Samsung launched new sound bars in 2019 and this HW-Q70R is the second highest in the range. It is a relatively large bar (it is 110 centimeters wide) and comes with a separate bass box (it weighs almost 10 kg). Its price goes up to 700 euros , just below the 1,200 euros of the Q90R that includes more channels and two “physical” rear speakers. We have tested this Samsung HW-Q70R and we have been surprised by its ability to sound a medium or large room . It is also capable of exploiting the newest 3D sound formats, Dolby Atmos or DTS: X. That, and its evolution in sound thanks to the Harman Kardon technicians, is its greatest novelty and attraction.
Sound with 3.1.2 channels
When talking about "channels" in home theater systems, a nomenclature is followed that began with Dolby Digital 20 years ago. The first figure indicates the “normal” channels: a stereo would be “2” for example (right and left). A classic home theater system is "5" channels: in addition to those two, a center and two rear effects.
The next figure, after a dot, indicates if there is a bass channel: a stereo with a subwoofer would be “2.1”, a traditional home theater “5.1”. When 3D sound systems arrived, another figure was added: height channels. An advanced Dolby Atmos system can have 7.2.4 channels no less (yes, 11 speakers plus two subwoofers). The Samsung bar we tested is “3.1.2” and this means it has three front channels, a subwoofer and two channels in height.
3D sound bouncing off the ceiling
The three front channels are three speakers that are located at the front of the bar : two on the sides (right and left) and one in the center, for dialogues. The two height channels, which will give the most 3D sound, work by reflection on the ceiling. They are two speakers located in the upper part of the bar with wave guides to direct the sound (56 openings at 18 degrees exactly). Thus, with normal height ceilings (around 2.5 meters) the sound will be reflected and will come from above, giving the desired 3D effect.
Bass cajon included
By including a subwoofer or subwoofer, this Samsung bar has several advantages. The first is that the bar itself can forget about the lower frequencies - they go to the cajon. That allows you to use more compact, and faster speakers, better so that the mids (vocals) and highs (detail) are reproduced without compromise. As we said, the bar is 110 centimeters long, but only 6 high and 10 centimeters deep. In total, the bar has seven speakers: the three front and two top, plus two more in front to improve the dialogues.
Bar and drawer supplied
The bass drawer has a job, then, with the bass of all the other channels, plus those that will come from the dedicated channel. For that, it is a fairly large drawer: 40 centimeters high by another 40 deep, and 20 centimeters wide. It hides an 8-inch speaker, capable of giving very good bass with the amplification that it carries. The side dust cover that covers this speaker is larger (almost 12 inches) and suggests an even bigger speaker… nice design move.
Since the ear cannot detect the direction of such low frequencies, the bass caissons are free to position. We can put it near walls or corners and it will reinforce its sound (more bass). In some rooms that is very welcome, in others it is the opposite because resonances are excited and the sound is too heavy in bass (and dark). The great advantage here is that there is no need for a cable between the bar and the drawer: they connect wirelessly and, during our test, always quickly and perfectly.
For the more dedicated hobbyists, a home theater system necessarily goes through a speaker system with a receiver. The simple view of the rear of an AV receiver, packed with connections, delights that hobbyist but is the nightmare of others. Not only because of the apparent complexity, but because for systems that are almost always very simple, it gives the feeling of paying for something that we will never use . With bars like this Samsung, it is almost the opposite: they have so few connections that you accidentally think if you will have enough. The answer is yes".
For starters, this bar (like all) is intended to be used in conjunction with a television. The television itself will have many connectivity options: whatever sources we have will go to it. And from the television we can send the sound to the bar in two ways . One, with the optical digital output (the bar has such an input). The other, with the HDMI connection "ARC" (Audio Return Channel) as the bar has a dedicated HDMI output for that. And, almost, we are.
"Almost" because although this output is eARC (enhanced-ARC the new standard compatible with Dolby Atmos among others), only the newer televisions are eARC and not just ARC. So we have another connection. The bar has an HDMI input to connect the BluRay there (or another source capable of sending the most advanced sound formats). Remember that this bar offers 3D sound: to enjoy it natively, that is, with movies in Dolby Atmos or DTS: X, you must use this connection. If we connect that source to a television without eARC and from there to the bar, as we said, we will lose that part of the sound (normal Dolby Digital, DTS or PCM would be transmitted, not 3D).
So far, the possibilities (or needs) of connection with cables. But the Samsung HW-Q70R has a lot of wireless connection possibilities. First the one that surprised us the most: we might not need any cable between the TV and the bar. If our TV is a Samsung with a network connection after 2013, a connection can be established using the home WiFi network between the two. We checked it with a 55-inch from several generations ago and, indeed, the H70Q bar appeared among the sound options when both were connected to the network. Excellent, although we prefer cable: we are old school, and it is more immediate when connecting everything. In addition, the manual warns of possible momentary sound losses (Wi-Fi is not very solid) and it is not clear in what format the sound is transmitted.
Samsung SmartThings App
Well, that the bar has Wifi (and certainly not an Ethernet port) already tells us what else it offers. Through this channel we can both send music from other devices , and use it to directly receive music. Samsung's own application "SmartThings" will allow us to use services such as Tidal or Spotify, or TuneIn radio, and access thousands of stations or millions of songs. The connection to the home network opens many doors to music for the bar, which will be much more than “something to watch movies”. It easily becomes the main music equipment in the room, and as we will see, it is very capable of taking that role.
It also has Bluetooth , so it will be easy to connect to it from your mobile to send it music. Having WiFi, we always prefer that option, but Bluetooth can be useful occasionally, with guests for example.
