The Samsung HW-N950 soundbar is big, bold, and beautiful, which is exactly how a Dolby Atmos soundbar should be. It is among the more affordable soundbars with the technology that you will regret missing out on and is also one of the best-selling soundbars from Samsung.
The presence of home cinema and hi-fi brands show great determination to make soundbars come close to the full Atmos sound experience.
When it comes to the HW-N950, it was the efforts between Samsung Audio Labs and Harman Kardon that formed this incredible 7.1.4 channel soundbar system
Samsung HW-N950 Overview
The Samsung HW-N950 is something special, as the first soundbar to benefit from Samsung’s acquisition of Harman Kardon – a partnership that’s been paying dividends for the last couple of years.
The HW-N950 is a whole-hearted upgrade on Samsung’s previous HW-K950 – one of the first Dolby Atmos-enabled soundbars on the market that launched back in 2016. But the differences between the two are night and day.
The HW-K950 was excellent for its time, yes, but the N950 now supports both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, compared to the K950 which was disappointingly limited to the former.
There’s also the fact that the N950 does so in a genuine 5.1.4 configuration that consists of a soundbar, additional width channels and two upward-firing channels, two wireless surround speakers that include upward-firing drivers, and a wireless subwoofer.
So without further ado, let’s get in-depth with the Samsung HW-N950, and whether it’s worthy of the Atmos name.
Samsung HW-N950 Design
The Samsung HW-N950 follows the same basic design style that Samsung has adopted on its soundbars for the last few years: a minimalist-but-attractive rectangular shape and largely metal construction.
The build quality is excellent, with metal grilles at the top, front, and sides, along with a brushed metal finish to the edges and rear.
The N950 comes in black or, as Samsung likes to call it, ‘Midnight Titan’, and is designed to complement TVs with a screen size of 55 inches or greater. You’ll need enough space in front of your TV to install the N950, although Samsung also includes a bracket for wall mounting.
The soundbar is fairly large and heavy, but that’s understandable considering there are 13 drivers and their corresponding amplifiers built-in.
These drivers create seven speakers in total, with three front channels (left, center, and right), left and right width channels, and two upward-firing drivers for the top front left, and right channels.
Samsung HW-N950 Features
The Samsung HW-N950’s headline feature is obviously its ability to support both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X using a genuine 7.1.4 speaker configuration.
It’s this aspect that differentiates the N950 from any other soundbar currently on the market because it doesn’t rely on any virtual or psychoacoustic trickery to create an immersive audio experience.
Samsung certainly isn’t messing about when it comes to the N950, which boasts no fewer than 12 speakers using a total of 17 drivers.
All of these drivers are individually powered by a total of 512W of built-in amplification, although Samsung hasn’t specified how this amplification is actually allocated to each driver. The system as a whole has a claimed frequency response that goes from 34Hz to 17kHz.
Samsung HW-N950 Performance
The Samsung HW-N950 is extremely easy to set up: you simply place the soundbar beneath your TV and then position the subwoofer towards the front of the room and the surround speakers at the rear.
The wireless speakers and subwoofer should pair automatically with the soundbar, creating a full 7.1.4-channel system.
All you need to do then is use an SPL meter (you can create one with a free app on your phone) to set the levels for the center, side, front top, rear, rear top, and subwoofer channels.
However, if you take the time to set the speaker levels correctly, the result is a cohesive soundstage with well-integrated bass
The Samsung HW-N950 will set you back $1,699 (£1,499, AU$1,999), so it certainly isn’t cheap, especially when compared to many other soundbars.
However, it’s worth remembering that for the asking price you’re getting a full 7.1.4-channel system with actual rear speakers and a separate subwoofer.
No other soundbar comes close to delivering such an immersive audio experience, and in reality, you would need to buy an AV receiver and a full speaker package to replicate the N950’s capabilities.
The cost of a 9-channel AV receiver and sufficient speakers to deliver five ear-level channels, four overhead channels, and a subwoofer would probably be more than the N950. So when you take everything into account, the Samsung is actually good value.
Our Final Verdict
The Samsung HW-N950 is simply one of the best soundbars that we have heard to date. Perhaps more importantly, it is the only soundbar that really delivers a 7.1.4-channel immersive audio experience.
The use of wireless rear speakers and a subwoofer, make the N950 easy to install and setup. It also means that the combination of all these speakers is able to deliver object-based audio as the content creators intended, without resorting to psychoacoustic trickery.
The soundbar, speakers and subwoofer are all attractively-designed and extremely well-made, while the system as a whole offers plenty of useful features.
The N950 detected and decoded both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X without any issues, so if you’re a film fan then this is definitely the soundbar for you. It was equally as effective with regular soundtracks, not to mention music via both WiFi and Bluetooth.
If you truly want to immerse yourself in your favourite movie soundtracks, then the Samsung HW-N950 should be at the top of your soundbar shortlist.
Frequently Asked Question
Are Samsung soundbars worth it?
Good sound quality. Samsung soundbars tend to offer a good, well-balanced, and neutral sound profile right out-of-the-box, which is versatile for different uses. Some soundbars do have a bit of extra bass, thanks to their wireless subwoofer. Great connectivity options.
Are Dolby Atmos soundbars worth it?
Atmos soundbars are worth it if you want a completely immersive audio experience. Atmos adds a vertical dimension to the audio output. … The extra cost of stepping up from your standard 2.1 or 5.1 soundbars to an Atmos soundbar does warrant further consideration
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