Original topic:

Dolby Atmos via eARC support for Soundbar HW-K950

(Topic created on: 1/24/21 1:07 PM)
marekro
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Dear Samsung Community, I have a question regarding Samsung Soundbar HW-K950/EN:
While I can play Bluray discs and USB Storage content with Dolby Atmos audio nicely (UHD player connected to soundbar HDMI1), there is no Dolby Atmos support via ARC, when playing content with Atmos from the TV set. I checked several sources, and tried with a Dolby Atmos demo trailer on a USB stick (both formats: TrueHD 7.1 and DolbyDigitalPlus), and it seems that eARC would be required for Dolby Atmos transmission from TV to soundbar. The 2017 built Samsung HW-K950 soundbar does not have that (it has only ARC), however it is built for Dolby Atmos support, and it may be possible to enable this by a firmware update, as some postings say. Also, I found on the HDMI2.1 spec the information that a regular HDMI cable with Ethernet is sufficient for both ARC and eARC (see 

https://www.hdmi.org/spec/hdmi2_1). This suggests to me that a firmware update may enable the soundbar to receive Dolby Atmos audio via (e)ARC as it does via the HDMI1/2 ports. Is this correct?

 

The next question being, how many users would be interested in this.
Therefore I am reaching out here to ask the community whether you would also appreciate such a firmware update to enable Dolby Atmos capable soundbars, like the HW-K950, for eARC so that e.g. streaming content with Dolby Atmos audio can be directly sent from modern UHD TV sets to the soundbar, without having to fall back to an external UHD receiver.
Please comment this post, if you too would like Samsung to publish a firmware update to support Dolby Atmos audio via eARC for soundbars that have Dolby Atmos capabilities. I would like to add that I like the soundbar a lot, and it was expensive enough to justify a reasonable modernization (by firmware update) to support the trend to high quality audio streaming content.
Thank you, and looking forward to hear from you!
6 Replies
marekro
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One addition: in this thread:

https://us.community.samsung.com/t5/Home-Theater/Update-LOVE-2016-Soundbar-w-Dolby-Atmos-HW-K950/td-...

I read that a user has proof that Dolby Atmos works over ARC when streaming an Amazon Prime movie with the HW-N950. Would it be the same with an HW-K950, or is there some specific difference? Or would a software update for HW-K950 just solve the problem that I am having?

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user1quTDZD1T2
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Back when this soundbar was released a ton of us asked for an update to allow DD+ over arc, but no firmware updates have been released since 2018.  So it's not gonna happen.  

marekro
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With all due respect: unless Samsung explains that there is a hardware limitation in the soundbar HW-K950 that prevents DD+ with Atmos over ARC, we are talking about software (sorry for the typo in my original post - I don't think that this soundbar can be enabled for eARC just by software; that said, DD+ with Atmos over ARC is all we'd need). Whether or not there has or hasn't been a software update for some time doesn't mean there can't be any. I disagree with that kind of conclusion.

Rather, I would like to point out that today there are more and more TV sets supporting 4K, DD+, Atmos, ... on the market, and becoming more and more affordable, too, which feature streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, which are increasing their high quality video/audio content. I appreciate that there have been early initiatives pointing out missing DD+/Atmos support; my view is that for a (former) flagship product it is never too late to provide a software update, enabling a high quality experience for the increasing amount of content becoming available today.

I do like to think positive: instead of giving up, why not raise our voices as owners of this Samsung product, and unite in kindly asking the vendor to appreciate our invest in this product, by enabling the Dolby Atmos feature over ARC? Being a software developer myself, I think that it is a low or moderate effort to backport a feature which already exists in other products.

Anyone would like to join in? Any comment from the Samsung product development team?

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userlC4tqEq7Sx
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I’ve had nothing but trouble with the K950 since I got it, and it all appears to be down to the firmware. With a newer, 2019 Samsung TV and the Xbox Series X, the shortcomings of the firmware are becoming more evident.

