Samsung HW-Q850A Soundbar Review

Tested using Methodology v1.0
Reviewed May 19, 2021 at 10:03 am
Samsung HW-Q850A Picture
7.9
Mixed Usage
8.1
Dialogue/TV Shows
7.7
Music
7.9
Movies
Channels
5.1.2

The Samsung HW-Q850A is a 5.1.2 setup released in 2021. It's the upgraded version of the Samsung HW-Q850T, and it comes with some new features, including support for Apple AirPlay 2. It also comes with some sound enhancement features that we don't test, including Q-Symphony and SpaceFit Sound, which sync the bar with compatible Samsung TVs to create a more immersive sound. Out-of-the-box, it has a pretty neutral sound profile, though it lacks a bit of thump and punch in the bass range. Fortunately, there are lots of sound customization features available, including a graphic EQ and presets.

Our Verdict

7.9 Mixed Usage

The Samsung HW-Q850A is very good for mixed usage. This soundbar has a pretty neutral sound profile out-of-the-box, and while it lacks some bass, it comes with lots of sound customization features to help you adjust its sound. Its discrete surround speakers can accurately localize surround objects like voices and footsteps in the soundstage. It also supports Dolby Atmos content, and it gets loud. However, there's some compression present when you play it at max volume.

Pros
  • Graphic EQ and presets.
  • Gets loud.
  • Discrete surround speakers.
Cons
  • Compression artifacts at max volume.
8.1 Dialogue/TV Shows

The Samsung HW-Q850A is great for dialogue-centric content like TV shows. Thanks to its dedicated center channel and balanced mid-range, it can reproduce voices clearly and accurately. There's even an Active Voice Amplifier feature available to help make dialogue more clear and crisp, as well as an auto-volume mode to balance the volume level across different programs. You can also stream podcasts and audiobooks from your phone to the bar wirelessly via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Apple AirPlay 2, but it doesn't support Chromecast built-in.

Pros
  • Dialogue enhancement feature.
  • Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Apple AirPlay 2 compatibility.
Cons
  • No Chromecast built-in.
7.7 Music

The Samsung HW-Q850A is good for music. Out-of-the-box, it can reproduce vocals and lead instruments clearly and accurately, though it struggles to reproduce a thumpy and punchy bass. Fortunately, there are lots of sound customization features available, including a graphic EQ and presets. It gets pretty loud, but there are some compression artifacts when you play it at max volume.

Pros
  • Graphic EQ and presets.
  • Gets loud.
Cons
  • Compression artifacts at max volume.
7.9 Movies

The Samsung HW-Q850A is very good for movies. Out-of-the-box, its balanced mid-range ensures dialogue reproduces clearly. However, it lacks some thump and punch in the bass range, so you may not feel the deep rumbles in action-packed scenes. On the upside, its discrete surround speakers help to accurately localize surround objects in the soundstage, and it uses its up-firing speakers to play Dolby Atmos content. Also, it comes with a graphic EQ and presets to help you customize its sound.

Pros
  • Gets loud.
  • Discrete surround speakers.
Cons
  • Compression artifacts at max volume.
  • 7.9 Mixed Usage
  • 8.1 Dialogue/TV Shows
  • 7.7 Music
  • 7.9 Movies
  1. Updated May 19, 2021: Review published.
  2. Updated May 17, 2021: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Market Context
Market Context
Market Context

The Samsung HW-Q850A is a 5.1.2 setup from the company's 2021 lineup that's the upgraded version of the 2020 Samsung HW-Q850T. It comes with built-in Alexa voice assistant support as well as some sound enhancement features that we don't test, including Q-Symphony and SpaceFit Sound. It also has Acoustic Beam technology built-in, which creates a more immersive sound. Its main competitors are the LG SN10YG, the Vizio SB36512-F6, and the Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers.

Design
Design
Style - Bar

The Samsung HW-Q850A has a sleek, simple design. There's a metal grille covering the top and front sides, and the rest of the bar is made of plastic. There are touch-sensitive control buttons on the top middle of the bar.

Design
Style - Subwoofer

The sub is mostly made of wood. There's also thin fabric covering one side.

Design
Style - Satellites

The satellites have a metal grille covering their front and sides. There's plastic on the top and bottom. They connect to a wireless receiver module through a wired connection.

Design
Dimensions - Bar
Width 38.6" (98.0 cm)
Height 2.4" (6.0 cm)
Depth 4.5" (11.5 cm)

The Samsung HW-Q850A likely won't fit between the legs of a 55" TV. That said, it also isn't very tall, so it shouldn't block your TV screen unless your TV sits flush on the table.

