different types of scenes, such as those with loud sound effects and dialogue-heavy scenes. For instance, the Adaptive Sound feature analyzes sound signals to deliver an optimal sound experience for each scene. Moreover, Game Mode Pro delivers a powerful, immersive gaming experience with subwoofers and upward-firing speakers. The Tap Sound feature also enables users to simply tap their smartphones on the soundbar when listening to a song to take their listening experience to the next level.
The motto of Samsung’s soundbar developers is to get the basics right when it comes to sound. “We are working our hardest to deliver sound of the highest quality,” the developers related. “We do this by collaborating closely with groups of experts and employing Samsung’s advanced measuring and simulation techniques to set clear standards for what we define as ‘optimal’ sound.”
The developers’ ultimate goal is to deliver a best-in-class acoustic experience to users regardless of the type of content they’re consuming, or the specific features of their viewing environment. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that they make this dream a reality.