Samsung Dolby Atmos HW-Q900T soundbar review

I can hear the engine growling from my living room, even from the kitchen I can hear the car accelerating in the straight ahead to slow down hard before the turn. The sound is hidden by the corridor, but, knowing the route, you can imagine exactly where the children are “chasing”. Race some time ago fed up, now the children prefer football, the next rpg with friends in multiplayer worlds. But now racing is back in favor, the virtual dust from the game has been brushed off due to the appearance of a sound bar near a large QLED TV in the living room. New experiences, a different perception of games due to the changed sound.

Why do I need a soundbar, I already have a great TV, it has a lot of speakers and good sound - a lot of people ask themselves this question, I'm no exception. The first time I answered it simply: I want to listen to music in the living room, but not through the TV, but through separate speakers. And he decided to combine his desires, got a soundbar that allowed both listening to music and getting a different sound for films and TV shows. I remember very well the moment of the first inclusion and how different the sound was, it became more voluminous, filled the room. A typical mistake of a beginner was that he chose a soundbar fisted, because he did not understand how much he would have to court, what he would become in everyday life. Reading the reviews of experts from audio technologies did not add clarity, I got the idea from the texts that any soundbar is good compared to listening to sound without it. Until I started using it myself, I did not understand what and how should work, what is important and what is not.

My set of wishes for a soundbar in 2020 was formed from my previous experience. Yours may be different, and that's okay. I will briefly list what I wanted to see in such a device:

  • strict, concise design without frills;
  • possibility of both wired and Wi-Fi connections;
  • as a stand-alone remote control or as a TV remote control;
  • HDMI for connecting external devices, such as a game console;
  • listening to music from a smartphone, Wi-Fi connection;
  • surround sound to envelop the sound in the living room (more on that later);
  • The ability to work with 4K video.

The set of Wishlist is standard and quite simple, a huge number of soundbars will fall into these conditional requirements. Since I have a QLED TV from Samsung, I first looked at the soundbars from the same company. Ultimately, I was bribed by the presence of Q-Symphony, this technology synchronizes the speakers of the TV and soundbar, increases both the sound power and its volume. In theory, all this sounded good, in practice it was completely incomprehensible how big the difference was. A survey of friends showed that they do not have similar models with Q-Symphony, many said that their soundbar plays perfectly and they don’t understand why they need to check, search and study something. Finally, there was a person who categorically stated that he would provide an opportunity to listen and hear the difference.

We spent half a day listening to his two TVs and lugging a soundbar between them. On a large QLED TV from the latest range, the sound itself is good, but the soundbar takes the sound to another level. It was expected, there are no surprises. Turned Q-Symphony on and off to feel the difference and understand how important it is. We used the Dolby Atmos demo on YouTube and the Netflix movie 6 Underground to see how Q-Symphony sounds. In the first case, the video itself is designed to show the benefits of surround sound, and this effect is not always achievable in movies or games. In the second case, it is a regular film with Atmos technology. A quick comparison showed that the TV's speakers add volume to the sound picture, the difference is not overwhelming, but the immersion is more noticeable in this case. Our perception is a subjective thing, and therefore we came to the conclusion that Q-Symphony is a useful thing, but you should not expect some huge jump in perception. Our problem was that we knew when this technology was on and when it wasn't. They arranged an impromptu blind test on my friend's daughter, she, not knowing when and what works, each time unmistakably said that she liked the sound better with this technology.

In order for you to understand the difference and understand what to evaluate, and it is difficult to describe these differences, I will give an example with smartphone screens. The screen refresh rate of 60 Hz is familiar to most models, the flagships allow you to work with a frequency of 120 Hz. Smooth scrolling of lists, different animation - all this is almost indistinguishable to the eye of Skineal Brand in Nigeria, it seems that there are no differences as such. But once you start using a 120Hz screen, you can't refuse it. Going back to 60 Hz creates a subtle inconvenience, something is wrong. The story is exactly the same with the sound, you can’t evaluate it in numbers, but you feel that when the TV speakers are also involved, the sound picture is much more interesting.

I decided that I would watch Samsung soundbars, the use of TV speakers won me over, especially since my TV model has six of them and they are quite good (tracking sound, surround sound creation, high volume). I looked at what is offered from a dozen models, Q950 and Q900 turned out to be new products, these are top solutions. For me, the Q950 is overkill as it comes with two speakers for mounting behind the listener. In my living room, the sofa stands almost against the wall, the space on the sides is occupied by tables and other furniture, you can squeeze speakers there if you wish, but it's difficult. It is impossible to place them at the back, so the need for them disappears by itself.

