Samsung Soundbar HW-Q950A Review: Bringing the house down

April 1, 2022 0 Comments

The theaters have finally opened, and during the nearly 2-year lockdown during the epidemic, one thing we learned was the value of a good surround sound system to bring the theater home. There are soundbars in different price segments ranging from around 30K to 50K and even up to Rs.100,000. There is something for everyone depending on your budget. But if you want to bring the theater home, chances are you’re in something that packs quite a punch. While the Sony HT-Z9F (Review) was one of our favorite soundbars in 2020, in 2021, that honor goes to the Samsung Q950A. If you are in the market for a premium soundbar, this is what you get. Although we’ve reviewed the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar (review) and it’s a great soundbar for what it has to offer, in terms of an surround sound experience, there are some interesting techniques inside the Samsung Q950A. Dive into it.

What’s in the box

In the box, you’ll find the soundbar itself with a wireless subwoofer, wireless rear satellite speakers and remote control. You will also get 4 power cords, an HDMI cable and standard documentation. There are also wall mounting brackets for the soundbar. The remote control that comes with the system is compact and has all the necessary functions. The functions of the remote control are quite basic and for a deeper experience, it is best to use the Samsung SmartThings smartphone app to set up and control some features of the soundbar. Although individual channels can only be controlled by remote control, I hope this feature is also present in the app.

Connection options

Connection options include an HDMI port for eARC in the soundbar and two HDMI pass-through ports that support 4K HDR pass. The soundbar has an optical port, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The speaker also supports DTS-X and Dolby Atmos. The soundbar has upward and side-firing drivers to mimic the sound effects of more submerged surroundings. When it comes to smart features, the speaker supports Amazon Alexa but unlike the Sony HT-Z9F, Chromecast does not.

The Samsung Q950A has 3 HDMI ports.

Samsung Q950A is being set up

Samsung Q950A set up plug and play. Place the soundbar under the TV, plug in the subwoofer, and place the rear satellite speakers in the power outlet. All speakers are automatically synced to the soundbar. Download the SmartThings app and follow the onscreen instructions. I would suggest activating the Auto EQ feature in the soundbar which can offer the most. Supporting the Samsung Q950A eARC is proof of the future. For the best surround sound experience, I recommend placing the surrounding speakers at ear height facing your seating area.

The Samsung SmartThings app can be used to control the soundbar.

Samsung Q950A: Build and design

Premium and commanding is the first thing that comes to mind when you see Samsung Q950A for the first time. The soundbar is long, we tested the soundbar with almost the full width of the 55-inch LG C1 (Review). It is not too long but fairly deep which means it will take up enough space if placed on the table. The fabric of the fabric covering the speakers easily attracts dust which means you will spend enough time cleaning the soundbar. This is very similar to what we saw in Sennheiser Ambeo, but in this case the speaker grill is not removable. There is also physical control over the soundbar.

The only downside to the design of the display is the top and not the front of the soundbar. While the display will show you the source and volume levels on a daily basis, it has some subtle controls that will be hard to change. So, if you want to increase the volume of the center channel or the surrounding channel, for example, you can not do it from the app and have to resort to the remote control and soundbar display. This can be quite a hassle considering the size of the display. I hope the Samsung Q950A applied something like the Sony HT-Z9F where you got a full-screen display on your TV while connecting the soundbar via HDMI, making the settings very easy to navigate. The soundbar itself has 15 drivers firing in different directions from the front to mimic the surrounding sound effects. It also has firing and side-firing drivers. The edge of the soundbar has a nice angular design that gives it a unique look.

The Samsung Q950A has a display in the soundbar.

Going towards the subwoofer, it’s heavy and has an outstanding form factor that makes it almost invisible and that’s a good thing. It is not as long but as wide as one would expect. The soundbar packs a punch so it looks quite deceptive.

The rear satellite speakers have the same finish as the original soundbar and the drivers are firing in three directions – up, front and side. Different aspects of the driver ensure that you get a better surround effect from the rear.

