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Samsung HW-Q950a Soundbar Overview: Seamless Atmos enjoyable


Cons

  • Ineffective visible show

  • Hefty measurement and value

Samsung’s high Dolby Atmos soundbar is an ace at absolutely submerging you within the cinematic expertise.

The step-up from final 12 months’s HW-Q950T, Samsung’s newest mother-of-all-bars does what appeared just like the not possible: cramming much more speaker drivers into its four-piece design. The 11.1.4-channel system one-ups its predecessor by sliding side-firing drivers not simply within the bar itself but in addition within the wi-fi encompass audio system, a trick I’ve but to see in one in all these methods.

These associate with conventional entrance, proper, and middle channels, upfiring drivers at the back and front, a large subwoofer, and extra methods to bounce hold forth your drywall than any system in its class. Is it overkill? Probably. However it additionally results in extremely seamless immersion for encompass and 3D content material (both Dolby Atmos or DTS:X), and sufficient sonic pressure to rumble your seat. All that energy is well-tuned, too. The result’s a improbable phantasm that absolutely submerges you within the cinematic expertise.

Concerning the Samsung HW-Q950A

Samsung HW-Q950a far left

Credit score: Reviewed/Jackson Ruckar

The system is highly effective, however nonetheless straightforward to cover below your TV.

Listed below are the HW-Q950A’s most important specs:

  • Top x Width x Depth: 2.7 x 48.5 x 5.4 inches (soundbar), 15.9 x 8.3 x 15.9 (subwoofer), 8 x 4.9 x 5.6 (surrounds)
  • Weight: 15.7 kilos (soundbar), 21.6 kilos (subwoofer), 4 kilos (surrounds)
  • Audio system/drivers: 22 audio system whole; 15 within the bar, three in every encompass speaker, one 8-inch subwoofer
  • Amplification: 246 watts within the bar, 210 watts in encompass audio system, 160 watts in sub
  • Wi-fi connection: Wi-Fi, Spotify Join, AirPlay 2, Bluetooth 4.2
  • Wired connection: HDMI ARC/eARC, HDMI in (2), digital optical
  • Good options: Constructed-in Alexa
  • Sound codecs: Samsung Q-Symphony, LPCM, Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS:X, DTS 5.1, DTS-HD, DTS-HD Grasp Audio, FLAC, WAV, MP3, AAC, OGG, AIFF
  • Video assist: 4K/HDR passthrough together with Dolby Imaginative and prescient and HDR10

The Q950A takes some effort to arrange, primarily as a result of it’s enormous. After dragging it into your listening room, you’ll discover the principle equipment wanted for operation, together with the wand-style distant and batteries, an HDMI cable, wall mount equipment, and energy cables for the bar, subwoofer, and every of the surrounds. The latter join wirelessly, however nonetheless want energy (after all). There’s no optical cable however that enter ought to solely be used for legacy audio gadgets. HDMI eARC/ARC is the one solution to supply Dolby Atmos out of your TV, and likewise means that you can use your TV distant for soundbar energy and quantity.

When you’ve bought all of the audio system correctly configured, merely join all the things to energy, join the HDMI cable to your TV’s HDMI eARC or ARC enter, and also you’re up. You’ll additionally need to obtain Samsung’s SmartThings app, not only for Wi-Fi connection, but in addition for simple entry to primary settings like sound mode and enter choice, EQ, and some different settings. The app additionally gives initiation of auto EQ calibration through Samsung’s SpaceFit Sound+ system to tune the setup to your room.

What we like

A formidable characteristic set

Samsung HW-Q950a sub and bar

Credit score: Reviewed/Jackson Ruckar

The Q950A is fairly properly loaded, together with all the main options you’d count on.

