Skip to main content

Samsung's Dolby Atmos 'soundbar' uses two rear speakers to put sound above you

Samsung's Dolby Atmos 'soundbar' uses two rear speakers to put sound above you

Share this story

True surround sound has always required lots of speakers, and the clutter only increases if you want a no-compromise Dolby Atmos system with "3D" sound. Of course, people have always wanted surround without the hassle, and that's why all-in-one soundbars exist. Now, Samsung is promising to deliver a 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos system with its HW-K950 soundbar.

Atmos — which is used in fancy cinemas — puts sound above you with either ceiling-mounted or upward-firing speakers. To get sound raining down on you, Samsung's new soundbar has four (that's the .4 in 5.1.4) upward-firing sound beams that bounce off the ceiling. But calling this a soundbar system is a bit of a stretch — there's a soundbar, yes, but also a subwoofer and two independent surrounds. Those two speakers and the soundbar itself shoot upwards as well as laterally, meaning you'll have a somewhat traditional 5.1 system as well as the sensation of four discrete sources from the ceiling.

Not really a soundbar, to be honest

The extra speakers should certainly improve directionality over a true all-in-one system, like Yamaha's YSP-5600 soundbar, which uses fancy software to tailor its sound-bouncing to generate a "7.1.2" Dolby Atmos system. Yamaha's soundbar was the first to offer Atmos. As for the Samsung speaker, its surrounds connect wirelessly to the soundbar to try to keep setup from becoming a major hassle. You'll still need to find somewhere to put those two rear speakers and subwoofer though.

No pricing yet on Samsung's HW-K950 soundbar, but we're certain to hear (and see) more at CES this week. If you're thinking of upgrading to Atmos, keep in mind that just over a couple dozen Blu-rays support the format so far, and only a few streaming movies on services like Netflix, Vudu, and Hulu have Atmos soundtracks. And if you already have a 5.1 or 7.1 system, you can simply replace your rear surrounds with upward-firing speakers to add Atmos support.

See all of our CES 2016 news right here!


CES 257 gadgets in three minutes