The Samsung HW-Q90R is a fantastic soundbar that can be used for a multitude of purposes and is one of our finest performers to date.
It boasts excellent overall audio reproduction, a fairly broad and well-focused soundstage, and it will handle almost any type of content.
Samsung HW-Q90R Soundbar review
Thanks to Atmos, this 7.1.4 arrangement gives an immersive listening experience on supported programs. It also has a variety of wired and wireless connection options.
The setup is well-made and has a high-end feel to it.
The Samsung HW-Q90R is a terrific option if you’re looking for a premium setup that has exceptional performance and can get loud regardless of the content you’re listening to.
HW-Q90R Product highlights:
- Wireless rear speaker system, sound bar, and wireless subwoofer
- 7.1.4-channel surround sound with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X compatibility
- built to go with Samsung’s QLED TVs
- Alexa voice control is compatible with Amazon Echo devices.
- 13 built-in drivers powered by individual amplifiers
- two side-firing drivers
- two up-firing drivers for overhead effects
- dedicated center channel for clear dialogue
- Adaptive Sound mode enhances voice clarity at low volumes
- Game Mode Pro boosts game sound effects
- Dolby® Digital and DTS® decoding
- UHQ 32-bit technology upsamples audio for improved sound
- built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for wireless music streaming from compatible smartphones, tablets, and computers
- 48-5/16″W x 2-5/16″H x 5-3/8″D
- weight: 19.4 lbs.
- 8″ woofer
- 160 watts RMS
- bass-reflex (ported) enclosure delivers powerful bass response
- connects wirelessly to sound bar for easy placement
- AC power connection required (power cable included)
- 8-1/8″W x 15-15/16″H x 16-3/8″D
- weight: 21.6 lbs.
Wireless rear speakers:
- two built-in drivers per speaker
- one front-firing driver and one up-firing driver for immersive rear effects
- each driver powered by its own 35-watt amplifier
- connects wirelessly to sound bar
- AC power connection required (power cable included)
- 4-3/4″W x 8-5/16″H x 5-5/8″D
- weight: 4.6 lbs.
Connections and general info:
- 2 HDMI inputs, 1 HDMI output
- supports Audio Return Channel
- HDR and 4K video pass-through via HDMI
- compatible with HDR 10 format
- HDMI cable included
- optical digital audio input
- compatible with Samsung SmartThings mobile app
- bracket and hardware included for mounting bar to a wall
- Anynet (HDMI-CEC) function lets you control sound bar with your Samsung TV’s remote
- remote control with subwoofer level control
- total system power: 510 watts
- ENERGY STAR® certified
- warranty: 1 year
HW-Q90R Product highlights
The Samsung HW-Q90R’s is Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support. (as well as variations thereof). It differs from other ‘bars you’ve seen before in that it can broadcast multiple object-based music formats using a genuine 7.1.4-channel system rather than acoustic beaming or psychoacoustics.
This feat was accomplished with the help of 12 speakers (including the subwoofer) and 17 drivers. Each of the front three channels has three drivers — two woofers and a wide-range tweeter – while the remaining channels only have one.
There are a total of 12 channels: left and right fronts, center, two sides, two rears, two front heights, two rear heights, and a sub. The frequency response of the system is said to be 34Hz to 17kHz, and it has 512W of built-in amplification.
Considering the sophistication of its object-based decoding and multichannel distribution, the HW-setup Q90’s is rather simple. While this streamlines installation, it also makes it more difficult to get the most out of the system. To ensure that everything functions smoothly, Samsung should have some sort of auto calibration.
With support for 4K/60p, 4:4:4, Rec.2020, High Dynamic Range (HDR10, HLG, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision), 3D, and HDCP 2.2, there are two HDMI inputs and one HDMI output. As a result, whatever you throw at the Samsung should be no problem. Two HDMI inputs seems insufficient for the price, which is a common complaint.
The optical digital input is the only other physical connection, but wireless options such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are available. However, there is no Chromecast or Apple AirPlay compatibility with a high-end soundbar, which is inconvenient.
The HW-Q90R was greatly influenced by Harman Kardon, a Samsung brand, which fine-tuned it to be as good with music as it is with multi-channel audio. Standard, Surround, Game Pro, and Adaptive Sound are the four sound options available this year.
In Standard mode, the audio is supplied in its original format, whilst in Surround mode, it is upmixed to take advantage of all available channels. The Game Pro option adds extra complexity to the game, while the Adaptive Sound mode analyzes the content and adjusts the processing on the go.