The Q950A has nearly each characteristic most setups demand. Connection choices together with twin HDMI inputs for 4K HDR passthrough from linked gadgets (we’d prefer to see three, however two’s not dangerous) and eARC connection which permits for absolutely uncompressed sound transference between an eARC linked TV. Wi-fi streaming choices are fairly decked out, together with each Spotify Join and AirPlay 2 for Apple Music followers, although there’s no Chromecast connection so different streaming companies could need to resort to Bluetooth (or an app in your TV).

Talking of Google, not like rival bars from Sonos and LG, the Q950A doesn’t assist Google Assistant, although it does provide Amazon Alexa for primary good management with an onboard microphone. This lets you management primary capabilities along with your voice and incorporate the bar into an Alexa good residence setup.

The system additionally has a number of sound modes, which are literally helpful fairly than simply including a bunch of trash reverb like some methods. The Commonplace mode offers you a straight-shot supply of your audio, which works properly for issues like stereo-only listening, whereas Encompass and Recreation modes assist unfold out the sound even for stereo tracks. Samsung’s Adaptive Sound—designed to robotically regulate sound in actual time for the perfect expertise—additionally works properly. It’s palms off, and often does job priming the sound.

As famous above, the system additionally helps loads of audio codecs, together with the highest two 3D-audio codecs in DTS:X and, after all, Dolby Atmos. The system additionally helps high-resolution codecs together with Dolby TrueHD and, in accordance with Samsung’s reps, DTS-HD and DTS-HD Grasp Audio (although they are not listed within the specs). The system also can decode high-resolution audio recordsdata at as much as 24bit/192kHz, however playback is proscribed to 24bit/96kHz.

Different notable options embrace Samsung’s Q-Symphony system, which integrates the bar with TV audio system from choose Samsung fashions, and the power to attach wirelessly to pick out Samsung TVs as properly.

Transformative immersion

Samsung HW-Q950a satellites and remote

Credit score: Reviewed/Jackson Ruckar

With tons of drivers, together with a number of side-firing and upfiring options, the general immersion is improbable.

Most individuals haven’t skilled Dolby Atmos sound at its greatest. Even in the event you’ve been to a Dolby Atmos-equipped theater or skilled it in a soundbar or digital setup, if it’s not tuned correctly or the content material doesn’t take benefit, you largely lose out on the phantasm. However when you’re in “the dome” you recognize it. And man is it enjoyable.

It takes a bit of labor to get the Samsung Q950A completely tuned—extra work than it most likely ought to, truly, which I’ll communicate to under. However when you’ve bought this technique locked in, it’s a thrilling expertise. It’s not simply the pumping bass that actually rumbled my sofa cushions, the four-part top audio system, and even the graceful high quality of the sound signature that makes the Q950A such an Atmos boss. These are all integral, after all, however what takes this technique to that subsequent ground on the Atmos elevator is simply how seamlessly it transfers sound throughout its audio system.

It’s probably the multitude of side-firing drivers performs a giant hand in that, as does the dimensions of the satellite tv for pc audio system—they’re a lot bigger than what you’ll get from cheaper Atmos setups, particularly the tiny cubes you’ll discover in entry-level encompass bars. The hand-off between the bar and satellites makes the objects in Dolby Atmos demos just like the fluttering seedling in Leaf, the animated crystal diamonds in Ambiance, and the cruising spaceships that blow previous your cheeks in Horizon actually come alive.

These demos are tailored for Atmos spectacle, after all, however the system can be improbable for different well-made Atmos content material just like the Jedi episode in The Mandalorian season 2. The crunchy lightsaber blades burst in fiery swipes, whereas the blaster photographs and different ambient sounds create a realist ambiance. The bar outdoes Vizio’s wonderful Elevate in such scenes (because it ought to at this value) and goes additional to create the perfect Atmos expertise I’ve encountered outdoors of a high-end discrete speaker setup.

Nice for music and different content material, too

Samsung HW-Q950a side-firing drivers

Credit score: Reviewed/Jackson Ruckar

The system creates a transparent and immersive expertise for music in addition to movie and TV content material.