Design
Dimensions - Subwoofer
Width 8.0" (20.4 cm)
Height 15.8" (40.1 cm)
Depth 15.8" (40.1 cm)

The sub is the same size as the Samsung HW-Q850T's sub. It connects to the bar wirelessly, so you can place it anywhere in your room as long as you connect it to a power source.

Design
Dimensions - Satellites
Width 3.5" (9.0 cm)
Height 5.8" (14.8 cm)
Depth 3.5" (9.0 cm)

The satellites aren't very big. They connect to the bar wirelessly, but you need to wire them to their receiver module to get them to work.

Design
Back - Bar
Bar Mounting
Universal (holes on underside)

The back of the bar has two openings for the inputs and the power cable. There are also universal holes on the underside, so you can wall-mount it.

Design
Back - Subwoofer
Enclosure
Ported

There's a plastic port on the back of the sub, as well as the input for the power cable and a pairing button.

Design
Back - Satellites
Mounting
Universal (holes on back)

On the back of the satellites, there are inputs to wire them to the receiver module. There are also universal holes so you can wall-mount them.

8.0
Design
Build Quality

The Samsung HW-Q850A has an impressive build quality. The metal grilles on the bar and the satellites help to protect the drivers inside. The rest of the bar and the satellites are plastic, which feels solid and durable. The subwoofer is mostly wood. However, the thin fabric covering the front of the sub seems like it could rip or get dirty easily.

Design
In The Box
HDMI Cable Length
1.5 m (4.9 ft)
Digital Optical Cable Length
N/A

  • AC/DC adapter
  • 2x power cables
  • Power cord (wireless receiver module)
  • HDMI cable
  • 2x speaker wire for satellites
  • Wall mount guide
  • 2x wall mount brackets
  • 2x holder screw and screws
  • Rubber foot
  • Remote with batteries (2x AA)
  • Manual

Sound
8.0
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response
Tested Preset
Standard
Slope
0.92
Std. Err.
3.24 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
33.2 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
19.9 kHz

The Samsung HW-Q850A has a great stereo frequency response. Out-of-the-box, it offers neutral, balanced mid and treble ranges, so vocals and lead instruments are reproduced clearly and accurately. That said, it struggles to reproduce a thumpy, punchy bass, so you don't feel the deep rumbles in action-packed movies and bass-heavy music. There's also a graphic EQ and presets as well as bass and treble adjustments available to help you customize its sound to your liking.

8.4
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response With Preliminary Calibration
Suggested Preset
Standard
Suggested Bass Setting
3
Suggested Treble Setting
N/A
Slope
0.46
Std. Err.
2.33 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
29.5 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
19.9 kHz

The Samsung HW-Q850A has an impressive stereo frequency response with calibration. With its subwoofer level set to '3', it reproduces a more neutral sound profile with more thump and punch in the bass range. As a result, it's suitable for listening to lots of different types of audio content.

Note: Normally, we calibrate the bar using bass and treble adjustments. We ran some passes after adjusting the bass and treble levels; however, we noticed that this didn't change the stereo frequency response at all. We're looking into this issue and we'll update the review when we have more information.

7.5
Sound
Stereo Soundstage
Crosstalk Error
2.26 dB

The Samsung HW-Q850A has a good stereo soundstage performance. Its soundstage is perceived to be a bit wider than the bar itself. Also, it has good focus, so objects in the soundstage like voices and footsteps seem to come from an accurate, pinpoint location rather than a general area.

7.4
Sound
Stereo Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
94.4 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
2.69 dB

The Samsung HW-Q850A's dynamics performance is satisfactory. It gets pretty loud, which is handy if you want to crank up the volume to listen to audio at parties or in large rooms. However, there's some compression present when you play it at max volume.

7.7
Sound
Stereo Total Harmonic Distortion
Weighted THD @ 80dB
0.39
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
2.21

The Samsung HW-Q850A has a good stereo THD performance. At normal listening volumes, it falls within good limits, resulting in clear and pure audio reproduction. There's a jump in THD when you push the bar to max volume, but this may not be noticeable with real-life content.

7.7
Sound
Center
Localization
Discrete
Slope
1.32
Std. Err.
4.43 dB
SPL @ Max Volume
90.7 dB SPL
Weighted THD @ 80dB
0.52
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
4.70

The Samsung HW-Q850A is a 5.1.2 setup with a discrete center channel, which helps to reproduce dialogue more clearly and accurately. It struggles to reproduce bass on this channel, but this shouldn't be too noticeable since there usually isn't a lot of bass on the center channel.

