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The Samsung HW-Q990C soundbar continues the company’s recent trend of delivering flagship soundbars in four physical boxes – but until now, Samsung has steadily managed to increase the number of channels packed into those four boxes. For this year, you’re stuck with 11 front-facing speakers, 1 subwoofer, and 4 up-firing channels for a truly immersive Dolby Atmos experience.
The HW-Q990C comes with some nifty features that make it a better soundbar than its predecessor from last year, the Samsung HW-Q990C which was (and still is) great, but Samsung had to add some new features to keep its soundbar reign moving forward. We’re glad that the HW-Q990C’s improvements are all focused on improving the sound quality those channels deliver, making it one of the best soundbars of all time.
The soundbar, for instance, is an 11.1.4-channel fusion, with a total of 22 channels fine-tuned to make bass smoother and more refined, while the rear speakers feature a new angled top and small pedestal stands to deliver purer and optimal listening pleasure. Also, Samsung has finally introduced an auto-calibration system to its latest flagship soundbar, which we saw earlier in the similarly-impressive Samsung HW-Q990B, making it easier to get the best sound from its unmatched channel count.
To the fabulous feature set, Samsung didn’t forget to throw in a hefty price tag on it. Yeah, it’s not an affordable piece of kit but it’s worth every buck you spend here. Everything from the new control, balance, and precision to the vast power and channel counts over its predecessors and rivals, the Samsung HW-Q990C creates the most fully rounded and immersive surround sound experience we’ve heard from even the best Dolby Atmos soundbars in the market.
About the Samsung HW-Q990C
The HW-Q990C is Samsung’s new flagship soundbar for 2023 and includes a full 360-degree sound system in a box and packs the highest number of sound channels ever packed into a soundbar system. This soundbar arrives with a subwoofer and rear speakers for seamless Dolby and DTX:X playback, as a result, you get an 11.1.4 system out of the box.
The system comes with a built-in voice assistant and ultimately supports wireless content playback via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, as well as Apple Airplay 2. If you need a more accurate soundstage, you can pair the soundbar with Samsung TV speaker systems using the new intuitive Samsung Q Symphony technology that elevates the channel count and utilizes the TV’s neural processing unit to match available audio signals.
It utilizes Samsung’s Space Fit Sound Pro, which was introduced last year, and has stood the test of time as yet another remarkable technology for Samsung soundbars. The soundbar includes a built-in microphone that works with Samsung’s Space Fit technology to automatically optimize its audio output to your room settings, rather than having to adjust it manually.
The Samsung HW-Q990C gets an HDMI passthrough system with two HDMI inputs, in addition to the HDMI eARC that makes connectivity to your TV easier. With HDMI passthrough, you can connect your sources directly to the soundbar to transfer video to your TV, thereby avoiding the audio sync problems often found on soundbars with only single HDMI ports. This HDMI passthrough solution works for 4K HDR video, including HDR10+ as well as Dolby Vision premium HDR formats.
On the back of the soundbar, there’s an optical audio port, a USB-A service connector, and two keyholes for hooking the soundbar to the wall.
Here are the key specs on the Samsung HW-Q990C in this review:
- Audio channels: 11.1.4
- Audio format support: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X
- Connectivity: 1x HDMI eARC, 2x HDMI passthrough, 1x digital optical, 1x ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
- Extra features: Wireless Dolby Atmos, Samsung Q-Symphony (both with compatible Samsung TVs)
For a soundbar that consists of four individual parts, it’s interesting to see how the HW-Q990C is easy to set up and keep running.
All four parts are wireless, so unless you absolutely need to, there’s no need to run cables between them, and for the most time, all four elements never fail to automatically find and connect right away, without input. Still, for added fidelity, I’d go for the eARC connection over a wireless connection, as it lets you utilize the soundbar as a hub for two or more HDMI devices.
If you have a newer Samsung QLED TV such as the Samsung QN95C, the wireless surround and subwoofer will connect automatically, since the TV identifies the soundbar and activates its Q-Symphony Sound function, which leverages the TV’s built-in speakers to boost the overall soundstage. Q-Symphony Sound feature is available on all recent Samsung QLED TV models.
