Samsung HW-N850 Soundbar
The Samsung HW-N850 comes hot on the heels of the manufacturerÃ¢â¬â¢s flagship HW-N950 Ã¢â¬ËCinematicÃ¢â¬â¢ soundbar, and is essentially the same but without the wireless rear speakers. That means you still get upward and side-firing speakers at the front, a wireless subwoofer and support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
Since the soundbar itself is identical to the N850, you also get the same excellent build quality, Harman Kardon tuning, hi-res audio support, and wireless streaming via WiFi and Bluetooth. Throw in a handy remote control, HDMI connections that pass HDR10 and Dolby Vision, and SamsungÃ¢â¬â¢s SmartThings app, and the N850 looks like a tempting prospect.
The question is: does the N950 justify the extra cost, or is the N850 enough for most living rooms? LetÃ¢â¬â¢s find out.
This simple display gets the job done, but we would like to see it provide more information, especially given the lack of any onscreen menus. The same simplicity applies to the controls on the soundbar, with basic touch sensitive buttons for power, input selection and volume.
The provided remote is ergonomically designed and comfortable to hold, with all the necessary buttons sensibly laid out, making controlling the N850 an effective and highly intuitive process. If you connect using HDMI ARC, you also have the option to use your TV remote as a controller.
In a recessed area under the soundbar youÃ¢â¬â¢ll find the connections, which include two HDMI inputs and an HDMI output with ARC (Audio Return Channel). All the HDMI connections support 4K/60p, 4:4:4, Rec.2020, High Dynamic Range (HDR10 and Dolby Vision), 3D and HDCP 2.2.
ThereÃ¢â¬â¢s also an optical digital input, and built-in WiFi and Bluetooth. On the underside youÃ¢â¬â¢ll find a USB port for service updates, a connector for the two-pin power cable, a button for WiFi setup, and a button for pairing the wireless subwoofer if necessary.
This sub is a bass-reflex model with built-in amplification and a side-firing 8-inch driver. It complements the design of the soundbar, and should pair automatically. If not, you can manually pair by pressing the pairing button, and there are indicator LEDs to show the connection status.
The Samsung HW-N850Ã¢â¬â¢s primary feature is its support of both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. This is less common than you might imagine amongst soundbar, with even LGÃ¢â¬â¢s flagship SK10Y only supporting Dolby Atmos.
The N850 isnÃ¢â¬â¢t quite as immersive as the N950, with no surrounds or rear height channels, but it still boasts no fewer than seven speakers. The front three channels are composed of three drivers each, while the height and width channels use single drivers.
The drivers are individually powered by a total of 372W of built-in amplification, and the soundbar and sub reportedly have a frequency response that goes from 34Hz to 17kHz. Samsung doesnÃ¢â¬â¢t break these numbers down, but itÃ¢â¬â¢s safe to assume the sub is handling all the lower frequencies.
Unlike the N950, it doesnÃ¢â¬â¢t include wireless rear speakers with upward-firing drivers, so it canÃ¢â¬â¢t deliver genuine 5.1.4 with rear surround and overhead channels. You can buy the SWA-9000S wireless speakers separately, but that only adds surrounds, creating a 7.1.2 system.
The N850 has been tuned by Harman Kardon, ensuring a sound that is both open and dynamic, whilst retaining clear voicing. The soundbar supports Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Atmos, along with DTS Digital Sound, DTS-HD Master Audio and DTS:X.
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