In a corner of an underwhelming office park, in Valencia, California, Samsung is making a serious strategy play. Here, in 2014, Samsung Research America established, and more recently expanded, an audio lab for designing and testing audio components and speaker prototypes — both for standalone speakers and TV-sound systems. Granted, Samsung is not strongly associated with high-end sound, but that’s what this lab and its team wants to change. Yes, sound is the next category that Samsung is applying its “number one in the market” ambitions to. In 2013 it brought in industry heavyweight Allan Devantier — formerly of audio specialists Harman — to head and handpick his team. Last year, Samsung also announced its intention to acquire Harman, and the deal has since been approved by Harman’s shareholders and both EU and Korean competition bodies. It still has to overcome some hurdles, but should the deal go ahead, its reported worth is US$8bn. Back in California, Devantier has pulled togeth...

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