Samsung and Harman Kardon have a pair of new soundbars, packaging Dolby Atmos and DTS:X into a simple home theater upgrade. The HW-N950 and HW-N850 are the first co-branded speakers to be released since Samsung acquired Harman back in March 2017.
The HW-N950 is the higher-end model of the pair. It gets a main unit, four speakers, and two wireless surround sound speakers, for virtual 7.1.4 channel surround. That, Samsung says, is the largest number of channels you’ll currently be able to find in a soundbar. There’s also a wireless subwoofer, for a total of 17 drivers.
On the input side, there are two HDMI 2.0a ports both with HDCP 2.2, along with an optical digital audio input. On the output side, meanwhile, there’s an HDMI port with ARC and CEC. Wireless options, meanwhile, include dual-band 2.4/5 GHz WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0.
As for the HW-N850, that loses out on some of the channels in the name of cutting the price a little. It gets a main unit speaker and a woofer, for virtual 5.1.2 channel sound. It has the same ports as the N950, too, and the same wireless connectivity.
The obvious use is for home theater, though both soundbars also support Bluetooth streaming from your phone, tablet, or other device. There are three DSP sound modes – SSE, Smart, and Standard – along with Dolby Atmos upmixing. You can remotely control the soundbars using the Samsung Connect app, too.
According to Samsung, it was largely responsible for developing the two soundbars. Harman Kardon was then responsible for “certifying the audio quality through sophisticated sound quality testing” the company says.
It’s worth noting that neither soundbar has any smart assistant functionality. Unlike the Sonos Beam, which launched earlier this year and combines Alexa with home theater duties, the HW-N950 and HW-N850 are focused on music alone. Samsung will have a smart speaker of its own, the Galaxy Home, eventually, but the Bixby-powered hardware hasn’t been given a release date or a price at this stage.
The Samsung HW-N950 soundbar is up for preorder now, priced at $1,697.99; it’ll ship on September 3. As for the HW-N850, that’s up for preorder at $1,197.99.