All rights reserved. Except, that is, if you need to adjust channel levels which, on a 22-speaker soundbar, you very well might. Look closer, though, and the two wireless rear speakers at least are slightly different. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct. This allows soundtracks that support the technology to place sounds above and around the listener with compatible kit. You can immediately hear the difference the two new channels make. If Surround Speakers are connected, select REAR LEVEL or REAR TOP LEVEL and. It never just sounds like its rumbling randomly away merrily to itself independently of what the other speakers are doing. It offers the best Atmos experience Ive had in a soundbar, good musicality and, apart from a few quirks, easy operation to make it a good choice as the single, supremely powerful system in your marquee entertainment room. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. The fabric has a habit of collecting dust and fluff, and I guess it could potentially tear if abused. At $1,000 or less, it offers a major chunk of the Q950As spoils when it comes to cinematic punch, though I like the Q950A a fair bit better for music. Without any element falling flat or overwhelming anything else. Since then he's had extensive experience as a writer and editor, including everything from op-eds and features to reviews on TVs, audio gear, smart home devices, and more. At first glance, the Q950A looks pretty much identical to 2020s HW-Q950T. Once youve got all the speakers properly configured, simply connect everything to power, connect the HDMI cable to your TVs HDMI eARC or ARC input, and youre up. The Q950A takes some effort to set up, mainly because it is huge. Recommendations are independently chosen by Revieweds editors. The immense power and steering precision thats the Q950As big selling point doesnt translate quite as effectively to music as it does to movies. But with that simple task done, it was right back to being completely immersed in the Q950As sound, and marvelling at just how such a compact speaker could simultaneously deliver huge general ambience and the subtlest of details alongside the most aggressive of impact or gunfire sounds. Samsungs new HW-Q950A (available at Amazon for $1,799.99) is not your average soundbar. The HW-Q950A has managed to add two more real audio channels without compromising the enormous power and clarity weve come to expect from Samsungs high-end soundbars. displayed in sequence. So much so that while I typically crank up the rear-channel output levels on previous Samsung surround soundbars, here I actually nudged it down a notch. With the Q950A, the sense of a new feeling of width to the rear soundstage greatly enhances the general impact of sound coming from behind you. Again, the vast majority of your settings are in the SmartThings app, so most people should get along just fine without ever even meeting the dark window that sits between the bars onboard controls. But economies of scale mean that its hardly rare to see this sort of UK/US price comparison in the high-end AV tech world. Follow Reviewed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest deals, product reviews, and more. The HW-Q950A costs 1599. The subwoofer, of course, provides just the single .1 bass channel. We always try to judge a system on its value, and it is hard to stomach a soundbar at this price point for anyone not in the six-figure salary range. Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time. Still, cheaper bars from Vizio solve this issue with a display on the remote itself, while many LG soundbars put it prominently up front. To name some weaknesses, the bass occasionally gets boomy, and, especially with Hulus pedestrian stereo content, some dialogue can come off shouty in sitcoms like Seinfeld and Frasier, though not to the point of annoyance. At the time of writing, the Q950A sells in the US for $1599, which makes the UK price look a little harsh. The Q950A has just about every feature most setups demand. Hailing originally from Montana, Ryan parlayed his time working as a musician and audio engineer into a career in digital media in 2012. Anyone whose enjoyed a good Dolby Atmos or DTS:X experience will appreciate the importance to the 3D effect of feeling like youre fully immersed in a hemisphere of sound. You'll get all the inputs you need, though we wouldn't have minded an extra HDMI and a USB port. The new rears carry forward-facing drivers, up-firing drivers, and one side-firing driver each. Musical playback is clear, full, and detailed enough that a friend who was over (because you can do that now) remarked on the bars performance multiple times. