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Samsung HW-Q990C

16 min read


Samsung’s newest flagship soundbar doesn’t precisely reinvent the wheel – however then it doesn’t must. And at the very least what enhancements it does make are in all the precise locations.


  • Outstandingly highly effective
  • Peerless Dolby Atmos staging
  • Dolby Imaginative and prescient and HDR10+ move by way of


  • Costly for a soundbar
  • No 4K/120Hz passthrough
  • Subwoofer sometimes struggles with music

  • 11.1.4 channels16 channels of sound to create a full Dolby Atmos hemisphere

  • Dolby Atmos and DTS:XEach object-based film sound codecs are supported by the Q990C

  • HDMI loop-through with Dolby Imaginative and prescient and HDR10+ helpDoesn’t must depend on HDMI eARC to get Dolby Atmos to the bar

  • Q SymphonyLets Samsung soundbars be a part of forces with Samsung TV audio system for an even bigger soundstage

  • Energy656W of complete energy throughout its 16 channels.


The times of routine will increase in channel counts for Samsung’s annual flagship soundbar refreshes are undoubtedly over. Final 12 months’s HW-Q990B caught with the 11.1.4 channel rely of its predecessor, and now 2023’s Q990C has stored to the identical 15-channel configuration too. 

Whereas hitting pause on channel will increase may need made it more durable for Samsung to provide you with easy-sell messages for its new top-end soundbars, the choice to name time on ever extra channels truly is sensible. In spite of everything, it’s not as if 11.1.4 channels isn’t a) greater than you get nearly anyplace else within the soundbar world, and b) simply sufficient to create a uniquely full and immersive Dolby Atmos sound stage. 

What’s extra, not counting on including extra channels into the combo appears to have given Samsung’s sound engineers extra bandwidth to give attention to enhancements in different areas.

As we’ve come to anticipate with Samsung’s flagship soundbars over time, the HW-Q990C has launched at £1,599 within the UK, and $1,599.99 within the US.

Clearly this places it very a lot within the premium class – although contemplating it contains at least 4 separate bodily parts delivering 15 channels of sound from 22 separate drivers, its value arguably appears to be like truthful worth when you think about there are many rival premium single bar or single bar plus subwoofer bars providing far fewer channels for comparable or considerably more money.

Samsung’s step-down mannequin, the HW-Q930C, loses a few channels, 5 drivers and the ‘Acoustic Lens’ design for the subwoofer (I’ll cowl this sub characteristic within the subsequent part), however prices considerably much less at £1,149 / $999.


  • Includes 4 separate parts
  • Crisp, metallic end
  • HDMI loop by way of, with two HDMI inputs and eARC help

At first look I believed the four-component HW-Q990C was actually an identical to its Q990B predecessor. The principle soundbar enjoys precisely the identical dimensions and angular form, in addition to the identical ‘exhausting’ grilled end; the 2 rear audio system characteristic the identical distinctive ‘mini plinth’ ft, uncommon roof-shaped high edge and one other metallic grilled end. The principle subwoofer is precisely the identical measurement, options the identical 8-inch driver, and sports activities the identical protruding Acoustic Lens ‘cowl’ over the driving force to assist the bass diffuse extra easily and evenly.

Putting the Q990B and Q990C facet by facet did lastly reveal one distinction although: the HW-Q990C sports activities a barely lighter color than the black Q990B. Samsung describes the brand new tone as Titan Black, however in reality it appears to be like extra like darkish gray. 

End view of the main soundbar of the Samsung HW-Q990C.
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Connectivity is precisely the identical. So that you get the identical spotlight of two HDMI inputs and a single, eARC HDMI output, alongside an optical audio enter and the wi-fi Wi-Fi and Bluetooth choices I now anticipate from just about any soundbar. The one disappointment is that the HDMI loop-through doesn’t help 4K/120Hz feeds from the most recent video games consoles and PC playing cards – one thing I’m beginning to see one or two rival soundbars help.

There may be at the very least some compensation within the HDMI loop-through’s help for Dolby Imaginative and prescient and HDR10+ HDR codecs. It continues to be uncommon to discover a soundbar that helps each of those HDR codecs. 

