Tom's Guide Verdict
The Samsung HW-Q990B is a powerful soundbar with built-in Dolby Atmos. While we wish it had a UI and some streaming apps of its own, its impressive Dolby Atmos performance is enough to warrant an audition in your home theater.
Impressive Dolby Atmos
Two HDMI inputs
Easy to set up
Missing UI and streaming apps
Weak 5.1 surround
Troubling disconnecting issues
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Price: $1,599 / £1,299 / AU$1,999
Ports: 2x HDMI in; 1x HDMI out (eARC/ARC); Digital optical;
Audio channels: 11.1.4
Audio formats: Dolby Atmos; Dolby Digital; DTS-HD; DTS:X
Power output: 656W
Wireless: AirPlay 2; Bluetooth SBC, AAC, Spotify Connect
Smart assistant: Alexa; Google Assistant
Dimensions: 48.5 x 2.7 x 5.4 inches (soundbar); 5.1 x 7.9 x 5.5 inches (surrounds); 8.7 x 16.3 x 16.1 inches (subwoofer)
Weight: 17 pounds (soundbar); 25.8 pounds (subwoofer); 7.5 pounds (each surround)
Wall mountable: Yes
The Samsung HW-Q990B is the equivalent of the old home theater in a box packages. Buy one and right out of the box you have yourself an 11.1.4 surround sound system that is powerful and sleek while still being easy to set up and install.
At $1,599 it’s one the most expensive soundbar that Samsung makes, however, it’s a few hundred dollars cheaper than the LG S95QR Dolby Atmos soundbar that also came out last year and can only deliver 9.1.5 channels of sound.
Despite being a fair bit better than the S95QR, there are some easy nitpicks with the Samsung HW-Q990B that prevent it from being perfect — there’s no on-board streaming apps which means you’ll need a source that’s capable of streaming Dolby Atmos audio if you want to hear it, and no graphical UI makes it difficult to tweak the settings.
While it was never something we experienced during our lengthy two-month-long testing period, other users have reported serious issues with the soundbar’s connectivity and claim that both the rear speakers and subwoofer periodically disconnect. We aren’t going to count those complaints about the soundbar without knowing how widespread the issue is, but we do feel like it’s worth mentioning here in case you’re worried about it happening to you.
Samsung HW-Q990B review: Price and release date
The Samsung HW-Q990B is Samsung’s flagship 2022 soundbar. It will be replaced in 2023 with a newer model (the Samsung HW-Q990C) but for now it’s the top ‘bar from Samsung you can buy.
In terms of price, the Samsung HW-Q990B costs $1,599 / £1,299 / AU$1,999 depending on which region you live in. For a multi-channel soundbar like this, that’s par for the course, but it is significantly more expensive than, say, the Sonos Arc or Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 that each cost under $1,000.
Samsung HW-Q990B review: Design
So what’s the reason the Samsung HW-Q990B is so pricey? Well, not only does it come with a solid central ‘bar that’s 48.5 inches across, but it comes with two beefy satellite speakers and a 25.8 pound subwoofer. Given their size and weight, the soundbar fits best under a 55- or 65-inch screen while the sub is best suited for the floor wherever you can find the space.
In terms of design, the HW-Q990B comes in all black with a plastic grille covering the front of the soundbar. The grille is designed in such a way that you can see the soundbar’s 22(!) drivers, which look pretty neat. It’s not just good-looking, however. Because the soundbar comes with wireless satellite speakers and a subwoofer, you’re able to be pretty flexible in your placement. Though, just be warned, place the satellite speakers too far away, and you might not get the best surround sound performance.
Flip it over and you’ll find all the inputs and outputs. What’s nice is that there are two HDMI inputs here that can pass 4K HDR signal to the TV and one eARC HDMI output that you’ll need to connect to the eARC port on your TV for Dolby Atmos support. If you don’t want Atmos, you can use the digital optical out port or you can skip the wires all together by connecting it to your Samsung TV wirelessly via Bluetooth. If you want to stream music, you can do so by AirPlay 2, but not via Chromecast.
