[Interview] Beyond the Screen: Samsung’s Sound Device Lab Explains How Audio Shapes the TV Viewing ExperienceBy Samsung Newsroom
Sound has the power to transform how we enjoy visual media, from movies to TV shows. Premium audio brings content to life by invoking emotions — complementing what is on screen and sometimes even foreshadowing what will come next. Sound adds depth and texture to the narrative, enhancing the viewer’s connection to the story unfolding.
▲ One of Samsung’s industry-leading anechoic chambers in Suwon is used to accurately evaluate the audio performance for various products.
Samsung Newsroom sat down with Sunmin Kim and Seongsu Park from the Sound Device Lab within the Visual Display Business at Samsung Electronics to discuss the importance of audio in delivering a superior viewing experience as well as Samsung’s latest innovations in sound and picture quality.
▲ Samsung’s sound engineers explain why audio is so important for the TV viewing experience and introduce some of the latest features based on artificial intelligence (AI).
Bringing Content to Life Through Sound
“Sound plays a very important role in making the content we consume immersive,” said Sunmin Kim, Head of the Sound Device Lab, Visual Display Business at Samsung Electronics. Be it romantic films, funny TV shows or even live sports broadcasts, Kim believes that a majority of the emotional impact from visual content is delivered through sound. “For example, it’s often the background music and sound effects that make horror films more terrifying. If you were to turn off the sound, many scenes wouldn’t be as scary. In fact, you may even find some scenes to be funny.”
▲ “The Sound Device Lab is committed to developing optimal solutions that deliver sound just as artists intended,” said Kim, Head of the Sound Device Lab, Visual Display Business.
“Film, TV and music directors are all artists. And what’s important to me is that they work to amplify stories through sound effects and music,” said Kim. “The goal here at the Sound Device Lab is to deliver content to viewers as the artists intended.”
This can be a daunting task because production and viewing environments tend to vary significantly. Seongsu Park, who oversees speaker development and audio evaluation in the Sound Device Lab, shared some of the challenges his team faces.
“Audio for movies and TV shows, in general, are mixed to a reference level of approximately 85 decibels (dB), equivalent to volume levels found in a movie theater. However, at home, many viewers watch the content at lower volumes. According to our research, many TV viewers reduce the volume to around 60dB, and some even to 20dB, to avoid disturbing neighbors,” explained Park. This means that dialogues that would have been audible in the mixing studio may be indiscernible in the living room. Engineers must consider additional differences in consumers’ viewing environments such as curtains, furniture and other elements that might absorb or deflect sound waves.
▲ “We’ve moved on from front-facing speakers to speakers all around the TV,” said Park of Samsung’s Visual Display Business.
The Sound Device Lab found solutions in the form of hardware and software innovations. From the hardware side, multiple smaller, specialized speakers were introduced to provide surround sound. The software side tuned these speakers to form a balanced audio experience and remixed the sound signals to ensure key sound factors are delivered to viewers.
From Few, Front-Facing to Many, Everywhere-Facing Speakers
TVs are usually limited to their set form factor when producing sound. Recently, this limitation has become increasingly restrictive for sound engineers as TVs have become slimmer from both the front and side. “In the past, huge front-facing stereo speakers were on each side of the TV screen. Current TV designs deny such placement,” said Park. “We were forced to dig deep.”
▲ TV designs have become thinner and slimmer, forcing sound engineers to get creative.
The Sound Device Lab responded to the challenge by developing multiple smaller speaker units for its TVs and placing them away from plain sight. By arranging these units in different directions and coordinating the audio output, the team was able to simulate surround sound.
This technology is further pushed in models that feature Neural Processing Units (NPUs), such as the Neural Quantum Processor found on select Neo QLED TV models, by unlocking features such as Object Tracking Sound (OTS). OTS identifies picture and audio objects on the screen in real time before matching, tracking and coordinating multiple speakers to create a dynamic three-dimensional soundscape.
▲ The latest Samsung TVs utilize a number of distributed speakers to offer a more 3D-like sound.1
To support slimmer bezels and flat-to-the-wall TV designs, sound engineers also had to reduce the physical size of the speakers. Speakers operate by physically pushing out air, so in many cases, speaker performance is directly affected by size. As the Sound Device Lab could not physically enlarge the speakers, it instead focused on the range of movement.
