Samsung HW-Q900A soundbar review
We live in a time when in order to get high-quality sound there is no need to assemble an expensive and cumbersome audio system from a receiver and a lot of speakers, look for the right places for them, lay wires and even make repairs to make sure everything is feng shui.
Among interesting decisions concerning sound we can mention quite convenient and compact soundbars, which seemed to be so popular among the users that their variety has greatly increased, and now it is possible to find devices for the most different purse.
Of course, one of the experts in terms of creating home entertainment centers is the well established Samsung company. Today we will look at the Samsung HW-Q900A device from the 2021 line, which belongs to the class of premium sound panels from the Korean giant.
PRICES, PACKAGING AND EQUIPMENT
The official cost of the model in question is 900$, but before the New Year, promotions and discounts are possible. There is also a more advanced model – HW-Q950A, which differs in the presence of two rear speakers.
The soundbar comes in a huge box made of thick flesh-colored cardboard. The entire surface of the packaging is dotted with white dots, as well as information about supported surround sound technologies and more. There are cut-outs on the sides for easy carrying. Due to the size of the box it is very problematic to drag it by yourself, but it is possible nevertheless.
Inside there is the soundbar itself waiting for you, which is wrapped in the foam plastic film and put into two long styrofoam forms. Underneath in the middle is a subwoofer, packaged similarly to the soundbar.
Two large cardboard forms on the sides of the subwoofer hint that the packaging is universal for several products (the HW-Q950A model comes with rear speakers). Besides, the small white box contains the rest of the set: a remote control with two AA batteries, an HDMI cable, two power cables (for the soundbar and subwoofer), wall mounting rails, wall brackets, four screws and a set of four rubber feet.
From the documentation in the package you can find the user manual, remote control and soundbar installation manual, as well as the warranty booklet.
APPEARANCE, CONNECTORS AND CONTROLS
The soundbar looks quite elegant and stylish. The dimensions of the model are 123 x 69 x 138 cm, and the weight is almost 7 kg. The case is made of durable and high quality black plastic. The front side and the top is covered with black cloth, which hides most of the speakers on the soundboard. Under the beveled grilles, reminiscent of the radiator, there are a couple more speakers on each side.
On top in the middle there is a small display that displays information about the selected output or connection method, information about the volume setting and other audio characteristics. It copes with its function, but particularly handy it does not call, which is why in future models the screen will be moved to the front plane.
A few LEDs on the front side duplicate the notification function, but there is even less information from them because they simply light up for a moment depending on the actions you perform with the buttons on the soundbar or remote control. There’s also an IR sensor that picks up commands from the remote.
As for the controls on the soundbar, there are four buttons near the top of the display. Two of them, in the shape of plus and minus, are responsible for adjusting the overall volume, other frequency characteristics and individual channels.
The circle-shaped button to the left is multifunctional. It is responsible for both turning the device on and changing the connection mode, which can be changed by pressing it in turn. The crossed out circle on the right is responsible for turning on/off the built-in microphone to work in tandem with voice assistants from Google and Amazon. Like all Wi-Fi soundbars, Samsung’s solution can be used with Alice. Finally, if you press the circle-shaped button for 5 seconds, Bluetooth pairing mode is enabled.
At the bottom of the soundbar there are two recesses. The small one contains the port for power cable connection, and the bigger one has signal connectors. Among them: one HDMI OUT with eARC/ARC support for connection to TV, two HDMI IN ports for connection of different external devices (consoles, TV-sets, BluRay/DVD players, etc.), as well as an optical digital input (SPDIF). In the middle of the case you can find a couple more buttons. The ID SET button is used to pair with the wireless subwoofer and rear speakers, and the Network button is used to connect to the Wi-Fi network via the proprietary app. The USB port next to it is used to install a firmware update from an external drive. There are also a couple of holes for mounting brackets and marked places to install anti-slip feet.
The subwoofer is quite large and weighty. Its dimensions are 40 x 40 x 20 cm, and its weight is 9.8 kg. Apparently, it is made of MDF. The large speaker is located on the side and is covered with a cloth. On the back it has a button for pairing with the soundbar and a USB socket to update the firmware from an external drive. There are also a couple of indicators there. One notifies you that the subwoofer is paired or in search mode, and the other lights up when the speaker is in standby mode.
To control this soundbar, you can use a compact IR remote control – model AH59-02767A. It has been used in conjunction with the company’s various soundbars for quite some time, and is virtually the same in design as its counterparts for smart TVs and monitors.
Under the tightly fitted back cover of the remote hides the two AA batteries that power it. The remote has buttons for changing the source, enabling Bluetooth search, selecting preset audio modes, and a navigation ring with a play/pause button in the center. And through the gear button you can adjust the volume of the different channels and high and low frequencies. Of course, there are also function switches for adjusting the volume on the soundbar and subwoofer. Besides, you can control the soundbar with the TV remote control thanks to HDMI-CEC support.