To control the soundbar, you can of course use your regular TV remote if you’re connected via ARC/eARC or you can use the included Samsung remote. The remote itself is on the basic side, but it’s the fastest way to change between audio modes. Unfortunately, there’s no built-in user interface and no built-in streaming apps like you could find on some other high-end soundbars, so you’ll have to navigate the settings via the remote and small LED screen on the front of the soundbar.
Samsung HW-Q990B review: Performance
With 656W of total power, it’s hard not to be impressed by the output of this speaker. Setting it at volume level 10 made dialogue crystal clear. At volume level 15, you could start to hear some great background details you’d miss out on by using a TV’s built-in speakers. By volume level 20 or 25, the room would start to shake from the bass response. If you like your soundbars loud and don’t have neighbors to worry about, you’re going to love it.
In terms of clarity and depth of sound, there’s a lot to like here. Playing any sort of music on the speaker envelops you in a wide soundstage with nuanced mids and highs and hefty low-end. I chose to boost the bass slightly to get even more of the sub-bass to come out, but you don’t have to tweak much as the out-of-the-box sound is pretty good.
I do recommend changing out of the standard mode to the Adaptive Sound mode as quickly as you can. When activated, Adaptive Sound will use built-in microphones to adapt the sound to your living room and can help boost the height speakers. I do wish that it would help boost the surround sound speakers, as my living room layout forces me to put the satellite speakers further back than is optimal, and the extra boost would’ve been handy.
When viewing content with a Dolby Atmos audio track on Apple TV, we were impressed with the immersiveness of the sound. The height effects came through clearly and while I couldn’t quite get that pristine sound bubble that I can achieve with actual overhead speakers, what you’ll get is a great facsimile. Audio tracks mastered for 5.1 and 7.1 surround also sound good, but again the low-powered satellite speakers didn’t quite deliver what I was looking for.
Overall, I’d say if you have a tricky living room configuration or you don’t want to invest in the cabling necessary for an AV receiver and floorstanding speakers, the HW-Q990B delivers admirable sound with lots of detail in the dialogue and solid surround sound without wires.
Samsung HW-Q990B review: Verdict
I’m a sucker for multi-channel soundbars that are easy to set up thanks to wireless satellites and a sturdy wireless subwoofer. The Samsung HW-Q990B delivers a simple-to-setup solution that delivers detailed audio and impressive Dolby Atmos sound. It’s not quite as feature-complete as I’d like at this price point, but if you’re looking for a strong soundbar that can rattle the windows, the Samsung HW-Q990B is worth auditioning in your home theater.
Nick Pino heads up the TV and AV verticals at Tom's Guide and covers everything from OLED TVs to the latest wireless headphones. He was formerly the Senior Editor, TV and AV at TechRadar (Tom's Guide's sister site) and has previously written for GamesRadar, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade. Not sure which TV you should buy? Drop him an email or tweet him on Twitter and he can help you out.
Guys! There is a phone app for this sound bar, which allows you to tweak the settings to your heart's delight, including boosting rear speakers among many other settings. I can't believe the reviewer was apparently completely unaware of this. I never use the remote for anything.admin said:This 11.1.4 Dolby Atmos soundbar offers premium sound in an easy-to-setup package — but it is missing a few features.
Samsung HW-Q990B 11.1.4 Dolby Atmos Soundbar review : Read more
^^ Exactly this! This is a pretty hefty omission from the author here. There are pretty robust options in the SmartThings app to customize until your hearts content.Reply
The reviewers had the bar for 2 months but didn't realise you can adjust the volume of the rear speakers.Reply
You have rear height rear side and rear volume which you can adjust to +6 which is quite loud I have mine on +2 due to being close to me.
All options can be adjusted via the remote or the smart things app which you can control easily through your mobile.
In future please review things correctly or only allow people that are a little tech savvy do these reviews.
Who remembers when Tom’s lead the industry, and knew what they were doing?Reply
Even worse is that they don't even appear to read these comments so they can update their severely flawed review.Reply
Only bad thing is that subwoofer is good but not punchyReply