Any idea if/when sound modes will be available for external speakers as well? My old Toshiba dumb TV could do it just fine, why can't my new 4K QLED Samsung box? I am tired of having to keep turning the volume up and down to compensate for the dynamics of most movies... Thanks.
[Interview] How Samsung Electronics Endeavored To Deliver Immersive TV Experience Through Finest SoundBy STF News
Samsung Research1 America’s Audio Lab has been working towards its mandate of ‘taking Samsung’s audio technology to the top of the industry’ since its foundation. From making improvements in the pure audio sphere to building leadership in advancing TV sound technology, the Audio Lab has surprised the entire industry with innovative solutions including the Q-Symphony and OTS (Object Tracking Sound) technologies.
Following the release of the HW-S800B Ultra Slim Soundbar for Samsung’s QLED TV line-up, which was unveiled earlier this year at CES, Samsung Newsroom spoke to Ema Souza Blanes at Audio Lab of Samsung Research America. She is the person behind the process for product validation and research that includes countless listening tests, all of which are conducted to deliver the best possible immersive viewing experiences with the finest sound.
▲ Ema Souza Blanes at Audio Lab of Samsung Research America
1. Briefly tell us about yourself and your role in the Samsung Audio Lab.
I am a French audio engineer, and after graduating from the engineering school Arts et Métiers ParisTech (ENSAM) and the Paris-Saclay University, I joined the Samsung Research America’s Audio Lab in Valencia, California. My role with the Audio Lab is to run listening tests for product validation and overall research purposes.
2. What is a new or recent trend happening in the soundbar industry?
Immersion is a topical subject in soundbar development, with the inclusion of more advanced audio technologies such as Dolby Atmos in home audio. Soundbars have also naturally followed the TV design trend with the intent of blending into the home décor with a sleek and discreet build. Though, despite these new slim designs, sound quality and immersion yet remain at the heart of soundbar development.
3. Samsung has recently released the ultra-slim soundbar HW-S800B. What were some of the primary objectives for this model?
The design process of the HW-S800B was dedicated to combining all aspects of these recent trends into one product. We aimed to develop a soundbar that blends seamlessly with discreet screens such as The Frame, which challenged us when it came to customization and optimization due to its slim design.
4. The soundbar’s depth and height are 1.6” x 1.5”, which is a difficult size in which to include all amplifiers and multi-channel speakers. Can you describe some of the challenges you faced during the development process?
Most soundbars in the market that are designed to be slim or small typically have a weaker integration of the subwoofer to the soundbar. The result is a colored sound, especially when it comes to voices. The challenge was to avoid this effect and to ensure that voices are maintained in the center of the sound field. This required custom soundbar transducers and a design capable of low crossover frequency to the subwoofer.
5. We noticed that the subwoofer appears different from past models. Can you elaborate on this difference?
Most subwoofers feature a port to enhance the bass response. Since the HW-S800B’s subwoofer has a smaller enclosure which limits the port size, we recognized that this would cause turbulent air motion, resulting in distortion and less bass. This constraint was addressed by designing a custom passive radiator in place of a port and a long-excursion 6.5” woofer that is able to displace as much air as a larger woofer.
6. Similar to other premium Samsung soundbars, this model features a wireless connection between the soundbar and TV along with Dolby Atmos sound technology. Why should consumers want these capabilities?
Samsung’s 2022 soundbars come with Wireless Dolby Atmos connectivity, a wireless Smart TV-to-soundbar connection in which both the screen and soundbar speakers deliver an incredible audio experience with no distracting cables. It allows for smoother on-wall mounting setups by minimizing the number of visible cables. Nobody wants their homes cluttered or disorganized, and we are living in a time, in which more consumers are eyeing products that perfectly blend their sophisticated, personal style in and out of the home with technological innovation for a better, connected experience. I believe our soundbars exemplify this desire that we’re seeing in the consumer electronics industry.
7. Samsung’s Q-Symphony sound technology has also significantly improved in the past year. What are some of the upgrades over the previous version?
In the 2021 TV models, Q-Symphony combined the power of the top speakers and the soundbar. The new Q-Symphony enhances the surround sound and feeling of immersion through channel separation technology. This enables the soundbar and TV speakers to work together with all the speakers on the TVs, including the top, bottom and side speakers, providing for an expansive, powerful soundscape.
8. Is there anything else we should know about the Audio Lab and your work?
Running listening tests is crucial to ensure the quality of our products. At Samsung, we work closely with our skilled listeners in various and rigorous listening tests where they give their opinion on our products including the comparison between our previous models. The HW-S800B is no exception and showed compelling results while also competing with much larger soundbars.
