The HW-Q70R soundbar is a product of the Samsung Audio Lab based in California. This sound lab, over the past couple of years, has managed to do outstanding things. They can be credited for releasing to the world the award-winning Samsung HW-M650, the HW-N650 as well as the Samsung soundbar we’re reviewing in this article. The year 2019 has seen the rise in popularity of the QLED TV screens, and this soundbar was specifically designed to pair with such. People that have followed the naming structure has been using will notice that this new soundbar we’re looking at is more or less a revised HW-N650. And, even though it’s a tad bit pricier than its predecessor, it can work with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. It also has Acoustic Beaming tech that helps widen soundscape.
Sonos, on the other hand, are well-known for coming up with fantastic audio accessories and the Sonos Playbar is no different. Even though it’s also a relatively pricey soundbar product, it’s still worth every penny. Okay, yes, unlike the Samsung HW-Q90R, it doesn’t come with a sub, however, it still offers up a bass sound that has plenty of rumble behind it. But that’s not all. Both the mids and high-frequency sounds is provides are also clean and sweet as well.
This soundbar and the HW-N650 look almost exactly alike. They’re both stylish and slim Samsung soundbars that have relatively low form-factors. The HW-Q70R is around 59-millimeteres tall and has an overall build quality that matches its high price tag. Its metallic finish looks outstanding with the sides, edges and metallic grilles looking really good. Samsung recently unleashed to the world their new QLED TV screens and this soundbar is one of the products that was meant specifically to pair with them, given how wide it is measuring at around 1100mm. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t pair this soundbar with other TV sets. Even better, the device’s low-profile design means you won’t have to worry about it blocking your TV screen. With that said, if you’re the type that wants your sound wall mounted, then you’ll be happy to know that the company includes paper templates, brackets and screws in the package so that you can make this happen.
At the front, there’s a small LED display which illuminates whenever its controls are being used. That same feature also gives the user some basic info on inputs, sound as well as volume settings. On the right-side of the display, at the end of the plate, there some simple control settings for volume adjustment, input selection and power. Samsung continues to use the same remote it has been using on its soundbars for years now, and it still gets the job done extremely well even on this soundbar. Its ergonomical design-style and sensible button layout helps make both setup and operation very intuitive. At the bottom, there’s a recessed area on the soundbar where you’ll find all the device’s connection features. These are; a single digital optical input, one HDMI output port that has ARC and one HDMI input port. For firmware updates, you’ve got access to a USB port, and there’s also a connector port for an AC power adapter.
This soundbar from Samsung also comes with a big, wireless active subwoofer that has a weight of about 9.8-kilograms, measures around 204x403x40millimeteres and is accompanied by an eight-inch side-firing driver. The subwoofer and soundbar itself pair automatically, and you can use the remote control to adjust the bass levels to your liking. The soundbar’s stylish overall design-style and wide body helps make it a unit that can complement any home entertainment setup, and it ensures you get the most immersive sound with the help of its souped-up subwoofer.
This soundbar from Sonos is the first of its kind. This is was Sonos’ first soundbar product to have been released. I’m sure you’re now wondering whether their soundbars are as good as their smart speakers for music, right? Well, we’re here to tell you that they happen to be just as good, so don’t worry too much. The huge manufacturing and engineering advances have resulted in rise of much more advanced and better TV screens. Although, as much as they kill it in the aesthetics department, you can’t really say that about sound. That’s why soundbars such as this one are slowly becoming a must-have.
The Sonos Playbar has a sophisticated and elegant all-in-one design that blends together high-performance speaker fabrics with exposed aluminum for a timeless and understated look. Because it doesn’t need a speaker wire or subwoofer, it can comfortably and easily fit into literally any home entertainment setup. It has in-built sensors that help it adjust EQ automatically. Designed for easy use and setup, it uses one optical cable to connect to the television set.
This Samsung soundbar provides its user with incredible sound performances. It has that bold and expansive soundscape capability that lends itself to everything from games to movies. When being used to watch a TV drama or movie, the dialogue is brought forth with crystal clarity, music is evenly spread out and sound effects can be heard coming from the front. It has upward-firing speakers that do an incredible job at making you feel as if sound is coming from above the room, and its new redesigned woofer gives that much needed bass sound boost. It doesn’t have an overpowering low-frequency tone and the sub has been effectively integrated. This ends up giving the user a wall of audio that comes from the front of the room.