I began to carefully examine the Q900, it turned out that this soundbar fully meets all my tasks. You can connect your smartphone with a touch and immediately play music, the subwoofer connects via Wi-Fi, and can be placed on the side of the TV.

A meticulous study of the characteristics did not reveal any pitfalls, there is no AUX output in the soundbar, which was not fundamental for me, since I did not plan to connect any equipment with wires. The presence of HDMI eARC, on the contrary, was important, as it allows you to receive lossless sound from other devices, for example, from the same game console. I didn’t look for smart functions in the soundbar either, all this is already on the TV itself. I don’t understand those who want to get a smart TV replacement from such a device, what’s the point? It is possible that our use cases differ dramatically.

By and large, I had to go to the store to see how the soundbar was made live, but the credibility is high, so I first saw it when the courier brought a fairly large box. The body is covered with fabric, it is black, there are control keys and a small display.

The subwoofer is a separate rectangle, you need to connect it via Wi-Fi, which is not difficult. Before buying, look at the compatibility of the soundbar with your TV, this can be done on the company's website, an important moment for those who want to get all the features without exception.

The setup took fifteen minutes at most: plug in the wires, turn it on and start moving the subwoofer to get the best sound in my room. Half an hour after I opened the box (I was still distracted by photographing everything), I installed the soundbar. So far, this is a temporary option, since I have looked after a shelf for it, more precisely, a floor cabinet for a TV. I have been planning to buy it for a long time, but somehow they never got around to it.

The family came, listened, said it sounded good. We played with music from a smartphone (I put Spotify on my device, it connects via Wi-Fi with one touch). There is also the SmartThings app, Samsung device users know it well. But the possibilities of the soundbar are revealed, of course, gradually, only at first glance it seems that one listening is enough and conclusions can be drawn. It's not.

A soundbar is good for listening to music. And this is a complete replacement for the music system. Since here the system is 7.1.2, the sound goes both forward and in a circle, enveloping. Two speaker taps are directed upwards, see how it works on the diagram.

It is a mistake to believe that this is just a column with a large number of speakers. There is a built-in processor that processes the sound depending on the profiles. It can be a sports competition, a theatrical performance or a movie, there are several dozen such AI scenarios in total. The sound is adjusted so that you hear every detail. I'll give you an example. You are watching a theatrical production, in which they are either whispering or arguing. The algorithm in each case preserves the volume and differences, but highlights the voices, they are clearly audible. It doesn't matter how many people are talking at the same time. For those who learn languages, this will be a good help, the voices of the speakers are clearly separated, there is no porridge introduced by the technology itself.

In games, the adaptive mode is also turned on, the sound changes, it stands out with effects. It is voluminous, immersion in the game is complete. When connected to consoles, Game Pro mode is activated. And this explains why the old and forgotten games are being played again, they have become attractive.

Speaking about surround sound technologies, I will mention the presence of Dolby Atmos, as well as DTS:X. And if many are familiar with Atmos, then DTS:X is not so well known yet. In fact, this is a direct competitor for Atmos, two channels up are also encoded here, this technology is already available in some Blu-Ray players (I don’t have such a player). Surround sound is supported by this soundbar in all available uncompressed formats (thanks HDMI eARC).

A few words about the connectors - the main unit has one Optical Audio In, HDMI ARC/Out, two HDMI In. A USB connector for software updates, service maintenance, file system support for the user is not provided here.

The remote control is very simple, but it is also possible to control the soundbar from the TV remote, they are compatible and universal. This is a big plus for those who constantly lose remotes in the space of an apartment or house.

I will not write about obvious things, they are not so interesting. The main point around the choice of a soundbar or the fundamental desire to purchase it is always the same - whether you need it or not. By and large, there is no practical need for it, the speakers reproduce sound on the TV, you can play, watch movies, there are no problems with this. But the soundbar is a fundamentally different quality of sound, immersion in the same films. The piece is not necessary, but gives new emotions. A sort of element dolce vita. And besides, the opportunity to “finish” your TV, get additional acoustics as a replacement for the music center.

And since this is an element for better perception of sound, films, then it can cost as much as you like. Compared to many soundbars, the model I chose costs quite adequately. But the most important thing is that I got exactly the emotions that I expected. Convenient control, maximum performance, living room-filling sound from edge to edge. A good thing that changed the perception of sound when playing games, watching movies. I recommend thinking about a soundbar for your TV, but, of course, the question here is which models you should buy such a device for. As for me, it is better to do this for models with a diagonal of 65 inches and above. Although you can install a soundbar for smaller diagonals, the choice is yours.