New Gear: Summer 2022 Page 2

Samsung’s Flagship Soundbar Tests the Boundaries

Samsung’s latest soundbar system is the HW-Q990B ($1,900), an ambitious 11.1.4-channel setup featuring Dolby Atmos and DTS:X immersive surround-sound processing, which in the case of Atmos is wireless, negating the need for a wired HDMI connection.

The 48.5-inch-wide bar uses four up-firing drivers to convey height effects and employs Samsung’s Q-Symphony system, which uses the speakers in compatible Samsung TVs to enhance the overall spaciousness of the sonic presentation. Total power is 656 watts and the system includes a wireless subwoofer and two rear surround speakers.

Samsung’s SpaceFit Sound+ processing analyzes room acoustics and automatically calibrates the sound to improve overall performance, while an “active voice amplifier” works to enhance the clarity of dialogue. A Game Pro Mode that uses the soundbar’s up-firing drivers to create a more enveloping gaming experience is also provided.

Besides Bluetooth, the soundbar supports streaming via Apple’s AirPlay 2 platform and offers a tap and play feature for playing music and podcasts from a mobile device. The system is equipped with an optical digital audio input and two HDMI ports, one of which is eARC-enabled. Wi-Fi (2.4 and 5GHz) and Alexa voice-control are built in and the system includes a remote control. For more information, visit

iFi Elevates Portable Audio with New DAC/Amp

Shrinking shelf-worthy components down to a size you can take with you is no easy feat. But that’s what iFi Audio seems to have done with the xDSD Gryphon, a portable DAC (digital-to-analog converter)/amp that adds Bluetooth connectivity. The $599 unit replaces the company’s xDSD and xCAN models and, according to iFi, combines the functionality of the earlier models with redesigned circuitry that elevates performance to levels not typically seen in portable audio.

The xDSD Gryphon is equipped with a Burr-Brown DAC and is said to handle the highest resolution PCM, DSD, and DXD files in addition to decoding MQA files. It offers digital (USB-C and S/PDIF) ports plus analog (balanced Pentaconn and single-ended 3.5mm) jacks and supports Bluetooth 5.1 with aptX Adaptive and aptX HD for securely sourcing music from smartphones, tablets, and other devices.

An OLED-type onscreen menu keeps you apprised of current settings. You can, for instance, engage the XBass II and XSpace modes to boost bass and create the spacious feel of a live concert. The xDSD Gryphon measures 4.8 x 3 x 0.7 inches and weighs half a pound. An optional suede carrying case is available for $39. For more information, visit

ZVOX Reaches New Heights in Dialogue Clarity

With a new low-profile design, the AV355 ($200) is the latest offering from ZVOX, a company known for its line of dialogue enhancing TV speakers. The soundbar features 12 levels of patented AccuVoice technology — including six SuperVoice modes — that separates voices from other sounds to make dialogue more intelligible. This latest implementation of the technology is said to be the company’s most sophisticated to date.

Designed to fit in front of and under most TVs, the AV355 houses three high-performance drivers in an enclosure 24 inches wide, 3.5 inches deep, and just over 2 inches high. The system is Alexa-ready for use with voice-assistant-enabled Amazon Echo products and provides a virtual surround sound mode and output leveling feature that automatically lowers the volume of obnoxiously loud commercials.

Beyond enhancing speech and dialogue in a program, the SuperVoice technology is said to soften background effects so they don’t override the intelligibility of spoken words. According to the company, proprietary algorithms boost and clarify voices without significant volume or tonal changes to other portions of the show’s audio.

The AV355 sports an optical digital input and a 3.5mm analog input. It also has a 3.5mm analog output for use with headphones or a subwoofer. Optical digital and analog cables are included along with an RCA-to-3.5mm minijack cable.

The soundbar is offered with a black, bronze, or graphite colored steel grille. For more information, visit