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Samsung HW-K950 Soundbar with Dolby Atmos review

Welcome to the next generation of sound

Samsung Dolby Atmos Soundbar
Best in Class
Samsung Dolby Atmos Soundbar

The K950 has been designed and built entirely by Samsung's new Californian audio laboratory, and it's clearly been a labour of love. It crams an incredible number of individually amplified speakers into its four component parts, and all are mounted and tuned with enough precision to show that brilliant Dolby Atmos really can be done without ceiling-mounted speakers.

I can't think of any separates-based system – amplifier plus speakers – that you could buy for £1,299/$1,799 that could rival the K950 for either compact design or sound quality.

Obviously, if you're not too bothered about Atmos then you could save hundreds of pounds by getting a standard 5.1-channel soundbar system; but if you're not bothered about Atmos, then you clearly haven't heard it on the K950.

We liked

Even with normal Dolby Digital 5.1/7.1 sources, the K950 is the best soundbar we've heard. Add Dolby Atmos to the mix and you've got sound quality that simply has no right to be coming from such a compact, convenient and, all things considered, affordable package.

We disliked

The absence of DTS multi-channel support is a pain, given how many DTS-sporting Blu-rays there are. You really have to commit to getting a Blu-ray/Ultra HD Blu-ray player that supports DTS to Dolby Digital conversion if you're going to buy the K950. Remember, too, that your room characteristics need to gel with the fairly specific Atmos set-up requirements to get the best from the system.

Verdict

Judged on sound quality alone, the K950 deserves a stone-cold 10 out of 10. It delivers Atmos soundtracks with the sort of authority, precision and soundstage scale you wouldn't imagine possible from such a compact package. It also sounds explosively brilliant with Dolby Digital soundtracks, either in their native form or with Samsung's unexpectedly good Atmos-like processing applied to them. It's just a shame that the lack of DTS support limits which Blu-ray players you can realistically partner it with.