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Although the all-in-one package has many features, it lacks one major one.
Buying a soundbar, subwoofer, and back speakers individually is the norm when shopping for a home theater setup. While some manufacturers bundle subwoofers with soundbars, even the most expensive models sometimes have something you need for immersive audio. The HW-Q990C soundbar from Samsung ($1,900) has all those extra speakers, but you’re paying a premium. Crisp 11.1.4-channel Sound can be yours in your living room with the help of the company’s Dolby Atmos, various audio settings, and two HDMI ports. Although the Q990C is expensive, it is a comprehensive solution.
The Q990C is the largest and most luxurious soundbar currently offered by Samsung. The Sony HT-A7000 has a width of 49.5 inches, while this one is narrower by nearly three inches. Naturally, businesses want the additional room on flagship versions to accommodate all speakers. Eleven front-firing speakers (some side-firing), four up-firing drivers, and an inbuilt subwoofer are all part of Samsung’s Q990C. The separate wireless sub is likewise significant, measuring 16 by 16 by 8 inches and weighing 26 pounds. The wireless back speakers may not be the largest, but they outshine the competition with a three-driver arrangement that includes front, side, and up-firing drivers.
The soundbar and back speakers were both covered in mesh plastic by Samsung. Unlike regular speaker fabric, it’s much simpler to clean. Thanks to Samsung, even the soundbar itself is minimalist, with only four buttons on top. A multi-function button that activates the speaker and switches between input sources is located here. Mute the microphone and adjust the volume. A screen on the right side of the device, visible from the front, will show you various settings, input data, and volume levels. The Q990C’s side panels, which are at right angles to each other, instead track the location of the angled speakers to the side.
The Q990C’s first setup was one of the simplest I’ve ever done for a home theater system. Turning on the subwoofer and back speakers is as simple as turning on the soundbar and connecting it to the SmartThings app. There’s no need to connect each item separately, and there’s no waiting for anything to sync. Although I never needed them, the sub and rears had buttons for manual connection to the soundbar. It is easy and fast, so you may start listening to music or watching movies when you open the box.
Not only does this Samsung flagship speaker have an HDMI eARC connector for connecting your TV, but it also has two more HDMI inputs. While the more expensive models usually come with extra options for connecting straight to the speaker, many smaller and cheaper models only have the eARC connection, so you’ll have to use your TV’s connections. Since the Q990C lacks HDMI 2.1, Samsung states that 4K/60 and HDR10+ passthrough are possible, but 4K/120 is out of the question. In 2023, that is a significant missing feature in a $1,900 soundbar.
The Q990C has several convenient features, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and an optical input. The latter adds support for AirPlay, Spotify Connect, and Tidal. Additionally, it enables wireless audio connectivity with compatible Samsung TVs. If your TV is flush with the wall, you can connect it to the soundbar and enjoy Dolby Atmos without connecting any cords from your TV. In addition, the Q990C may be wirelessly connected to your phone through Bluetooth with the help of Samsung’s Tap Sound feature, which activates when you lightly touch the speaker with your phone. I couldn’t test this because I use an iPhone.
features, including the SmartThings app
You may adjust the Q990C’s settings and get setup assistance through the SmartThings app. At the top of the device screen are the controls for the current input and volume, while the settings for the woofer level, equalization, and sound modes are slightly below. Active Voice Amplifier reduces ambient noise by enhancing in-game speech, and SpaceFit Sound adjusts the audio automatically based on the room’s dimensions. Voice and bass augmentation, as well as a Night Mode, are available in the advanced options menu, but they are all just toggles that cannot be customized further. You can use Bixby or Alexa as the speech assistant on the soundbar through SmartThings.
Four different sound modes are available on Samsung products: Standard, Surround, Game Pro, and Adaptive Sound. Only in the first mode is the utterly adjustable equalizer accessible; in the others, you can only tune the bass and treble. The audio is left unaltered in the second mode. All the others get their 2.0, 5.1, or 7.1 audio boosted by the Q990C to the soundbar’s 11.1.4-channel output. 11.1.4 is also used for all Dolby Atmos and DTS:X content. While Surround mode does what it says, Game Pro adds 3D-optimized Sound for a more immersive gaming experience. Adaptive Sound is my go-to feature for movies, news, and sports since it instantly analyzes audio and adjusts the volume so that dialogue is audible at all levels. It was also the best-sounding music setting,
In addition to the app’s mode selection, the bundled remote has a dedicated button for cycling among the available sound modes. A Sound Control button, identified with the settings/gear symbol, provides access to SpaceFit Sound, Active Voice Amplifier, Voice Enhancement, and further features. By utilizing the Channel Level button, one can modulate the volume of every individual speaker. The available levels include Center, Side, Wide, Front Top, Rear, Rear Top, and Rear Side. Tone Control is another button, making it easy to adjust the bass and treble with the push of a button. These features are in addition to the usual ones found on most soundbar remote controls, such as power, input, volume (both overall and subwoofer), mute, pairing, and playback options.
Almost all television shows and movies seem more lifelike when played on the Q990C than in stereo or with a 5.1 setup. For those of us on the more inexpensive monthly fee, Netflix’s Drive To Survive still sounds fantastic with this soundbar. It’s provided in Dolby Atmos on the most expensive Ultra HD plan. Pitlane sounds, cracking wrecks, and the hum of the vehicles, as they speed past, enhance the already excellent series. With Atmos, you can enjoy the incredible sound quality of Marvel series and movies on Disney+.
Without a doubt, this is the most immersive home theater experience I’ve ever had. The extra drivers in the back speakers make the Sound seem higher overhead, providing a lot more directionality to the Sound than regular single-driver units. Fight sequences like the one at the beginning of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier are incredibly chaotic and loud. Still, they make you feel like you’re there, hearing every gunshot, punch, and thud as the helicopters fly over the canyon.
For audiophiles, the Q990C is an excellent choice. Powerful, punchy bass and crisp, clean highs work well with almost any genre. “Everyday Is Christmas” by Sia and similar songs sound layered, not compressed, even when turned down a little. The bassline isn’t too heavy, and the vocals are audible. A Cat in the Rain by the Turnpike Troubadours is similar in that it features solos from each band member over a backdrop of country-rock vocals and snare beats. The massive subwoofer’s bass is audible but not overdone; it’s explosive yet never muddled or flat.
The newest flagship soundbar from Samsung is a sonic monster. Plus, the back speakers and subwoofer you’ll need to maximize its potential are already included in the box. You can acquire the whole system, which is simple to set up and modify as needed, for the price of a single soundbar from some of the company’s major rivals. Assuming you have the room for the bundle, the Sound is fantastic, and the Atmos content is just as straightforward and immersive as before. Gaming performance is negatively impacted by the absence of HDMI 2.1, a noticeable oversight on a high-quality soundbar nowadays. Even at the sale pricing, the Q990C isn’t inexpensive, but you’re saving money by purchasing all the necessary components simultaneously.