▲ Samsung Research America’s Audio Lab
1 Samsung Research, acting as Samsung Electronics’ advanced R&D hub, leads the development of future technologies for the company’s Device eXperience (DX) Division.
View the full article
By STF News
▲ (From left) Mingyo Oh, Haekwang Park and Shinhye Choi, at Samsung Electronics’ Visual Display Business behind Premium Soundbar, the HW-Q950A
With the increasing popularity of large screen televisions and the continued addition of further OTT (over-the-top) services, more users are looking to establish a theater-like experience in their homes. On top of that, social distancing measures have required people to go out less, stoking their desire to enjoy premium visual and audio experiences from home.
Full, clear and deep sound plays a crucial role in ensuring that content is delivered as it was originally intended. Paving the way for new audio experiences, Samsung Electronics introduced its high-end soundbar models, the HW-Q950A and HW-Q900A, in May of this year. The new premium models take sound quality to the next level with up to 16 channels and a host of enhanced functions that bring even greater satisfaction to users. Samsung Newsroom met with the product experts of the 2021 soundbar models to find out the secret behind their powerful and precise sound.
11.1.4-Channel Surround Sound That Fills the Entire Room
▲ Haekwang Park, Principal Engineer at the Sound Device Lab, Samsung’s Visual Display Business
Thanks to our ever-evolving content culture, sound is getting richer, fuller and more expressive. The days of one-directional (mono) sound are long gone as we have ushered in the era of multi-directional channels that allow sound to fill up the surrounding space. “Sound is becoming increasingly important as people nowadays watch a wide variety of programs that place more emphasis on audio quality, such as music shows and films,” says Haekwang Park, Principal Engineer from the Sound lab at Samsung’s Visual Display Business.
To live up to consumers’ heightened expectations, Samsung has spared no effort in developing high-quality soundbar products that deliver very realistic sound. In 2016, Samsung brought its first 5.1.4-channel soundbar model to market. This soundbar was equipped with left, right and middle channels, two rear channels, a subwoofer and four upward-firing speakers, and delivered immersive, three-dimensional surround sound. More channels were added to later models, including a surround channel on the side of the soundbar and a wide surround channel to deliver sound from the front and sides. In 2020, Samsung introduced a 9.1.4-channel model.
In 2021, Samsung went a step further with its latest 11.1.4-channel model, the HW-Q950A, which features two rear surround channels. Product planner Mingyo Oh explained that, “The newly added channels are located on the sides of the rear surround speakers. They add liveliness to dynamic scenes involving things like airplanes in flight and car chases by allowing the sound to hit the side walls before it bounces back to where the audience is positioned.” The premium soundbar delivers an outstanding audio experience by filling previously quiet moments with powerful, immersive sound.
▲ Mingyo Oh from the Product Planning Group at Samsung’s Visual Display Business
Delivering Sound Exactly as Intended With Advanced Rendering and Waveguide Techniques
A channel is a passage for sound that dictates which direction it travels. This is why having a higher number of channels provides better, smoother sound. It usually requires costly equipments to offer 11.1.4-channel sound, but Samsung’s HW-Q950A is able to provide a breathtaking 3D surround sound experience with only four speakers thanks to its unparalleled rendering and waveguide techniques.
Rendering is the process of creating a way for the audio output to deliver sound exactly as the artist intended. The Samsung developers made it possible to deliver an optimal acoustic experience with the soundbar system by tapping into its cutting-edge rendering technology. “To provide the most natural audio experience to users, we have carefully designed our products to deliver sound seamlessly. The HW-Q950A soundbar delivers sound that is reflected in various directions and arrives at users’ ears at the optimal angle,” related Shinhye Choi.
▲ Shinhye Choi from the Global Product Marketing Group at Samsung’s Visual Display Business
An advanced waveguide technique is also indispensable when it comes to delivering next-level sound. A multi-channel speaker emits sound in multiple directions, and the waveguide technique allows components in the speaker to deliver sound in the direction intended by the developer. Haekwang Park reported that, “Top-tier experts at the Visual Display Business’s Sound Lab and Samsung Audio Lab in California came together to design the parts that went into the speakers. Our soundbar models are meticulously constructed to deliver world-class sound performance.”
How SpaceFit Sound+ and Q-Symphony Further Elevate the Viewing Experience
Usually, most of the sound emitted by speakers hits walls or curtains before reaching the audience’s ears. This explains why the same sound is heard differently depending on the dimensions and layout of the viewing environment. Samsung’s HW-Q950A soundbar and 2021 TV models deliver stunning sound that tunes into users’ viewing environments by analyzing the dimensions of the space they’re in using SpaceFit Sound+.
