Film experts often say that in a film 50% is the image and the other 50% is the sound. And honestly, it's a statement that I totally agree with. Imagine your favorite movie and remove the sound, what wouldn't it be the same? Well, something similar happens when we try to set up a small “home theater”. We can buy the best TV on the market, but if we don't accompany it with good sound, we won't have a complete experience. However, there are many who are not willing to fill their room with cables and speakers. Hence, sound bars continue to grow in popularity year after year. And within the soundbar market, Samsung has a fairly significant presence. Today we bring you the analysis of its best soundbar, the Samsung HW-Q90R .
If you are thinking of a small bar with a pair of speakers inside, forget that idea completely. The Samsung HW-Q90R has been designed for users who avoid complicated speaker installations but who do not want to give up quality sound compatible with all current formats. And we are talking about a sound system (a more correct name for this device) with 7.1.4 channels and compatible with Dolby Atmos sound . I don't want to spoil it , but I anticipate that the Samsung HW-Q90R has totally impressed me.
|Speakers||7.1.4 channels (soundbar + rear channels + subwoofer)|
|Surround technology||Dolby Atmos and DTS: X|
|Rear speakers||Yes, wireless, included|
|Connections||2 HDMI inputs and 1 output, optical input|
|4K pass-through||Yes, HDR10 + compatible|
|Supported audio formats||Dolby Atmos, DTS: X, DD +, Dolby Digital, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD MA, 5.1 PCM|
|Wireless connectivity||WiFi and Bluetooth|
|Subwoofer||Yes, wireless, included|
|Control||Control similar to that of QLED televisions, Samsung SmartThings app|
|Others||Game mode, Adaptive sound mode|
|Dimensions||Soundbar: 122.7 x 8 x 13.8 cm (W x H x D)|
Subwoofer: 20.1 x 40.4 x 39.8 cm (W x H x D)
Satellites: 14.1 x 20.9 x 12.1 cm (W x H x D)
|Price||1,200 euros (official price)|
A large, premium-finished soundbar
When the box of the Samsung HW-Q90R arrives at your house, you realize that you are not in front of a sound bar like the others. The box is huge, so much so that it's easy to think that they made a mistake and sent you a television.
When we open it, the first thing we see is the sound bar. It's over 48 inches long , so it's a big, heavy soundbar. In the photos you can see it next to a 55-inch television and, as seen in the image, it is somewhat large. So I would go so far as to say that it will look perfect with a 65-inch TV.
The soundbar is spectacular at the design level. It has a metal grid that covers practically the entire surface . It weighs almost 9 kilos and has a height of 8 centimeters , which could be a problem depending on the design of our television.
For example, the two TVs I'm testing right now have a fairly low stand, so this soundbar covers the bottom of the screen. It is clear that the Korean manufacturer has designed the bar with its QLED televisions in mind , since most have feet that raise the screen more. But if you have a TV from another brand, you should take a look or find a solution before buying.
For a better control of what we are doing, the Samsung HW-Q90R has a small LED screen on the right side . It is very simple, but it will help us, for example, to see what input we are in, the volume level or the sound mode.
At the top of the bar, located in the central area, we have four buttons . From here we can turn the bar on and off, change the input, and raise and lower the volume. Nothing else, the rest of the functions are controlled from the command or the application . A remote that follows the same design as the One Remote on QLED televisions, although with fewer buttons.
The back of the bar is plastic, although you can tell that it is a high quality plastic. On one side we have a small hole in which we find the connection ports. The Samsung HW-Q90R has two HDMI inputs, one HDMI output with ARC and one optical digital input . It also has a USB port, but it is only used for system firmware updates. The power cable is located on the opposite side to the rest of the connectors.
The sound bar has two holes on the bottom that are used for wall mounting . Samsung has included the supports to make this assembly, so we can do it as soon as we receive it.
That the box is so large is not only due to the size of the soundbar. The Samsung HW-Q90R also includes a subwoofer and two surround speakers. The subwoofer is made primarily of wood. It has an 8-inch speaker on one side that is covered in round shaped acoustic cloth. Like most subwoofers, it has the bass port on the back. Its dimensions are 20.1 centimeters wide, 40.4 centimeters high and 39.8 centimeters deep. Although it is not a small subwoofer, being wireless we can place it almost anywhere in the room. Of course, it requires food .
As for the satellites, they follow a design almost identical to that of the soundbar. The front and the upper part are covered by a metal grill to protect the speakers. The sides, however, are made of plastic, as is the rear.
A rear part where we find a pairing button and a small universal hole to be able to mount the speakers on a wall bracket. Like the subwoofer, the rear speakers on the Samsung HW-Q90R are wireless . But we are talking about active speakers, so they need power . It is another factor to take into account when we think about where we are going to place the speakers, since we will need two free plugs.
Before talking about its performance with various types of content, it is worth reviewing what we are going to achieve if we opt for this sound system. The Samsung HW-Q90R is, if I'm not mistaken, the only soundbar that includes true surround back speakers . Yes, I know that other models can be added, but they are not included.