The Samsung bar's top edge carries a small roster of direct control buttons.
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The highest fringe of the primary soundbar includes a row of management buttons, whereas the entrance edge carries a small however vibrant and really legible LED show to assist maintain tabs on quantity ranges, chosen enter, sound preset choices, supply codecs and so forth. Mercifully, Samsung has not reverted to its outdated observe of putting the LED show on the highest edge, the place you can solely see it when you have been standing up.

The HW-Q990C ships with a slim, properly completed distant management that includes a moderately logical and responsive array of buttons. Although it’s also possible to management the Q990C utilizing Samsung’s SmartThings app when you’d favor a extra visible interface. 

The remote control you get with the Samsung bar. It can also be controlled by a Samsung Smart Things app on your mobile phone.
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  • Dolby Atmos and DTS:X playback
  • 656W complete energy throughout 11.1.4 channels
  • Auto calibration system

With no apparent bodily or speaker configuration variations to talk of bar the slight color variation, we have to delve deeper to seek out out what the HW-Q990C affords that we haven’t seen from a Samsung soundbar earlier than.

The very first thing to catch my eye is the addition of the SmartThings Hub to the soundbar’s SmartThings app management choices, enabling management over different appropriate units networked across the dwelling. Whereas that is an fascinating improvement within the ‘related dwelling’ world that’s huge within the South Korean and Japanese markets, I don’t suppose it’s a very huge deal for many UK or US soundbar patrons.

The Samsung HW-Q990C's two rear speakers.
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Extra universally helpful is the addition of built-in help for the Amazon Alexa – particularly because the Alexa help extends to you with the ability to group supported units in multi-room set ups. The Q990C additionally works with Apple Airplay in case you have a appropriate listening machine.

Additionally good to seek out given Samsung’s earlier slight reticence on this space is a newly enhanced model of its SpaceFit Sound Professional auto calibration system. The principle change is that it now sensibly brings the subwoofer’s bass contribution into the primary sound auto-optimisation course of, somewhat than bass calibration being managed by a separate system.

Samsung’s Adaptive Sound mode has been upgraded too. This apparently does a greater job of figuring out and sustaining the readability of object sounds – together with, most significantly, voices – at low quantity ranges. If this works as promised it could tackle one of many few negatives of Samsung’s earlier flagship soundbars – although hopefully it gained’t contain any compromise of Samsung’s soundbar popularity for delivering legendary quantities of energy and dynamism.

The HW-Q990C will get a brand new (third) era of Samsung’s Q Symphony characteristic, too. This technique for sharing the audio system within the soundbar with these in appropriate Samsung TVs now makes use of each speaker in each the TV and soundbar when the 2 are working collectively, in addition to enabling the soundbar to make use of the audio processor discovered within the newest Samsung TVs for superior audio evaluation.

Whereas a lot of this new stuff – particularly the improved auto-calibration instruments – is welcome, it’s nonetheless the options the Q990C continues on from the Q990B that give it star attraction. These begin with that monster 11.1.4 channel rely comprising one facet firing channel in every rear speaker, two up-firing channels in the primary soundbar, an up-firing driver in every rear speaker, entrance drivers in every rear speaker, the ‘.1’ subwoofer bass channel, plus centre, entrance left, entrance proper, facet left, facet proper, entrance facet left and entrance facet proper channels tucked into the Q990C’s surprisingly (contemplating what number of audio system it holds) compact primary soundbar. 

The HDMI ports on the Samsung HW-Q990C soundbar.
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Then there’s the purpose of all these channels: To create that full hemisphere of an immersive three-dimensional bubble across the viewer that’s integral to a convincing Dolby Atmos or DTS:X expertise. Having gone to such lengths to create such a fulsome Dolby Atmos/DTS:X soundstage, it’s a aid to seek out the Q990C helps each codecs by way of both its HDMI loop-through, or HDMI 2.1 commonplace’s audio return channel (ARC/eARC) characteristic.