SpaceFit Sound+ combines SpaceFit Sound technology, which delivers optimized audio, and Auto EQ (auto equalizer) technology. Together, the SpaceFit Sound and Auto EQ solutions use embedded microphones to thoroughly survey the viewing space, and then feed that data to the soundbar to enable it to deliver a tailored sound experience.
But the collaboration between the Samsung TV and the soundbar does not stop there. Samsung’s innovative, proprietary Q-Symphony technology additionally combines and enhances the sound generated by the TV and soundbar to guarantee optimal sound quality. Normally, when you connect a soundbar to your TV, the sound is emitted only from the soundbar. What’s more, some technical issues involving out-of-sync sound and tone disparities between the two devices had been observed. Q-Symphony overcomes these issues by incorporating a stereoscopic sound effect that allows sound to play through the speakers that wrap around the TV in addition to through the soundbar, providing richer and more realistic sound compared to when sound is produced through the soundbar alone.
Combining Truly Rich Sound With Highly Convenient Functionality
As with other models, Samsung has placed great emphasis on creating a new level of acoustic immersion with the HW-Q950A. But that doesn’t mean it can’t also include a host of convenient features. To begin with, the Active Voice Amplifier (AVA) feature clarifies dialogue in the viewer’s favorite shows to help them hear on-screen conversations clearly amid a variety of background noises. With an embedded microphone, the soundbar automatically measures noise levels and enhances voices if the noise continues for more than three seconds or surpasses a certain threshold.
And the HW-Q950A optimizes sound for different types of scenes, such as those with loud sound effects and dialogue-heavy scenes. For instance, the Adaptive Sound feature analyzes sound signals to deliver an optimal sound experience for each scene. Moreover, Game Mode Pro delivers a powerful, immersive gaming experience with subwoofers and upward-firing speakers. The Tap Sound feature also enables users to simply tap their smartphones on the soundbar when listening to a song to take their listening experience to the next level.
The motto of Samsung’s soundbar developers is to get the basics right when it comes to sound. “We are working our hardest to deliver sound of the highest quality,” the developers related. “We do this by collaborating closely with groups of experts and employing Samsung’s advanced measuring and simulation techniques to set clear standards for what we define as ‘optimal’ sound.”
The developers’ ultimate goal is to deliver a best-in-class acoustic experience to users regardless of the type of content they’re consuming, or the specific features of their viewing environment. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that they make this dream a reality.
View the full article
By STF News
Samsung Electronics today announced that its Neo QLED TVs1 became the first in the industry to receive certification of Spatial Sound Optimization from Verband Deutscher Elektrotechniker(VDE).
Different watching environments — for example, a living room, a bedroom, or a terrace — create different sound experiences. The VDE’s Spatial Sound Optimization certification is given to products that offer a consistent sound experience regardless of the surrounding environment.
To reduce such variation in sound, Samsung has added the SpaceFit Sound feature to its Neo QLED TVs, enabling its products to provide a sound experience consistent to a standard listening environment.
Built-in microphones are utilized to recognize the surrounding environment like curtains, carpets, and walls, which can affect the sound. For example, when the TV recognizes that the carpet in the living room is absorbing the mid-range and treble sound, it calibrates its sound to surroundings by boosting the mid and the treble.
When the TV is placed close to the wall, the bass sound can be distorted since there is little space between the wall and the TV. ‘SpaceFit Sound’ can recognize the issue and reinforce the bass to provide a clearer sound.
As more and more customers seek to personalize their space according to their lifestyles, TVs are being watched not only from living rooms and bedrooms, but also in workrooms, and even in kitchens.
The sounds reflected off the surrounding walls, ceilings, and floors are much louder than the sound we directly hear. This means users can feel the sounds from the same product differently depending on the unique size and shape of the place and wall materials.
While users were previously required to configure the audio manually, ‘SpaceFit Sound’ automatically recognizes the users’ environment so no additional setups are required.
“SpaceFit Sound optimizes the sound from content by analyzing user’s surrounding environment,” said Younghun Choi, EVP and Head of R&D Team of Visual Display Business at Samsung Electronics. “What we want is for our customers to just enjoy their TV without any hassle.”
