Every company flirts with some variation of talking about the future in its promo materials, but Samsung has decided to be more direct by announcing it’s bringing "the future of audio" to CES 2017. The Korean company has developed a proprietary audio upscaling technology, which it is calling Ultra-high Quality Sound, or UHQ. It’s supposed to take 8-bit to 24-bit audio signals and convert them up to 32-bit for "delivering sound that brings each note to life with incredible clarity." Not to be a downer, but digital upscaling — which is done by filling the gaps of information with a best guess — has been done a whole bunch of times both with video and audio, and the results have tended to be underwhelming. In any case, there’s little evidence to suggest that the average listener can detect, let alone cares, about the difference between 16-bit and 32-bit recordings, even if Samsung’s tech works quite as well as advertised.
In any case, Samsung is giving the world its first opportunity to experience UHQ sound at CES with the new H7 Wireless Speaker. This is quite the chunky box, like an old school hi-fi that’s all speaker, but it’s also got a very minimal, refined look that’s frankly still a little unusual among Samsung’s home products. The company itself acknowledges that its 2017 devices "reflect a total paradigm shift for both the company and the industry [with] sleek, simplistic designs."
One fascinating addition of what could be very clever engineering is a feature Samsung calls Distortion Cancelling. This is an algorithm that "can intelligently predict a woofer’s movement, control it, and play more solid and stable sound at low pitch." Especially useful for reining in imprecise subwoofer vibrations, it should deliver a more composed and effective bass punch. It sounds like Samsung’s being practical about the limitations of its speaker technology and figuring out software solutions to working around them.
Joining the H7 speaker at CES will be a new MS750 sound bar, which Samsung touts as the first in its range "to embed subwoofer performance directly into the primary unit." Like the H7, it can’t be accused of being especially minimal in size, but it too has a very basic design that won’t offend anyone’s eyes or, hopefully, ears. The MS750 also supports UHQ 32-bit sound.
To complete the home entertainment upgrade, Samsung will also have a new Ultra HD Blu-ray player at CES, which it calls the M9500 UHD. It’s optimized for HDR and automatically makes video and audio adjustments in accordance with the particular content source being played, whether it be HDR, Dolby Atmos, or DTS-X. Looking at its utterly spartan control scheme, Samsung is indeed emphasizing the minimalist look, and its subtle curve at the front makes it just different enough from the standard black box to stand out and have a unique look.
Samsung isn’t yet announcing the specs, prices, or availability dates for these — because it’s still 2016, after all, and some news has to be preserved for CES itself — but all will be revealed during the Las Vegas show starting early next week.