The HW-Q990C carries an Lively Voice Amplifier choice that may scan your room for ambient noise, akin to a vacuum cleaner, and enhance the readability of vocals within the combine when it deems vital, plus there’s a Sport Mode that exaggerates the directionality of sound so you’ll be able to extra clearly detect the place enemies may be taking pictures/advancing from. 

As you’d anticipate of a flagship soundbar today, the Q990C rounds its attraction out with a wide variety of music supply help, together with Airplay 2, Chromecast, Spotify Join, Faucet Sound (the place tapping a current Samsung cell phone in opposition to the bodywork mechanically establishes a wi-fi connection), LPCM multi channel help, and playback of Hello-Res audio, AAC, WAV, FLAC, AIFF, MP3, OGG and ALAC music information. 

Sound High quality

  • Giant scale, dynamic efficiency
  • Cohesive, stability soundstage
  • Hits excessive volumes with out distortion

Earlier than moving into how the HW-Q990C sounds, it’s value rapidly mentioning that it’s very simple to arrange due to the best way all of the 4 audio system detect and join with one another with none fuss. The SmartThings app makes it simple to get the soundbar in your Wi-Fi community, too, and carry out any firmware updates that come alongside.

I did expertise a few events the place the SmartThings App on my iPhone all of a sudden misplaced its connection, and wouldn’t re-establish except I unplugged, rebooted the soundbar and re-ran the Add Gadget choice within the app. 

With movie soundtracks the Q990C sounds just about an identical to its Q990B predecessor. Which isn’t any unhealthy factor provided that the Q990B has been till the Q990C’s arrival the most effective full-surround Dolby Atmos soundbar I’ve heard. 

The facility and dynamism of the HW-Q990C’s film sound is, as ever, a selected spotlight. No different soundbar delivers motion scenes with as a lot depth, impression and ‘chunk’, and its dynamic vary is big. 

The subwoofer continues to ship a few of if not the deepest rumbles within the soundbar world. Its Acoustic Lens arrange ensures bass rarely ’bottoms out’ (sound compressed at very low frequencies) both, and constantly sounds extra well-rounded and clean than Samsung’s non-Acoustic Lens soundbar subwoofers. 

Detail of the Acoustic Lens subwoofer design, where the elevated diffuser 'lens' sits above an 8-inch driver.
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The subwoofer additionally sounds impressively responsive and nimble for one thing able to reaching so low. Actually, with the SpaceFit Professional auto calibration characteristic in play, the subwoofer supplies the most important space of enchancment over the Q990B – particularly in the case of responding extra successfully to the altering gears of a bass-heavy scene. 

The remainder of the Q990C’s soundstage is outstandingly cohesive and balanced, too. Particularly, as soon as SpaceFit has been referred to as into motion. The rears and top channels are fantastically detailed and desperate to be concerned, contributing to essentially the most absolutely shaped Dolby Atmos soundstage at the moment out there within the soundbar world. Having a extra sympathetically built-in subwoofer to underpin the cohesion of all the opposite channels is simply the icing on the cake.

The dimensions of the Q990C’s sound is immense too, filling a big front room from side-to-side, entrance to again and flooring to ceiling. There’s nothing in any respect obscure about this enormous sound stage, both. Dolby Atmos and DTS:X mixes take pleasure in an immaculately coherent and completely shaped ‘dome’ of sound inside which I may detect no noticeable ‘gaps’. You’re conscious of each single channel within the system, however solely in an immersive method; no channel feels under- or over-powered sufficient to attract particular consideration to itself.

Particular placement results in Dolby Atmos and DTS:X mixes are positioned with distinctive accuracy for the soundbar world, and this accuracy extends to just about flawless transitions of sounds across the soundstage – be they overhead, to left and proper, or from entrance to again. 

The readability extends to dialogue, which all the time sounds clear, pure and contextualised in addition to seemingly being barely lifted vertically, in order that voices appear to be coming from the onscreen motion somewhat than from the speaker beneath.

The HW-Q990C handles shrill, peak trebles in addition to it handles the deepest bass parts, avoiding harshness, hissing, over-emphasis or ‘warbling’ even when taking part in essentially the most high-pitched film sounds I may discover.

