Samsung’s Jim Kiczek shows off new gaming soundbar, retro-futuristic speakers

When people think Samsung, they probably think phones and TVs first. There’s no better way to further accentuate that latter category than Samsung’s 146-inch MicroLED, modular monster of a 4K TV, which was the centerpiece of the company’s First Look event ahead of the show at CES 2018. But as our interview with Samsung Vice President of Digital Audio and Video Jim Kiczek illuminates, the company is also deeply interested in pushing its expanding tentacles deep into the audio market, and the company showed off some cool new products at the event to get things rolling for 2018.

The core of Samsung’s 2018 audio push appears to be the new HW-N650 soundbar, which offers some very intriguing new features aimed not only at movie and music fans, but also at gamers. The bar looks similar to other new soundbars birthed from Samsung’s new audio lab in California, but some intriguing design traits immediately set it apart from its predecessors. Just beneath the surface of the soundbar’s top face is a tubular sound port flanked by dual tweeters and aligned with small ports, called a “hole array,” that are designed to push sound out of the top through “highly directional acoustic beams.”

Kiczek described the new hole array as working similar to the way a flute outputs sound through its finger holes. In this case, those holes are designed to allow for a sweeping sound stage up front to bring gamers closer to the action and follow their character around, allowing for more accurate responses during serious gaming.

While we don’t yet have pricing for the soundbar, it’s expected to be released in spring 2018.

Samsung’s recent acquisition of audio brand Harman and all its multiple subsidiaries has also helped the company add some new multiroom speakers to its growing collection, called the VL series. The VL-3 (we’re assuming there’s a dash there) is the smaller of the two, boasting a single woofer and tweeter set, while the VL-5 is the big boy, offering three woofers and dual tweeters. The speakers were set behind the bar at Samsung’s event and offered plenty of power as they splashed out sound across the large crowd in attendance.

And while multiroom speakers are nothing new, as Kiczek points out, the most intriguing feature for the speakers is the new magnetic control dial which tags along with them. It allows you to control volume, play/pause, and song skipping from virtually anywhere in your home — from the front grill of the speakers, to your easy chair or even the side of your fridge.

We don’t have exact pricing or release dates for the new audio gear just yet, but we’ll be keeping an eye on them to bring in for review after the show, so stay tuned.

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