One would assume the makings of an awesome Dolby Atmos expertise robotically switch to some other content material, however that’s not at all times the case. A system that goes all out for Atmos frequencies can sound tinny, overly artificial, or bloated elsewhere, particularly on the subject of music playback. I’m completely satisfied to report that, for probably the most half, that’s not the case right here.

Musical playback is obvious, full, and detailed sufficient {that a} good friend who was over (as a result of you are able to do that now) remarked on the bar’s efficiency a number of occasions. As we toured by way of a 3,500 music Spotify playlist, he repeatedly remarked how good it sounds and that it outperforms his personal, getting older multi-speaker system at residence.

Personally, I’ll take my 2.1 KEF LSX setup, however for a system for which music is of course secondary, the Q950A does fairly properly. Brass and woodwinds are candy with loads of headroom within the higher frequencies, acoustic devices sound pure and clean, and vocals are delivered with presence and definition.

I additionally need to admit I actually get pleasure from listening in encompass, even for stereo music. Adaptive Sound mode surprisingly unfold stereo tunes throughout the total system. Albums like Manchester Orchestra’s Masks of God cloaked me in a dizzying cloud of synths, drums, and hovering vocals for a superb expertise.

It’s additionally price mentioning right here simply how ridiculously highly effective the Q950A is. I don’t understand how loud you’d need to play earlier than distortion units in, and I don’t need to. I do know that, in weeks of streaming music, I by no means as soon as bought above the very backside cup of my telephone’s quantity bar. I don’t think about anybody would ever flip the system above the halfway level, but when they did, I wouldn’t need to be round for it.

To call some weaknesses, the bass often will get boomy, and, particularly with Hulu’s pedestrian stereo content material, some dialogue can come off shouty in sitcoms like Seinfeld and Frasier, although to not the purpose of annoyance. I blame Hulu partially right here, however my full-sized 2.1 setup has no such points—and higher element, too. Total, although, there’s little to complain about on the subject of sound.

The app is a giant step up

It’s admittedly been a pair years since I’ve reviewed Samsung’s high Atmos bar, however in that point the corporate has discovered from rivals like Sonos, which has an app so complete that its Arc Dolby Atmos soundbar doesn’t include a distant (and doesn’t want one).

SmartThings is easy, cleanly laid out, and allows you to entry nearly all the things you want.

Samsung’s SmartThings app isn’t fairly there but—Sonos is as a lot a software program firm as {hardware}—however it comes nearer than anticipated, and for probably the most half beats out LG’s rival app expertise. SmartThings is easy, cleanly laid out, and allows you to entry nearly all the things you want with an intuitive faucet. That’s good as a result of, whereas Samsung’s minimalist distant seems to be and feels good, except you want a fast bump of the quantity or woofer (the previous you possibly can deal with along with your TV distant over HDMI ARC connection), it’s fairly restricted.

Not solely that, when you’ll discover just a few front-facing LEDs, the Q950A’s visible show is, maddeningly, positioned on high of the soundbar the place solely god and your ceiling can see it. This brings me to my greatest grievance.

What we don’t like

The visible show is ineffective

Samsung HW-Q950a display

Credit score: Reviewed/Jackson Ruckar

The show can be a welcome addition if it had been usable. Fortunately, just a few app updates will make it out of date anyway.

Someone get the visible show individual into any person’s workplace as a result of, significantly, how may anybody assume the highest of a soundbar is an efficient place to place it? Once more, the overwhelming majority of your settings are within the SmartThings app, so most individuals ought to get alongside simply effective with out ever even assembly the darkish window that sits between the bar’s onboard controls.