As I’ve come to anticipate with Samsung’s high-end soundbars, the quantity ranges the Q990C can attain and not using a trace of distortion are immense. There are solely a handful of rivals that may get shut – and even these can’t achieve this whereas additionally delivering the complete Atmos soundstage precision that the Q990C provides you. 

Contemplating how exact its soundstage sounds, the HW-Q990C is surprisingly forgiving of placement in various kinds of room arrange (for instance, the centre of a wall, or in a nook with the rear audio system positioned at an angle behind). The sound nonetheless manages to sound symmetrical, and the Dolby Atmos dome of sound nonetheless feels full and convincing. My guess is that this kind of room structure flexibility owes a lot to the effectiveness of the most recent SpaceFit system.

Specializing in one other of the Q990C’s claimed enhancements, its newest Adaptive Sound mode does as promised by retaining a greater stability when working at low volumes than it does with the Q990B. Particulars retain extra presence, serving to to make the low-volume soundstage appear busier and extra involving. It truly feels just like the audio system are extra delicate – a powerful feat to attain merely by way of a processing tweak. 

Logo detail of the Samsung HW-Q990C soundbar.
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The ultimate component of the Q990C’s film efficiency I attempted out (with a Samsung QN900C 8K TV) was its newest Q-Symphony system. I used to be pleasantly shocked to seek out the TV’s audio system matching effectively with these of the soundbar, at the very least as much as average volumes, leading to some welcome additional verticality to the entrance soundstage. Voices and centre-channel results have extra spatial precision in consequence, and the entrance soundstage feels extra stable – extra like a wall of sound.

The mismatch between the capabilities of the TV and soundbar audio system can begin to change into a slight challenge at excessive volumes, however total the brand new model of Q Symphony is impressively refined.

Samsung soundbars have historically struggled to average their epic high quality with films to ship a equally stellar music efficiency. The give attention to muscle has tended to be simply too robust. Issues began to enhance with the Q990B, although, at the very least in the best way its Adaptive mode remixed fundamental stereo tracks to benefit from all of the system’s audio system. And now the musicality of Samsung soundbars has improved once more – supplied, anyway, that you simply’re cautious about the place you place the Q990C’s subwoofer.

With the subwoofer positioned off to the facet of my couch as common and taking part in music in its default stereo format, it felt as if the Q990C’s efficiency with music was broadly consistent with that of the Q990B. So on the upside, it levels songs pretty effectively, and delivers them with ranges of energy and dynamic vary far past the capabilities of most common hi-fi methods. Element ranges are excessive with out sounding pressured too, and vocals are exceptionally clear. Vocals additionally usually, particularly with feminine singers, take pleasure in a pleasingly ‘hovering’ really feel. 

The Samsung HW-Q990C's subwoofer uses an Acoustic Lens design.
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On the draw back, dense, multi-track music can sound slightly muddy and overly dense – albeit barely much less so than with the Q990B due to the improved bass administration launched by the most recent SpaceFit Autocal characteristic.

As with the Q990B, with the sub in my default place the HW-Q990C makes music fairly fascinating with its Adaptive mode, due to the best way it reduces that sense of extreme density I discussed earlier and proves very intelligent about the best way it pushes completely different parts of a stereo combine to completely different channels. Actually, the outcomes generally actually sound like unique Dolby Atmos studio mixes (full with surprisingly efficient ‘overhead’ vocal steering every now and then). 

The Q990C’s tweaked Adaptive mode additionally ensures that music stays extra full of life and detailed at comparatively low volumes than it has tended to on earlier Samsung soundbar flagships.

The Adaptive mode doesn’t all the time sound completely proper. Its separation results can come on slightly too robust, making the combo all of a sudden sound a bit pressured and synthetic. Additionally, sometimes the Adaptive mode’s religion within the Q990C’s rear audio system could be too optimistic, feeding them parts of a mixture which can be slightly an excessive amount of for his or her drivers to deal with.