Movies with very aggressive Dolby Atmos mixes, such as “Overlord”, the soundbar will deliver to its full extent. It’ll do all it can to make sure the full mix is displayed to the user. In this movie, the opening scene’s parachute drop is a bunch of many different sounds which will seem to surround the whole room, helping create the feeling of a full-frontal assault. An yet, even in the mayhem of war, character dialogue still remains incredibly clear and focused.
Jurassic Park’s DTS:X mix is basically a sound design masterclass. This Samsung soundbar does extremely well with this dinosaur classic. The rain can be heard falling all around your living room as the dino beasts attack their victims. The woofer give the beasts’ footsteps their genuine weight, and their roars are both as loud and visceral as ever. If you’re a true movie fan, then this soundbar should really be able to do it for you. And, when it comes to full-on immersive sound capability, the only limitation in performance this unit has is the fact that it’s a bit front-heavy on the sound.
When the HW-Q70R soundbar is decoding Dolby Atmos or DTS:X mixes, sound mode features are switched off. But, with less immersive content it can sometimes prove incredibly useful. Although as far as the enhancement of generally all types of content, its Adaptive Sound feature is particularly effective at this. It displays character dialogue in a more detailed way, in turn, giving the audiences in sports broadcasts a greater presence. This is something also Surround Sound does extremely well. It provides more enveloping sound to the listener using overhead channels. Although, there’s still a lot more the soundbar can do because it also has Game Pro mode, which every bit as impressive as the other modes we’ve just talked about above. It thrusts you right into the world of whichever game you happen to be playing. “Red Dead Redemption” sessions will have you hiding behind your couch as revolver bullets fly all over the room.
Thanks to the company’s subsidiary, Harmon Kardon, the HW-Q70R device offers fantastic musical performances as well. The unit’s Standard Sound feature provides you with 2-channel audio that surprisingly subtle. The brightness of Kate Bush vocals can be heard very well, while that gravel voice of Nick Cave is effortlessly delivered by the unit’s beefed-up woofer.
You might not notice any difference when watching something like news using the Playbar, and yes, while everything the news anchor is saying might sound a tab bit richer, did you really almost break your bank getting something that made the weather man sound better? We doubt it. When music played from the soundbar mesmerizes you at how delightfully deep the tracks being played sound, it’s at this moment is when you realize why you paid what you did for the device. Sure, it might not have powerful punches at the bottom end (though, something that can be fixed with the addition of a Sonos sub), the stereo separation it provides is outstanding for a single unit soundbar product. This is in large part because of the unit’s side-firing speakers.
This unit’s sound in one word is ‘assured’. Not only will you ever doubt whether the device can deliver tricky percussions, soaring voice work or full bass sounds, but it’s also special because it does this effortlessly without any strain at all. You won’t ever feel like your soundbar is out of its depth or it’s trying too hard to do something it can’t. It’ll always sound precise, clean, neutral without any sliding sullenness. The same goes for when you’re using the device to watch well-made and well-developed TV drama or films. If all you’ve ever used is the television’s built-in speakers when watching movies and such, then once you’ve connected the soundbar you’ll notice its delightful detail and depth in the soundstage it offers up. Again, if the only thing you’re using the soundbar is to watch speech-based content like say Suits, then the differences will be less noticeable to you. Although you’ll still get a much fuller sound from the soundbar than you will with the TV speakers.
If action flicks are more of your thing, you might feel a bit slighted when you realize you aren’t getting the oomph you expected. The lack of Michael Bay bangs at low end frequencies will probably leave you a tad bit underwhelmed. But, it isn’t the device doesn’t have enough bass sound, or that what you happen to be watching has bad or unimpressive sound quality. It is that you may not get that full-on visceral rumble sounds you get when you’re catching a flick at the cinemas. Though, there are some few interesting tricks it has up its sleeve, one of them being Night mode.
The Night Mode features crushes the dynamic range of the device’s output, in turn, enhancing the more softer sounds and reducing the volume of the much louder sounds, so sleeping neighbors and children aren’t disturbed. The speech enhancement feature kind of works the exact same way to this, and it’s great when being used to listen to music. It also does a wonderful job at picking out character vocals and speech that may have been buried in certain flicks and TV dramas.