1 Certified models: Q70A, Q80A, Q90A, Q700A, Q800A, Q900A TVs
View the full article
[Interview] Neo QLED 8K Engineers Discuss Packing the TVs’ Ultra-Slim Frames With Powerful Sound TechnologiesBy STF News
On a rainy night, a family gathers in their living room to watch a horror movie. Snuggling up together under a big blanket, they push the sofa closer to the TV to maximize the spooky vibes. What else could they do to take their immersion to the next level?
Samsung Electronics exquisitely refined its Neo QLED 8K lineup’s sound system to allow users to take full advantage of their large TV’s audio quality. The flagship displays were designed to analyze both the size of the space where they sit and how they’ve been installed in order to calibrate sound to its optimal settings. The TVs use that information to pump out realistic, object-tracking sound through their eight total speakers. When applied to our ‘family movie night’ scenario above, the TV’s speakers would compensate for when the family’s thick blanket absorbed the tones of mid-to-high registers, and evenly distribute three-dimensional sound from the corners to the center when the family sat closer to the screen.
To learn more about how Samsung’s newest TVs customize sound based on where users place their screen, and how sound has evolved as tool for fostering immersive home entertainment, Samsung Newsroom sat down with some of the developers behind the displays.
▲ (From left) Engineers Jongbae Kim, Sungjoo Kim and Sunmin Kim of Samsung Electronics’ Visual Display Business.
SpaceFit Does Spatial Analysis Daily to Optimize Sound Settings
Today, with more users watching TV in more places, including living rooms, workrooms, bedrooms, terraces and more, both sitting up and lying down, and at different times of the day, our viewing habits are changing. Now, more users are customizing their viewing experience based on their living environment. With this in mind, the developers focused on creating technology that would automatically analyze users’ viewing environments to ensure that they’re always enjoying the best possible sound. The result is SpaceFit, a feature that automatically checks for changes in your living space once a day and calibrates sound settings accordingly.
Here’s how it works. First, a built-in microphone identifies elements that can affect sound, such as curtains, carpets and walls. Suppose the TV is placed in a user’s living room, which features a carpet that we can assume absorbs mid-to-high range sound. In this case, SpaceFit would optimize sound settings to raise the mid-to-high range sound accordingly and automatically. It works the same regardless of whether stands, wall hangings and other elements are changed. If the TV were to be moved closer to the wall, then the space behind it would become narrower, which could affect low frequency sounds. SpaceFit allows the TV to notice this change and adjust its settings in advance to produce clearer sound.
The key point to remember is that all of these processes occur automatically. As Engineer Sunmin Kim explained, “SpaceFit is an automated function that does not require that users press a button, and the device won’t send out a ‘testing’ sound. By simply turning it on or off, the TV will analyze the environment based on the sound of the content that the user actually consumes. So all you need to do is just enjoying what is being played on screen.”
This industry-first technology was made possible thanks to innovations that were based on a myriad of data and AI technologies. From sound-absorbing areas, such as what are referred to in sound engineering as ‘dead rooms,’ to acoustically reflective spaces, the team considered both extremes in terms of viewing environments.
“Since there were so many variables to consider, we built up a sufficiently wide learning database and analyzed it using machine learning technology. That’s where the AI technologies that Samsung developed kicked in,” said Sunmin Kim, who also noted that the feature “can cover almost any typical space in which a TV may be placed.”
OTS Pro Uses Eight Speakers to Produce 3D Sound From All Corners of the Screen
Content is beginning to make use of a wider range of sound channels, and users’ preferred ways of enjoying that content are also changing. As home entertainment expands and both wide screens and multi-channel sources with immersive formats like films become more popular, it’s becoming commonplace for multiple people to enjoy the same content together. The key here is to widen the ‘sweet spot’ – the location from which users can enjoy optimal sound even at the outside edges of the screen. As content grows more varied and screens become bigger, sound, too, must evolve in a way that enhances users’ enjoyment.
Object Tracking Sound (OTS) technology, a feature that tracks the movement of objects onscreen using the TV’s multi-channel speakers, is allowing Samsung to take users’ enjoyment to the next level. Neo QLED 8K includes an enhanced version of the technology, OTS Pro, and adds two center speakers to previous models’ six-speaker setup, for a total of eight. When an object onscreen moves, the speaker located in the optimal spot for expressing the movement produces sound, matching what the viewer sees on their screen. The immersive sound setup enriches the left and right stereo experience and the 3D effect, taking the viewing experience to new heights by making the user feel as if they were standing in the middle of the action.
“Often, when consuming content on a large screen, viewers watching the TV from both sides notice that sound produced at the center of the screen seems like it’s being produced in only one side,” said Engineer Jongbae Kim. “That’s why we added a center speaker between the left and right sides. The combination of the newly added center speaker and OTS Pro gathers sound in the middle of the screen, makes voices clearer, and expresses sound’s position more accurately, without distortion.”
