The HW-Q800T is one of the latest sound bars from Samsung. It is not the ultimate top model with extra speakers at the back, but it does offer Dolby Atmos in a slender shape with accompanying subwoofer. And if you want extra speakers afterwards for a 5.1.2 experience, you can.
Samsung HW-Q800T soundbar
The HW-Q800T is the second Samsung soundbar from the new 2020 generation that our test room reached. It costs around 800 euros, making it a much higher model than the compact HW-S60T of 399 euros that we recently tested. What do you get for that extra cost? Actually a lot. The Q800T comes with a separate subwoofer and the soundbar has additional overhead speakers so that sound effects that play in height (with Dolby Atmos and DTS: X ) are played more correctly. This soundbar has exactly the talents to seduce demanding fans of movies and TV series on Netflix and other streaming services. Samsung is also aiming for the gamer with a special game mode. By default, you can enjoy 3.1.2 sound with this HW-Q800T, but just like with some other Samsung soundbars this year, you can expand it with two wireless speakers (SWA-9000S) to create a real 5.1.2 setup.
Check out the Samsung 2020 soundbar line-up
Long and slim
Its price point makes the HW-Q800T a higher mid-range in the soundbar world. It is also a slightly larger soundbar : 98 cm wide, 6 cm high and 11.5 cm deep. Large is very relative, because with a 55-inch television, the Samsung still seems a modest thing. Due to its completely black appearance with clipped corners, it looks even more compact than it is in certain environments. By the way, the dimensions have been chosen explicitly to ensure that the HW-Q800T fits better between the feet of new TV models. Samsung naturally takes into account Samsung TVs; with televisions of other brands, it will fit or not depend on the TV base and design used.
Samsung keeps the course of the past design-wise. So this is not a hip fabric, beautifully sloping device like the HW-S60T. It is more functional and angular, but therefore not ugly.
In terms of build quality and materials used, there is actually no criticism. A design element that we always find successful is the inconspicuous screen that is placed behind the speaker grille – in this case at the far right. Only if you adjust something, such as the volume or the input, does it light up briefly. This ensures that while watching movies you are not distracted by lights or displays that pull your eye away from the screen – something that can be especially difficult in a dark room.
Because of the speakers above you can Do not slide HW-Q800T completely under a TV or in a niche of a TV cabinet. After all, those speakers ensure that sound effects are sent upwards. Here too, Samsung applies the Acoustic Beam technology, in which the sound is output wider through a long series of holes in the top. Also interesting: this soundbar has no speakers on its sides, as some do. That makes installation just that bit easier, especially on an overcrowded TV cabinet. It's okay if you have an ornament or photo frame next to this soundbar.
Designed in the USA
The HW-Q800T is yet another product designed by the Audio Lab that Samsung opened in California just years ago. A good move, because ever since then the brand has been producing sound bars that we believe are among the very best. The Q800T uses a total of eight speakers to achieve the promised 3.1.2 reproduction – with the middle “1” delivered by the separate wireless subwoofer. The sub is a somewhat larger, upright model that we would rather place in the front of the room. Not too far from the screen, because that is how you get the best integration.
Speaking of screens: the HW-Q800T is also one of the first models with the new Q-Symphony function . Do you own a third-party TV or an older Samsung TV? Then this is not so important to you, but who now buys a new Samsung television can cleverly combine it with this soundbar. After all, Q-Symphony allows you to use the soundbar and the speakers of the TV at the same time, in such a way that the parent speakers on the TV set function additionally. It sounds very intriguing, but because the Samsung TV in our test room is a 2016 UE60KS7000, we were unable to test it. If we get it arranged logistically, we hope to test the special audio functions on new TVs (such as Q-Symphony) later this year. For example, we have already put the mid-speaker mode on Sony test benches and we will soon combine an LG C9 with wireless WiSA speakers from System Audio.
Samsung sound bars set up for several years via SmartThings, an app that allows you to manage all possible smart devices from Samsung (and even third parties). Yes, also the smart vacuum cleaners and washing machines of the Koreans. We know it well because in our home we use a SmartThings Hub (not available with us) as a center for all smart home devices.
Nevertheless, we initially found the integration of AV devices in SmartThings a less smart move: the app might want everything but the level of detail control was very limited compared to the dedicated soundbar apps that Samsung previously offered. This has been addressed this year. Both the setup of the HW-Q800T and the further operation of the soundbar have been made a lot better in SmartThings. For example, the setting goes very smoothly. The app automatically detects the soundbar and in a few steps you have connected it to your WiFi network.