General, although, as with the Q990B, I usually discovered myself preferring to take heed to music within the Q990C’s Adaptive mode than Commonplace stereo. Or at the very least that was the case till I moved the soundbar in order that it was positioned nearer the primary soundbar, in entrance of my seating place, and let the SpaceFit Professional do its work once more. 

On this configuration, bass sounds extra responsive and higher balanced with the remainder of a stereo combine than it did with the subwoofer positioned in its extra distant place, instantly making it simpler to change into immersed in a stereo monitor. 

It nearly feels as if putting the subwoofer on this completely different spot has precipitated an adjustment to the soundbar’s ‘crossover’ level. Whether or not or not that’s the case, there’s definitely little question the distinction with the subwoofer positioned in a ahead place is palpable, and makes the HW-Q990C simply essentially the most musical Samsung flagship soundbar I’ve ever heard with stereo music. A lot in order that the Q990C could be thought-about a real all-rounder – even when its prowess over its rivals stays at its most pronounced with movie soundtracks.

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Must you purchase it?

You need a full {surround} sound system: The HW-Q990C supplies not solely bodily rear audio system, however rear audio system with side- and up-firing channels that meet up with comparable audio system constructed into the primary soundbar to ship a fantastically immersive and full ‘dome’ of Dolby Atmos sound.

You need 4K/120Hz move by way of: Sadly the HDMI move by way of system on the HW-Q990C can’t deal with the 4K/120Hz graphics feeds now you can get from Xbox Collection X, PS5s and high-end PC graphics playing cards.

Last Ideas

Regardless of the Samsung HW-Q990C not boasting actually any vital {hardware} modifications from its 2022 predecessor (except a slight color change floats your boat), it nonetheless manages to introduce some small however vital enhancements.

The brand new auto calibration system improves bass dealing with with each music and film sources, new music tuning enhances stereo playback (when you put the subwoofer in the precise place), and the most recent model of Samsung’s new Q-Symphony system joins forces extra successfully with the audio system in Samsung TVs than it has earlier than.

Whereas the Q990C’s enhancements over its predecessor could also be comparatively minor in contrast with earlier big steps, they’re are being made to a soundbar that was already fairly comfortably essentially the most highly effective, immersive and complete-sounding Dolby Atmos soundbar on the town. So in essence, the HW-Q990C is just the most effective made higher.

How we take a look at

We take a look at each soundbar system we overview totally over an prolonged time frame. We use trade commonplace assessments to check options correctly. We’ll all the time inform you what we discover. We by no means, ever, settle for cash to overview a product.

Discover out extra about how we take a look at in our ethics coverage.

Examined with actual world use

Examined for greater than per week


What number of channels of sound does the Samsung Q990C help?

16, delivered in an 11.1.4 configuration (the .1 being the bass channel, and the .4 referring to 4 up-firing channels to ship top results.

Does the Samsung HW-Q990C help the Dolby Atmos and DTS:X sound codecs?

Sure, each could be loved by way of the HDMI loop by way of or by way of your TV utilizing eARC supplied your TV has the required eARC and sound format help.

What’s Samsung Q Symphony?

This can be a characteristic that permits Samsung soundbars to affix forces with Samsung TVs, drawing on the audio processing energy of the TVs and getting the audio system within the TV to work alongside these within the soundbar for a bigger sound stage.







Measurement (Dimensions)



Launch Date

Mannequin Quantity

Sound Bar Channels

Driver (s)

Audio (Energy output)




Voice Assistant

Audio Codecs

Energy Consumption


Rear Speaker



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Jargon buster

Dolby Atmos

Dolby Atmos is an object-based audio format. It expands on 5.1 and seven.1 soundtracks by including overhead channels. Sounds are known as “audio objects”, of which there could be as much as 128 audio channels, and these ‘objects’ could be precisely positioned inside a 3D soundscape. This enables soundtracks that help the expertise to put sounds above and across the listener with appropriate equipment.


DTS:X is an object-based audio format created in 2015 for the house. The premise is much like Dolby Atmos in that it creates a hemisphere of sound that’s extra lifelike and pure in its presentation.

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