“Let’s say the moving range of a speaker driver is 100. Using 50-70% of that range was considered to be sufficient. To respond to slimmer TV designs, however, we raised that range to 80-85%,” explained Park. “As we fit smaller but more efficient speakers in our TVs, we were not only able to accommodate the slimmer design, but we also ended up improving the collective sound performance.”
▲ A wide range of speakers are strategically positioned in recent Samsung TVs, including up-firing and side-firing hidden center speakers as well as woofers that bounce deep bass off the walls.1
Creating Perfect Balance From Every Angle
While adding speakers resulted in a more immersive and dynamic audio experience, it posed another challenge. Sound engineers had to fine-tune and balance the multiple speakers to achieve a perfect blend of sound. With many speakers operating at differing frequency ranges and all facing different directions, tuning them to work in unison as a single balanced unit became exponentially difficult — but it had to be done.
The effort started with gathering accurate data. In anechoic and semi-anechoic chambers, the Sound Device Lab members measured TV sounds from 323 different points, covering the entire range of TV viewing, for each of the settings until the frequency and volume balance was optimal. After that, they took each model to listening rooms and simulated various real-life living room settings to ensure the speakers were tuned to perfection.
▲ Direct sounds, sans echoes and reverberations, are measured and tuned at a total of 323 points by adjusting TV angles. This is an essential process in tuning each unit to an optimal sound balance.
▲ (Clockwise from the top left) The images represent the following: (1) a graph measuring Sound Pressure Level (SPL) by frequency band at a specific angle, (2) SPL in a specific frequency space, (3) SPL by distance for all frequency bands and SPL by frequency band at an angle from a specific direction and (4) a graph combining measurements from all 323 points. This is the process of finding a “Target Curve” that ensures even sound distribution within the human hearing range, tuning each speaker to deliver excellent sound quality from any angle.
As the global TV market leader for 17 consecutive years, Samsung remains committed to innovating the TV experience. So, what’s next?
“I was shocked when a colleague told me that the volume keys are the most frequently pressed buttons on a TV remote. This signals a clear inconvenience. So, it has become a vision of mine to remove the volume buttons completely from the remote control,” shared Park, expressing his desire to enable Samsung TVs to automatically adjust the volume based on surrounding noise.
“Great technology produces and delivers accurate sound,” said Kim. “We will continue to incorporate our long-running expertise with newer technologies such as AI to create as close a reference sound as possible.”
In the next part of this series, Samsung Newsroom will explore the role of AI in elevating audio performance and sound experiences.
1 Speaker locations may vary by model.
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By Samsung Newsroom
To enjoy their favorite content to the fullest, more and more consumers are seeking to purchase larger TVs for their homes. According to market research firm Omdia, the global market size of 85-inch screens has grown drastically from 180,000 units sold in 2019 to 1.87 million units sold in 2022. Likewise, for 98-inch screens, the global market has increased from less than 1,000 units sold in 2019 to about 160,000 units sold in 2022.
To discuss the shifting market trends towards ultra-large TVs, Samsung Newsroom sat down with Heejin Chae, TV Product Planning, Samsung Electronics, and Sangyeob Kim, Samsung Store, and learned more about how Samsung Electronics is providing revamped viewing experiences through ultra-large TVs.
▲ People in charge of product planning, sales and design talk about ultra-large 98-inch TVs
Bigger, Better Viewing Experiences With Wider TVs
With its breathtaking size able to display exceptional detail on a grander scale, the 98-inch TV has become the new standard for ultra-large TVs. In line with such trends, Samsung unveiled the 2023 98-inch Neo QLED 8K at CES 2023, offering consumers bright colors and extremely vivid details on a brilliantly large screen. As standard TV sizes have grown larger over the years, Samsung adapted to industry trends and consumer demands by developing ultra-large TVs for better viewing experiences.