8.1
Sound
Surround 5.1
Localization
Discrete
Slope
0.50
Std. Err.
2.54 dB
SPL @ Max Volume
97.5 dB SPL
Weighted THD @ 80dB
0.62
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
3.46
7.1 Rears
No

The Samsung HW-Q850A has a great surrounds performance. It comes with discrete surround speakers, so surround objects like voices and footsteps are clearly and accurately localized in the soundstage. Audio seems like it's coming from all around you, rather than just from speakers placed in front of you.

6.2
Sound
Height (Atmos)
Localization
Phantom (Up Firing, Bar)
Slope
1.06
Std. Err.
3.55 dB
SPL @ Max Volume
83.5 dB SPL
Weighted THD @ 80dB
0.47
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
0.88

The Samsung HW-Q850A has an acceptable Atmos performance. It uses two up-firing speakers on the bar to bounce sound off the ceiling and back down towards you, which creates the illusion of height. However, this doesn't sound quite as real as discrete localization from down-firing speakers found with home theater setups. Also, its height channels don't get very loud, which can be disappointing if you like to crank up the volume on your movies.

7.5
Sound
Sound Enhancement Features
Room Correction
No
Dialogue Enhancement
Yes
Auto-Volume/Night Mode
Yes
Subwoofer Level Adjustment
Yes
Bass Adjustment
Yes
Treble Adjustment
Yes
EQ
Graphic + Presets
Surround Level Adjustment
No
Rear Level Adjustment
Yes
Height Level Adjustment
Yes
Virtual Surround
Yes

The Samsung HW-Q850A has a good selection of sound enhancement features. There's a graphic EQ to help you customize its sound, as well as some presets: 'Standard', 'Surround', 'Game Pro', and 'Adaptive Sound'. You can turn on the auto-volume mode in the app, which helps balance the volume level between different programs, as well as the 'Active Voice Amplifier', which works as a dialogue enhancement feature to make voices more clear. However, unlike the LG SP9YA, it doesn't come with a room correction feature, so it may sound a bit different depending on the room you're listening in.

This soundbar also comes with some sound enhancement features that we don't currently test. The Acoustic Beam technology is a virtual surround feature that's advertised to help immerse you in your audio. If you have a compatible Samsung TV, the manufacturer also says that you can use 'Q-Symphony' and 'SpaceFit Sound' to sync the bar with your TV to create a more 3D sound. The 'TapSound' feature lets you mirror audio from your phone when you tap it against the bar using the SmartThings app.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Physical Inputs - Bar
Optical Audio In
1
HDMI ARC
1 (shared)
HDMI Out
1 (shared)
Full HDMI In
1
Analog Audio In 3.5mm (Aux)
No
RCA In
No
USB for Files
No
Ethernet
No

The Samsung HW-Q850A has several physical inputs. There's a Full HDMI In port, so you can use the bar as a hub between different devices. While there's also a micro-USB port, it's just for service and software updates, so you can't use it to play back audio.

10
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - ARC
eARC
Yes
Dolby Atmos
Yes
Dolby Digital
Yes
Dolby Digital Plus
Yes
DTS
Yes
DTS:X (eARC only)
Yes
Dolby TrueHD (eARC only)
Yes
DTS-HD MA (eARC only)
Yes
5.1 PCM (eARC only)
Yes

The Samsung HW-Q850A has fantastic audio format support over ARC. It supports Dolby Digital, which is a common format for Blu-ray discs and streaming platforms, as well as DTS content.

10
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - Full HDMI In
Dolby Atmos
Yes
DTS:X
Yes
Dolby Digital
Yes
Dolby Digital Plus
Yes
DTS
Yes
Dolby TrueHD
Yes
DTS-HD MA
Yes
5.1 PCM
Yes

The Samsung HW-Q850A has incredible audio format support via Full HDMI In. It can play most common formats, including Dolby Digital, as well as lossless and object-based surround formats like Dolby Atmos.

10
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - Optical
Dolby Digital
Yes
DTS
Yes

This soundbar supports Dolby Digital and DTS content via Optical. These formats are commonly found on streaming platforms and Blu-ray discs.

7.3
Connectivity
Latency
ARC
67 ms
Optical
48 ms
Full HDMI In
-86 ms

The Samsung HW-Q850A has a decent latency performance. It has fairly low latency over its ARC and Optical ports, so your audio and video should be in sync. That said, you may notice that the sound comes before the visuals when watching videos via Full HDMI In. Some apps and some TVs compensate for latency differently, though, so your real-world experience may vary.

