Hot off reviewing the SONOS Beam, I had the chance to review another soundbar and this time, it’s one of the priciest new entries in the market; the Samsung HW-Q90R soundbar.
I’ve had my eye on this baby ever since I heard it in action at the Samsung Forum earlier in the year. I’ve been relentless in letting the good people at Samsung (and their PR) know that aye, I want to review this bad boy…BADLY.
Well, wishes do come true!
Now, the question is does the soundbar live up to the hype?
What is the Samsung HW-Q90R soundbar?
The Samsung HW-Q90R is a 7.1.4 channel soundbar with Dolby Atmos support. It comprises of 17 speakers in all.
It comes with two smaller side firing speakers, as well as a sub-woofer with an 8-inch driver. All of them connect together seamlessly via SRD, with the only wires required being the ones delivering the power.
Its MSRP has it going for $2,899.
Connection for the main unit can be done digitally (via the optical port) or through HDMI. It’s a hefty unit, measuring 1226.0 x 83.0 x 136.0 mm so you’re definitely going to want to make room for it. I didn’t mount the soundbar so it pretty much ate up all the real estate in front of my 49′ 4K TV.
You can control the soundbar easily through the included remote, or if you prefer through Samsung’s Smart Things app. I used both interchangeably during the course of the review and had no issue with either the app of the remote.
If I had to choose, I’d pick the remote though, since it’s much easier to just press the volume button on it instead of unlocking my phone and doing it through the app. Your mileage will of course vary.
One thing some people might not like about the remote is that you have to press the buttons up or down, instead of depressing it like on a normal remote.
There are also physical buttons on top of the soundbar so you can easily lower or raise the volume there too. A handy LED display’s embedded in the right side of the unit, which shows you what connection its using (as it’s booting up) and the volume level when you’re adjusting the sound.
It might be a small feature in the scheme of things, but I love its inclusion.
Not only does it not clutter the TV (or whatever display you’re using) with a volume indicator, it just looks cool and easily readable, no matter the lighting conditions.
Wire management isn’t that big of a hassle as there’s a groove on the underside of the soundbar (and the other units) to run the power cables through. Still, with 4 different power plugs required, you’re definitely going to want to make sure you have enough plugs for them all.
How it sounds.
I actually tried the Samsung HW-Q90R on its own for a day, without setting up the sub-woofer and the side firing speakers. I was curious, what can I say? I wanted to know if the soundbar was great standalone (it’s not meant to be though) like the SONOS Beam.
What I found out was that the sound was great but as expected there’s a definite lack of bass.In that regard, the SONOS Beam standalone soundbar had the definite edge.
However, once fully assembled, the Samsung soundbar really showed me what it was capable off. Suffice to say, the sound quality I heard at the Samsung Forum and the live demo was pretty much replicated to a T, except this time in my living room.
I had high hopes for the soundbar and let me tell you, playing games on it (at the comfort of my couch) was a delight! I had a barrage of games I wanted to test out and the soundbar was put through them all.
Playing Overwatch was damn awesome.
I could hear things that I’ve honestly ignored or missed during all the times I’ve played the game. Reaper’s shotgun blasts delivered thunderous bass, Lucio’s skates whined as they slid along walls and Mcree’s ‘It’s High Noon’ drawl filling my living room completely. It’s loud, it’s crystal clear and it’s awesome.
Directional audio isn’t Overwatch’s forte but it still delivered awesome reproduction, and I was easily able to tell if somebody’s sneaking up of me just by listening…except Pharah. Pharah is still the devil in the sky that sneaks up on you.
I also tried a ton of other games (Persona 4 Dancing All Night, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night and Judgment) to see how the soundbar would fare.
With Persona 4, it was a simple test of music since it’s a rhythm based game.
Like Overwatch, the Samsung HW-90R had no trouble dishing out the audio. Whether it’s a guitar riff or thumping beats, the soundbar delivered on all fronts.
Judgment was the one the surprised me the most with its performance.
It’s a brawler so I’d expected the sound to be good but even I was taken aback by exactly how good it was.
In the game, Kaz (the hero) can do a special move called a Flux attack. It’s a finishing move where Kaz punches an enemy and releases a charged energy burst at the end. With a normal sound system, you might get a bit of bass and some rumble. Nothing to write home about.
With the Samsung HW-Q90R, it felt like a bomb exploded every time I ended a fight with that move.
Seriously, if I didn’t know better I’d swear I could feel the rush of air as the energy explodes outwards. It’s THAT intense and is an INCREDIBLE sensation. I can honestly say that NO other sound system (that I’ve tried) even came close to replicating this.
This is truly Dolby Atmos at its best.
The sound was all encompassing, swirling around me. It was like being in the center of a whirlwind as Kaz’s explosive energies slowly dissipated around me.
To say the audio’s punchy is to put it mildly…very mildly.
Then I tried the soundbar on movies; the Alien series (4 Alien movies, two AvP movies and the two Prometheus films), the Lord of the Rings Extended Edition, the Matrix Trilogy and the Star Wars Prequel trilogy.
Now I don’t even want to go to cinemas no more.
All of the alien movies were for Dolby 5.1 but they still sounded incredible, particularly Aliens. In that movie, the directional audio was superb, especially during the ambush sequence in the bowels of Hadley’s Hope. You can really hear the xenomorphs rushing the marines from all around you, taking the whole experience to a whole new level.
When I moved on to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Samsung HW-Q90R took it in stride as well. The rushing waters that Arwen called upon to stop the Nazghul washed over me, just as they did the Nazghul. When Theoden shouted to the Riders of Rohan to charge, it felt like they were charging to battle in my damn living room.
The Star Wars prequel trilogy was similarly awesome, particularly the Duel of the Fates (between Qui-Gon, Obi Wan and Darth Maul) and the Duel on Mustafar. John William’s music blared across the speakers but its was the droning hum of the lightsabers that sold it for me.
The Matrix films were the only disappointments (though it’s due to me having only the Bluray versions and not the newer UHD discs which reportedly have better sound quality). The sound effects were decent, but they didn’t really pop out like the other candidates on the list, not even during the burly brawl in The Matrix Reloaded or during the climatic final fight in Revolutions.
The bottom line.
There’s no doubt in my mind (or ears) that the Samsung HW-Q90R is one of the best (if not THE) best soundbar you can get right now. The sound it delivers is unmatched in both clarity and strength, with the bass delivering incredible performance on everything I tried.
If you’re in the market for a soundbar and money is no object, look no further. This is what you want.
Incredible soundbar! Get it if money is no issue. Hell, get it even if it is! Sell your kidneys if you have to. Kidding! We don’t advocate selling your body parts for tech…not unless you’re trying to become a cyborg.
– Crystal clear sound.
– Thunderous bass.
– Easy to setup and install.