“About ten years ago, a 60-inch TV was considered a large TV. But as time went by, 65-inch TVs became mainstream, and now 75-inch and 85-inch TVs have become popular, demonstrating consumers’ growing demand for larger TVs,” said Chae. “In fact, our customer survey showed that 75% of consumers bought, on average, a TV 13 inches bigger than their previously purchased TV model.”
▲ Heejin Chae explains how evolving consumer demands have shaped Samsung’s product offerings.
Additionally, with the popularity of streaming services, consumers are increasingly purchasing ultra-large TVs to enhance their at-home viewing experiences. “An astronomical number of people have started using streaming services since the pandemic as they increasingly consumed content like movies and sports,” said Chae. “As a result, the demand for ultra-large TVs has risen, as they give a more immersive viewing experience.”
Younger generations also seem to prefer larger screens, furthering the popularity of ultra-large TVs. While people in their 40s and 50s made up more than half of the consumer base who purchased TVs over 80 inches in 2015, those in their 30s and 40s have led sales in the ultra-large TV market since 2021.
As these factors and preferences become more prevalent among users, the ultra-large TV market will continue to grow. “The ultra-large TV is an inevitable trend, and consumers are ready to enjoy extremely large TVs,” Chae said.
Comfortable Viewing at Further Distances
One of the biggest concerns when buying an ultra-large TV is the viewing distance — how far away the viewer is from the TV and whether that space is available at home. “As the viewing distance of the 98-inch NEO QLED TV has been shortened compared to previous ultra-large TVs, viewers can comfortably watch from as close as 4 meters away,“ said Kim.
▲ Sangyeob Kim discusses how the viewing distance of a TV affects the viewing experience.
“We created a space in the store with a sofa to simulate the viewing distance at home. We move the sofa to help customers gauge the viewing distance for smaller and larger rooms. Once the customers get a feel of how the TV would fit in their homes, they tend to prefer the larger models,” Kim added.
While some may have concerns about the large size of the TV, Kim explained that many consumers wish they had bought a larger size after opting for a smaller screen. “I’ve had customers call me after they had their TVs installed, asking if they can return their purchase for a larger one. That really puts me on the spot,” Kim stated. “Some even said they received the wrong TV size, claiming their TV seemed too small.”
When asked about delivery and installation, Kim explained that Samsung has worked diligently to ensure customers can receive their products easily in the comfort of their homes. “98 inches is the largest TV size that a standard Korean apartment elevator can accommodate. And when the elevator is too small, we offer other optimized delivery and installation services based on the customer’s environment,” Kim explained. “In fact, we even once successfully installed a TV after climbing a spiral ladder at a two-story house.”
“We thoroughly communicate with our customers and closely look at various factors in advance, such as whether it is possible to place the ultra-large TV on a table or wall mount it,” Kim added.
From Viewing to Experience: Changing the Living Room Culture
As TVs at home provide diverse content such as games, sports, movies and fitness content, the role TVs play has changed. As immersion is a top priority for many consumers, the popularity of large TVs is likely to continue as many consumers seek TVs that provide breathtaking experiences for all types of content.
▲ (From left) Heejin Chae, TV Product Planning, Samsung Electronics, and Sangyeob Kim, Samsung Store
“Hands-on experience is necessary to show people how great a large TV is,” said Kim. “As a TV is usually the main design focal point in a room, I recommend experiencing it in person.”
“When my acquaintances ask for advice about what TV to purchase, I first ask them what kind of activities they would do with their TV,” said Chae. “A larger display gives a more immersive experience. If users continue to utilize TVs for multiple purposes — including video calls, home training, gaming, etc. — ultra-large TVs will continue to be popular.”
“TVs help shape the living room culture, so purchasing a new set is like an investment for the next 10 years. We will continue to focus on these aspects as we plan for future TV products. I believe Samsung TVs will continue to be at the center of home entertainment,” Chae stated.
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DALLAS—Parks Associates has released consumer research showing that in Q3 2021, 27% of US broadband subscribers reported that smart TV’s using the Samsung Tizen operating system were their primary device for consuming video content.
The data highlighted the fact that more “changes are coming for the video entertainment market in 2022," said Eric Sorensen, senior contributing analyst, Parks Associates. "The smart TV will cement its status as the default streaming platform in the households. We will see many more content partnerships and service acquisitions among providers and manufacturers. Content creators will leverage their ability to reach audiences directly, while service and content providers will adapt their business models to anticipate higher levels of churn than in previous years."
