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Samsung HW-Q990C soundbar evaluate: An all-inclusive Atmos setup

Searching for a house theater setup sometimes means shopping for a soundbar, subwoofer and rear audio system individually. Some corporations might embody a sub with the soundbar, however you don’t all the time get the whole lot you’ll want for essentially the most immersive sound in the identical field with high-end fashions. Samsung contains all of these further audio system with the HW-Q990C soundbar ($1,900), although you’re clearly paying a premium. The corporate gives Dolby Atmos together with a variety of audio choices and two HDMI inputs, beaming crisp 11.1.4-channel sound into your front room. The Q990C is a major funding, but it surely’s additionally one-stop procuring.

Design

Because the Q990C is Samsung’s high-end soundbar in its present lineup, it’s additionally the most important. It’s 48.5-inches vast, which is definitely about three inches lower than the Sony HT-A7000. After all, corporations want the additional area on the flagship fashions to pack in the entire audio system. In Samsung’s case, the Q990C homes 11 front-facing drivers (together with some side-firing), 4 up-firing drivers and an inside subwoofer. The separate wi-fi sub can also be substantial at 16 x 16 x 8 inches and weighing in at 26 kilos. The wi-fi rear audio system aren’t large, however they do have a three-driver setup with front-, side- and up-firing drivers the place different corporations would possibly solely have one.

Professionals

  • All-inclusive bundle
  • Detailed and immersive sound
  • Rear audio system include upfiring drivers
  • Straightforward setup

Cons

  • Costly
  • Soundbar and sub are massive
  • Some options require a Samsung TV
  • No HDMI 2.1

Samsung HW-Q990C soundbar

SAMSUNG

Samsung HW-Q990C soundbar

Samsung’s present flagship soundbar is a whole bundle, and a sonic powerhouse. It delivers immersive Dolby Atmos and reliably upscales different content material, but it surely lacks HDMI 2.1.

Samsung opted for a mesh plastic masking for each the soundbar and rear audio system. It’s simpler to maintain clear than the standard speaker material. Samsung additionally saved issues easy on the soundbar itself, placing simply 4 buttons up high. Right here, you’ll discover a multi-function button that both turns the speaker on or cycles by the enter sources. Quantity controls and a microphone mute. From the entrance, a small show on the precise facet will present you enter info, quantity stage and different settings. As a substitute all 90-degree angles the Q990C’s facet panels comply with the place of the side-firing audio system.

Setup

The preliminary setup for the Q990C is among the many best I’ve ever accomplished for a house leisure bundle. When you energy on the soundbar and join it to the SmartThings app, the subwoofer and rear audio system are mechanically added whenever you flip them on. There’s no ready for something to sync and I didn’t have to attach every factor individually. There are buttons on the sub and rears if that you must manually hook up with the soundbar, however I by no means had to make use of them. The entire thing was fast and frustration-free, which will get you to the music and flicks quickly after unboxing.

Like many flagship soundbars, Samsung has included two further HDMI inputs on high of the HDMI eARC jack you’ll use to attach your TV. Many extra reasonably priced, extra compact fashions solely have the eARC connection so you need to depend on your TV’s ports, however the pricier fashions sometimes supply further choices for connecting on to the soundbar. Samsung says you’ll be able to count on 4K/60 and HDR10+ passthrough on the Q990C, however not 4K/120 because the unit doesn’t have HDMI 2.1. That’s a giant omission in a $1,900 soundbar being offered in 2023.

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There’s additionally an optical enter on the Q990C in addition to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. The latter brings Tidal Join, Spotify Join and AirPlay to the combination. It additionally means that you can join wirelessly to a suitable Samsung TV for audio. This implies you may get Dolby Atmos to the soundbar with no cables working out of your tv, which is helpful in the event you’ve already mounted the show flush with the wall. And when you have a suitable Samsung cellphone, you’ll be able to allow Faucet Sound which connects to the Q990C through Bluetooth whenever you gently contact the speaker with the handset. As an iPhone person, I wasn’t capable of check this.

SmartThings app and different options

Samsung HW-Q990C soundbar review
One of many rear audio system

Picture by Billy Steele/Engadget

Along with serving to with setup, the SmartThings app is the place you’ll be able to tweak the Q990C’s settings. The present enter and quantity controls are essentially the most distinguished on the gadget display screen, with sound modes, EQ and woofer stage just under. There are additionally choices for SpaceFit Sound, which mechanically tunes the audio to the room, and Energetic Voice Amplifier, which combats room noise by optimizing on-screen dialog. The superior settings menu gives voice and bass enhancement alongside a Evening Mode, however all of those are on or off toggles with no additional customization. SmartThings means that you can select both Bixby or Alexa for the voice assistant you wish to make use of on the soundbar.

Samsung helps you to select between Normal, Encompass, Sport Professional and Adaptive Sound modes. The primary doesn’t tweak the audio in any respect and it’s the one mode the place the absolutely adjustable EQ is offered (simply bass and treble on the remaining). For the entire others, the Q990C upscales 2.0, 5.1 and seven.1 audio to the 11.1.4-channel output the soundbar gives. After all, all Dolby Atmos and DTS:X content material is beamed out at 11.1.4, too. Encompass mode is self-explanatory whereas Sport Professional creates extra immersive audio with 3D-optimized sound particularly for gaming. Adaptive Sound is the choice I used most because it analyzes audio in actual time to maintain dialog sounding clear throughout a variety of volumes for motion pictures, information and sports activities. I discovered it the best-sounding preset for music, too.

