Samsung’s Q-Series Soundbar Is Very Good at What It’s Meant to Do

Samsung’s Q-Series Soundbar Is Very Good at What It’s Meant to Do

There’s an assumption these days that when you buy a TV you’re also going to be buying something to make it sound good. That could be a speaker, but chances are if you’re looking at a TV in the $5,000-plus range, you’re going to want a soundbar. I recently reviewed the Samsung S95C Quantum Dot OLED TV and although it was brilliant, visually, the impressive sound was all thanks to the company’s Q-Series Q990C soundbar.

I’ve spent a few weeks with the Q990C soundbar and I have some thoughts.

Samsung Q-Series Q990C soundbar

Samsung Q-Series Q990C soundbar
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

The Samsung Q-Series Q990C soundbar is part of the company’s 2023 audio visual range. It boasts ‘active voice amplifier’, ‘SpaceFit sound’ (what it says on the tin – it’s sound to fit the space you’ve got the soundbar in), Dolby Atmos and Atmos Music, a bunch of sound modes (ie, gaming, movies, adaptive) and support for everything from AAC through ALAC and in between.

If you’re hooking the Q-Series Q990C soundbar up to a Samsung TV, you can do so wirelessly through Samsung’s Q-Symphony feature. Q-Symphony can leverage 22 total audio channels with the help of the processor inside the company’s compatible televisions. No optical connection nor HDMI passthrough. You do get Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and I found Wi-Fi to be the most sturdy connection (I did also use the soundbar as a music speaker, so I found Wi-Fi TV connection easier to use).

Other specs at a glance

  • Channel: 11.1.4
  • Number of speakers: 4
  • Subwoofer type: wireless
  • Speakers: centre, up-firing, side-firing (plus wide-range tweeter & wireless rear speaker)

More specs here on Samsung’s website.

It looks like a soundbar

Samsung Q-Series Q990C soundbar
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Most recently, I reviewed the Samsung Ultra Slim HW-S800B/XY S-Series soundbar. It sounded great, but aesthetically, it lost me. It was uncomfortably thin. That followed my review of the Samsung Q990B Soundbar, which made me realise just how important soundbars are. And how important it is that the soundbar either matches your home’s design choices or completely disregards everything and just looks like a soundbar. I tend to prefer the latter. I personally want a soundbar that looks like a soundbar, not one that tries to look like it’s part of the furniture. Maybe that’s because I have convinced myself something that tries to be decor looks pretty at the cost of sound quality.

The Samsung Q-Series Q990C soundbar measures 1232 mm x 69.5 mm x 138.0 mm and weighs 7.7kg. And its material is very soundbar-y, which gets a tick on aesthetics from me. Only issue was my TV cabinet wasn’t deep enough to have the soundbar sit totally flat. That’s a me problem, though.

It also sounds like a soundbar

Samsung Q-Series Q990C soundbar
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

The part you came here for. As I gave away in the headline, the Samsung Q-Series Q990C soundbar is very good at what it’s meant to do. Emphasis on the very.

I say this every time I review a piece of sound equipment, but it continues to be true: It’s hard to convey the true brilliance of a BOOM in the background of a movie scene, how clear whispers in dialogue come across and into seemingly just your left ear, or how I could hear sounds with the addition of the soundbar that I couldn’t with just the TV. But, the Samsung Q990C soundbar made it happen.

One feature that’s a standout with a Samsung TV + soundbar combo is the ability to have both the sound from the TV and from the soundbar, which adds an extra layer of surround sound to the whole experience. Using the TV sound as well resulted in a more stereo experience – the sound was coming out higher than it otherwise would, and as the sound was not firing around the room like the soundbar was, that’s where we get that layered sound texture.

The first example I truly saw the sound from Samsung Q990C soundbar shine was during The Menu. Stilettos trotting along a timber wharf, the boat’s engine rumbling in the background but making my brain think it was sitting in the bottom left of the room while the dialogue came at me from the right. A knife being pulled from a block, the ‘ching’ sound echoed around me, like it was a mosquito travelling around my head. But it wasn’t just the tricks from the soundbar utilising object-tracking sound, it was also just how elevated the other stuff was. An example of other ‘stuff’ was when a boat was sailing away, I could feel the chugging getting quieter and the conversations on board getting more distant. It’s not necessarily a trick, but it’s something Samsung does well with the Q990C soundbar to enhance that which may only otherwise be caught with a TV at max volume or using subtitles.

Watching a TV show, most recently FBI: Most Wanted, the soundbar continued to prove its need to exist. Conversations were clear, accompanied by a rustling of a piece of paper, and clinging of a heavy chain – the bold bass made suspenseful scenes more movie-like. Each individual sound was noticeable, not something I can say I would have experienced as beautifully without the soundbar.

Before the Q990C, I used the Sonos Beam soundbar, paired with the company’s Sub Mini. That’s now been moved into the bedroom and I’d say the Samsung soundbar is more room-filling (open plan and a tonne of hallways tends to mess the sound up). As I alluded to above, I’ve also found myself playing music through the soundbar, instead of via Google Home speakers. While this was mostly Spotify, for the purpose of this review, I played some tracks via YouTube.

I started with the Live At Abbey Road performance British band Architects did last year. This was gorgeously portrayed. The opening of the first song starts with a single violin, and the delivery was clean, crisp and only bested by the addition of another string instrument. Adding more, as they all build to a bang, there was no bleeding, every note was crystal clear. As the guitar kicks in, the bass was perfectly balanced, and adding vocals wasn’t overpowered by all of the instruments in the background. It was gorgeous, and if I closed my eyes I felt like I was there. Music has a big effect on me, music delivered so perfectly does even more.

Pushing the volume on the Samsung Q990C soundbar, I got to 80 (with still a way to go) before I couldn’t possibly turn it up anymore – not because it was muffled, but because neighbours would have surely arrived with a noise complaint.

We’ve also said at length just how excited we are for more and more TV shows and movies that showcase Dolby Atmos to be available for everyone in their homes, but we’re also full of hope for more music to be mixed in Dolby Atmos, too. The experience is truly next-level and it being made available to everyone will only mean more goosebumps.

Final thoughts

Samsung Q-Series Q990C soundbar
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

The Samsung Q-Series Q990C is boomy, bold, and does everything you want a soundbar to do. There’s genuinely not much to say about a soundbar that delivers cinema-quality sound into your ears while you’re sitting on the lounge.

Where to buy the Samsung Q990C soundbar

Samsung $1,499 | Bing Lee $1,995 | JB Hi-Fi $1,995

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Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

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