Acquisitions and consolidations are becoming key options for streaming firms to compete in the face of limited material and the constant demand for more new content, Parks also reported.
It’s OTT Video Tracker found that the average churn rate for SVODs increased to 45% in 2021, a 5.5 percentage point jump from 2020. Consumers hold on to the services they use the most and jump among the others, paying for a program or season and then canceling when they are finished, Parks reported. The number of subscriptions may rise and fall over time, indicating that churn rates will continue to be elevated in 2022.
Parks Associates also reported that streaming media providers will face increasing competition from digital and social content producers in 2022. Popular online content creators are circumventing established distribution models and building their streaming applications from the ground up. For instance, KevOnStage Studios, created by comedian and multi-viral content producer Kevin Fredericks, whose stage name is KevOnStage, is very successful with his YouTube channel.
"Streaming apps provide new revenue opportunities, especially with the chance to retain content ownership rights," Sorensen said. "Digital content creators can monetize content and build audiences collected from social networking and video sharing platforms to their streaming applications and websites."
The OTT Video Market Tracker, an annual service from Parks Associates, features monthly updates on trends and market activities in the OTT video space, including comprehensive tracking of existing and emerging players and quarterly subscriber estimates.
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By Samsung Newsroom
Samsung Electronics today announced that the HDR10+ Adaptive feature will be supported in Samsung TVs, which improves the HDR10+ viewing experience in customers’ homes regardless of the lighting conditions. HDR10+ Adaptive supports Filmmaker Mode and adapts to brighter rooms so customers can enjoy a true cinematic experience with HDR10+ movies and television programs in any environment at home. HDR10+ Adaptive will launch globally with Samsung’s upcoming QLED TV products.
While viewing HDR content is typically optimal in a darkened environment, customers’ viewing environments may vary greatly depending on a wide array of factors, including room lighting, time of day, and proximity to windows. The HDR10+ Adaptive feature supports dynamic scene-by-scene optimization, following guidelines from the HDR10+ LLC, and can now adjust to any room lighting condition, further enhancing the HDR experience. This feature utilizes the TV’s light sensor and ensures that the screen brings to life the creative intent without any loss of details or contrast. All Prime Video HDR content is automatically delivered in HDR10+.
HDR10+ Adaptive on Samsung QLED TVs also supports Filmmaker Mode, a display setting that Samsung – as a member of the UHD Alliance – developed in partnership with filmmakers, studios and consumer electronics manufacturers. Samsung and Amazon Prime Video teamed up to enable Filmmaker Mode and HDR10+ Adaptive for Prime Video customers.
“We are always looking for new features and innovations that can help improve the customer experience,” said BA Winston, Global Head of Video Playback and Delivery at Amazon Prime Video. “With HDR10+ and Filmmaker mode, Prime Video content is optimized regardless of the viewing environment and customers can enjoy movies and TV shows the way the filmmakers intended.”
More contents are becoming available in HDR10+ with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (UPHE) and Samsung extending its technology partnership to include even more HDR10+ catalogues and new titles for distribution on OTT services around the world.
“As consumers spend more time at home, Samsung has been looking for ways to enrich consumers’ entertainment experience in the comfort of their homes,” said Younghun Choi, Executive Vice President of Visual Display Business at Samsung Electronics. “We are delighted to offer smart picture quality solutions that will enhance consumers’ at-home HDR viewing experience, bringing original-quality cinematic experience to our consumers around the world.”
“Samsung has demonstrated exceptional commitment in developing HDR10+ technology and bringing the industry together in support,” said Michael Aaronson, Senior Vice President, Digital Distribution, UPHE. “We are pleased to further expand our partnership with Samsung as we work to bring more titles into this advanced in-home viewing ecosystem to movie audiences worldwide.”
UHD titles available on Prime Video also include HDR10+ so all Prime Video customers can enjoy the improved HDR experience with most Samsung QLED TVs regardless of room lighting conditions.
For more information on Samsung TV, please visit www.samsung.com.
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