While the Q990C can function on a wireless setup, it has decent cable management, too. The soundbar has up to three HDMI cables, and you’ll appreciate how cleverly the power cords for the surround speakers run out of the bottom of the speakers. The only issue here is the length of the cords; at only 3 feet long, they will work for most folks, but I just wish they were a little longer for better speaker positioning.
The new Space Fit auto-calibration system is a great addition to the setup as well. Once you’ve run it once, it rechecks itself daily, making it a much better way of interacting with the system. It eliminates the process of trying to balance channels manually as required with previous Samsung soundbars.
Day-to-day use is very straightforward, too. The soundbar’s front-mounted led makes it easy to track volume levels, sound formats, and the selected inputs, and the remote control keeps buttons to an easy use minimum. Plus, you can control the Q990C soundbar via the visual interface of Samsung’s Smart Things app, and there’s built-in Alexa control support if you’d rather have an interactive voice chat with your soundbar.
Design and Features
The entire Samsung HW-Q990C package weighs around 62 pounds in total, with the main soundbar weighing around 8 lbs and measures 48.5-inches wide by 2.5-inches tall by 5.4-inches deep, with the left and right front panel corners rocking a diagonal design. For all four pieces, the whole front and top surfaces are covered with a metal grill that shields the drivers, as well as a compact panel that houses four rubber buttons for play/pause, volume up/down, and mic on/off on the soundbar.
On the main soundbar, an LED display on the right side of the front grille displays the status of the bar, as well as the current input and volume level. From experience, the metal grille looks better and emphasizes the premium character of the HW-Q990C, and is much better than the traditional speaker grille cloth.
Still, the fact that the Q990C comprises four components makes it a standout among top-tier soundbars: The main soundbar, a subwoofer, and a pair of rear speakers. All of these bars carry multiple channel drivers each, three in each rear, and eleven in the main soundbar.
The main soundbar is slim enough to fit under most TV without obscuring the bottom picture, and the rears are of a good size to fit on a typical bookshelf. As expected, the subwoofer has some heft to it, but its new Acoustic lens fitment makes it look a bit cool, while the newer dispersive design touches make it easier to tuck out of sight – maybe under a sideboard or next to a sofa.
As seen in the Samsung HW-Q990B last year, Samsung finally returns the little LED to the soundbar’s front edge, where you can see it while seated on your sofa, rather than repeating the tragedy of its previous flagship soundbars where the LED was placed on the top edge – where you had to be standing to read it.
The Samsung HW-Q990C might be easy to set up and jam-packed with features, but the real show-stopper is its sound quality. For its latest flagship soundbar, Samsung does an excellent job of creating a full-blooded Dolby Atmos soundstage in your living room.
Each of its 22 channels is made to be heard – especially as the integrated new auto-calibration system excellently balances the channels to their optimal levels without any manual input. You feel completely immersed in a sound bubble that wraps around the sides of your seating position, and extends right around the back of your head, and even in a jazzed-up fashion, right over your head.
To create such a seamless hemisphere of sound, Samsung ensures that Dolby Atmos is fine-tuned to count. After all, Dolby Atmos is meant to leverage its object-based sound format to deliver a carefully crafted 3D audio space rather than just directed at specific speakers. That means, if your sound system can’t create that 3D space efficiently, it can’t then place those specific sound effects within that space correctly.
- WIRELESS DOLBY ATMOS: Now, thanks to Samsung, enjoy a Dolby Atmos experience that...
- TRUE 11.1.4ch SOUND: Now you can flood the room with surround sound from all angles and...
- Q-SYMPHONY: Perfectly synchronized, fully immersive audio floods your room all at once,...
Sure, last year’s HW-Q990B also delivered sound quality, which was, at the time, an unmatched Atmos sound stage via 16 channels, but the HW-Q990C does it even better. Partly, I think, because of the extra channels, and in large due to the extra self-calibration tools it now carries as well, alongside the improved design of the soundbar’s rear and subwoofer speakers.
