Samsung has provided an update on its 2021 soundbar lineup, including the Q950A: Samsung’s first 11.1.4-channel surround sound kit.
During its all-online Unbox and Discover (opens in new tab) event, Samsung showed off the new soundbars for first time since their reveal at CES 2021. The Q950A was the star of the show, though both it and other models will share certain new features when they eventually launch. These include AirPlay 2 support, Alexa integration, Dolby Atmos and automatic room calibration.
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Samsung demonstrated how the Q950A’s 11.1.4 configuration would boost surround sound tech like Atmos. The package is centred around a 7.1.2 soundbar and subwoofer combo, with two Samsung 9500 satellite speakers providing the rest of the channels. The latter will also be available as a 4.0.2 kit you can use to upgrade other soundbars in the new range, like the Samsung Q900A or Q800A, as well as older Samsung soundbars.
The satellite speakers are a step up from existing models themselves, as they include side-firing channels as well as upwards-firing drivers. This should aid the overall surround sound effect, playing deeper into the Q950A’s Dolby Atmos support.
While Samsung soundbars are no stranger to steaming from other sources, access to AirPlay 2 gives Apple device users more scope to stream music and other audio content to speaker systems beyond the likes of the HomePod and HomePod mini.
Alexa support was introduced on Samsung’s 2020 soundbar range and will carry over the higher-end models in the new lineup as well. That leaves room calibration as the other big new feature: it’s only supported on the premium Q-series range, and additionally requires the soundbar to be paired with one of Samsung’s own Q-series TVs, but will be able to tailor the sound output to the size and shape of the room.
This “Q-Calibration” feature uses a small microphone built into the TV to detect the room’s acoustics, with the data fed into the soundbar so it can automatically adjust its output.
If you don’t have a Q-series TV, there’s also a similar “Space EQ” feature on some of the new models, which adjusts the soundbar’s bass response using a microphone inside the soundbar or connected subwoofer instead of the TV.
A 2.0.2 wireless surround sound kit will also be made available for the new Q-series models, so you could potentially buy a standalone soundbar to begin with then add the satellite speakers later.
Despite the new demo shown at Unbox and Discover, Samsung didn’t reveal any new pricing or availability details for the new soundbars, though the company has previously released its home cinema audio lineups in the Spring. Expect to have to pay a lot for the Q950A, too: its closest 2020 range equivalent, the 9.1.4-channel Q950T, goes for around $1,800.
The new Q800A might be a more realistic option for most: this 3.1.2 soundbar and subwoofer combo also supports Dolby Atmos and, being a Q-series model, will be compatible with room calibration and the add-on speaker kits.
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