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HW-N950 Woes

First Poster

So I've had the n950 for a couple of months now and am having a few real issues.

 

It's linked via HDMI 2.0 to a LG OLED65E8PLA.  Sources are the TV itself, Apple TV 4k, Sky Q and Panasonic UB 9000 UHD player all connected direct to the TV.

 

The room is 16 1/2 foot square with the TV on one side and the Speakers on the other. 

 

1) It frequently loses connection using TV ARC.  Generally, I can turn Anynet + off and on but sometimes only a power cycle seems to cure it.

2) It also frequently loses auto power so I've got to also reset that.

3) I had a Sonos amp connected via optical but that seemed to make issue 1 worse.  I think may have read somewhere that this isn't an intended use so I can't have multiple devices running at the same time.

4) The rear speakers (Not checked the sub) are a bit like Jack the Ripper.  They occasionally appear out of the fog of silence, kick into life briefly and are really notable but generally, you hear hide nor hair from them.  I do live in a block in central London which I'm sure does have a reasonable level of interference.

 

When it's all working its' fab....Dolby vision, ATMOS going lovely but at the moment I'm at the point that I'm thinking that this was a complete mistake and I should have gone for the SONOS, not atmos, solution.  In fact, I far get better performance out of the Bean/Sonos 1 pair solution I have in the study.

 

Any suggestions to troubleshoot/resolve the issues gratefully received.  

 

I would be grateful for any suggestions that anybody has because I'm pulling my hair out.  

59 REPLIES 59
Apprentice
I've had the HW-N950 for a month now and similar to Banjax and many other users youll find on other forums, there does appear to be a potential issue with the soundbar. 

Despite using high quality HDMI cables and compatible TV with HDMI ARC, and a Virgin Tivo box connected to the soundbar via Optical Cable, the rear speakers and bass are mostly ridiculously low.

There are many suggestions that the bass unit shouldnt be far from the main soundbar and placed in a corner and thats why the bass might sound low. This isn't the issue nor an issue in my set up as my sub is placed in a corner and I've tried various placement. There are also suggestions to turn up the individual volume parameters for the rear speaker channels, an upward firing rear and upward firing front speakers. Ive set all of these to +6 (the max) but still, the bass lacks punch and power for most media sources, and the rear speakers output barely a whisper even when the main soundbar is blasting out audio at high levels. Most of the time you have to put your head and ear right up to the rear speakers just to be sure that they are even on. 

What Ive found is that the rear speakers and sub DO come to life when watching media with an ATMOS audio track. For example, the sub and rear speakers tear the house down when watching a bluray with an ATMOS audio soundtrack via my PS4 (Gravity or Mad Max Fury Rd in my case). However, when streaming high quality audio via Bluetooth, watching a Dolby 5.1 coded Bluray, playing a PS4 game, or watching anything on TV; the sub and rear speakers pretty much go to sleep and the volume and bass is massively lower (the front soundbar however, remains working just fine). I'm on the latest firmware 1005.1 so that's not the issue either. It clearly is a case of the soundbar underperforming whenever it's tasked with outputting anything other than ATMOS audio content. Dolby 5.1 content isnt too bad, you do get the occassional sound effects diverted to the rear speakers, but the bass still lacks punch. When playing audio, its almost embarassing that no sound comes out of the rears and the bass is so low. Ive had other soundbars and 5.1 speaker systems before and playing audio, even from a stereo audio source, would still output sound to the rears at the same volume level as the front channels and the bass on my older systems when playing music content and dvds/blurays is far better. Changing the sound mode between Surround, Smart and Off doesnt seem to make any noticeable difference. I'd be greatful if anyone had a solution to this although I suspect this may get fixed with a future firmware update. Clearly the sub and rears have the capability of being ballistic (as I do experience thunderous bass and surround effects when playing ATMOS encoded content)...just not on anything else. Naturally I'd expect sources like YouTube or cable tv to be inferior (as they dont usually output in high quality/dolby audio) , but playing music froma bluetooth source or watching a 5.1 encoded Bluray disc should not result in muted sounds and performance from the sub and rears (especially since older, cheaper systems can clearly do a much better job).

