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

Searching for a house theater setup usually means shopping for a soundbar, subwoofer and rear audio system individually. Some firms might embrace a sub with the soundbar, however you don’t all the time get every part you’ll want for essentially the most immersive sound in the identical field with high-end fashions. Samsung consists of all of these further audio system with the HW-Q990C soundbar ($1,900), although you’re clearly paying a premium. The corporate presents Dolby Atmos together with a variety of audio choices and two HDMI inputs, beaming crisp 11.1.4-channel sound into your lounge. The Q990C is a big funding, however it’s additionally one-stop procuring.


Because the Q990C is Samsung’s high-end soundbar in its present lineup, it’s additionally the most important. It’s 48.5-inches huge, which is definitely about three inches lower than the Sony HT-A7000. In fact, firms want the additional house 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 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 firms may solely have one.

Samsung opted for a mesh plastic overlaying for each the soundbar and rear audio system. It’s simpler to maintain clear than the everyday speaker material. Samsung additionally stored 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 means of the enter sources. Quantity controls and a microphone mute. From the entrance, a small show on the proper facet will present you enter info, quantity degree 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.


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 robotically 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 you must manually connect 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 usually provide further choices for connecting on to the soundbar. Samsung says you’ll be able to anticipate 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 bought in 2023.

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 lets you join wirelessly to a suitable Samsung TV for audio. This implies you will get Dolby Atmos to the soundbar with no cables operating out of your tv, which is helpful for those who’ve already mounted the show flush with the wall. And if in case 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 consumer, I wasn’t capable of check this.

SmartThings app and different options

One of many rear audio system
Photograph 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 outstanding on the system display screen, with sound modes, EQ and woofer degree just under. There are additionally choices for SpaceFit Sound, which robotically tunes the audio to the room, and Lively Voice Amplifier, which combats room noise by optimizing on-screen dialog. The superior settings menu presents voice and bass enhancement alongside a Evening Mode, however all of those are on or off toggles with no additional customization. SmartThings lets you select both Bixby or Alexa for the voice assistant you wish to make use of on the soundbar.

Samsung permits you to select between Normal, Encompass, Recreation 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 on the market (simply bass and treble on the remainder). For the entire others, the Q990C upscales 2.0, 5.1 and seven.1 audio to the 11.1.4-channel output the soundbar presents. In fact, all Dolby Atmos and DTS:X content material is beamed out at 11.1.4, too. Encompass mode is self-explanatory whereas Recreation 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 films, 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 means of them with a devoted button the included distant. It additionally offers you entry to SpaceFit Sound, Lively Voice Amplifier, Voice Enhancement and extra with a Sound Management button that’s labeled with the settings/gear icon. A Channel Degree button permits you to modify the quantity of every speaker, with Heart degree, Aspect degree, Extensive degree, Entrance Prime degree, Rear degree, Rear high degree and Rear facet degree among the many selections. There’s additionally a button for Tone Management, placing bass and treble tweaks just some button presses away. These are all along with the usual energy, enter, quantity (general and subwoofer solely), mute, pairing and playback choices soundbar remotes usually have.

Sound high quality

Due to the Q990C’s upscaling talents, practically each film or TV present sounds extra immersive than for those who have been listening in stereo and even with a 5.1 setup. Netflix’s Drive To Survive, which is obtainable in Dolby Atmos if in case you have the priciest Extremely HD plan, continues to be wonderful 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 sequence even higher. Marvel exhibits and flicks on Disney+ can be found with Atmos and so they sound wonderful.

I can confidently say that is the closest I’ve come to a film theater-like expertise in my lounge. The extra drivers within the rear audio system undoubtedly elevate the overhead sensation, contributing considerably extra to directional audio than regular single-driver items. Combat 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 hearth of each gun and the drone of choppers navigating the canyon.

The Q990C can be a fantastic possibility for music. Crisp, clear highs and highly effective, punchy bass praise practically each style. Even at decrease volumes, tunes like Sia’s “On a regular basis Is Christmas” come throughout layered fairly than compressed. Vocals reduce by means of 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 means of 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

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 reside 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.

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 constantly hyperlink the soundbar with a HomePod in one other room with just some faucets in Apple Music. The audio carried out constantly 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 characteristic 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 form of factor isn’t distinctive to Samsung units as Sony presents an analogous software referred to as Acoustic Heart Sync with its soundbars and TVs.

The competitors

Sony’s HT-A7000 is the very best different to the Q990C. It additionally does Atmos and music very properly, however every part you add to it’s a further 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 worth.

The A7000 presents a variety of what the Q990C has on its spec sheet. That features the 2 HDMI 2.1 inputs with 4K/120 passthrough. Sony consists of compatibility with each Hello-Res and 360 Actuality Audio alongside varied items of digital encompass tech and various 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 at the moment on sale for $1,400, however it’s unclear if that value reduce is everlasting. The $500 financial savings make the all-inclusive Samsung setup much more enticing, for those who can reside with out HDMI 2.1.


Samsung’s newest flagship soundbar is a sonic powerhouse. And, maybe extra importantly, it comes with the subwoofer and rear audio system you’ll must benefit from it within the field. For the price of what you’d pay for a soundbar alone from among the firm’s principal rivals, you get the whole package deal, and one which’s straightforward 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 could have house to accommodate the bundle. The shortage of HDMI 2.1 hinders efficiency for players, and that’s a evident omission on a premium soundbar as of late. The Q990C isn’t low-cost, even on the present discounted value, however no less than you’re getting every part you want in a single go.

This text initially appeared on Engadget at

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