Back in late July Samsung Australia launched two new soundbars labelled the N950 and N850. Both, in that order, offer 7.1.4 and 5.1.2 sound and were fully engineered at the brand’s LA-based Audio Lab. Over the last month I’ve been given a loan of the N950, an incredible piece of kit even for a relative novice in the soundbar world.
The as-tested N950 is certainly a striking presence in my TV room, purely based on size at more than 1.2 metres in length. It’s much more substantial than the Yamaha YSP-2200 that’s occupied my living room for a number of years. I’m lucky that we do have a dedicated “room” that we can escape to for such experiences. The room, that measures 3.9m x 4.0m, is wired for 5.1 surround sound with four corner-mounted wall plates connected to an aging but still immersive Onkyo system.
But the N950 uses multiple built-in speakers, 17 in fact. The sound is simply astonishing for what essentially is a soundbar, subwoofer and two rear speakers. The bar has four upward and two side-firing speakers at each end. The wireless rear speakers also blast from the front and rear. There’s a wide range tweeter and for the true fanatics Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, a 4K pass- through and 32-bit sound upscaling.
We were supplied with Jumanji on DVD, a nice Dolby Atmos test disc. The end result was a room soaked in a loud, rich soundtrack that dances and bounces around the room like you’re on a Hoyts Gold Class date night. Sure, in many ways this is certainly a way of cheating the true 7.1.4 system, but for me the all-encompassing immersive experience certainly had me sold.
It could do with more HDMI points, having only two plus an ARC point. There’s also a digital optical output and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi options. The rear satellite speakers connect via Wi-Fi and it’s handy if you have a power point near each of them to keep cable clutter to a minimum.
The 3D sound effects really rely on bouncing sound off surfaces, hence why my TV room was the perfect place for the N950. A more open planned living room wouldn’t really replicate the same effect.
Setup is remarkably easy, it’s basically a plug and play style system. Diehards may lament the lack of complicated calibration, like the use of an external microphone to listen to how the system responds to your room. But for a novice such as me, the easier the better.
You can manually play around with the usual EQ and adjust centre, side and rear sound levels via the nifty remote if you desire anyway. But a central seating position is pretty much guaranteed to score you an amazing cinematic experience every time anyway.
The LED display on the bar is as simple as they come showing only key information in the right-hand corner such as when it’s on, volume and EQ settings. It turns dark after a short period, so it doesn’t distract from whatever content you’re into. Can I just add Jumanji, top flick.
Hass Mahdi, Head of Audio Visual, Samsung Electronics Australia says, “Australians are increasingly looking to soundbars to complete their home entertainment set-up and we are seeing greater demand for products that deliver a rich and immersive audio to support the TV viewing experience.”
“The N950 and N850 are defining products for Samsung and a testament to our deep commitment to deliver products that break new ground for our offering and give Australians an incredible experience,” Mahdi added.
For a soundbar both models sit at the premium end of the market. The N950 soundbar, including subwoofer and rear speakers has a RRP of $1,999 while the N850 including subwoofer sits at RRP $1,499. But my god, you get what you pay for.