Samsung Q950A Soundbar: Performance

If, like me, you miss going to the theater, this soundbar will definitely compensate for that. We’ve added a soundbar to the LG C1 for the duration of this review, and an immersive cinematic experience is the best way to describe its performance. But before we go into the details of the performance, let’s keep in mind some important things. First, I suggest you use the SmartThings app to calibrate the soundbar for the best audio output. Once calibrated, I recommend turning on Auto EQ to get the best surround effects. Second, when there is a sound mode like Standard, Movie, etc., it gives the best results by keeping it in adaptive sound and forgetting about it, especially for Dolby Atoms content.

Movies

Netflix has a large catalog of Dolby Atmos content but where the Dolby Atmos capabilities of this soundbar really shine is the Blu-ray content and content we’ve played from the Apple TV app. Player One is one of our favorite tests, ready for the sound around Dolby Atoms. The 12-minute race in the movie is a great example of channel separation and submerged surround sound effects. Transparency and immersion in the channel division from left to right, or for a car that is going to overtake you from behind is absolutely immersive. The sequence where a racer crashes and turns into a coin overwhelms you from all sides.

The Samsung Q950A comes with a soundbar satellite speaker.

The only downside to the Dolby Atmos effects is the virtual representation of the height channels. When you feel the sound around you, you will not hear it from above. Despite the speaker having an upward-firing driver, the sound still feels like it’s coming from somewhere on the top or side and not directly above you. This is most evident in the fall of the page or in the introduction to the Dolby Atoms video which you have probably seen at the Dolby Atoms movie theater. However, as an overall soundtrack to the movie, it is by no means a big negative for the soundbar, whether it is dialogue, background score or even mixed, the audio is absolutely great. If you are looking for an immersive movie watching experience, this is definitely a soundbar to invest in.

Music

While Audiofiles will argue about the advantages of a dedicated 2.1 setup built for music, I would say the dynamic nature of this soundbar and its multiple uses make it one of the best audio of our experience from a soundbar for music. . There are some examples where we have heard the most subtle instrument and it is a very good thing. Although the music is usually a 2.1 experience, there are some songs that give an ambient sound experience thanks to the very smart implementation of the surround sound speakers. There are excerpts from the surrounding speakers to add depth and immersion to a song like Blue Swede’s Hooked on a Feeling. Even Chris Isaac’s definition of classic music, like Wicked Games, was good. We’ve heard a lot of songs in this soundbar, and if you’re having a party at home, know that you don’t have to convince people to hit the dance floor.

The Samsung Q950A has a powerful subwoofer.

Gaming

Sony’s 3D audio is a great reason to wear headphones while playing games on PS5 (review). But the only downside is that the controller’s speaker audio is a part of the headset that keeps you from drowning, especially in games like Deathloop (Review) and Return (Review) where it has such a great implementation. With the Samsung Q950A soundbar, the implementation of surround sound is great for games. You can manually change the speaker’s position from the PlayStation’s system UI and it simply enhances the surroundings experience.

The soundbar has an angular design.

In a game like Ghost of Tsushima (review) where enemy archers make a sound before shooting an arrow, the sound comes from a specific point behind you (if there is an archer) and you hear the sound of arrows around you. Same for a game like Spiderman Miles Morales (review). Waves can be felt all around you when you use your Venom energy to scatter on the ground. It’s an incredibly immersive experience.

Remote control

The soundbar comes with a simple remote control that is reminiscent of the ones found on Samsung TVs. It has a nice curved design that makes it ergonomic to hold. If you have a Samsung TV, it doubles as a universal remote. The remote control includes playback control, volume and overhead control, Bluetooth pairing, source and power. It’s simple and you need to use the remote control and soundbar display to change the level of different channels. For more in-depth control, you should check out the Samsung SmartThings app.

Samsung Q950A remote control

The last row

The Samsung Q950A is one of the best soundbars we have tested in terms of sound output. It has very good audio quality for all content, be it movies, TV shows, games and even music. It has very clear channel separation, detailed sound and it can give you a very immersive experience. Not to mention that it can get very loud. While the Dolby Atmos “altitude” experience isn’t the best, it’s by no means a hindrance to the overall immersive experience that Soundbar offers. The SmartThings app makes it easy to set up and control the soundbar. The only downside to the soundbar is the short length of the power cable supplied to the bar display and the satellite speakers. If you’re looking for a premium surround sound experience and are looking to bring theater home, the Samsung Q950A is definitely something to consider.

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