The HW-Q90R unit is Samsung’s all-singing, all-dancing 2019 flagship soundbar. Besides having the ability to support object-based audio formats in form of DTS:X as well as Dolby Atmos, it’s the only unit released in the year 2019 that came with rear speakers and had 4 upward-firing drivers. The soundbar also features Active and Game Pro sound features, as well as beefed-up sub. It’s definitely worth every penny.
On the other hand, Samsung’s California-based sound lab has been doing fantastic things over the past few years or so, and the new HW-Q70R is another great product they’ve managed to release to the public. This lab is what helped Samsung come up with their award-winning HW-M650 soundbar, the powerful Dolby-Atmos compatible HW-N850 and now the HW-Q70R. This new soundbar is meant to be able to keep with QLED TVs. If you’ve been following the naming structure Samsung has been using in the past, you’ll notice that the HW-Q70R is basically a revised version of the HW-N650. And even though this new model is a little pricier, the good thing is that it adds support for both DTS:X and Dolby Atmos. It also still widens the soundstage via the use of Acoustic Beaming technology.
If this soundbar unit from Samsung is something you think you may have come across before, that’s because it has an almost identical overall design-style to the HW-N950. Though, this is not a bad thing in any way seeing as how the HW-Q90R is both a well-manufactured, smartly-designed soundbar that has a beautiful ‘Carbon-Silver’ finish with sturdy metallic grilles. However, this might also be why most folks just end up going the HW-N950 route.
That being said, both the HW-N950 and HW-Q90R are fairly wide soundbar units, which is why they are the ideal companions to today’s big screen televisions. However, despite how big they generally are, the HW-Q90R device is still able its simple, unassuming overall design-style. If you want it to stay in a good position, you’ll need to ensure you have enough space under your telly so that it can sit comfortably in place. However, if that something you can’t do, or you just don’t have enough room under the TV for it, then you can always wall mount it. There’s an LED display on it that lights up when the device is taking in commands. There are a few controls at the top of the unit for the selection of inputs, volume adjustments and for switching it on/off.
Its remote looks just like the one that the HW-N950 comes with, however, like they say, if it isn’t broke don’t fix it, right? Anyway, it also keeps with the ergonomical design-style, including all the buttons you’ll need for smooth operation and ensuring dealing with the soundbar is an effective, highly-intuitive process. The rear speakers, just like the main unit, also have similar metallic grilles, and each of them has their own upward and forward-firing drivers, as well as built-in amps. Though, as much as they’re both wireless they’ll still need you to plug them in at some point.
The beefed-up sub unit has a side-firing, eight-inch driver, accompanied by a rear bass port. The whole sound unit has a beautiful, elegant finish, with dimensions that have been revised a bit to both improve and enhance both overall bass response as well as control.
The HW-Q70R looks almost exactly like its N650 counterpart. It’s a stylishly slim soundbar that has a relatively low form-factor, measuring in at about only 59-millimeteres high. Its build quality also does commensurate its relatively high price tag. It has an eye-catching metal finish to both the sides and the edges as well as metallic grilles at the front and top. While this device is primarily meant to be paired with the 2019 QLED TV from Samsung itself, given its 1100mm width, it’ll complement most other TV sets and not just the QLED. Even better, because it has such a low-profile, it should not block your TV screen. That being said, if you’d rather wall mount the soundbar, Samsung gives you dedicated paper templates, screws and brackets for that purpose.
On the front right-side of the device, you’ll find a simple LED feature that illuminates when the controls are used. It also provides some basic information on sound, inputs and volume settings. To the display’s right, on the end plate, you’ll find some other equally simple controls for volume, input selection and power.
The remote it comes with is the same one the company has been pairing with its soundbar products for the past few years, and it still manages to get the job done very well. It has an ergonomical design with a sensible button layout, making operation and setup as intuitive as possible. At the bottom, you’ll find a recessed area where all the connections are located, which include an optical digital sound input, a HDMI output (with ARC) and a HDMI input. For firm ware updates there’s a USB port, and a connector feature for its AC power adapter.
The HW-Q70R is also accompanied by a much bigger and newly designed wireless active sub that weighs in at around 9.8Kgs, measures about 205x403x40mm and has got an 8 inch side-firing driver. The sub and bar pair automatically, and bass levels can be tweaked through the remote control. Its wide body and sleek design can complement almost any TV set, and its beefed-up subwoofer and speaker layout promise immersive sound quality.
