The Samsung HW-Q990C is the top model among the new Dolby Atmos sound bars launched by Samsung this year. she succeededHW-Q990BThis leaves us with a very nice sense of 3D space.
For this new model, the Korean brand intends to raise the bar even higher with a more powerful and comprehensive audio system featuring a subwoofer and wireless rear satellites that provide 11.1.4-channel surround sound."Infinite Abyss".Compared to the previous version, the Q990C uses some improved home automation features and uses SpaceFit Sound to automatically calibrate the sound to the room.
On the surface, the Q990C seems to tick all the boxes: a powerful home theater system (656 W) with a total of 22 speakers, Dolby Atmos, DTS:X compatibility, 4K and HDR support, and high-definition sound for music over Wi-Fi -Fi and Hi-Res Audio via Bluetooth. Like its predecessor, the HW-Q990C can also wirelessly stream Dolby Atmos audio from the latest generation of Samsung TVs.
This new premium soundbar starts at €1499. At first glance, the Samsung HW-Q990C has what it takes to be the best soundbar of 2023. But how much is it really worth?
design and operation
The Samsung HW-Q990C has a large sound bar, a wireless subwoofer, and 2 wireless rear speakers with vertical projection. As we said, the package includes a total of 22 speakers, specifically the side and vertical tweeters on the rear satellites to give you true surround sound and impressive sound.
While little has changed in terms of design, the new premium soundbar actually looks very similar to the Q990B, with a solid metal grill covering it completely to protect the speakers. All this without unnecessary frills and stylish effect. It impresses immediately with its strength, especially since the rods are quite large (1232 x 70 x 138 mm, 7.7 kg).
Even though it's smaller than some competing models like the Sony HT-A7000, you'll still need a fairly large TV stand or use a wall mount to mount it. The subwoofer isn't small either (220 x 413 x 410mm, still 11.7kg on the scales), nor are the surround speakers, weighing 3.4kg each. In short, the kit is designed to deliver a whopping 656W of power under the hood. But we'll see later that this Samsung soundbar can be subtle, too.
Again, we can applaud Samsung's know-how, as the HW-Q990C is truly plug-and-play. When the soundbar is turned on, the speakers and wireless subwoofer are automatically connected. A blue LED on the back of each device confirms it is connected. In short, a home theater system that requires no connections! The only thing we would notice is that the speaker power cord is a bit short for room placement, but that's okay.
Control buttons on the strap can be used to adjust the volume, mute the microphone, or initiate pairing. But most of the setup will be done in the Samsung app or via the remote. The latter also lack backlighting, which is unfortunately something soundbar manufacturers often leave out even on the most advanced models.
In terms of connectivity, the Samsung HW-Q990C offers everything you'd expect from a premium soundbar in 2023: 2 HDMI inputs and an HDMI eARC output for streaming Dolby Digital, Dolby True HD, and of course Dolby Atmos and DTS Audio: X. The Q990C can also pass HDR 10+ and 4K signals, but not 120 Hz. In a more conventional sense, there's an optical input and a USB port (for upgrades), but Samsung has omitted the Jack plug. Therefore, it is impossible to connect old analog devices like the Sony HT-A7000.
The Samsung Strap is Bluetooth compatible, allowing you to stream from your smartphone via Spotify Connect and Wi-Fi with Chromecast and Airplay2. Finally, the Q990C can be paired with Google Assistant and Alexa for voice control. Plenty of connectivity options, which we appreciated during our testing.
Synergy with Samsung TVs is also enhanced, as the TV speakers can be triggered via Q-Symphony to further expand the soundstage for a deeper experience. The bar also supports wireless Dolby Atmos, provided you have a 2023 Samsung QLED TV.
For music, the HW-Q990C delivers the best Hi-Res Audio lossless sound quality up to 192kHz/24bit, supporting FLAC (Android) and ALAC (iPhone) files. However, to use it, you'll need to buy a premium subscription to an HD streaming platform like Tidal, Qobuz, or Amazon Music. We chose the latter, and without spoiling the sound part, we can already say that it's pretty good!
Settings and Features
Unlike Sony, Samsung doesn't offer a user interface on the TV for setting up the soundbar, subwoofer, and speakers. An unfortunate omission for a product in this price range! Micro-panel also refers to the tiny LED display on the front, which is difficult to see behind the protective mesh. It's a pity because it indicates the audio source (HDMI, Bluetooth), the current stream (Dolby Atmos) and can be used for display settings.