Sadly, Samsung dont seem to understand this problem despite many forums and users complaining of the same thing and other users sometimes seem to think the issue is solved by increasing the individual parameters of each channel. I assure you, that isn't the issue and if you think it is, please try ATMOS content compared to playing music from a Bluetooth source or a 5.1 Blueray movie and you will notice the huge difference is bass output...and you wont notice the rear speakings kicking in more than just a whisper (especially when playing music)!

Banjax; as to your comment about losing connection to TV Arc; I'm sorry I can't comment on this as my connection seems stable. You might try this however: Pull out the plugs to soundbar, sub and rears and your TV. Wait 5 mins. Now, plug in the TV, then the Sub, then the rears and finally the soundbar. On the back of the sub and rears, press and hold the reset button until the indicator light flashes blue quite fast. Once all the rears and sub are flashing blue, turn on the soundbar and on the remote, press and hold the UP button for 5 seconds until you see ID.SET on the soundbar display. The sub and rears should no longer be flashing and instead have a solid blue light and you should be connected again. The TV then should output sound via Arc and hopefully you shouldn't lose connection again. The instructions for this are in the manual... but this order of turning things on with soundbar LAST seems to have better results. Also you may want to just make sure your connections are secure and youre using high quality cables with interference/insualation protection to avoid loss of data which might also be causing the issue.
Apprentice

I'm not experiencing anything like the problems you've mentioned, but my set up is different.

 

I have a Sky Q box and Nvidia Shield connected to the N950, and LG B7 over ARC. I get lossless TrueHD Atmos from the Shield and DD+ Atmos from LG Netflix app, and I agree, Atmos is phenomenally better than regular surround.  

 

However, I find the performance of the rear speakers with normal TV viewing is completely dependent on the source material, sometimes adverts kick in with better surround than the program or film being aired, which is expected. The rears kick out more than acceptable surround volume watching the Simpsons on Sky one, and I have all channel levels set to default (0). I watched the Dark Knight with its regular 5.1 soundtrack in Smart mode and could hear the Joker's bullets peppering the police van, whizzing across the back of my sofa. 

 

My sub is in the corner of the room under the TV unit set to -6 and still shakes the whole house, any higher and it's just too loud! Maybe the size of your room and listening position are affecting it? My TV & sound bar are not against a flat wall, they're in the corner, so I have doubts about my setup being ideal but even so everything sounds fantastic and I have nothing negative to say about the sound.

 

You mentioned connecting your Virgin Tivo box via optical - have you tried HDMI? 

 

You obviously have the PS4 HDMI audio output set to bitstream, have you pressed the options button on the controller during playback of 5.1 discs to check the audio options there? 

Apprentice

Hi phneutral,

Thanks for a detailed response; really appreciate your feedback and experience. I completely agree that performance is completely dependant on source material. I found that watching Toy Story (20 years old) on Virgin TV produced great surround effects (to my disbelief) but strangely, something like Pirates of the Carribean or Black Panther on Bluray Disc produced hardly any surround effects, barely a whisper coming out of the rears and had disappoingly low bass output. I also definitely changed the PS4 settings to output via HDMI directly to soundbar in Bitstream and also changed the audio output option within the movie settings to Dolby. So I would have expected the source audio for something like Black Panther on BluRay to have been much more breathtaking than it was. Turned out Toy Story on live TV sounded better! Very odd. I'll definitely try to use HDMI instead of Optical from my Tivo box to compare - that's a good suggestion as optical is a dated technology now. That said, my previous 5.1 wired set up (KEF KIT520) again produced much better bass and rear volume for 5.1 soundtracks and that was using DVD technology and not even Bluray! Perhaps to really illustrate the issue, when watchin Black Panther on Bluray, there are lots of parts where the music in film bumps up. The main soundbar at these points is loud and clear (at say volume level 15 and individal sound channel set at +3) - but the music coming out of the rears (at +6) is barely a whisper. Surely at this point - the rears should be firing pretty loud because in my old 5.1 set up, the music would have been all around me and not just from the front channels.