If a speaker were to actually be placed at the center of a TV, it could clash with the overall design concept. The developers solved this issue by attaching a tweeter applied with a wave guide to the rear of the device. “If a speaker were to be placed on the back, sound would disperse in all directions and bounce off the walls, reducing clarity,” said Engineer Sungjoo Kim. “We needed a technology that drew sound toward viewers when they were in front of their TV. Employing a hole array technique enabled us to ensure that sound would travel well from a tweeter to the front of the display.”
The team’s efforts to balance sound also extend to Samsung’s next-generation MICRO LED display. Because the bottom of this large screen can almost reach the floor of users’ living rooms, if users connect their display to a multi-component home theater setup, there may not be space to place a center speaker.
“The 110-inch MICRO LED lineup features a μ-Symphony function, which allows you to use the built-in speaker as the center speaker,” said Jongbae Kim. “This means that you do not have to use a separate center speaker for your home entertainment system because MICRO LED’s multi-channel speaker fills that role. Because sound comes from the center of the screen, there is no sound-image mismatching, and the user enjoys a cinema-like experience.”
Making Use of Each and Every Piece of a Ultra-Slim Design
The Infinity Screen, a unique aspect of Samsung’s TV design, maximizes immersion by making bezels nearly invisible. It also posed a unique challenge for the developers, requiring them to explore how to best mount multiple speakers within the device’s slim form.
“In the past, a duct structure was used to draw the low frequency sound from the inside of the woofer speaker to the outside,” said Sungjoo Kim. “This type of design is capable of generating unwanted noise resulting from air turbulence. So, for the 8K models, we decided to take a ‘passive radiator’ approach that allowed us to produce rich, low-pitched sound. This not only enabled us to use the limited space inside the slim TV more efficiently, but it also allowed us to create rich and pure sound.”
“By exposing the diaphragm of the woofer and the passive radiator on the back of the TV,” he added, “it became possible to visualize Neo QLED’s sound performance in an interesting and intuitive way.”
It’s just one of Neo QLED TVs’ many innovative, out-of-the-box design elements. To help accommodate for panels becoming thinner and thinner, components that used to serve basic functions have been given new roles. “We used part of the rear cover of the TV as an acoustic component that guides the direction of sound to the sides,” said Jongbae Kim. “We also reinvented the design of the ‘slit vent,’ a component inside the rear cover that extends from the center tweeter to the bottom and was previously used to emit heat, to improve acoustic performance by controlling directivity. We utilized each and every part as much as possible, which means that no element of the design is without purpose.”
Delivering Rich, Realistic Sound
The developers have also gone to great lengths to gain a deeper understanding of the content users enjoy as part of an effort to provide better sound performance. For example, when analyzing sports content, they focus on reproducing the sound of the crowd, while for music, they try to create a stable sound stage. For movies, they conduct constant analysis to ensure that dialogue comes from the center of the screen.
“With speaker form factors changing, upmixing is becoming more important,” said Sunmin Kim. “Input channels are becoming varied, and the average number of speakers is increasing to six to eight, which adds up to countless combinations of inputs and outputs.
“Let’s say you’re enjoying two-channel content. Here, instead of sending signals blindly through eight speakers, it is important to understand the mixing characteristics of the content and send each signal separately. Samsung’s unique technology makes this possible using an optimized algorithm that’s based on AI.”
Samsung TVs have led the global market for 15 years running, and the user data that the company has accumulated thus far has been an invaluable asset. As countless families across the world use Samsung TVs, the ubiquity of the company’s displays offers an opportunity to think about what’s next. Sungjoo Kim hinted at what Samsung has in store. “We are systematically building a deep learning network that is based on numerous data,” said Kim. “In addition, we are going to firmly establish our position as a global leader by discussing technologies needed in the mid-to-long term with Samsung Electronics’ overseas AI research centers.”
In response to an ever-growing flood of content, the developers are committed to helping Samsung TVs deliver a sound experience that’s as close to reality as possible.
Screens are getting bigger, designs are getting slimmer, and content is becoming more varied. Keeping pace with trends, increasing speaker channels and doing so in three dimensions, and advancing our AI technologies to allow channels to better correspond to one another will bring us closer to delivering realistic sound. This may ultimately lead us into an era where you do not need a remote control to adjust sound settings.
Look forward to more Samsung TV innovations designed to maximize users’ viewing experiences.
View the full article