It’s about time. Soundbars have long been great audio options for people who want a simple, all-in-one speaker system to pair with their television, reducing clutter. They’re sometimes used in surround systems, too, but in recent years, soundbars have been outfitted with virtual surround sound tech, making them viable lower-cost alternatives. The sticking point has been bass performance — soundbars usually come with or require a bulky, standalone subwoofer that has to be hidden away somewhere. That changes this year, with Samsung announcing that they’ll be bringing their all-in-one MS750 soundbar to CES next week in Las Vegas.
One look at the MS750 tells you it’s no typical soundbar — it’s much thicker than the ones we usually see. That’s necessary to fit any kind of speakers that can handle bass, so it’s a design constraint Samsung can’t get around. Fortunately, they’ve mitigated the size increase by using a simple exterior design. On top of that, Samsung is introducing a new VESA-compatible L-shaped mounting bracket that will allow the soundbar to be mounted onto the television itself. The soundbar also has pass-through charging — you can plug the TV into the soundbar and the soundbar into the wall, instead of having two cables going to the wall.
But, how is the soundbar capable of reproducing bass well? There’s no way a subwoofer can fit into a soundbar, so Samsung has used six smaller woofers to get the job done, along with wide-field tweeters for the mids and highs. It’s not a perfect solution, but an all-in-one soundbar represents a trade-off — you have to exchange some audio quality to reduce clutter. Samsung seems to have done a good job making the most of what they have — they’ve developed audio processing algorithms that can detect possible distortion and compensate for it ahead of time.
The MS750 can be connected to Wi-Fi speakers to become part of a surround sound system, but Samsung has gone to some lengths to make sure that isn’t necessary. The soundbar has Dolby Atmos processing, improving virtual surround sound performance. Samsung is also introducing ultra high quality 32-bit audio upscaling, although the ability of humans to perceive 32-bit audio versus 16-bit audio is a matter of some debate.
The same 32-bit UHQ audio will be included in the H7, Samsung’s new standalone home speaker. The H7 has a sleek, classic design and a plain metallic exterior, resulting in an attractive speaker of the sort we don’t often see from Samsung. The speaker will be able to play back sound as low as 35 Hz, so while it still can’t quite get down to sub-bass levels, it’s pretty impressive for its size. The two dials up top can be used to adjust volume and switch between preset playlists.
Samsung also announced a 4K Blu-ray player, the M9500. It’s not quite as impressive as the soundbar above, but it does have some nice features like Bluetooth connectivity, so you can watch something privately without waking up anyone next to you. The Blu-ray player uses the same TV UI as Samsung’s smart televisions, so if you’re a dedicated Samsung user, it’ll be familiar to you. The player can also detect and optimize the kind of content being played, including HDR for video and DTS-X and Dolby Atmos for audio. However, support for Dolby Vision, the more dynamic version of HDR, has been left off.
Samsung hasn’t shared pricing or availability information yet, but it’s possible we’ll find that out at CES next week.