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Theres no full built-in AutoCal system of the sort one or two rival premium soundbars provide, but at least theres more going on in this respect than there was with 2020s Q950T. He intends to continue in this vein until he becomes too frail to lift ridiculously b, Unbiased and independent advice on what to buy. As we toured through a 3,500 song Spotify playlist, he repeatedly remarked how good it sounds and that it outperforms his own, aging multi-speaker system at home. Credit: Reviewed/Jackson Ruckar. Its likely the multitude of side-firing drivers plays a big hand in that, as does the size of the satellite speakerstheyre much larger than what youll get from cheaper Atmos setups, especially the tiny cubes youll find in entry-level surround bars. Possibly. Dolby Atmos is an object-based audio format. The HW-Q950a offers everything you need, including dual HDMI ports for connecting two components directly. Last years outstanding HW-Q950T flagship model managed 9.1.4 channels, and now the new HW-Q950A has stepped things up again by achieving a staggering, world-first 11.1.4 channels. Those demos are tailor-made for Atmos spectacle, of course, but the system is also fantastic for other well-made Atmos content like the Jedi episode in The Mandalorian season 2. And then theres the bass subwoofer. I do know that, in weeks of streaming music, I never once got above the very bottom cup of my phones volume bar. Not only that, while youll find a few front-facing LEDs, the Q950As visual display is, maddeningly, positioned on top of the soundbar where only god and your ceiling can see it. Having nailed the trick of getting huge volumes out of small boxes some time ago, though, Samsung now seems focused on ramping up the number of genuine audio channels it can support. When it comes to Dolby Atmoss distinctive overhead channels, for instance, the way the Q950A delivers these effects by reflecting upfired sound off your ceiling rather than directly from ceiling-mounted speakers does mean that height effects sound a little more ambient than precise. Yes, both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X are supported. To a lesser extent, the same can be said of the side channels that fire out of the main soundbars front corners. It takes a bit of work to get the Samsung Q950A perfectly tunedmore work than it probably should, actually, which Ill speak to below. Theres no support for the special format of DTS:X used by IMAX Enhanced content, but rival soundbars that do support this are extremely rare and IMAX Enhanced content is also hardly common. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are both supported, of course, with AAC, WAV, FLAC, AIFF, MP3, OGG and ALAC high-resolution audio formats all playable. Im happy to report that, for the most part, thats not the case here. Theres no doubting the soundbars ability to make music feel lively and powerful, and it can actually stage vocal tracks very nicely with stereo sources. Presumably, someone at Samsung decided us couch potatoes need to get more exercise. The system is powerful, but still easy to hide under your TV. You wont get the full-throttle resonance of traditional speakers, and youll also have to settle for an interface thats simplified to a fault in some cases. Jokes aside, it wasnt a massive hassle and once things were locked in the SmartThings app took care of the rest. Connection options including dual HDMI inputs for 4K HDR passthrough from connected devices (wed like to see three, but twos not bad) and eARC connection which allows for fully uncompressed sound transference between an eARC connected TV. On one level this is to be expected, given that no other soundbars support such high-bandwidth content either. But even if you have the budget, not everyone has the know-how or space for several large-ish wooden cabinets. Overall, though, theres little to complain about when it comes to sound. Theres no optical cable but that input should only be used for legacy audio devices. Worries that the challenge of fitting three drivers into cabinets as small as those of the Q950As rears might lead to compressed, compromised sound dont materialise. The HDMI loopthrough system supports HDR10+ and Dolby Vision HDR, as well as the basic HDR10 HDR format. Learn more. As you might guess from the above description, the up-firing channels work by bouncing height channel information from Atmos or DTS:X mixes off your ceiling. The result is a fantastic illusion that fully submerges you in the cinematic experience. This brings me to my biggest complaint. When active, this boosts volume levels and tweaks the audio output, so that voices are more prominent in the mix when high levels of ambient room noise are detected. Theyre still the same size, but the addition of a new driver to their sides has led to small tweaks to their lines and finish. But once youre in the dome you know it. Its not just the pumping bass that literally rumbled my couch cushions, the four-part height speakers, or even the smooth quality of the sound signature that makes the Q950A such an Atmos boss. ), To control the volume of the each speaker select CENTER LEVEL, SIDE LEVEL, or, FRONT TOP LEVEL in Sound Settings, and then adjust the volume between -6~+6 by, If the video on the TV and audio from the Soundbar are not synchronized, select, SYNC in Sound Control, and then set the audio delay between 0~300 milliseconds by. In fact, the new channels reinforce just how much better Samsung is than arguably any other remotely mainstream soundbar brand at creating the feeling of a true three-dimensional soundscape, without needing a mountain of separate speakers. Im personally a fiddler when it comes to surround systemsI like to get it just right. Of course, though, likely the whole reason someone would be buying a Q950A is that they want to get as close as possible to the experience of a separates system without having speakers fixed to their ceiling and walls. Get the best deals and the best advice dropped right in your