9.0
Connectivity
Wireless Playback
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
Yes
Chromecast built-in
No
Apple AirPlay
Yes

The Samsung HW-Q850A has incredible wireless playback options. You can stream audio from a mobile device to the bar wirelessly via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Apple AirPlay 2.

Connectivity
Other Input Specifications
4k @ 60 Hz Passthrough
Yes
4k @ 60 Hz @ 10 bit Passthrough
Yes
4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4 Passthrough
Yes
HDR10 Passthrough
Yes

The Samsung HW-Q850A can passthrough the highest bandwidth signals. If you connect the bar to your TV and another device like your PC, text on the screen appears clear and crisp.

Connectivity
Connectivity - Subwoofer
Sub Wireless
Yes

The subwoofer connects to the bar wirelessly, so you need to plug it into a power outlet to get it to work.

Connectivity
Connectivity - Satellites
Sat Wireless
Partial, satellites wired together

The satellites connect to the bar wirelessly. However, they need to be wired to the receiver module, and the receiver module needs to be plugged into an outlet to work.

Additional Features
Additional Features
Interface
Display
Yes

There's a small display on the right side of the bar behind the metal grille. It shows the volume number and the current input. Since it's only a four-character display, you may need to wait for it to scroll through longer words.

Additional Features
Bar Controls

On top of the bar, touch-sensitive buttons let you adjust the volume and turn the microphone on and off. The Multifunction button lets you change inputs, enable Alexa, and wake the bar up from off mode.

Additional Features
Remote
Universal Remote
No

The remote lets you control most of the Samsung HW-Q850A's functions. The manufacturer also says that it supports OneRemote, which lets you control your Samsung TV using your soundbar remote. However, we don't test for this.

Additional Features
Voice Assistants Support
Amazon Alexa
Yes (Built-in)
Google Assistant
No
Apple Siri
No

The Samsung HW-Q850A has Amazon Alexa built-in, and you can also mute the microphone if you don't want it to listen to you.

Additional Features
App
App Name Samsung SmartThings
iOS Yes
Android Yes
Acts As A Remote
Yes
Controls Soundbar's Settings
Some
Casts Device Files
Yes

The Samsung SmartThings app acts as a remote and lets you control some of the bar's settings. However, you have to use the remote to sync, adjust the center level or the front top level, and turn the virtual surround on and off.

Additional Features
Other Features
Power Saving
Auto-off
HDMI CEC (TV Remote Control)
Yes

The Samsung HW-Q850A has an auto-off function that shuts the bar off after a certain period. It also supports HDMI CEC, so you can control some of the bar's basic functions using your TV remote.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Samsung HW-Q850A is available in 'Black', and you can see the label for the model we tested here.

If you come across another version, let us know in the discussions and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Soundbars

The Samsung HW-Q850A is a 5.1.2 setup that comes with a dedicated subwoofer and two surround speakers. It's the upgraded version of the Samsung HW-Q850T, and it comes with some new features, including Apple AirPlay 2 compatibility. There are also some features we don't test, including SpaceFit Sound, advertised to create a more immersive sound with compatible Samsung TVs, Adaptive Voice Amplifier, which enhances dialogue, and TapSound, which mirrors sound from your phone when tapped against the bar using the SmartThings app. Like other Samsung soundbars released in 2021, including the Samsung HW-Q800A, it also comes with Q-Symphony and Acoustic Beam, which help create a more immersive sound, but we don't test for these either.

See our recommendations for the best soundbars, the best Samsung soundbars, and the best 5.1 soundbars.

Samsung HW-Q800A

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the Samsung HW-Q800A or the Samsung HW-Q850A. The HW-Q800A is a 3.1.2 setup that offers a more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box, which some users may like. However, the HW-Q850A is a 5.1.2 setup with a better surrounds performance thanks to its discrete satellites.

Samsung HW-Q950A

The Samsung HW-Q950A is a better soundbar than the Samsung HW-Q850A. The HW-Q950A is an 11.1.4 setup that gets louder and offers a more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box, which some users may prefer. It also comes with a room correction feature. However, the 5.1.2 HW-Q850A is better-built.

Samsung HW-Q900A

The Samsung HW-Q900A is a better soundbar than the Samsung HW-Q850A. The HW-Q900A gets louder with less compression at max volume, and it has a better center channel performance. It also comes with a room correction feature. That said, the HW-Q850A is better built, with better surrounds and Atmos performances.

