Samsung HW-Q950T Review • A true flagship soundbar
Samsung’s new HW-Q950T soundbar ranks among the best sound systems because it is the company’s flagship audio. Its price tag clearly indicates this, but this is a very special high-end soundbar. This is one of the few models on the market that can actually offer a 9.1.4 sound design. Or in other words, an overabundance of Dolby Atmos, including high-altitude channels in the front and rear.
This is possible because the soundbar is filled with speakers (20 pcs.). It comes with a wireless subwoofer and two wireless rear wall speakers. The difference is that these are dual speakers. Like its predecessor, the HW-Q950R, the rear speakers have an additional upward-firing speaker. This is totally unique.
This soundbar is especially interesting for people who have invested in a high quality Samsung TV with Q-Symphony. If twenty speakers of HW-Q950T are not enough, you can let the TV speakers play along with the soundbar on some Samsung models. Samsung’s previous topper, by the way, offered 7.1.4 . In this review, Samsung HW-Q950T will take a closer look at all the advantages of the new model.
Samsung HW-Q950T: Design
For all its bells and whistles, the Samsung HW-Q950T soundbar remains easy to set up. Speakers and subwoofer are automatically connected to each other. The subwoofer is medium in size, in the shape of a vertical parallelepiped, which is best placed at the front of the room.
The idea behind the developers is to provide a permanent place for wireless speakers. This makes Samsung slightly different from some of its competitors, such as the JBL Bar 9.1. This JBL also comes with rear speakers, but these are models with built-in rechargeable batteries. They can be turned off when not needed. Each Samsung speaker requires an outlet. Some LG models, on the other hand, have only one plug and work with a cable going from one rear speaker to the other.
The Samsung HW-Q950T soundbar itself looks different from previous models. The familiar shape, a long, low-profile parallelepiped, has taken on greater depth. These upward-facing additional speakers just need to be placed somewhere. Due to its modest height (just under 7 cm), the panel can be placed in front of most TVs. But it is difficult for her to fit between the legs, even on TVs of the 55th diagonal.
The Q950T soundbar looks a little unusual because the corners in the front are cut off and the speaker grill is visible, and the rest of the soundbar is covered with black cloth. These are classic textiles from Kvadrat, a Danish upholstery manufacturer that supplies more and more audio system manufacturers. Black does not look as attractive as gray interspersed with a different color. But perhaps this also makes it more timeless.
Overall, the Samsung HW-Q950T soundbar is not conspicuous in the room. Of course, this is a more bulky soundbar with additional speakers that need to be placed somewhere. But whether this is really a problem depends on the interior. By the way, there is a bracket for wall mounting in the kit, and there is a screw thread on the back of the rear speakers. So you can hang them on the wall behind the sofa.
Four sound modes
Samsung has always made a separate volume control for each channel. For example, you could make the surround sound a little louder if the speakers were a little further away, or lower the volume of the height channels if the ceiling was higher. All rooms are different. This adjustment is still possible, which is good.
The downside is that you can only do this through the remote control and the soundbar screen. Unfortunately, it has been moved from the front to the top of the Samsung Q950T panel. Therefore, you have to bend over the soundbar to adjust. And this is not convenient, because it is better to adjust the channels from the spot. It would be more practical if it could be configured through the SmartThings app.
This soundbar doesn’t have an insane amount of customization. With the remote control, you can quickly and effectively control things like volume and subwoofer level. And there is a Sound Mode button that selects one of four modes: Standard, Surround, Gamer and Adaptive. It is important to know that the standard is the most realistic.
Those. if you feed 5.1, the soundbar will play 5.1. If you are feeding stereo, you will hear stereo (for example, the rear speakers will not work). In the other three modes, all sound is brought up to 9.1.4, except for the original Dolby Atmos and DTS: X soundtracks. They remain unchanged. The soundbar will then display “NOT”.
Samsung has also released a true 8K TV for this soundbar , the QE85Q950T . Since 2020, Samsung has been offering a new Q-Symphony feature that attempts to intellectualize sound. The tricky part of the Samsung Q950T soundbar with upward-facing speakers that are supposed to bounce Atmos sound off the ceiling is that from a short distance you will notice the sound effects are coming from the soundbar.
Q-Symphony attempts to solve this problem by utilizing the overhead speakers of a QLED compatible TV. Thus, not all TV speakers sound, but only those that (in the case of the QE85Q950TS) are present at the back of the top edge of the screen. Please be aware that Atmos channels do not reproduce the full frequency range. These speakers are limited to mids and highs, but that’s not a problem here.
Q-Symphony is a switchable feature. In the TV sound setting menu, you can choose to output sound from “AV Soundbar” or “TV + AV Soundbar”. Since it mainly contributes to increasing the volume of the surround sound, its effectiveness is highly dependent on the content. Sometimes it is imperceptible or completely disappears in the bombast of the sound rumbling of an action movie.
In the area of streaming, Samsung is unchanging: no Chromecast and Airplay, but Bluetooth and Spotify Connect. There are no other streaming apps. For several years now, the company has been aggregating all operations in the SmartThings app. This is fine in itself, but the app doesn’t offer many options for every connected device.
The problem can be worked around. If you connect the Samsung Q950T Soundbar to your Samsung TV, you can stream your music through the Airplay function of that TV. There are various streaming service applications on your TV. The same applies to other manufacturers. Sony and Philips offer Chromecast thanks to Android TV, LG also has Airplay.
When it comes to the connectivity options for the HW-Q950T soundbar, there are some drawbacks. Onboard there is an optical digital audio input and HDMI with eARC, which allows uncompressed surround sound with high-altitude channels, and two additional HDMI inputs. There are no other connections.
To conclude our review of Samsung’s HW-Q950T, here are some general conclusions. The biggest drawback of the HW-Q950T speaker system is its high price. However, for that amount, you get a complete package that is very close in parameters to a discrete set of speakers with an AV receiver, which costs the same or a little more.
The HW-Q950T is not a revolutionary product, but that is because its predecessors have already performed at a very high level. The main change from last year’s HW-Q90R is the Q-Symphony’s speaker collaboration on select Samsung TVs. Without a doubt, the HW-Q950T is a true flagship. Expanded Dolby Atmos and DTS: X support, two additional HDMI inputs and rear speakers with high-rise channels make this soundbar the absolute leader in its segment.