This week Samsung has gone big on the TV news, with its almost-bezel-free 8K Q950 being the crowning glory of the new lineup.
While 8K televisions may seem to be all about image quality, Samsung has also gone big on sound with its new Q-Symphony, Object tracking Sound and Active Voice Amplifier capabilities. I had the chance to hear the latter in action in CES and was pleasantly surprised.
Active Voice Amplifier (AVA) adjusts the volume of the voices in whatever content you're watching based on the ambient noise in the room.
If someone starts vacuuming, it should trigger the TV to make the voices louder. It won't boost the volume of the music, background or anything else sound-related in the TV or show.
This was demonstrated at CES by running a blender next to the TV while ACA was toggled off and on. The difference was actually incredible. The voice were difficult to hear in the initial demonstration. Here's how they sounded with ACA:
While this was obviously in a controlled environment, it was still impressive to hear how quickly AVA came into effect.
The only thing I don't like is how this transforms the TV into another smart device that always has a microphone turned on. While modern smart TVs with assistant capabilities (Google, Alexa, Bixby), already suffer from this - I don't feel like I'm losing much functionality if I toggle that feature off. Plus, some TV remotes have a dedicated button to toggle the assistant which negates the need for the device to always be listening.
While I choose not to use an assistant for my home TV, AVA actually seems convenient and useful to me. However, the only way it can work is by constantly monitoring the ambient sound in a room. While that won't bother some people, others certainly won't like it.
Fortunately, you can toggle it off in the settings if you're not keen. We also understand that voices aren't being recorded by this function and are not being sent to a cloud.
While I don't think I'll ever need to make a smoothie next to my TV, my kitchen is right next to my lounge room. This often results in loud cooking and blending noises impacting on the TV viewing experience. Similarly, I'd love to still be able to hear my trash while running the Dyson or drying my hair in front of the TV. As it turns out, that's going to be a reality in the not-too-distant future.