The Samsung HW-K850 is an odd creation. It offers supreme sound quality, with Dolby Atmos audio support, but it does so at a very expensive price point, particularly for a single soundbar and subwoofer combination.
The Korean giant is known for its excellent audio products, and the HW-K950 that it sells is one of the best soundbars you will hear.
The HW-K850, though, takes that soundbar and subwoofer, but drops the two satellite speakers, effectively offering half a surround sound system. And this also has an effect on the Dolby Atmos capabilities that you get.
And that’s because for those that want true surround sound, the option of pairing this one with the Samsung R3, R5, or R7 speakers as optional satellites is very much possible, but doing so will not give them the Atmos height that the HW-K950 speakers offer.
Nor can you go an add a pair of Dolby Atmos rears to complete the deal, which is disappointing considering the price you pay for this soundbar.
That said, the sound quality you get from the HW-K850 is sublime.
There’s a convincing sense to the height you get from the audio, and decent width and directionality to go with it. Yes, it is not the best at creating a 3D bubble of sound that one expects from a Dolby Atmos configuration, but there’s much to like here.
A lot of it has got to do with the fact that it packs in 11 drivers in total — three each for the left, center, and right channels. Plus, a pair of upward firing drivers for the upper left and upper right Dolby Atmos channels. This does make it a very big soundbar, making it best suited for larger TVs.
In terms of design, this is a very neat creation.
Of particular note is the white OLED display behind the metal grille that lets you know which mode you are in. There is a sense of style here, which goes well with any high-end television set you pair it with.
However, this does not extend to the physical connections you get on the Samsung HW-K850. There’s a distinct lack of connections at the back, which is surprising to see at this price point. You only get one HDMI input and output, though the good thing is that both are 4K passthrough enabled.
The output is also ARC ready.
But while you get an optical S/PDIF and 3.5mm analog input, a coaxial S/PDIF or stereo input is nowhere to be found. Which is a letdown for a soundbar that costs this much.
Luckily, wireless connectivity fares much better. You get excellent multiroom support, as well as an array of streaming options. Everything from DLNA servers to online services are covered, including popular ones like Spotify Connect, Tidal, and Amazon Music.
No AirPlay, though.
Overall, the Samsung HW-K850 is a wonderful soundbar, and one that is better at simulating surround sound than most other standalone models. But the fact that it’s expensive, and misses certain features, lets it down in some regards.
Good directional audio
Dolby Atmos support
Excellent wireless connectivity
Expensive, for what it offers
Limited selection of inputs and output