What also throws me (and maybe I shouldnt compare) is that when I play audio via Blutooth - again the bass here is disappointing and nothing more than a whisper comes out from the rears (appreciate theres no 5.1 audio on mp3's but at least I would have expected standard stereo to be coming out at a decent volume). I also have a Sony GTK-XB7 wireless speaker (400W) and the bass when playing Bluetooth streamed audio from here completely trumps the N950 in terms of power and punch. On paper, the N950 should perform better? Someone on a previous post did mention that Bluetooth is compressed at 44Hz and so the soundbar can't be faulted here - but how then does my "less capable" Sony GTK-XB7 does a better job. On that point, I also tried playing a high quality audio mp3 from my Laptop using HDMI (to ensure minimal data loss) but the bass again was exactly the same as via Bluetooth. Maybe it is unfair of me to assume the bass would be better - I suppose the N950 is trying to output audio to 17 different channels compare to 2 channels for my GTK-XB7. 

Out of interest, are you on the latest firmware 1005.1? Some users suggest the sound changed when it updated to latest - I stupidly updated straight away and didnt get a chance to compare these scenarios to the factory firmware.

thanks again for your reply, great to have a detailed technical response from someone! 

Apprentice

I'm on the latest firmware, I updated it trying to fix HDMI handshake issues with the Sky Q box (it didn't work, but probably because Sky Q is the problem)

 

My kids had a movie on yesteday with a LPCM 5.1 soundtrack (streaming from Nvidia Shield Plex app) and I thought that'd be a good one to test the rear speakers. I had my ear up, and was thinking where is the surround? It's really quiet! I could hear it sometimes getting louder and other times almost silent, then lo and behold when the movie erupted into action they burst into life and were very loud!

 

I suspect that part of this comes down to the fact that traditional rears are supposed to be for 7.1 content, and we're judging them with 5.1, when actually the side speakers on the sound bar are outputting those channels. I believe DSP would be utilising the rears on a 5.1 soundtrack, and I bet with standard mode you wouldn't hear the rears at all unless you had a 7.1 soundtrack (not tested this).

 

Not bothered with Bluetooth yet since it doesn't support aptX, but playing youtube music videos sounds ok. Your Sony GTK-XB7 is a party boom box marketed as "Sony's new range of EXTRA BASS audio" so I have no doubt that its 400W of power trump the N950 in that department!

 

 

Apprentice
New Member

Hi 

My HW_N950 was working fine (Blu Ray, Xbox all with lovely Dolby Atmos) until one evening I thought wouldnt it be nice to listen to some music via my ipad ... or maybe through google home?  I ended up using the Samsung SmartThings. Anyway, that didnt quite go the way i was hoping and just went the way of the bluetooth - but really wasnt getting a surround experience.  But cut a long (5 hour) story short of swapping/stealing HDMI cables around the house), I found unlugging the Base and rear speakers and soundbar - re-linking worked in the sense I got sound back - but then the bar kept loosing connection after ~ 5mins (with Xbox/Blu Ray).  So if any of this rings true with you, what fixed it was not the throwing away of HDMI (although that helped vent the anger), it was to 'reset' the bar - of course the manual that came with the bar had no clues - the online one seemed to have more info but still no actual instruction.  In the end google (God bless you) indicated that you need to hold the 'gears' button on the remote for some time until you get the 'INIT'.  Hey presto, reliable Dolby Atmos and no more loosing connection sending me back to ARC.

 

Hope that helps someone - it may save some innocent HDMI cables.

Apprentice
"but really wasnt getting a surround experience."

you were listening to 2 channel music, there is no surround experience

that's what 'virtual surround' is for, it forces the system into 7.1 mode regardless of the content
First Poster
Mate, I feel your pain! Honestly if I could get a full refund I would..... the rear speakers just loose connection and you only realise when they just kick back into life when you’re trying watch tv quietly. For something that cost me £1500 o expected much better.
First Poster

I bought my systems a few weeks  ago and I’m having exactly the same issues as others have described such as a like a ridiculous low rear sound and super low bass from subwoofer and only literally when I put my ear over it I can confirm this is indeed turn one. I have tried Spotify via Bluetooth, Netflix via ARC hdmi connection through my TV Samsung app and its in all cases the same frustrating issue. This system does not work properly and even when I call Samsung customer service and explain my issue and they confirm that my installation is correct and that I have seeen losts of other users exactly with the same issue they said that they are not aware of any problem with this product and recommend to contact an engineer from another local shop to assist with the issue. What a joke.

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