The HW-Q90R’s immersive sound capabilities is why a lot of people are searching for this particular soundbar unit, that’s why using it to play 2-channel music can be seen to be a little strange. But, this is still a great way to see what the unit is really capable of. If it can give you good stereo sound, then it can do even way more when other channels are added. In general, this soundbar’s Standard mode feature is at its very best when it’s being used to play music. “Where the Action Is”, a new album by Waterboy will show you how well-nuanced the sonic performance provided by this Samsung device is. Its sheer overall size gives it the ability to separate the rear speakers really well. This ends up resulting in precise music instrument location as well as impressive overall stereo imaging.
Certain tracks on this new album, like “London Mick”, contain an aggressive punk delivery. The HW-Q90R also provides extensive midrange presence when it comes to highlighting guitar riffs, while its souped-up sub provides you with tight, controlled drum sounds as well as voacls that beam out just right. However, that’s not all. It also handles multi-channel audio incredibly well. The sub and rear speakers will all be forced into action when it comes time to play 5.1 audio mixes. The rear channels help give rise to a sense of claustrophobia while the subwoofer adds low-frequencies which help generate that vacuum feeling. Its dedicated center speaker ensure dialogue stays both focused and clear.
As far as delivery of object-based soundtracks like DTS:X and Dolby Atmos, the HW-Q90R does, unsurprisingly, well. In fact, it really outdoes itself. When it comes to Dolby Atmos, when running something like a Live Aid recreation, at the end of the Bohemian Rhapsody performance, the device initiates all the channels available in order to give you that live rock show feel. The front 2 channels handle all the music, while all the side-firing drivers help to add width. The rears are dedicated to playing audience sound, while that echoey chasm of the huge Wimbledon Stadium is highlighted by the overheads. Live show recreations such as this one can help show you what this soundbar is all about when it comes to its musicality. It delivers all Queen’s songs with relative ease, highlighting them with incredible clarity and precision. The unit’s bass sound is particularly effective and helps drive all the songs forward.
The HW-Q70R soundbar offers up impressive sound performances, with the kind of bold and expansive soundscapes that lends itself to both games and movies. When using it to watch a movie, the dialogue is focused on the action, the effects are placed precisely across the front and music is spread out on both sides of the screen. Its upward-firing speakers are incredibly effective as well, creating the illusion that the sound being produced is coming from above. Meanwhile its newly redesigned sub gives the whole unit a serious bass sound boost. Although, this low frequency tone is never overpowering and it’s effectively integrated. This eventually results in a wall of sound coming from the front of your room.
Movies like “Overlord” which have highly-aggressive Dolby Atmos mixes will be delivered to the system’s full extent. The soundbar will use all the force it can to ensure you get the full mix. The parachute drop during the opening scene is a bunch of different sounds that surround your TV screen, in turn, helping create a full-frontal assault. And yet during all the chaos of war, dialogue between characters will still remain both as focused and as clear as ever.
The DTS:X mix in Jurassic Park is an outstanding masterclass in sound design. The HW-Q70R can more than deliver this dino-classic. You can hear the rain all around the room as the dinosaurs attack. The subwoofer gives each dino footstep its genuine weight, and the roar of these beasts are as loud as they are visceral. Any movie fan is sure to be very pleased with this soundbar, no doubt. And, as far as immersive sound is concerned, the only performance limitation this soundbar has is the overall sound’s front-heavy nature.
When the HW-Q70R is decoding a DTS:X or Dolby Atmos mix, its various sound mode features are turned off, however, they can be incredibly useful with content that’s less immersive. Its Adaptive Sound mode proves particularly effective when it comes to enhancing all content in general. It renders dialogue in a much more detail way giving a greater presence of the crowds in a sports broadcast. The Surround Sound is also the same. It uses overhead channels to come up with more enveloping experiences. Though, it doesn’t stop there because its Game Pro mode feature is equally as impressive as the rest of the modes we’ve just mentioned. You’re thrusted into the game world of whatever you happen to be playing. A “Red Dead Redemption” session will have you diving behind your sofa as revolver bullets ricochet all over the room.
Thanks to the Harmon Kardon involvement, the Samsung HW-Q70R soundbar offers great music performance as well. The device’s Standard sound mode feature will provide 2-channel sound with surprising subtlety. Kate Bush vocals are brought forward without sounding bright, while the gravel of Nick Cave’s voice is provided by the sub.
This unit’s headline feature is the DTS:X and Dolby Atmos support. However, what helps differentiate this soundbar from other soundbars on the market is how genuinely it can use 7.1.4-channel sound formats to give you object-based audio rather than using technologies such as Acoustic Beaming and Psychoacoustics to do so. The twelve speakers it has inside it is what helps it achieve all this. All these speaker are powered by seventeen drivers. The 2 woofers and wide-range tweeter make up the front channels and these are powered by a single driver each.
The speakers inside are divided into 12 separate channels, which include 1 subwwofer, 2 rear heights, 2 front heights, 2 rears, 2 sides, a single center piece an 1 front right and 1 front left (all of which use a built-in 512-Watt amp that has a claimed frequency response of about 34Hz – 17kHz.