As you’d expect from a modern soundbar, it supports all standard audio formats, including AAC, WAV, OGG, ALAC, AIFF, and FLAC, with high-resolution compatibility up to 32 bits. For high-quality audio playback from compatible smart devices, UHQ 32-bit upscaling is also incorporated.
The SmartThings app is available, as is the case with most other Samsung products, which simplifies setup and allows you to control the soundbar and other connected devices from a single hub. Hands-free operation and Spotify Connect music streaming are also possible with the HW-Q90 thanks to its integration with Amazon Alexa.
This feature-rich soundbar supports Hi-Res Audio, Amazon Alexa, and Adaptive Sound, among other things, and decodes Atmos and DTS:X in a 7.1.4 channel arrangement.
Because the Samsung HW-Q90R is known for its immersive audio capabilities, it may seem unusual to begin by listening to two-channel music. It is, however, a vital test of a soundbar’s capabilities, and if it sounds well in stereo, those traits should continue to be represented as more channels are added.
The Waterboys’ latest album Where the Action Is provides lots of possibilities for the Samsung to reveal a brilliantly nuanced auditory performance, and in general, the Standard sound setting performs best with music. The soundbar’s size allows for optimum separation between the left and right speakers, resulting in remarkable stereo imagery and pinpoint positioning.
The song London Mick has an aggressive punky delivery, which seems suitable given that it is about Mick Jones of The Clash. The soundbar produces a tight and controlled foundation for the drumming that carry the song, with plenty of midrange presence. The vocals growl, and the superb subwoofer delivers a tight and controlled foundation for the driving guitar riff.
Moving on to something a little more multichannel, Amazon Prime’s The Expanse boasts a fantastic 5.1 mix that makes significant use of both the surrounds and the subwoofer.
The Adaptive Sound option excels at extracting additional detail from the soundtrack, although it’s best used for sports broadcasts or dialogue-driven content. Surround mode is a good choice for something like The Expanse because it up-mixes the soundtrack to use the overhead channels, producing a more immersive experience.
The HW-Q90, unsurprisingly, excelled at producing object-based audio soundtracks like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. The replication of Live Aid at the end of Bohemian Rhapsody uses all available channels to portray the magnitude of a large rock show in the case of the former.
The music is handled by the front two channels, with the side-firing drivers adding width. The audience is represented via the rear speakers, while the overheads simulate the echoey void of the original Wembley Stadium.
The soundbar’s musicality shines through here, allowing the Queen songs to be delivered with all the precision and clarity the format can generate.
As the Atmos mix creates a wall of sound, the bass is particularly effective, both supporting the entire soundtrack and helping to drive the songs forward. Freddie’s operatic voice, however, remain clear and focused within that wall.
When the action starts, Atomic Blonde offers a violent DTS:X audio that kicks like a mule. Whether it’s a car crash, an explosion, or a fistfight down a stairwell, the HW-Q90 accurately reproduces every kick, punch, and gunshot.
The subwoofer shines once more, giving the hits a visceral character while also emphasizing the action. The soundbar’s musical quality, on the other hand, plays a role, since all of the film’s 80s songs sound better than before.
HW-Q90R SOUND QUALITY
The sound quality of the Samsung HW-Q90R is far superior to that of practically any other soundbar I’ve tried.
For starters, it can take massive quantities of power and volume without causing frequent problems like chassis vibrations, bass thuds, treble harshness, or unexpected power “drop outs.”
It can actually sound more gloriously theatrical than some larger, less tidy-looking separates systems since it can deliver so much power with no unintentional nasties in tow.
In fact, while the HW-Q90R system’s speakers are rather large by soundbar standards, it’s difficult to believe that the massive volumes and scale of sound you’re hearing are coming from a speaker system that appears so neat in comparison to a conventional discrete surround setup.
However, the HW-Q90R isn’t only about volume. It also transforms that volume into an incredibly well-defined and immersive soundstage that takes full advantage of your room’s width and height.
In reality, a combination of its loudness and speaker layout produces one of the most realistic Dolby Atmos/DTS:X ‘hemispheres’ of sound I’ve experienced from a soundbar (the more costly version).
The rears, with their up-firing drivers, are especially important in this regard, filling in the top of the object-based soundstage’s ‘dome’ in a way that even the most sophisticated virtual height effect systems can’t.
In reality, there are no ‘holes’ in the HW-sound Q90R’s bubble, which makes movie soundtracks far more convincing and engaging.