Among the many smart features, the SpaceFit option automatically calibrates the sound according to the size of the room. The feature has already been seen on other competitors, but Samsung is innovating, this time integrating the subwoofer into the calibration process. The sound is actually better with more accurate bass when SpaceFit is enabled. It doesn't matter whether it's video content or music. This time the Korean manufacturer was a big success!
The remote allows you to do most of the basic settings, such as increasing the volume on the subwoofer, switching to surround sound mode, or connecting your smartphone. But to continue, you must go through the Samsung SmartThings app (available for Android and iOS). This application allows you to really personalize the sound, in particular to vary the level of each speaker channel to perfectly reproduce the sound through, for example, vertical speakers.
Of course, settings are saved to the bar to suit your sound preferences. A fairly intuitive app that quickly proved necessary to get the most out of your 22-speaker soundbar's potential. But honestly, the Q990C's sound is so good we barely fiddled with these settings during our testing.
High Definition Sound and a Really Impressive Feel
When it comes to sound, Samsung never stops by halves. As before, the HW-Q990C was co-developed with engineers at Harmann-Kardon, a company specializing in HI-FI sound and a subsidiary of Samsung.
Over thereMore expensive than previous models, as the soundbar now has Hi-Res Audio credentials, allowing you to listen to music in HD quality, especially classics, with impressive rendering. Thanks to an Amazon Music premium subscription, we were able to test Metallica's latest and many of its hits in Dolby Atmos. Either way, the conclusion is the same: the sound of the HW-Q990C is really good! In Lovely Billie Eilish, the vocalist's voice wraps us in a soft cocoon, so detailed that you can hear all the instruments and voices in the background.
You don't need to turn up the volume to enjoy your music, and the bar graph is accurate enough to give you a great listening experience at high and moderate volumes. As a sign of the improved quality, the box does a good job of handling fairly controllable bass that's still audible when needed on tighter tracks. There's even an equalizer in the app that improves audio playback depending on the style of music you're listening to: pop, classical, or jazz.
What about movie sound? For sound, there are only 4 modes in the bar: Standard, Surround, Game and Adaptive, but that's enough to find what you're looking for.
Especially since most of the time we prefer Adaptive mode, which analyzes the content in real time to adjust the soundstage, which works really well. We especially enjoyed it in the opening scene of Netflix's 6 Underground, which features a lot of car stunts.
Bangs and gunshots bounce off the ceiling and walls, and when the sound hits, you're completely immersed in the action, just like in a movie theater. Because HW-Q990C has power! But don't worry, Samsung has introduced Night Mode to watch movies without disturbing the neighbors. A feature that strongly suppresses subwoofer rumble without sacrificing sound quality.
This soundbar also knows how to get more subtle in intimate scenes, picking up ambient sounds and whispers on the rear satellites. Surround mode is also great for adding Dolby Atmos depth without going overboard. We also had a great experience playing Mario Kart Deluxe.
As such, it's nearly flawless for a soundbar that can handle a wide variety of content, delivering detailed and roomy sound every time. If you don't have a Dolby Atmos compatible TV, that's not a problem, the Samsung Bar delivers excellent 5.1 sound reproduction, even for regular TV viewing.
one point in the game
In 2023, Samsung HW-Q990C will face many competitors in the Dolby Atmos sound bar market. Of the top models we tested, we can especially highlight themSony HT-A7000,Sonos Arc,Sennheiser AmbeoThe Sony bar lets you try out the 360 Reality Audio experience, but without a subwoofer or surround speakers, the Atmos is a bit mediocre despite its real-world audio quality.
For more affordable budgets, the Sonos is a good alternative to the HW-Q990C, which offers very good sound for music and a good sense of space for movies, but is more limited in terms of connections. However, it can complement the rear satellites. If you're looking for the best option for home theater, Ambeo Bar deserves your attention. The all-in-one system gives us the best experience in space, but it's expensive, and it doesn't even have rear satellites.
With the HW-Q990C, Samsung has delivered a premium soundbar that delivers the best immersive sound in Dolby Atmos, as well as very good HD sound quality. A true home theater system with a wireless subwoofer and surround speakers, this Samsung soundbar can handle all types of content and has many features to optimize audio playback. The only real minor flaws to be aware of are its rather impressive size and exorbitant price tag, which puts it beyond all budgets. But all of its attributes, starting with the power and beautiful 3D spatiality, rank among the best soundbars out there.