The TV doesn’t recognise the DD+ option via Ultra-fast HDMI, so I can only get Atmos from the Xbox, none of the other smart apps on the TV detect the Atmos functionality. 

With the release of the Xbox Series X comes the requirement for HDMI 2.2a and HDCP support. Because the soundbar doesn’t have this, I can’t watch films on my Xbox - DVDs or purchased movies.

Speaking to Samsung Support, who have told me the Soundbar doesn’t support Atmos, they asked me to update the firmware, which as a previous poster commented, the most recent version is 2018, with no mentions of upgrades.

I hope they do fix this, surely newer firmware for newer soundbars can be reverse-engineered for the K950 etc?

userVR32Xr9Xx6
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I'm with you. I bought the K950 back in 2017 when I bought my Q7 TV. I didn't know that at the time, Samsung didn't support Atmos on their TVs. Why make a dang Atmos soundbar then?Almost $6k spent for nothing.

Now I have a TCL 8 Series and finally thought I could get Atmos with my $1500 K950...nope. K950 doesn't have eARC. 

I tried plugging my Chromecast with google TV, which supports Atmos, directly to sound bar and I hear sound until I start an atmos movie, then no sound plays.

I've never got this dang soundbar to work right; what a waste of money.

I can't believe samsung would charge customers $1500 for a soundbar and never update it to be useful. Now, even if you buy a new Samsung TV, they won't even support Dolby Vision. I'll never buy another samsung product again

 

 

 

 

marekro
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Thank you for sharing your views, I sincerely hope that someone in Samsung is reading this and will understand that customers left alone with an expensive flagship device won't come back.

This is even more fustrating because all we're asking for are software updates, that take into account some recent developments. I did some more research and tests, and would like to share my findings here.

ARC and eARC
The problem here is that the signalling of eARC differs hardware-wise from ARC. Devices that have eARC can usually fall back to ARC, but the advanced features of eARC won't be available then. However, the ARC (not eARC) bandwidth is sufficient for Dolby Digital Plus 5.1, including Atmos; that said, the soundbar has to "advertise" this capability to the sending device, which the HW-K950 currently doesn't. And that is a mere software thing. An update of the soundbar firmware would enable modern smart TVs running e.g. Netflix or Amazon Prime to send DD+ with Atmos to the soundbar over ARC.

HDMI in
When the source device (e.g. a Bluray Player) is connected to the HW-K950's HDMI 1 or 2 input, and the TV set to HDMI Out (ARC), then I am able to play back Dolby Atmos from Bluray disks and Mediaserver/USB content. However, the multi-channel digital audio content of SACDs (Super Audio CDs, using the DSD format) is unintelligible to the HW-K950, both when sent directly as a 2.8MBit bitstream or a 5.1 PCM stream (transcoded by the player). Also here I suspect that this could be enabled with a soundbar software update.

And one more observation: running the Netflix app on the Bluray-Player, I cannot play back Dolby Atmos audio! It seems that the HW-K950 soundbar does not properly advertise itself over HDMI as Atmos-capable, such that the Netflix app does not even offer to use the Atmos audio option - and one cannot force it either. So again, a software update of the soundbar would be required to unblock the situation.

Bottom line: hardware-wise, the soundbar is capable to process Dolby Digital Plus, TrueHD and Atmos - that is proven with Bluray disks, but it is limited to ARC when playing back audio coming from the TV set; this means that e.g. Dolby True HD 7.1 can't be transmitted - it requires eARC. After 2017, there have been a number of gradual updates to HDMI and ARC, and the (compressed) Dolby audio formats. Given that the soundbar can do firmware updates, and that the general processing capabilities are there, a software update could modernize the HW-K950 (and other) soundbars to safeguard the invest that we all made into this device.

Dear Samsung team - please consider to demonstrate that you care for your community, and support a sustainable use of your devices. Thanks in advance!

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