Besides, that’s, if it is advisable to regulate channel ranges which, on a 22-speaker soundbar, you very properly may. I’m personally a fiddler on the subject of encompass methods—I prefer to get it good. I’ll say that, whereas I’m undecided the calibration did a lot for the channel ranges, the Q950A was in fine condition by itself after auto calibration. However I did have to tweak the encompass speaker quantity down just a few clicks, and lift the peak audio system on the bar to get an exhilarating overhead expertise. And, surprisingly, this isn’t accessible within the app.

That leaves you standing above the bar, clicking the distant’s Settings button to the peak channels, after which making guesses about what number of factors to regulate for the listening place (savage, I do know). Jokes apart, it wasn’t a large problem and as soon as issues had been locked within the SmartThings app took care of the remaining. Nonetheless, cheaper bars from Vizio remedy this concern with a show on the distant itself, whereas many LG soundbars put it prominently up entrance. On the plus aspect, the buttons on high of the bar are straightforward to make use of, together with the mute button which can maintain Alexa from listening once you need privateness.

A couple of extra inputs can be good

Samsung HW-Q950a

Credit score: Reviewed/Jackson Ruckar

You will get all of the inputs you want, although we would not have minded an additional HDMI and a USB port.

The HW-Q950a gives all the things you want, together with twin HDMI ports for connecting two parts straight. That stated, at this value one other HDMI enter can be good since most individuals have a number of gaming gadgets and a streaming field, not to mention a Blu-ray participant. We might even have liked to see a USB enter right here for high-resolution audio recordsdata, one thing you will get from rivals in LG’s SP soundbar line.

It’s a hefty from any angle

We at all times attempt to decide a system on its worth, and it’s laborious to abdomen a soundbar at this value level for anybody not within the six-figure wage vary. Additionally, it’s only a rattling large bar to pull round, so that you’ll need to be sure you’re staying put in the event you set it up. It’s nonetheless approach decrease profile than a 7 and even 5-piece speaker system (and don’t neglect the subwoofer), however this can be a large honking system with a giant honking value. You do just about get what you pay for, and as I write this Samsung has already dropped $200 off its $1,800 MSRP, which is pretty widespread.

Must you purchase it?

Sure, it gives the perfect immersion shy of a multi-speaker setup

Samsung HW-Q950a side overhead

Credit score: Reviewed/Jackson Ruckar

Samsung’s Q950A is large, brutish, and shockingly priced for a soundbar. You may actually get seven or eight 5.1 bars out of your native Costco for its full value. However damned if it isn’t beautiful once you put the lights down and switch the sound up. It gives the perfect Atmos expertise I’ve had in a soundbar, good musicality and, aside from just a few quirks, straightforward operation to make it a good selection as the one, supremely highly effective system in your marquee leisure room.

You may definitely do fairly properly for lots much less, although. Vizio’s value-packed Elevate is the primary bar that involves thoughts. At $1,000 or much less, it gives a significant chunk of the Q950A’s spoils on the subject of cinematic punch, although I just like the Q950A a good bit higher for music. If you happen to can nonetheless discover it, you may additionally be capable to get an awesome deal on the 2020 Q950T mannequin. At this value, you can too look past soundbars and towards discrete residence theater methods.

For the same value to the Q950A, you possibly can deck out your room with SVS’ beautiful 5.1 bookshelf system, a Denon 7.2 receiver and even add on Dolby Atmos audio system later for an additional $400. That totals greater than the bar, however hey, in for a penny.

However even in case you have the price range, not everybody has the know-how or area for a number of large-ish picket cupboards. If that sounds such as you, and also you’ve bought a hankering for main residence theater may—Dolby Atmos included—the Q950A won’t disappoint.

Meet the tester

Ryan Waniata

Ryan Waniata

Managing Editor – Electronics


@ryanwaniata

Hailing initially from Montana, Ryan parlayed his time working as a musician and audio engineer right into a profession in digital media in 2013. Since then he is had intensive expertise as a author and editor, together with all the things from op-eds and options to evaluations on TVs, audio gear, good residence gadgets, and extra.

See all of Ryan Waniata’s evaluations

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