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Review: Samsung HW-Q900T Soundbar 7.1.2ch w/ Dolby Atmos / DTS:X

Review: Samsung HW-Q900T Soundbar - The Samsung HW-Q900T sound bar is certainly one of the best devices for home theater without rear speakers.
Review: Samsung HW-Q900T Soundbar – In 2019, Samsung launched its first sound bars capable of competing, in particular in terms of performance and sound quality, with the best models manufactured by Bose and Sonos . This year, Samsung is renewing the experience with the HW-Q900T and HW-Q950T soundbars . These products bring some novelties along the way. This article will present review of Samsung HW-Q900T soundbar.

The spearhead of the Samsung 2020 soundbar range, the HW-Q900T takes the concept of virtual spatialization very seriously: it intends to simulate the experience of a Dolby Atmos / DTS: X home cinema in 7.1.2 configuration, just that. Does she succeed?

Overview

Technical Details

Product details & functions

Number of Channels 7.1.2
Number of Speakers 16
Dedicated Center Speaker
Up-Firing Speakers Full Range
Side-Firing Speakers Full Range
Wireless Subwoofer
Dolby/DTS Dolby ATMOS/DTS:X
Q Symphony Comp. w/ TVs Q80T & above
Sound Mode(s) Game Pro, Adaptive
Bluetooth Multiconnection
Wi-Fi Enabled

Presentation

The HW-Q900T is the successor to the HW-Q90R  in Samsung’s soundbar catalog. This is the top-of-the-line model of the 2020 vintage from the manufacturer – the exception is the Q950T, which is nothing more than a Q900T that comes with two separate rear speakers, for which reason we consider it more. like a multichannel home cinema kit.

Like its predecessor, the HW-Q900T aims to offer virtual three-dimensional surround sound, allowing you to fully enjoy sound tracks in Dolby Atmos and DTS: X formats. But while the Q80R was “content” with a spatialization in 5.1.2, the Q900T embeds two additional side speakers raising the count towards 7.1.2, with distinct side and rear surround channels.

It has been on the market since autumn 2020 at an indicative introductory price of € 999.

Style & Design

This year 2020 is the one that Samsung has chosen to finally refresh the design of its high-end soundbars, which had not changed since 2017. Exit the very raw industrial look of stripping of the previous years; The Q900T’s main bar is covered with acoustic fabric supplied by Danish specialist Kvadrat, which gives it a significantly more elegant appearance. This fabric also has the advantage of being perfectly matt, which prevents the image from being reflected on the bar when the latter is positioned just in front of a television.

In spite of everything, it may be necessary to slightly raise said television so that the bar does not obscure the bottom of the image. Its thickness of 7 cm is indeed greater than the space left between the screen and the cabinet on most recent TVs. As for its width of 1.23 m, it is equivalent to that of a 55-inch screen.

The connection consists of two HDMI inputs, an optical S / PDIF input and an HDMI output compatible with the audio return channel. The latter supports the eARC standard, and can therefore transport Dolby Atmos and DTS: X signals, provided of course that you have a TV that is also compatible. Please note, however, that the transmission of the video stream between the HDMI inputs and output can only be done with the specifications of the HDMI 2.0 standard. If you want to use this soundbar with a PS5 or Xbox Series X / S game console and an HDMI 2.1 television, you must therefore connect the console directly to the television to be able to benefit from Ultra HD definition at 120 Hz and / or the Variable Refresh Rate, and to use the eARC channel for the transmission of the audio signal to the bar.

On all its HDMI interfaces, the bar can decode audio signals in LPCM format up to 7.1, and in all Dolby and DTS formats, including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. Optical input is of course limited to stereo LPCM or classic Dolby Digital and DTS.

Finally, the bar also has a Bluetooth receiver for connecting a mobile device, and a Wi-Fi interface for the few network features it has.

The Q900T is supplied with a very simple and efficient infrared remote control. The main controls are also accessible via a few mechanical buttons arranged on its upper face of the bar. It is also here that we find the display – unfortunately rickety, and which therefore makes access to the bar settings unnecessarily tedious. Fortunately, some of these settings are also available through the Samsung SmartThings mobile app.

Quality of finish 

Samsung has opted for a fabric finish for the HW-Q900T. This fabric, chosen for its acoustic properties, is of good quality and should not tend to wrinkle over the years.

The subwoofer on the other hand has a rather average finish quality and similar to that of most sound bars on the market. It has a medium quality plated finish. At this level, Bose and Sonos are still well ahead.

Technologies 

The HW-Q900T sound bar is a 7.1.2 channel device and has a total power of 406 watts for its 16 speakers. The HW-Q900T is compatible with 3D Dolby Atmos and DTS: X encodings. It incorporate intelligent modes capable of adapting the sound according to the type of content watched. Of course, they also integrate wireless Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections. However, we would have liked them to be AirPlay 2 compatible, just like the Samsung TVs of 2020.

Ease of use 

With a compatible television, the most suitable connection is by HDMI ARC cable. This allows you to turn on, off and control the sound of the bar and the TV with the same remote. Finally, if these devices are connected to a Samsung TV connected over Wi-Fi, no cables are needed. Otherwise, you must opt ​​for the optical cable connection. With this configuration, it is mandatory to use the sound bar remote control. It is very easy to use, without unnecessary buttons. Both bars integrate the Amazon Alexa voice assistant and are part of Samsung’s SmartThings home automation environment.

Audio

The Q900T offers a rather unusual sound signature for a home cinema oriented product. Far from the artificially inflated and “doped” sounds of some of its congeners, Samsung’s soundbar, on the contrary, relies on a certain form of wisdom, even of relaxation.

