Samsung teases a monstrous Dolby Atmos soundbar for CES

While Samsung revealed some impressive new TV fare at its First Look Event ahead of this year’s all-virtual CES, the company is keeping its cards characteristically close to the vest when it comes to its 2021 soundbar lineup. There is one soundbar the company has dropped the goods on, however, that stands as the company’s most ambitious bar to date: a Dolby Atmos monster called the Q950A

Headlining the Q950A’s features is its 11.1.4-channel configuration, the most we’ve seen yet in a Dolby Atmos soundbar. Samsung has continuously found ways to sneak more channels into its relatively compact Atmos systems over the years. The company has done so by adding more side-firing speakers inside the bar to bounce sound off the walls, alongside the up-firing drivers and traditional surround speakers you’ll see in the majority of Dolby Atmos soundbars, resulting in impressive immersion (see the company’s previous 9.1.4 channel Q950T).

The new Q950A takes things further, not by adding more drivers into the bar itself, but by adding new side-firing drivers into the surround speakers set behind your head. Frankly, this seems like a final step; the last bastion of space Samsung could find to cram in speakers to upstage its previous models. Still, it should add an extra edge of immersion to your favorite Dolby Atmos content, as well as helping sound move throughout the room with more fluidity.

But that’s not all that’s new in the Q950A. One of the most intriguing new features Samsung is adding to its Q-Symphony lineup of soundbars for 2021 is called Spacefit sound calibration. While auto-calibration is nothing new in Dolby Atmos soundbars, Samsung’s version not only analyzes the room in which you place your soundbar for EQ optimization, but it also syncs the system in with the company’s newest Q-Symphony TVs, tuning the system for better clarity and reducing latency between the two devices. This, Samsung says, allows you to use your Samsung TV speakers in concert with the bar for a bigger soundstage and more accurate placement of onscreen objects. Samsung says there’s even a microphone built into select TVs, though it’s unclear exactly which models will work with the feature at this point.

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Speaking of microphones, one of the most intriguing utilizations of Spacefit sound is within the Q950A’s wireless subwoofer. The system is designed to calibrate bass response within your room, adjusting for clarity and accuracy. While this may not sound like a major enhancement, subwoofer placement can be among the most important factors to achieving both accurate and powerful audio from your soundbar.

Other cool features for the Q950A include AVA (Active Voice Amplification) which is designed to increase dialogue based on ambient sound within the room. This is a feature that debuted at CES 2020 on select Samsung TVs, but it’s fun to see it land in the soundbars as well. The brand says it will also be expanding Alexa and AirPlay 2 into more soundbar models this year, and new models will also get NFC for one-touch Bluetooth connection with Android phones.

In addition, at a virtual walkthrough, we got a chance to see Samsung’s other announced soundbar, a follow up to last year’s Q800T, the Q800A (it appears the company has turned back to the start of the alphabetical batting order). The Q800A appears nearly identical to last year’s model, save an update that lands it the Spacefit calibration functionality.

Though we’ve got a lot of the goods, right now the Q950A is still something of a mystery in that we don’t have any pricing or any idea exactly when it will arrive, especially with the added complications of the pandemic (though it’s assumed it will be sometime this year).

That said, the Q950A looks to be another impressive, if expensive, entry into Samsung’s ever-growing soundbar collection.

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