This soundbar uses a 3.1.2-channel configuration, with 35Hz-20kHz frequency range and 330-watts of total power. Its 3 forward-firing speakers ensures that character dialogue will be delivered via a single dedicated center channel. Meanwhile, the 2 upward-firing speakers on it will literally bounces sound off your living room’s ceiling, in turn, making it sound like there’s an overhead channel. This is Samsung’s Acoustic Beaming technology. Even though this new tech by Samsung can prove very effective, if you want to get the best possible results from it then you will need to have ceilings that are reflective, low and flat. Its newly designed, souped-up wireless woofer employs the use of an eight-inch, side-firing driver which is meant to provide users with impressive bass sound extensions for the woofer and bar combo.
This unit is also Dolby Atmos as well as DTS:X compatible. Both the woofer and bar itself provide you with 1.1.2-channel configuration directly from the package, but you can also get your hands on SWA-85005 devices if you’re looking to make rear channel additions. This is the first of Samsung’s soundbars released last year (2019) that have been made and developed with the help of their subsidiary, Harmon Kardon.
Although Samsung has reduced the device’s connection capabilities, at least you still have access to a HDMI port that can manage High Dynamic Range as well as HDCP 2.2, 4K/60P and 4:4:4. Though it’s still really disappointing getting only one HDMI port when you’re basically breaking the bank to get this device.
Its four sound mode features; Game Pro, Adaptive, Standard and Surround Sound, all work really well. Adaptive sound is a new feature designed to analyze incoming audio and then adapting the sound’s acoustics to ensure users get the scene-by-scene audio performances by using all the unit’s available channels. However, its Standard Sound Mode feature doesn’t tamper with encoded sounds and leaves it as it is.
The SmartThings app can be used to help operate as well as setup the soundbar. Though, Amazon’s Alexa assistant is also capable of doing the same. The latter gives users hands-free control of the device as well as access to the popular Spotify Connect. Just make sure you’ve renamed it in your SmartThings app so Alexa doesn’t get confused. The soundbar also supports both lossless and lossy audio configurations including ALAC, AIFF, FLAC, AAC, WAV and OGG.
This soundbar, being a Sonos sound product, can be connected to a network of Sonos speaker units. Furthermore, the Sonos applications for PC, iPhone, Mac, iPad and Android can stream music content that’s been stored in other areas of the network as well as music from Spotify, Rdio and Last.fm directly to the soundbar. Once configured, you can use the controller application to send sound to the speaker units all over the house. These can also be zonally grouped and then sent simultaneously to multiple speaker units.
The highly-regarded Sonos Play:5 and Sonos Play:3, in conjunction with the Playbar can be your gateway to having a fully wireless multi-room smart audio system. If you’re the type that uses Apple products a lot, say like Macs, iPads and iPhones, then Apple’s AirPlay is something you should strongly consider using. In fact, this might even be the most ideal option for you because this technology has been built directly into the device’s system, meaning that you won’t require the help of the Sonos application to control things. Furthermore, while you’ll only be limited to 3 models when you go the Sonos app route, Apple’s AirPlay will allow you to pair speaker units manufactured by different companies together.
Setting up the Sonos Playbar is also relatively straightforward and simple as well. Although, if you’ve never used a network of Sonos smart speakers before (or even just one for that matter), then you’ll require the help of an Ethernet cord for direct connection to the router. Though, you can also get a Bridge and then use this to connect to your router. Once you’ve finished doing this, launch the controller and then follow the instructions given to you. Keep in mind, this Sonos product only provides on optical input. At the back, you’ll find an IR repeater which is there to transfer commands to the front sensors.
The Samsung sounbar is generally a fantastic audio product that shows how far the company has come over the last couple of years. Working hand-in-hand with their subsidiary, Harmon Kardon, was definitely a very good decision on their part because it has helped them create a soundbar unit that’s very musical. However, where the unit truly stands out is when used to watch movies. And, its 3.1.2-channel setup, alongside it DTS:X and Dolby compatibility is a huge reason why. Its highly-effective upward-firing drivers and beefed up woofer for serious bass ensure you get the best sound experiences possible.
Honestly speaking, Sonos has done a great job with this soundbar and it looks like their first time out in this space was a great success. They produced a soundbar that can gel well with other Sonos smart speakers ensuring you get a good multi-room system. It outstanding just as it is, though some might feel like the bass sound is still underwhelming. Though, you can add a subwoofer if you want more prominent bass. However, this where the Samsung soundbar one ups the Sonos one, and this is why we’ll give it up to Samsung and its HW-Q70R this time around.