inbox. You do pretty much get what you pay for, and as I write this Samsung has already dropped $200 off its $1,800 MSRP, which is fairly common. The sound fills the whole front half of even really large rooms, yet thanks to the precision with which the soundbars many drivers propel their sound out to the correct position, theres precious little about even the most dense film soundtracks that sounds vague or wishy-washy. The unprecedented number of channels are driven by more than 600W of audio power, and the main soundbar incorporates all the sound-improving tech such as wide-angle tweeters to reduce the need to sit in a sweet spot Samsung has developed so successfully over the past few years. and independent advice on what to buy. Luckily, a few app updates will make it obsolete anyway. Sounds are referred to as audio objects, of which there can be up to 128 audio channels, and these objects can be accurately positioned within a 3D soundscape. You can certainly do pretty well for a lot less, though. The bar outdoes Vizios excellent Elevate in such scenes (as it should at this price) and goes further to create the best Atmos experience Ive encountered outside of a high-end discrete speaker setup. I dont imagine anyone would ever turn the system above the midway point, but if they did, I wouldnt want to be around for it. But I did need to tweak the surround speaker volume down a few clicks, and raise the height speakers on the bar to get a thrilling overhead experience. Samsung added angled drivers to the main soundbar with last years Q950T model. One would think the makings of a great Dolby Atmos experience automatically transfer to any other content, but thats not always the case. Its important to add, though, that were currently seeing a surge in the amount of Dolby Atmos music thats starting to appear on disc and via online streaming services. The step-up from last years HW-Q950T, Samsungs latest mother-of-all-bars does what seemed like the impossible: cramming even more speaker drivers into its four-piece design. And by removing arguably the last hole in the 360-degree soundstage, the Q950A delivers the most completely immersive sound Ive heard from any soundbar to date. Theres no support for passthrough of 4K at 120Hz or VRR from PS5s, Xbox Series X or high-end PC cards, though. Also, its just a damn big bar to drag around, so youll want to make sure youre staying put if you set it up. Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year. We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. If you happen to be partnering the Q950A with a Samsung TV, meanwhile, you may be able to take advantage of Samsungs surprisingly effective Q-Symphony feature. Thats good because, while Samsungs minimalist remote looks and feels good, unless you need a quick bump of the volume or woofer (the former you can handle with your TV remote over HDMI ARC connection), its pretty limited. For starters, the whole sense of sound coming from behind you is increased. Adding width to the rear soundstage also helps it tie in better with the Q950As front soundstage. 150Hz, 300Hz, 600Hz, 1.2kHz, 2.5kHz, 5kHz, and, 10kHz are selectable using the Left/Right buttons and each can be adjusted to a. setting between -6 to +6 using the Up/Down buttons. Theres nothing low res about the rear soundstage, either. Samsungs Adaptive Sounddesigned to automatically adjust sound in real time for the best experiencealso works well. When pressed, the setting items such as TREBLE, BASS, SYNC, CENTER LEVEL, SIDE, LEVEL, FRONT TOP LEVEL, REAR LEVEL, REAR TOP LEVEL, and VIRTUAL ON/OFF are. The Q950As combination of immense power and huge channel count conjures up the most immersive and detailed experience with DTS:X and Dolby Atmos movies weve ever heard from a soundbar. And, surprisingly, this isnt available in the app. And were talking here about 16 genuine channels, where each channel gets its own dedicated driver(s). But it also leads to incredibly seamless immersion for surround and 3D content (either Dolby Atmos or DTS:X), and enough sonic force to rumble your seat. The system also supports high-resolution formats including Dolby TrueHD and, according to Samsungs reps, DTS-HD and DTS-HD Master Audio (though they're not listed in the specs). All that power is well-tuned, too. SmartThings is simple, cleanly laid out, and lets you access almost everything you need with an intuitive tap. Recommendations are independently chosen by Revieweds editors. If that sounds like you, and youve got a hankering for major home theater mightDolby Atmos includedthe Q950A will not disappoint.
Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. But damned if it isnt exquisite when you put the lights down and turn the sound up. The product experts at Reviewed have all your shopping needs covered. Adaptive Sound mode surprisingly spread stereo tunes across the full system. Youll also want to download Samsungs SmartThings app, not just for Wi-Fi connection, but also for easy access to basic settings like sound mode and input selection, EQ, and a few other settings. I dont know how loud youd have to play before distortion sets in, and I dont want to. Although, if you do place them on a bookshelf, remember that the rears now need to have plenty of space above and to their outer-facing side, as well as in front, if you want to benefit from every channel they carry.