The fact that the speakers have enough power and dynamic range to scale up from quiet talky scenes to huge space battles or dinosaur attacks without ever sounding strained or boxed in adds to the realism.
The large subwoofer provides amazing volumes and depths of bass to underpin the scale of great action moments, yet it always sounds precisely attached to the bottom of the main soundbar’s superb mid-range dynamics. In other words, there is no gap between the primary soundbar’s lowest register and the bass levels.
The massiveness of the HW-Q90R’s is also everything but aggressive or unrefined. All of the delicate layering and detail positioning that go into a well-crafted movie mix are rendered absolutely well by the clarity kept within the volume. And no matter how much other sound they have to contend with, voices always seem crisp and full of context.
It’s difficult to fault the HW-movie Q90R’s performance if your room layout doesn’t limit the impact of any of the HW-speaker Q90R’s design (more on this in the following section).
However, the HW-evident Q90R’s focus on movie and TV soundtracks means it lacks a touch of refinement and flexibility when it comes to music. At least certain musical genres have a little aggressive, chilly feel to them, as opposed to the smooth, inviting warmth you get with soundbars from more hi-fi-oriented firms.
That isn’t to suggest the HW-Q90R doesn’t sound good with most songs (particularly rock and pop). It’s just that music isn’t exactly as relaxing as movies.
HW-Q90R DESIGN & USABILITY
The Samsung HW-Q90R isn’t the most attractive soundbar on the market. For starters, the subwoofer is a large black tower that can be tucked behind the end of a sofa without significantly affecting its performance.
The main soundbar is thicker in all directions than most soundbars on the market today. Its 83mm height, in particular, could cause it to jut into images and/or over infrared receivers on some TVs. Though it’s meant to fit exactly beneath Samsung’s current high-end TVs, you might want to double-check for other brands.
The backs are also hefty, but not to the point where they can’t fit on a bookcase or shelf on your back wall.
By the way, other from power cords, all of the separate speakers connect wirelessly, so there’s no cabling to hide.
An LED window is tucked away a little awkwardly on the right-hand side of the main soundbar’s front border. This gives you useful information about the input you’ve chosen, the sound format the soundbar is receiving, and so on. The relative balances of the system’s multiple sound channels are likewise easier to set up with this window.
It’s a pain to set up the HW-Q90R on your Wi-Fi network, but it’s not impossible if you keep cool and patient.
More aggravating is the way the back speakers or subwoofer lose their wireless connection from time to time, necessitating you to put all of the speakers in wireless reset mode to get them to talk to each other again.
It doesn’t happen all the time, and as you can see, we don’t consider it a deal-breaker, but it does.
It’s also worth noting that, in order to get the most out of the HW-Q90R, your room setup must cooperate with its speaker arrangement.
In other words, ideally, you’ll have a flat, beam-free ceiling and side walls that are roughly equidistant from the soundbar’s two side-firing speakers.
Samsung hw-q90r Soundbar Value
The Samsung HW-Q90R appears to be a bit pricey for a soundbar at first sight. However, if you analyze its capabilities, you’ll see that it has a surprising amount of worth.
It would be difficult to build an equal 5.1.4-channel system utilizing separates for less than the price of this soundbar/speaker/sub combo.
You’d need a nine-channel AV receiver, as well as a matching speaker and subwoofer kit, which would cost more and be more difficult to install.
Other soundbars to consider
The Samsung HW-Q90R is a one-of-a-kind device, which makes recommending alternatives difficult.
There are virtually no other 2019 soundbar sets that use wireless rear speakers and four upwards shooting drivers to create a true 7.1.4-channel experience.
This reduces your options, though the Sony HT-FZ9, LG SL10YG, and Yamaha YSP-5600 are all worth considering.
Because none of them have true rear speakers (or even a sub in the case of the Yamaha), the soundstage produced is heavily skewed to the front.
If you want a truly immersive experience while saving money, the Samsung HW-N950 from last year is your best bet. It’s nearly identical to the original, and it’s still a great option for people who want the complete object-based experience with the least amount of trouble.
The Samsung HW-Q90R is an excellent immersive audio soundbar that offers excellent value for money. This well-made and intelligently designed set puts you right in the action, thanks to a wireless subwoofer, wireless rear speakers, and four upward-firing drivers.
No other speaker comes close to reproducing the entire Dolby Atmos and DTS:X experience, and the HW-Q90 even sounds terrific with music owing to Harman Kardon tuning. A solid feature set and properly specified HDMI connections round out a near-perfect package.
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