Installation and connection
We have already been counting some parts of what is necessary to install this Samsung sound bar. Logically it needs its space: that meter long in width predisposes it for screens 50 inches up ... The packaging is somewhat cumbersome because it is a box that collects the shape of a bar and bass box, but in one piece. Unboxing is a bit of a mess because, size aside, it is not clear where each part is removed. In the end we ended up with the cardboard open and the elements out (but it cost). There is not much secret: the bar, some feet or wall brackets depending on how we install it, the drawer and the remote control, plus power supplies. Good and a (welcome) manual quite complete and in several languages including Spanish .
We use it in two different rooms, always placed on a cabinet with the television. That is why we mount the feet that raise it a little more, which is also better because it heats up a bit below. In case of having the TV mounted on the wall, that would be the best option and robust anchors come for it. The connection between the bar and the subwoofer takes a few seconds from when both are connected, excellent. An LED on the drawer tells us that it was successful. Through the named SmartThings application and a mobile, we will get to the Wifi and everything goes fast and well. The App activates Bluetooth and communicates with the bar to configure it without hardly needing to intervene. It was also updated that way, again without more than waiting a few minutes.
The included remote is simple and clear, and we particularly liked it. We are not friends of permanently needing a mobile at hand (with the App running) to control these devices. With a lifelong infrared remote, volume up or down, skip song, mute, etc., is instantaneous . This knob also has two volume controls: the normal one and one for the bass box. It is more limited (-6 to +6 dB) but ideal for momentary adjustments (music with excessive bass for example) or to be able to give more "emotion" to a movie. The bar has a good-sized screen on its left where it shows us all the information on the font, volume, etc.
Remote control (multifunctional)
The remote has more buttons to navigate or choose sources, but an interesting one is the " Sound Mode ". The bar is simple but powerful and versatile, and without complicating our lives, it gives its options. That is, we do not have dozens of sound modes (which we will never use) but four very useful ones. "Standard" offers us the sound it receives, with no other processing than that of the bar and subwoofer. "Surround" expands the received sound in three dimensions in a realistic and pleasant way even with music (rare).
The "Game Pro" mode is dedicated to gamers and is activated automatically if the Samsung TV uses that mode; If we do it by hand, it is more spectacular, but only useful playing we would say. Finally, " Adaptive Sound " does just that: it changes the way it presents sound in a more subtle way depending on whether there is dialogue, music, action ... It can be chosen except on specific occasions.
Game Pro mode
Another interesting button is the " Sound control " or settings. It allows (via screen) to play with bass, treble, relative level of the central channel, lateral, or superior. These are adjustments that come in handy when we install the bar and, after a while, knowing what it takes, we see how to optimize the sound.
Since Samsung acquired Harman Kardon , you can see that the technicians of that group (a great sound specialist of up to a very high level) are collaborating with the Koreans. We did not expect such a refined and well adjusted sound from this bar, really.
Our tests as we said took place in two different rooms . The one we usually use for the cinema, since it doesn't have a television (yes screen and projector), it was where we tried the most music, using a television temporarily to operate and connect the bar. And in the basement where we have better acoustic conditioning, as there is a large television, it was where we tried watching series and movies.
The truth is that both in one case and the other, the bar passed the tests with a very high note . To watch television, that is to say especially to listen to voices of presenters in newscasts and others, the bar adapts its response in medium frequencies very well and it is true that it adds clarity. It's easy to go from TV to bar sound and appreciate the difference, the better. With series and movies, the same but even more remarkable, for the intervention of the bass box. It should be adjusted with criteria, without excess: the ideal is that it is barely noticeable, but that we will miss it if we deactivate it. Pressing its volume button on the remote makes it almost mute.
Music and film
The other very striking, and positive, effect in the "Surround" sound mode . Whether it's an old movie or a normal sounding movie, this mode expands the soundstage and doesn't add too much reverb. Very good, and usable with practically any soundtrack, be it action, suspense ... In fact, I added an enveloping effect to scary movies, sometimes overwhelming. Between that and the thumping of the subwoofer… very accomplished, and we're used to dedicated systems.
But although a sound bar will be used mainly to sound television content, the litmus test is in the music. Also, at this price, this bar should be able to become the only sound equipment we have in the room ... and it is. With modern music, pop and rock, it is logical that the bar is at a good height, especially with that bass box (whose adjustment we insist is important). Topics that we usually use testing high-level stereo equipment from Dire Straits, Supertramp, Metallica ... passed with a very good note for this Samsung bar "by Harman Kardon".
But classical songs, baroque, opera also sounded very good ... Let's come closer: Rosalía, within her musical variety, is a voice that is more recognizable every day and Samsung offered it to us live, taking advantage of the good production of her songs serious). And yes, here too the Surround effect gave more realism to the music that could transport us mentally to a stage or a concert. A bar that we can totally recommend .
Bass box, bar and packaging
|Type||Soundbar with subwoofer included|
|Bar Speakers||7 (three front, two top effects with ceiling bounce)|
|Subwoofer speaker||One 8-inch driver|
|Total power||330 W|
|Cinema formats||Dolby Atmos, Dolby DD +, DTS-X, UHD 32bit|
|Audio formats||AAC, MP3, OGG, AIFF, FLAC, ALAC, WAV|
|Wireless connectivity||WiFi, Bluetooth|
|Connections||HDMI (eARC), optical digital|
|Alexa compatible||yes ("works with")|
|Bar dimensions||1100 x 59 x 100 mm (3.6 kg)|
|Subwoofer Dimensions||403 x 403 x 205 mm (9.8 kg)|
|Consumption||0.45 W (stby), 3.5 W (red On), 33 W (bar On), 28 W (subwoofer On)|