CONNECTIVITY AND SOFTWARE
The Samsung HW-Q900A has several options for connecting to various devices, both wired and wirelessly. Wired it can be connected via HDMI or optical cable, and for wireless connection there is support for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi protocols. The latter are used for Apple’s AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, and smart home systems. Unfortunately, we were not able to test the operation of the Apple technology. Support of Chromecast is not announced for this soundbar, but it still supports it. We managed to broadcast music via YouTube Music application and sound from smartphone by means of sound transmission via Google Home. It was also easy to pair the phone via Bluetooth – it’s easy and convenient to launch music from the same Spotify or YouTube Music. The signal with the smartphone was quite stable and was not lost within the movement in an average 3-room apartment.
Full control of the soundbar, on the other hand, is implemented through Samsung’s SmartThings smart home app. In addition to functions that you can adjust from the soundbar itself and the remote, but in a more convenient way, the app has additional settings that allow you to amplify your voice, bass or turn on night mode, as well as a 7-band equalizer for fine-tuning the sound. In addition, Google and Amazon assistants can be connected through SmartThings to help make your leisure time a little more convenient and turn the soundbar into a smart soundbar.
SPECIFICATIONS, FEATURES AND SOUND
Audio Format: Multichannel
Number of channels: 7.1.2
Mounting type: shelf/wall-mounted
Subwoofer type: wireless
Number of soundbar and subwoofer speakers: 15 + 1
Subwoofer speaker power: 246 watts ((18 watts x 6) + (10 watts x 3) + (18 watts x 6))
Subwoofer power: 160 watts
Subwoofer acoustic cabinet: reflex port
Connections: optical (SPDIF), 2x HDMI IN, 1x HDMI OUT (ARC/eARC), USB (only for firmware upgrade)
Wireless interfaces: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth (SBC codec)
Audio Decoders: DTS 5.1Ch, DTS HD, DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS:X, LPCM 8Ch, Dolby Digital 5.1Ch, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Atmos
Sound modes: Standard, Surround, Game Pro, Adaptive Sound
Audio Format Support: AAC, MP3, WAV, OGG, FLAC, ALAC, AIFF
Video pass-through support: 4K60 HDR10+
Supported technologies and features: Q-Symphony, Active Voice Amplifier, SpaceFit Sound, Spotify Connect, AirPlay2, Tap Sound, Auto EQ
Operating power consumption of soundbar/subwoofer: 47/28 watts
As many as 16 speakers are responsible for the sound in the speaker system. The soundbar has six 18-watt wide-range drivers in the front, as well as three 10-watt wide-range tweeters each. On the sides, to create surround sound, the manufacturer installed another pair of 18-watt wide-band speakers each. To create surround sound, the latter are reflected from the walls in their direction.
The last two wideband speakers of the soundbar also have 18W power, installed on top and located on the edges of the panel. They are responsible for transmitting DTS:X and Dolby Atmos surround sound by reflecting sound off the ceiling. The subwoofer is equipped with one large 160 watt subwoofer. Thanks to the installed phasor, the subwoofer has high volume and saturation of reproduced frequencies.
You can use the Auto EQ function to calibrate your subwoofer when you first install it. It uses a built-in microphone to adjust the EQ to the room in which it is located.
If you own a new Samsung TV, a more advanced version of the technology called SpaceFit Sound+ is available, which uses the sound processor built into the TV to adjust not only the subwoofer EQ, but also the surround sound and audio frequency characteristics of the soundbar. The Q-Symphony feature allows for perfectly synchronized sound between your TV and the connected soundbar. We were able to try it with Samsung QLED Q950 8K TV set, though a little bit. We managed to synchronize the sound only by optical cable, while by HDMI through the special connector marked eARC the sound worked only on the soundbar.
In such mode the TV-soundbar tandem allows achieving more voluminous sound without any delay. To improve voice transmission while watching movies the soundbar has the Active Voice Amplifier function, which also seems to be exclusive to Samsung TV users, because this function did not want to work with the connected LG OLED.
For a convenient wireless connection between your smartphone and the soundbar, there is a Tap Sound feature, which allows you to connect the gadget with one touch if you have a Samsung smartphone.
As for sound, by default, the soundbar operates in standard EQ mode, which has a neutral soundstage perceived by the ear within the size of the soundbar itself. This mode is suitable for listening to music without priority on low frequencies, as by default they lack depth, but this is easily corrected by adjusting the settings through the remote or the application to the desired level. The system’s high volume allows you to throw a party in noisy company.
The surround sound of the soundbar is good, especially when using the SURROUND preset. I would like to point out the excellent work of the central channel, which perfectly localizes speech to itself when watching movies or during dialogues in games. It is possible to activate spatial sound Dolby Atmos and DTS:X only by direct connection of the signal source to the soundbar by HDMI.
We were able to test the functionality of spatial audio as part of playing Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5 on the Xbox Series X with support for these audio codecs. Thanks to the speakers on top, the soundstage is a little higher. The speakers reflect the sound from the ceiling and it returns in the direction of the user, who is sitting in front of the soundbar. Playing with such sound is really pleasant – the immersion into the game process becomes even deeper.
The Samsung HW-Q900A is a very good option for users who frequently consume media content and want to bring high-quality surround sound with state-of-the-art standards into their home without any problems.
A cozy evening movie night and immersive gaming experience this soundbar will be able to provide with more than enough, as well as to please people gathered for a noisy party.
In addition, in tandem with other devices of the manufacturer Samsung HW-Q900A will become a wonderful addition for followers of the Korean giant ecosystem, appreciating convenience and comfort.