Best of CES 2018: Samsung HW-N650 5.1 Soundbar with Acoustic Beam Technology

HW-N650 soundbar with Hole Array

At CES 2018 I had a chance to demo the HW-N650 in a private screening room, away from the chaos of he show. And the experience immediately demonstrated why Samsung is such a serious force to contend with when it comes to soundbars.

With the HW-N650, we’re looking at a soundbar sporting a new tweeter technology that Samsung calls Acoustic Beam that uses what the company refers to as Hole Array. Hole Array is a series of small ports arranged in a row—like the holes on a recorder or flute—and connected to a tweeter. These holes affect the timing of the treble from soundbar’s tweeters, which results in acoustic beams that create the illusion of a large, enveloping, yet precise audio panorama.

Samsung is targeting the HW-N650 to the console gaming crowd that often use living room TVs with their Xboxes and PlayStations. To that end, the demo I heard was from Rise of the Tomb Raider playing on an Xbox One X and to my ears it was immediately worth recognizing with an AVS Forum Best of CES 2018 award.

The desired effect of this beamforming tech it is to create an uncanny immersive soundfield and it works. The brief demo I heard was proof enough that this technology is not a gimmick, and I was surprised to hear it work when I was standing off to the side, as well as when I was centered.

The HW-N650 soundbar supports 5.1 surround-sound and comes with a 6.5″ active wireless sub. The takeaway is that soundbars are making steady strides in overcoming the acoustical limitations of their form factor. Samsung’s latest is more proof that soundbars keep getting better.

Samsung’s HW-N650 will ship in spring of 2018, with pricing TBA.