Along with deciding on a sound mode within the app, you’ll be able to cycle by them with a devoted button the included distant. It additionally provides you entry to SpaceFit Sound, Energetic Voice Amplifier, Voice Enhancement and extra with a Sound Management button that’s labeled with the settings/gear icon. A Channel Stage button helps you to modify the amount of every speaker, with Heart stage, Facet stage, Broad stage, Entrance High stage, Rear stage, Rear high stage and Rear facet stage among the many selections. There’s additionally a button for Tone Management, placing bass and treble tweaks only a few button presses away. These are all along with the usual energy, enter, quantity (total and subwoofer solely), mute, pairing and playback choices soundbar remotes sometimes have.

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Sound high quality

Due to the Q990C’s upscaling skills, almost each film or TV present sounds extra immersive than in the event you have been listening in stereo and even with a 5.1 setup. Netflix’s Drive To Survive, which is obtainable in Dolby Atmos when you have the priciest Extremely HD plan, remains to be superb with this soundbar for these of us on the extra reasonably priced month-to-month charge. The whir of the vehicles as they zoom previous, pitlane noise and crunching crashes make the meticulously-shot collection even higher. Marvel reveals and flicks on Disney+ can be found with Atmos they usually sound superb.

I can confidently say that is the closest I’ve come to a film theater-like expertise in my front room. The extra drivers within the rear audio system undoubtedly elevate the overhead sensation, contributing considerably extra to directional audio than regular single-driver models. Struggle scenes just like the one which opens The Falcon and the Winter Soldier are loud and chaotic, however they sound extra such as you’re watching in actual life, taking within the thud of every punch, the fireplace of each gun and the drone of choppers navigating the canyon.

The Q990C can also be an excellent choice for music. Crisp, clear highs and highly effective, punchy bass praise almost each style. Even at decrease volumes, tunes like Sia’s “On a regular basis Is Christmas” come throughout layered moderately than compressed. Vocals lower by clear and the bassline doesn’t overpower. The identical goes for Turnpike Troubadours’ A Cat within the Rain the place every member of the band stands on their very own, with snare hits and country-rock vocals slicing by the combination. Bass from the big subwoofer is current however restrained, solely as bombastic because it must be and by no means muddy or boring.

Samsung HW-Q990C
The complete set that comes with the Q990C

Samsung

The sound on these albums was spectacular and I wasn’t even streaming them in Dolby Atmos. Tunes within the immersive format sound much more unimaginable on the Q990C. TesseracT’s prog-metal Struggle Of Being is hovering and atmospheric, with the staccato guitars and slapped bass on tracks like “The Grey” displaying off the dimensional high quality of Atmos Music. Much less intense genres like Tyler Childers’ Rustin’ In The Rain come throughout extra like dwell performances than streamed albums. The sound is full, crisp and envelopes the room with guitars, piano, metal guitar and completely calculated drum hits, all supporting Childers’ trademark japanese Kentucky vocals.

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This soundbar system works properly in a multi-room setup, too, and also you don’t want different Samsung audio system to do it. Due to AirPlay, you’ll be able to simply choose the Q990C and different audio system in your Wi-Fi community. I used to be capable of persistently hyperlink the soundbar with a HomePod in one other room with only a few faucets in Apple Music. The audio carried out persistently as soon as the 2 audio system have been linked and I by no means heard any dropouts or clipping once they have been utilized in tandem.

One audio function that I wasn’t capable of check is Q-Symphony. This makes use of the audio system inside Samsung TVs along with the drivers within the soundbar setup. The corporate guarantees it “can optimize all of the channels” for a “masterfully orchestrated sound expertise.” I don’t have a Samsung TV, however the soundbar system sounds nice with out it. What’s extra, this type of factor isn’t distinctive to Samsung units as Sony gives an analogous software known as Acoustic Heart Sync with its soundbars and TVs.

The competitors

Sony’s HT-A7000 is the most effective different to the Q990C. It additionally does Atmos and music very properly, however the whole lot you add to it’s an extra buy. At present costs, the soundbar, the most affordable sub and rear speaker choices will price you $1,600 whereas soundbar alone is $1,000. There are higher selections for each the woofer and rears, however these considerably increase the value.

The A7000 gives numerous what the Q990C has on its spec sheet. That features the 2 HDMI 2.1 inputs with 4K/120 passthrough. Sony contains compatibility with each Hello-Res and 360 Actuality Audio alongside numerous items of digital encompass tech and a variety of sound modes. The important thing variations between this and the Q990C is that the A7000 is a 7.1.4-channel setup, versus 11.1.4, and the aforementioned HDMI 2.1 assist.

The Q990C is presently on sale for $1,400, but it surely’s unclear if that worth lower is everlasting. The $500 financial savings make the all-inclusive Samsung setup much more engaging, in the event you can dwell with out HDMI 2.1.

Wrap-up

Samsung’s newest flagship soundbar is a sonic powerhouse. And, maybe extra importantly, it comes with the subwoofer and rear audio system you’ll have to benefit from it within the field. For the price of what you’d pay for a soundbar alone from among the firm’s fundamental rivals, you get the entire bundle, and one which’s simple to arrange and customise as wanted. The sound high quality is nice and Atmos content material is as crisp and immersive as ever, as long as you’ve area to accommodate the bundle. The shortage of HDMI 2.1 hinders efficiency for players, and that’s a obvious omission on a premium soundbar as of late. The Q990C isn’t low-cost, even on the present discounted worth, however no less than you’re getting the whole lot you want in a single go.