In any case, this is how we can interpret this very slight inverted V frequency response, which lets the mids take center stage at the two ends of the spectrum. Rather than lean towards the spectacular, the HW-Q900T chooses instead to emphasize the first harmonics of mid-range sounds (especially human voices), and on the clarity and transparency of the sound message. At first glance, on the other hand, this can give the feeling of a somewhat flat sound. However, it is only a matter of getting used to it: after a few listenings, the time for our ears to get used to this spectral profile, the sensation disappears. Because for the rest, the sound reproduction of the bar remains remarkably rich, ample, and above all dynamic.

It has become the signature of Samsung’s high-end soundbars, and the Q900T proudly continues this tradition: it benefits from an absolutely colossal reserve of power and explosiveness, the interest of which is absolutely not only make the living room walls shake when you turn the volume up – which it does with disconcerting ease, however, for amateurs. Even at reasonable listening volume, this allows it above all to reproduce the transients of the sound signal with remarkable velocity, and to transcribe the smallest details of the soundtrack, as well as explosions and other gunshots with inexhaustible energy. We are not complaining: it is still at the time of this writing the best subwoofer supplied with a soundbar, capable of delivering bass of absolutely remarkable depth and responsiveness, without the less resonance.

On the side of virtual spatialization, the Q900T also delivers very commendable services – but with conditions. Samsung adopts sound projection methods for the first time on this model using not only the reflection of sound waves from the walls and ceiling of the listening room, but also acoustic phase adaptation techniques. Concretely, the front, side and height channels are reproduced not via a single loudspeaker dedicated to each, but by all the loudspeakers of the bar, working together by emitting signals slightly out of phase with each other. to others, to produce an even more effective directional effect. Strangely, however, this is not the case for the rear channels, which do indeed use a single side speaker each. Can this disparity still allow the creation of a completely coherent surround scene? Against all expectations, the answer is yes… on the express condition that the bar is installed in a room with perfectly adapted acoustic properties – namely a rectangular room, with the television set equidistant from the side walls. Without this, the link between the side and rear tracks may break.

If this condition is met, the result is very convincing. The frontal scene extends far beyond the physical dimensions of the bar, the distinction between the side and rear tracks is real, and the rise in pitch voices is felt very clearly. The soundstage thus shaped is certainly not the most enveloping that we have heard from a soundbar – Sennheiser’s monumental Ambeo Soundbar obviously remains untouchable from this point of view – but it gains a real spatial extent. The three-dimensionality is there, and brings everything one expects from it in terms of sound immersion.

Musical and vocal performances

Compared to other Samsung models, The sound quality of the HW-Q900T quickly feel a gain in power . The sound has more depth, clarity and openness. This is hardly surprising since these soundbars are almost twice as heavy as the previous model, the HW-Q800T . We can notice that the internal speakers are of better quality and that they house more powerful amplifiers, and this, in a more rigid cabinet. Unlike the LG SN11 soundbar , the HW-Q900T offer a less analytical and warmer tone. This is close to what Sonos  offer with their Sonos ARC . Listening to music is therefore even more enjoyable. The HW-Q900T’s subwoofer is powerful, but it doesn’t offer the same depth and precision.

 Surround effects

The HW-Q900T reproduce 3D Dolby Atmos sound. The HW-Q900T incorporates a series of seven speakers , each independently controlled to reproduce Atmos sound effects. When watching a movie or TV series, you can hear sound effects traveling all around the soundbar and TV . We are more like a home theater set . The dialogues are also rendered with great clarity and depth. Everything is never stifled by the sound effects of a film. However, LG’s SN11 soundbar does an even better job of achieving these same effects.

Who is this product for?

The Samsung HW-Q950T soundbar does not offer the same clarity in its cinema effects as its rival, the LG SN11. That said, thanks to its 9.1.4 wireless configuration, it manages to offer a true home theater experience. The effects are immersive and the reproduction of the dialogues is particularly clear. Paired with a Samsung Q80T television or a newer model with Q-Symphonie technology, the HW-Q950T sound bar can use television speakers to create an even larger sound image.

Samsung HW-Q900T Soundbar – Conclusion

Samsung is still the undisputed boss in the high-end Dolby Atmos / DTS: X soundbar segment – as long as one leaves out the totally off-the- shelf Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar . To its “raw” sound reproduction of astonishing transparency and dynamics, it adds a virtual 7.1.2 spatialization of the highest order, the only weakness of which is that it is relatively demanding when it comes to the acoustics of the room. in which it is installed. In its price range, there is no better home cinema audio solution, neither in sound bar format, nor in separate elements.

The Samsung HW-Q900T sound bar is certainly one of the best devices for home theater without rear speakers. We like the clarity and depth of the sound as well as the always very precise dialogues. Effects and sound quality are well above average for this price range. Recommended for those looking for an excellent soundbar for watching movies that cannot install wireless rear speakers.

Positives of Samsung HW-Q900T Soundbar

  • Dolby Atmos and DTS: X compatibility, HDMI eARC support.
  • Remarkably transparent sound.
  • Power reserve and breathtaking dynamics, no distortion.
  • Remarkable subwoofer: excellent responsiveness, great extension, no resonance.
  • Convincing virtual spatialization, including for height effects.
  • Manufacturing quality.

Negatives of Samsung HW-Q900T Soundbar

  • Coherence of the surround scene sensitive to the acoustics of the listening room.
  • Rickety display.
  • Limited multimedia functionality.
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