In the app you will now find all functions that are present on the supplied remote. So you can adjust inputs, there is a tone control, and you can make the wireless subwoofer louder or quieter. Sound modes are also present, but thanks to the adaptive mode, you rarely need to manually change the mode. In adaptive mode, the soundbar automatically chooses the best sound, and it works very well. By the way, if you watch a movie with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, the sound modes are sidelined. The HW-Q800T then switches to an Atmos mode.
And streaming? You don't have to search for that in the SmartThings app. Samsung has radically opted to limit streaming options, more so than some rivals. Also Chromecast or Airplay are not present with this device. How do you listen to music? By providing Spotify Connect, Samsung has ensured that you can listen to the most popular music service. Bluetooth is also available, and with that you can basically stream everything from your mobile device. We ourselves find Bluetooth a kind of fallback option; it has disadvantages that make streaming via WiFi both more convenient and more qualitative. A tip, because many people don't think about it: you can also play a large number of services directly via an app on your TV. It looks very cool, but you have to turn on your television screen. You don't always want that.
Put the HW-Q800T in adaptive sound mode and connect your television via the eARC connection, and you actually have remote from the soundbar not necessary. After all, you can simply adjust the volume with the box of your television. But you might connect another source device (such as an Ultra HD Blu-ray player or an Xbox) to the extra HDR10 + compatible HDMI input that the HW-Q800T offers. Or a CD player at the optical input. Then that remote is useful again.
Fortunately, it is a cabinet that is as elegant as it is functional. Samsung calls it the One Remote, and it is the remote that you get with many Samsung TVs and soundbars. It feels good in the hand and looks quite luxurious, which is important. It may take some getting used to the volume and woofer level buttons, because you have to push them up or down, but it works fine.
Heavy and impressive
Because we have the HW-S60T and the HW-Q800T back-to-back. Back tested, we used many of the same clips to investigate performance. In the case of the cheerful Paddington 2 (Dolby Digital 5.1 via Netflix), we don't mind at all. The soundtrack is cool and it is also nice to take a non-action film with it. The HW-Q800T makes all those clever sound effects – a woman passing by bicycle and ringing, the jungle sounds as Paddington remembers his aunt – move through the room with great style. It could be slightly larger and more spacious, but unless you compare it with a discrete 5.1 set or a high-end soundbar, you will not easily think that yourself.
The HQ-Q800T makes the most impression when we play full Dolby Atmos content. Previously we always had to connect an Ultra HD Blu-ray player to do that, now thanks to the eARC connection and the newer Sony KD-A9F hanging (temporarily) on the wall we can access Atmos content directly through the Netflix app play. Our reference film is the Oscar-winning “Roma” by director Alfonso Cuarón. We often choose the handsome opening scene of this film, but later in the story there is another scene with impressive sound. The family went to the countryside to celebrate, but during the night a forest fire breaks out. The soundtrack very well conveys the initial perplexity, with increasing screams far away – spread high in space through the parent speakers on the Samsung. When the whole village is going to put out the fire – it's a drama, but also a party – the Samsung soundbar puts us in the middle of the flames. Trees fall over and branches burn, spectacular and heavy, which also makes it appear that you are in a burning forest, while at the same time displaying the fine detail. The whole comes across very violently, a bit too much, so that the musician with his lament at the end of the scene stands out less. But still, just like with the HW-S60T, we get the impression that Samsung has paid a lot of attention to the center channel. Dialogues are clear and fresh, and are always well separated from the film action. And that is really good for intelligibility. Back to Roma: Moments later, family members return to Mexico City in the rain. We pay close attention, because a rain shower is something very difficult to represent realistically. It soon sounds too sharp or artificial. The HW-Q800T is doing ok, it comes across naturally, but it's not as enveloping as we expected. But that's a detail.
Do you really want to hear the HW-Q800T perform at its best? Then it is time for a game or a movie that both has a Dolby Atmos soundtrack and is packed with action. For example, “Ford vs Ferrari”, one of the best looking Atmos movies currently available. In terms of sound, it is sometimes very similar to a good racing game – think Project Cars 2 – with screeching tires and heavier-than-real-life gearboxes. Yup, with the spectacular scenes and heavy shooting games, the HW-Q800T delivers exactly what is needed.
The HW-Q800T is not a cheap soundbar, but delivers quite a lot for its price. Q-Symphony for example, although that is of course only an added value if you also get a brand new Samsung TV. Do you have another television? The HW-Q800T is still recommended. It performs well on any TV with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, without sacrificing the ultimate 3D rendering you can get with top-notch soundbars. We believe that many people will find the middle ground that this soundbar offers sufficient. You take a noticeable step towards a full-fledged cinematic experience, partly because the powerful sub provides the burly support to dramatize games and heavy action movies. That is something that a cheaper and smaller soundbar can be more difficult. Highly recommended for the spectacle finder.