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Our Samsung HW-Q990B review revealed this soundbar system delivers on its manufacturer’s promises to give you the full home-theater experience in your home. It does this with the soundbar’s four components and the 11.1.4 channel configuration with multiple height channels.
Being Samsung’s flagship soundbar for the year, the HW-Q990B comes with flagship pricing. Let’s find out how well the pricing of the HW-Q990B aligns with its performance.
Samsung HW-Q990B review: Components, build and design
Your central soundbar unit comes with a pair of rear speakers and a large subwoofer. All four components of the HW-Q990B have chassis with angular outlines, textured plastic, and metallic grill covers. Here is a breakdown of what each piece of this soundbar system has to offer:
Main unit: Hardware and drivers
At four feet long, the main unit of the Samsung HW-Q990B is pretty bulky for a soundbar. The sheer number of drivers that the soundbar carries explains its size. This isn’t to say that the large frame of the central unit counts as a drawback. If anything, the long, low form factor of the Samsung Q990B makes the device a perfect companion for a widescreen TV.
The front face of the HW-Q990B holds a left, center, and right channel. You also get an upward-firing driver on either end of the top surface. The angular sides of the soundbar accommodate two side channels each. It’s worth mentioning that one side firing driver has an upward tilt that enhances Dolby Atmos content.
Rear (satellite) speaker
Each satellite speaker carries a height channel, a front-firing surround channel, and a side channel. The satellites sync with the central unit to create a circle of sound that sends out audio elements from all directions.
Samsung HW-Q990B review: Subwoofer
The subwoofer is a large cabinet that houses an eight-inch driver that sits in an ‘acoustic lens.’ This lens is a shallow polymer cone that ensures uniform, omnidirectional bass output with minimal distortion at peak volume.
Ports and connectivity
An inset at the back of the soundbar holds three HDMI ports and a digital optical input. The third HDMI port has eARC capability, and this is the port that you use to connect the soundbar and your TV. These ports support pass-through of 4K content at 60Hz, which is good enough for most content. Still, it would be nice if the Samsung HW-Q990B supported audio pass-through for 4K/120Hz formats.
A single, rear-facing USB port sits separate from the rest of the ports.
Lastly, WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity allow you to link the soundbar system with compatible devices in your home network.
Samsung succeeds at limiting the number of cables that go into the physical installation of the HW-Q990B. The main unit, satellites, and subwoofer connect to each other wirelessly, a convenience that allows you to place different components wherever you want.
Physical installation is as simple as connecting the different Samsung Q990B components to their respective power outlets. Now all you need to do is switch on each component and connect the central unit to the TV via HDMI-3. The TV should detect the soundbar without further action on your part. At this point, the different components of the HW-Q990B will discover each other and sync up.
Your brand-new audio installation should produce sound the minute content starts to play from your TV. This soundbar scores a perfect ten out of ten regarding how easy it is to set it up.
User interface and ease of use
You’ll notice a front-facing, digital display when the main unit of the Samsung HW-Q990B boots for the first time. This is the first UI you come across, showing basic information like the soundbar’s status and responses to your user commands.
Samsung’s proprietary SmartThings app offers a second, more comprehensive user interface. The app lets you explore the different features and settings of the HW-Q990B.
Alexa and smart home features
A microphone button sits in the middle of the remote that ships with the Samsung Q990B. Press the button to send voice commands to Alexa via the internal microphone inside the soundbar. The user guide that comes with the soundbar should have instructions on how to deactivate the microphone.
Alexa also provides a platform that lets you access and control compatible smart devices in your home network.
Bells and whistles in the Samsung ecosystem
Pairing the HW-Q990B with Samsung devices makes available the following perks:
- The tap view feature uses NFC to connect your Samsung smartphone and soundbar with a simple tap
- Q-Symphony creates a movie theater audio experience when you pair the soundbar with a compatible Samsung TV
- An automatic calibration feature allows the HW-Q990B to adjust its soundstage to match the layout of your entertainment space
Performance and sound quality
The Samsung HW-Q990B has nine channels in the main soundbar unit, four in the satellites, and one in the subwoofer. It takes a combination of twenty-odd drivers to execute these channels and produce the type of sound you’d expect from a flagship product. Here’s how the hardware performs:
Going by the central unit alone, the HW-990B has a wide soundstage that executes overhead sound. Side-firing drivers on the primary unit get an assist from the satellites on either side of your sitting arrangement. This creates a sound stage that envelops its audience, with distinct audio elements coming from different directions.
The expansive sound stage of the HW-Q990B creates ample space for each discrete audio artifact to stand out. This means you get a blend of sound elements that remain distinct without crowding each other. The result is excellent execution of fine detail that may reveal a hidden treble riff in a song you listen to all the time.
Movies and TV shows sound great, thanks to the soundbar’s ability to execute adaptive sound. AI signal processing adjusts sound output to match the scene playing out on the screen before you. Quieter scenes bring dialog and important ambient detail to the forefront. Each deafening impact in a big action scene gets its turn to dominate a loud chorus of sound.
- Solid build quality
- Front-facing LED display that you can see from your couch
- Wireless connections between the four elements of the sound system
- Auto-calibration allows the sound system to tailor the sound stage to the room it sits in
- SmartThings app provides a user-friendly interface
- Alexa integration
- Excellent sound quality and overall performance
- The soundbar lacks 4K/120Hz video pass-through
- Fewer inputs than we’d like at this price point
- The Samsung HW-Q990B is one of the more expensive soundbars in the market, but with good reason
Samsung HW-Q990B review verdict: Flagship performance at a flagship price
The Samsung HW-Q990B is worth its asking price on every count. As soundbar systems go, you’re unlikely to find audio equipment that can outperform this 11.1.4 channel configuration. Peerless sound quality and convenient features deliver an immersive, enjoyable experience. Click here to learn more about this soundbar.