Samsung HW-Q990B Review: An Epic 11.1.4 Soundbar – Newsweek

The Samsung HW-Q990B is the newest version of Smasung’s top of the line soundbar. For 2022 we see a refined design, support for wireless Dolby Atmos and an additional HDMI connection.

These features are in addition to the 11.1.4 real audio channels that combine to deliver an out-of-the-box setup capable of bringing incredibly immersive surround sound to any room with just four components.

While we watched the NBA Finals, finally caught up on the second season of The Righteous Gemstones and binged action movies, the HW-Q990B brought us into what was happening on the screen in ways few soundbar arrangements can.

If you pair this with a recent Samsung TV, you can sync it with the television speakers using Q-Symphony and automatically tune the soundbar to your room with SpaceFit Sound+.

Buy at Best Buy for $1,899.99.

Sound Quality and Performance

The system bounces sound off the ceiling and walls to deliver a great Dolby Atmos experience.
Josh Smith

The HW-Q990B supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X surround sound, with a combination of up-firing and side-firing speakers. This new model uses the same number of real channels as last year’s HW-Q950A, and the performance is on par with its predecessor.

Samsung uses 22 speakers to achieve the 11.1.4 setup in this soundbar. The speakers bounce sound off your ceiling to simulate overhead speakers, and they do a great job of replicating the Atmos experience without needing to place speakers on your ceiling.

We try a wide array of soundbars and audio configurations, and one of the biggest challenges is finding a way to place speakers into an actual living space. While the surrounds are closer to the size of bookshelf speakers, the fact they only need the power to function makes it easy to use the HW-Q990B in an open floor plan living room.

You only need to plug the surround speakers into power, allowing for more flexible placement than wired speakers.
Josh Smith

With many systems, you need to run a wire to the subwoofer for rear speakers to receive audio, but these wirelessly connect to the soundbar, which allows for easier placement around the room, and in turn, better performance. If you are unable to put the rear speakers at the back of the room, you can place them at the front of the room and enable a special mode that accommodates for this placement.

When paired with a Samsung TV, users can integrate the TV speakers using the Q-Symphony feature. This integration stood out when testing previous models, but it only works with Samsung TVs. Another Samsung TV-specific feature is the SpaceFit Sound+, which tunes the speakers to your room. However, if you don’t have a Samsung TV connected, you can use the Samsung SmartThings app to use a room tuning feature that can deliver similar results. Once we set up room tuning, the soundbar design really shined.

This setup truly put on a show when we watched John Wick and John Wick: Chapter 3 Parabellum. Throughout the fight scene in the club during John Wick, the HW-Q990B brought us into the middle of the action with the believable placement of gunshots, ricochets and breaking scenery. In the opening sequence of the third movie, we experienced similar results that immersed us in the scene. I cannot wait to experience the new Top Gun: Maverick in Dolby Atmos on this system.

Outside of movies, the configuration performs well with sports and TV. The NBA Finals filled our room with shoe squeaks and crowd noise, and it did an impressive job of delivering the action and emotion of the game to our room. While binging The Righteous Gemstones on HBO Max, the surround mix and excellent vocal performance sealed the deal as an epic high-end soundbar for streamers. The only problem we have now is finding a new series to start.

Gaming performance is good, helping place you into the environment in a first-person shooter on the Xbox Series X without the need for headphones. It also does an excellent job in games like NBA 2k22 and Forza Horizon 5, balancing action and the environment around you.

While I don’t primarily rely on it for music, the soundbar hits home with our favorite playlists on Spotify, filling the entire first floor of our home with music and deep bass that we couldn’t get enough of.

Design and Features

The new design ditches cloth for an all-metal grill on the soundbar and the surround speakers.
Josh Smith

The new Samsung HW-Q990B design fixes two of my biggest frustrations with the previous model. The new design ditches cloth for metal on the main soundbar. This new exterior looks great, shows less dust and dog hair, and is easier to clean.

The display that shows the input and other information is no longer on the top of the soundbar but is now on the front, tucked behind a metal grille. This change makes it easy to see if it is searching for an input or to identify other status information while sitting on the couch.

The new front-facing display is a great change.
Josh Smith

Samsung’s subwoofer is the same size as last year’s model, which is on the larger size for a soundbar setup but still easy enough to hide in a corner. It no longer features cloth, so the design is also more modern looking. As we mentioned, the surround speakers are on the large size, which presented a challenge for placing one of them on a crowded side table, but we found a way.

Samsung added another HDMI input, bringing the count to two. This addition is handy if you are routing your devices through the soundbar, but since there is no support for advanced features like 4K at 120hz or variable refresh rate passthrough most users will skip these and connect most devices directly to the TV. There is also an optical digital input.

The subwoofer is perfectly matched to this system.
Josh Smith

The eARC support allows me to connect directly to the TV’s eARC port for the best quality sound and most advanced formats to come to the soundbar. If you have a newer Samsung TV, you can take advantage of wireless Dolby Atmos support and skip on running any wire from the TV to the soundbar for a super clean setup, but this isn’t something we tested.

Using the Samsung SmartThings app, you can connect the speaker to Spotify or Alexa. You can also use Bluetooth or AirPlay 2 to stream from a phone or tablet to the soundbar.

The remote is easy and intuitive to use.
Josh Smith

The remote control is in line with the new Samsung TV remotes and intuitive to use. You can easily switch sound modes and control the subwoofer level and other functions. Once you set up SmartThings app support, you can control the soundbar with an app on your phone.

Is the Samsung HW-Q990B Worth Buying?

The Samsung HW-Q990B delivers performance that is worthy of the price.
Josh Smith

The Samsung HW-Q990B is the company’s top-of-the-line soundbar and lives up to its place in the lineup. This year Samsung fixed the placement of the display, and this new design is striking.

There is simply no other soundbar that currently delivers what this 11.1.4 design does at the price. Yes, Samsung charges a premium, but the performance is stellar. It delivers flexibility and the capability to deliver Dolby Atmos and DTS:X into your main TV watching experience without a complicated installation.

When paired with a newer Samsung TV, you can amp up the value thanks to Q-Symphony and SpaceFit+, but this is a standout soundbar in any setup.

Buy at Best Buy.

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