Sonos Arc

The Samsung HW-Q850A has a better performance than the standalone Sonos Arc. The Samsung has a more extended low-bass thanks to its dedicated subwoofer and a better surrounds performance due to its discrete satellite speakers. It also comes with a graphic EQ and a Full HDMI In port, and it supports Bluetooth. However, the Sonos has a better soundstage performance and a room correction feature. You can also upgrade to the Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers.

Samsung HW-Q700A

The Samsung HW-Q850A is a bit better soundbar for mixed usage than the Samsung HW-Q700A. The HW-Q850A comes with dedicated satellite speakers, and it offers a better surrounds performance since it doesn't have to downmix this content into stereo to play it. It also comes with built-in voice assistant support, and it reproduces a more extended low-bass.

Vizio M Series M512a-H6

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the Vizio M Series M512a-H6 or the Samsung HW-Q850A. The Vizio is better built, with a more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box. It also has a better stereo soundstage and a better center channel performance. However, the Samsung has better surround and Atmos performances. It comes with a graphic EQ and built-in voice assistant support. It also supports more wireless playback options.

JBL Bar 9.1

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the Samsung HW-Q850A or the JBL Bar 9.1. The Samsung has built-in voice assistant support and a graphic EQ for sound customization. It also has a better surround performance. However, the JBL gets louder, and it has better soundstage and center performances. It also comes with a room correction feature, and it supports Chromecast built-in.

Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers

The Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers is a better soundbar than the Samsung HW-Q850A. The Sonos has a better soundstage performance, and it's better-built. It comes with a room correction feature and gets louder, albeit with more compression at max volume. However, the Samsung offers a graphic EQ with presets for sound customization and a Full HDMI In port.

Samsung HW-Q800T

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the Samsung HW-Q800T or the Samsung HW-Q850A. The HW-Q800T is a 3.1.2 setup from 2020 with a better-balanced sound profile out-of-the-box that gets louder. However, the HW-Q850A is a 5.1.2 setup from 2021 that offers a better soundstage performance and Apple AirPlay support. Also, it has better surrounds and Atmos performances.

Samsung HW-Q600A

The Samsung HW-Q850A is better than the Samsung HW-Q600A. The HW-Q850A is a 5.1.2 setup that comes with discrete satellites. It has better soundstage, surround, and Atmos performances, and it supports more wireless playback options. Unlike the HW-Q600A, it also has built-in voice assistant support.

Samsung HW-Q850T

The Samsung HW-Q850A is the upgraded version of the Samsung HW-Q850T, and it offers better overall performance. The HW-Q850A has better soundstage, surround, and Atmos performances. It comes with an auto-volume mode, it can support PCM 5.1 content, and it has Apple AirPlay2 connectivity. However, the HW-Q850T has a more balanced sound profile out-of-the-box.

Samsung HW-Q950T

The Samsung HW-Q950T is a better soundbar than the Samsung HW-Q850A. The HW-Q950T is a 9.1.4 setup that offers a more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box, which some users may prefer. Also, it gets louder. However, the 5.1.2 HW-Q850A is better built and supports Apple AirPlay.

LG SP9YA

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the Samsung HW-Q850A or the LG SP9YA. The Samsung comes with discrete surround speakers that offer a better surrounds performance. It also comes with a graphic EQ and gets louder, albeit with more compression at max volume. The LG has a more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box, a room correction feature, and supports Chromecast built-in.

Samsung HW-Q900T

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the Samsung HW-Q900T or the Samsung HW-Q850A. The HW-Q900T is a 7.1.2 setup from 2020 with a better-balanced sound profile out-of-the-box, and it gets louder. However, the HW-Q850A is a 5.1.2 setup from 2021 that's better-built and supports Apple AirPlay. Also, it has better surrounds and Atmos performances.

LG SN11RG

The LG SN11RG is a better soundbar than the Samsung HW-Q850A. The LG is a 7.1.4 setup with a slightly bass-heavy sound profile out-of-the-box, which some users may prefer. It also comes with a room correction feature. However, the 5.1.2 Samsung has a better surrounds performance and a graphic EQ for sound customization.

Samsung HW-Q65T

The Samsung HW-Q850A is a better soundbar than the Samsung HW-Q65T. The HW-Q850A has a better soundstage and surrounds performance and supports Atmos content and more audio formats. It offers more wireless playback options, has built-in Alexa support, and comes with a companion app.

LG SN10YG

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the LG SN10YG or the Samsung HW-Q850A. The Samsung comes with discrete satellite speakers that offer a better surrounds performance. It also has a graphic EQ for sound customization, and it gets louder, though with more compression at max volume. However, some listeners may prefer the LG's bass-heavy sound profile out-of-the-box and its room correction feature.

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