However, its one major downside is that, besides having very efficient object-based decoding as well as sophisticated multi-channel delivery, its setup is rather simple and fairly basic. While this helps make it easier to install, it might hinder you from getting the best out of it. Samsung should’ve included for us some auto-calibration so we can ensure that it’s performing at optimum levels.
For connectivity, you’re provided with 2 HDMI ports and a single output. These all support High Dynamic range (Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG, HDR10+), 4K/60p, Rec.2020 and HDCP 2.2. These ensure that there’s almost nothing it isn’t capable of handling properly. Its single digital optical input feature is the only other physical connection it has. But, it has other wireless connectivity options you can choose from, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. Although, given that it’s a top-tier, high-end soundbar, it’s a bummer it doesn’t support Chromecast or Apple AirPlay. Anyway, at least you get great encoded sound with the Standard mode and all channels will be activated when on Surround mode.
The HW-Q70R soundbar features a 3.1.2-channel speaker configuration, that has a total power of 330-Watts and a frequency range of about 35Hz – 20kHz. It also has 3 forward-firing speakers, meaning dialogue will have a dedicated center channel. Its 2 upward-firing speakers literally bounce audio off the ceiling which, in turn, creates the illusion of an overhead channel. This is what the company calls Acoustic Beaming. Even though this technology can be incredibly effective, to get the best results from it you’ll need reflective, flat and low ceiling. Its newly designed wireless active sub uses an 8-inch, side-firing driver, accompanied by rear port designed to provide you impressive amounts of bass extensions for a sub and bar combination.
This Samsung soundbar also supports both DTS:X and Dolby Atmos. Both the subwoofer and soundbar can provide 1.1.2-channels straight from the box, however, you can also buy SWA-85005 (optional) if you want to add rear channels. This is the first Samsung soundbar that’s been released in 2019 to have been manufactured in conjunction with Harmon Kardon, the company’s subsidiary. The main testing and design was still done in the California-based Samsung Audio Lab, however, Harmon Kardon eventually tuned the resulting system.
Though, Samsung has really reduced the HW-Q70R’s connection capabilities. Although, at least ithas a HDMI port features that can handle HDCP 2.2, 4:4:4, 4K/60P as well as high dynamic range (more so Dolby Vision, HDR10+, HLG and HDR10). The one major downside concerning all of this is that it’s a bit of bummer getting only one HDMI port considering how pricey the device is.
The device has four sound modes, which are Adaptive, Game Pro, Surround and Standard Sound. The first one is a new feature that analyzes incoming sounds and then adapts the acoustics to provide the user the best audio performance on a scene-to-scene basis by using all the channels available. The Standard sound mode, however, leaves the sound as it was encoded. The Game Pro modes attempts to inject you into the gaming world you’re playing while Surround Sound gives you that sense of envelopment to TV dramas and movies.
You can also setup and operate the Samsung HW-Q70R via the SmartThings app. Although, Amazon Alexa can also work as well. The latter will give you hands-free control as well as provide you with access to Spotify Connect. Just ensure to rename it in the SmartThings app or Alexa won’t know what exactly to do. There is support for lossless and lossy sound formats including FLAC, AIFF, ALAC, OGG, WAV and AAC. For supporting devices there’s UHQ 32-bit upscaling.
The HW-Q90R unit is an outstanding full-on immersive soundbar that has some real oomph to it and packs a powerful punch. Thanks to the device’s 4 upward-firing drivers, wireless sub and wireless rears, this smartly-designed, well-made soundbar get you into all the action. There few soundbar units that support full Dolby Atmos and DTS:X performance and this is one of them. Furthermore, Harmon Kardon’s fine-tuning helps to ensure that music sound equally as good as well. And impressive set of features as well as fully specified HDMI ports complete this almost flawless package.
The HW-Q70R soundbar is also an outstanding product and it shows how far Samsung has come in this space in the last few years. Teaming up with Harman Kardon has definitely paid huge dividends so far, helping them come up with both a subwoofer and soundbar unit that is extremely musical. But, where this device truly shines is with movies, and this is in large part due to its 3.1.2-channel configuration, as well as the DTS:X and Dolby Atmos support. It has highly-effective upward-firing drivers, a redesigned subwoofer unit that provides some serious bass sound and ensures all dialogue retains its clarity.
The soundscape that is brought forth because of all this is a huge and open one, lending itself to big TV screen sizes. True, it might be a tad bit too front-heavy, although that’s expected seeing as how it doesn’t have rear speakers. That being said, once you consider features, build quality and looks, this is an incredibly solid midrange combination.
Both speakers are out of this world and you won’t go wrong with either.