So, we are talking about a sound system with real 7.1.4 channels . The speakers are distributed as follows: a front trio, two side channels, two rear channels, two high in the front, two high in the rear and the subwoofer. A system made up of 12 speakers with a total of 17 drivers . The three front channels use three drivers each, two woofers, and a wide-range tweeter. All other channels use a single controller.
All this translates into a total power of 512W . Furthermore, the Samsung HW-Q90R is capable of working with all current formats, including Dolby Atmos, DTS: X, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, and DTS-HD Master Audio . And be careful, because there are very few sound bars compatible with all formats.
In addition, all inputs are capable of passthrough 4K 60Hz 4: 4: 4 signals and with any HDR system, including Dolby Vision .
Returning to the audio, the Samsung HW-Q90R offers us four sound modes: Standard, Surround, Game Mode and Adaptive Sound . The last two are new for this year.
Adaptive Sound mode analyzes the sound signal, automatically optimizing the audio based on the content being broadcast . Thus, if we are watching the news, it will enhance the central channel so that the voice can be heard better, while if we are watching a football game it will activate all the speakers to create a more immersive environment. Although it can be used with any content, I personally believe that it is more effective in sports broadcasts or TV shows than in movies.
As for the Game Mode, what it does is create a much more striking surround effect by boosting the top speakers and the subwoofer . It is a very interesting way if we like to play feeling everything that happens in the game.
And when it comes to system configuration, this is very simple. I would say too much. From the application we have a small equalizer to change some aspect of the audio. And from the control we can change the volume of the subwoofer, the center and the rear individually . It is interesting, since we can reduce the bass a little so that the whole room does not rumble or raise the center slightly to enhance the dialogues.
However, Samsung still does not include a calibration system that adapts the audio to our room . They could have included a remote with a small microphone or even used the mobile microphone to calibrate the audio through the application. In this way, an audio better adapted to the room of each user would be achieved.
A sound that will not disappoint anyone
The Samsung HW-Q90R is a top-notch soundbar. Thanks to input from Harman Kardon, sound quality is excellent even when playing music . It offers good stereo separation, seamlessly integrating the left and right speakers with the subwoofer. The best thing if we want to enjoy a purer sound when listening to music is to use the standard mode, although it is curious how the Adaptive mode uses the rear speakers to create surround music.
But it is in cinema when this Samsung soundbar brings out its full potential . If we play a 5.1 audio track we can activate the Surround mode so that it mixes the soundtrack and uses the upper channels, creating a more immersive experience. While it is true that it is a virtual treatment, the result achieved is truly impressive.
Of course, the better the audio track, the better this sound system sounds. I check it with some demos and soundtracks recorded in Dolby Atmos, capable of leaving me, honestly, with my mouth open. During the month that I have had the soundbar I have been able to show its capabilities to family and friends and they have all been impressed.
Samsung has decided to use identical drivers for all the speakers in the HW-Q90R, resulting in a fantastic tonal balance for the entire system . So the effects move around the soundstage in incredible ways, seamlessly integrating the bass from the subwoofer as well. Wide-range tweeters help keep dialogue clear and accurate every time, while side speakers create a larger front soundstage and help effects “roll” front to back.
If we reproduce Dolby Atmos sound, the audio modes are deactivated. However, even with DTS HD MA or True HD sound we can activate the Surround mode to take advantage of the height channels . It is also possible to use Adaptive mode, although in my opinion it excessively boosts the center channel over all the others to give more importance to the narration. I see it better, as I said before, for programs or sports. Of course, it can be a good option for when we do not want to raise the general volume a lot but we do want to correctly listen to the dialogues of a movie.
Conclusions and price
In summary, I could say that the Samsung HW-Q90R is a very good way to have a complete Dolby Atmos sound system with the minimum of problems . All we need is to make sure we can plug in the rear speakers and the subwoofer, forgetting about large AV receivers and wiring the entire room.
Through a really easy to configure system we will achieve multi-channel audio capable of enveloping us with the effects, with deep bass and with a central channel that offers great performance . Obviously we will not get the same result as if we placed four speakers on the ceiling, but the upstream channels do a great job, offering a truly immersive experience when playing Atmos and DTS: X tracks.
Could we say then that it is the perfect soundbar? As they say, nothing is perfect. Among its weak points we could include the incorporation of only two HDMI input . It is true that for a sound bar it is a good number, but if we take it as a high-end equipment, it can be a bit short.
I also think it is necessary for Samsung to include a calibration system in its top-of-the-range soundbar for next year . Although the audio offered by the Samsung HW-Q90R is truly spectacular, it could be even better with a system that adapts it to each room. On the other hand, although it has Bluetooth and WiFi, it is not compatible with Apple's AirPlay .
And finally, there is the issue of price. The Samsung HW-Q90R has an official price of 1,200 euros , although if we search well we can find it somewhat cheaper. It may seem like a high price if we see it as a sound bar, but surely you see it differently if you compare it with an AV receiver + speakers system for Dolby Atmos. I can only tell you that I wouldn't mind swapping my current 5.1 system for this soundbar. Do we do a Samsung deal?