Samsung HW-Q990C soundbar assessment: Nice Dolby Atmos at a superb value

Samsung HW-Q990C soundbar review: Great Dolby Atmos at an excellent price


Samsung HW-Q990C Sound Bar


  • Nice sound for Atmos motion pictures

  • Class-leading music playback

  • Wonderful construct high quality

You don’t like

  • beloved

  • Restricted enter

  • The show is troublesome to learn

In 2016, Samsung mentioned it needed to be often known as the subsequent Bowers and Wilkins, however just a few months later the corporate accelerated these ambitions when it purchased Harmon. Whereas Samsung now owns JBL and a bunch of different prestigious manufacturers, its personal audio merchandise have nonetheless continued to face up effectively towards the competitors. Merchandise like Q990C.

The HW-Q990C is Samsung’s flagship soundbar and consists of many of the issues folks search for in a $1,000-plus speaker system. These extras embrace Dolby Atmos, wi-fi streaming, and even each on the identical time.

I’ve at all times thought that in case your audio system value greater than a thousand {dollars}, you are higher off utilizing an AV receiver and audio system. (The $359 Klipsch Reference Cinema and the $589 Onkyo TX-NR6100 are two good choices.) Nonetheless, I additionally understand that there are lots of people preferring the space-saving and comfort facets of soundbars.

In my checks, the Samsung definitely sounded higher than my favourite Atmos speaker system total, the Vizio Elevate, however how a lot are you prepared to pay for that enchancment? The Vizio presently retails for $800, whereas the Samsung is a minimum of $500 greater than that for the time being. Nonetheless, the Samsung 990C is one of the best devoted encompass speaker set I’ve heard in years, and can reward anybody prepared to pay a little bit extra for the privilege.

Design and options

Samsung-Q-Series-Sound Bar-07

Josh Goldman/CNET

My common suggestion is to restrict your speaker funds to $300, however there are undoubtedly advantages to spending extra. For instance, costlier fashions just like the Samsung 990C can provide a greater set of options together with Wi-Fi streaming and voice help. This explicit mannequin guarantees higher sound, too.

By way of design, the Samsung 990C is of the identical chunky type that the corporate has used for years, which carries a number of the flaws I’ve seen in earlier designs. For instance, the display screen is hidden behind a mesh display screen and could be troublesome to learn.


The Q990C’s display screen could be troublesome to learn.

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The Q990C is an 11.1.4 speaker however you need to demand 11 separate channels with a pinch of salt. As a substitute, consider it as a regular 5.1.4 encompass configuration (left, proper, middle, two rears, a subwoofer and 4 peak channels) with just a few wider, sideways drivers for huge results.


Josh Goldman/CNET

The set consists of 4 separate speaker containers, all of that are fairly massive. The principle speaker measures 48.5 x 2.7 x 5.4 inches. The subsequent largest is the 8.7 x 16 x 16-inch wi-fi subwoofer. The encompass is roughly the identical measurement as the pc audio system at 5.1 x 7.9 x 5.5 inches.


Josh Goldman/CNET

In the event you’re contemplating these audio system, you have in all probability been drawn to the Dolby Atmos wi-fi functionality. I am speaking about its capability to attach wirelessly to pick 2023 Samsung TVs and stream Dolby Atmos wirelessly. Nonetheless, the one TVs on this group which might be presently “particular” are the comparatively cheap CU7000 and CU8000 fashions.

My query is: Would individuals who personal a $600 TV actually purchase this soundbar, particularly simply to surrender a $10 cable? Perhaps that is you. I am not your boss, you are able to do no matter you need! However really, by utilizing cable, you will get higher reliability and efficiency as effectively.

Samsung-Q-Series-Sound Bar-04

Two HDMI inputs and one out

Josh Goldman/CNET

The Q990C will decode all related codecs together with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X whereas additionally together with compatibility with Spotify Join and Apple AirPlay 2 audio requirements. The soundbar additionally integrates Q Symphony, which pairs the soundbar along with your Samsung TV’s built-in audio system Your speaker, however since each soundbar on this set is best than those that go into your TVs, I do not suppose you need to use them. Different audio gubbins embrace the SpaceFit Sound Professional Calibration routine and the Lively Voice Amplifier.

Connections embrace two HDMI 2.0 inputs (so, sadly, no 4K/120Hz gaming pleasant) with an HDMI eARC output, digital optics, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. It will be good to see extra connections together with analogue inputs for folks to plug in a file participant, for instance.

The distant is compact and feels luxurious, with a fake steel end. It is lacking the photo voltaic charger for the TV remotes, however should you personal a Samsung TV, you should utilize its distant to manage the audio system as effectively.

What does his voice sound like?

I in contrast the Samsung Q990C with a bunch of various audio system in CNET’s Audio Lab, together with the Vizio Elevate, LG S9C, and the Bose 600 Sensible Soundbar and subwoofer. With its 4 loudspeakers and enormous sub, Samsung undoubtedly had an edge over the others when it got here to cinematic immersion. As you’d anticipate with a model hoping to turn out to be a family title in audio, the Q990C’s music playback was additionally glorious.

I started my checks with Dennis Villenueve’s Dune and in contrast the Samsung to the Bose Sensible Soundbar 600 and Bass Module 500 subwoofer combo, in addition to the LG S9C. When watching the scene the place the ornithopter lands in an try to avoid wasting spice miners from a sandworm (one hour and one minute into the film), readability was the phrase that got here to thoughts. The whispered dialogue, the sound of spices creeping by Paul Atreides’ airways, and the deep thumping of sandworms have been clear and deeply transferring. In comparison with the Samsung, the Bose supplied much less presence and punch, helped significantly by Samsung’s indulgence in separate rear audio system (you may, nonetheless, add them to an aftermarket Bose system). The LG S9C was the weakest of the three and I could not get a lot quantity out of it. LG obtained a little bit misplaced making an attempt to convey the grandeur of the spectacle.

I then swapped out two of the audio system and changed them with a Vizio Elevate – which is a good soundbar in its personal proper. Nonetheless, Samsung led in Dune because it did in the remainder of the checks. Whereas the Vizio had extra low-end decision, the Samsung was capable of dig deeper into the low frequencies and sounded higher total.

Subsequent, I performed Mad Max: Fury Street and located that each the Samsung and Vizio have been glorious at encompass routing and creating an immersive audio world. Nonetheless, the Samsung cellphone appeared extra completed, significantly in its capability to position a woman’s voice immediately over the top when she inquires, “Max?”

Lastly I listened to a choice of music on the Samsung 9900C together with the wonderful remix of The Alternate options album Tim. Paul Westerberg’s newly uncovered voice sounded fuller on the Samsung throughout fist-pumping Bastards of Younger and the devices have been extra cohesive within the soundstage. Though followers of the band may argue that “Collectively” is one thing the “Mats” by no means have been.

Must you purchase it?

On the finish of the dialogue it turns into a matter of how a lot cash you wish to spend. The Samsung cellphone appears to be like noticeably higher than the Vizio Elevate, and is best designed, too, but it surely’s additionally very costly. Samsung’s value for Black Friday is presently marked right down to $1,400, and at that sum of money I believe it is truthful, and I definitely would not wish to pay the complete $1,800. Moreover, whereas I am on a brief journey, the built-in show on the unit itself is a bit annoying.

Nonetheless, designing audio system that carry out this effectively with each music and films is a serious accomplishment, and Samsung has achieved that with the Q990C. Though most individuals will not use many of the options, the efficiency is what ought to entice folks to it.

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