The extra refinement together with the Auto EQ calibration feature, means the soundbar’s bass, while ever-present, hardly draw too much attention to itself, instead, everything resonates appropriately and sounds just like another fine-tuned part of the wider mix. The main soundbar components, meanwhile deliver the magical pairing of crisp detailing, huge power, unbridled impact, and well-balanced channel steering that we hear from last year’s HW-Q990B.
Other than finding its handling of DTS:X soundtracks a little underwhelming, you’ll struggle to find a missing mark on the HW-Q990C, even if its move and dialogue performance is top-notch. As with most previous Samsung flagship soundbars, however, music performance is a little uninspired, but it still does a good job with native Dolby Atmos mixes, but deeply layered tracks sound a little congested.
Luckily, the Samsung HW-Q990C has a solution of sorts for this issue in way of its Adaptive sound preset. With this feature, remix tracks can take advantage of the soundbar’s full array of channels, and it delivers remarkable results. While the Adaptive preset won’t appeal to most hi-fi audiophiles, it balances the musical elements much better than the straight stereo Music mode, as well as making the sound appear much less congested.
Competition and Comparison
Samsung has one of the most expensive systems on the market right now, much more expensive than the LG S95QR flagship system, albeit by a small margin.
If you’re looking to save a few bucks, the Klipsch Cinema 1200 delivers good cinematic sound with a 12-inch subwoofer, and routinely goes on sale for around one grand, making it value that’s hard to beat.
On the other hand, if you don’t mind going for last year’s model, the Samsung HW-Q990B, and especially if you won’t be using the wireless connection feature, this is great value, of course, minus the upgraded software for 2023.
Samsung HW-Q990C Review – Verdict
If you’re a sucker for multi-channel soundbars that are easy to set up, the flagship Samsung HW-Q990C is the best you can get right now. It’s easy to set up thanks to wireless satellites and a sturdy wireless subwoofer that punches above its weight to deliver well-balanced Dolby Atmos acoustics.
As a package, the Samsung HW-Q990C impresses with a simple-to-setup solution that delivers rich audio and impressive Dolby Atmos sound. With the upgraded wireless connectivity and software, it’s as feature-complete as I’d like at this price.
If you want a full surround-sound experience, the Samsung HW-Q990C with its rear speakers boasting three channels each and a main soundbar with a whopping eleven channels (unique for a soundbar) make for a complete and immersive Dolby Atmos experience. It comes highly recommended, as long as you can afford it.
How do I get my TV to play through my soundbar?
On the back of your TV, look for an input HDMI port labeled RC (Audio Return Channel) or eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel), then locate the TV-Out (ARC) port on the back of your soundbar and then connect the HDMI wire to both slots.
Is HDMI better than optical when connecting a soundbar?
The versatility of HDMI makes it a superior option over optical when connecting a soundbar to your TV. Again, HDMI cables are quite inexpensive, they can relay video and transmit audio formats such as Dolby Atmos, and DTS:X playback.
Is a soundbar better than my TV speakers?
While we have seen a few TV models come with built-in soundbars, most, especially in the budget range come with normal speakers. In that case, soundbars come in handy to improve your audio experience beyond what your TV speakers can offer. Additionally, soundbars come with extra features such as the ability to integrate various devices throughout the household.
The flagship Samsung HW-Q990C soundbar impresses with a simple-to-setup solution that delivers rich audio and impressive Dolby Atmos sound.
- Fantastic Dolby Atmos sound
- Remarkably compact speakers
- Very easy to setup
- Impressive bass performance
- Power cords could be longer
- Premium pricing
Last update on 2023-12-04 at 05:16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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SAMSUNG HW-Q990C 11.1.4ch Soundbar w/Wireless Dolby Audio, Rear Speakers Included w/Q-Symphony, SpaceFit Sound Pro, Adaptive Sound, Game Mode Pro, Airplay 2, AVA, Alexa Built-in (Newest Model)
$1,397.99 in stock
9 used from $1,087.76