Samsung HW-Q850T Soundbar Review

Tested using Methodology v1.0
Reviewed Mar 12, 2021 at 10:33 am
Samsung HW-Q850T Picture
7.8
Mixed Usage
7.9
Dialogue/TV Shows
7.9
Music
7.8
Movies
This soundbar was replaced by the Samsung HW-Q850A
Channels
5.1.2

The Samsung HW-Q850T is a 5.1.2 setup that comes with built-in support for Amazon Alexa voice assistant. Out-of-the-box, this soundbar has a very neutral sound profile that's suitable for listening to lots of different types of audio content, and it even comes with a graphic EQ and presets so you can customize its sound. It also comes with Q-Symphony technology, which is advertised to work with Samsung QLED TV speakers to create a more immersive sound, though we don't test for this. While it supports DTS:X and Dolby Atmos content, unfortunately, its height channels don't provide a very immersive listening experience.

Our Verdict

7.8 Mixed Usage

The Samsung HW-Q850T soundbar is good for mixed usage. Out-of-the-box, it has a very neutral sound profile that's suitable for listening to lots of different types of audio content. There's even a graphic EQ and presets available if you want to customize its sound. It supports surround content, too, and its dedicated surround speakers provide an immersive sound. However, it has a poor Dolby Atmos performance.

Pros
  • Gets loud.
  • Supports Dolby Digital Plus and DTS:X content.
  • Graphic EQ + presets.
Cons
  • Poor Atmos performance.
  • No room correction feature.
7.9 Dialogue/TV Shows

The Samsung HW-Q850T soundbar is very good for dialogue-centric content like TV shows. Thanks to its dedicated center channel and balanced mid-range, it reproduces clear and accurate dialogue. It gets pretty loud, too, and there's even a dialogue enhancement feature that can make voices more clear and crisp. It's Bluetooth and Wi-Fi compatible, which is great for wirelessly streaming podcasts and audiobooks to the bar, but it doesn't support Apple AirPlay or Chromecast built-in.

Pros
  • Gets loud.
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi compatible.
Cons
  • Doesn't support Apple AirPlay or Chromecast built-in.
7.9 Music

The Samsung HW-Q850T soundbar is very good for music. Its balanced, neutral sound profile makes it suitable for listening to lots of different types of audio content, and its dedicated subwoofer helps reproduce an extended low-bass. There's also a graphic EQ and lots of EQ presets to help you adjust its sound more to your liking.

Pros
  • Gets loud.
  • Graphic EQ + presets.
Cons
  • No room correction feature.
7.8 Movies

The Samsung HW-Q850T soundbar is good for movies. Its balanced, neutral sound profile can reproduce clear and accurate dialogue, and it has a little extra thump in the bass that's suitable for watching action-packed scenes. It has dedicated surround speakers, so objects in the soundstage are accurately localized. It supports Dolby Atmos, too, but it doesn't provide a very immersive listening experience.

Pros
  • Gets loud.
  • Supports Dolby Digital Plus and DTS:X content.
Cons
  • Poor Atmos performance.
  • 7.8 Mixed Usage
  • 7.9 Dialogue/TV Shows
  • 7.9 Music
  • 7.8 Movies
  1. Updated Oct 06, 2021: Updated 5.1 PCM support to 'Yes' after firmware update.
  2. Updated Mar 12, 2021: Review published.
  3. Updated Mar 10, 2021: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Market Context
Market Context
Market Context

The Samsung HW-Q850T is a 5.1.2 setup from the company's 2020 lineup. It supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X content, and it has Amazon Alexa voice assistant built into the bar. Like the Samsung HW-Q800T, it comes with Q-Symphony technology, which is advertised to sync your soundbar with the speakers from your compatible Samsung QLED TV, but we don't test this feature. Its main competitors are the Samsung HW-Q950T, the Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers, and the Samsung HW-Q70T.

Design
Design
Style - Bar

The Samsung HW-Q850T is a sleek soundbar with an all-black design that looks similar to the Samsung HW-Q70T and the Samsung HW-Q800T. The bar is made of hard plastic, with a metal grille covering the top and the front of the bar.

Design
Style - Subwoofer

The sub is made of wood. There's thin fabric covering one side, and it seems like it could rip or get dirty easily.

Design
Style - Satellites

The satellites have plastic on the top and bottom, with a metal grille covering the sides. 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-Q850T likely won't fit between the legs of a 55 inch TV. However, it 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-Q800T's sub. It connects to the bar wirelessly, which gives you more flexibility when placing it in your room.

Design
Dimensions - Satellites
Width 3.5" (8.9 cm)
Height 5.6" (14.2 cm)
Depth 3.5" (8.9 cm)

The satellites aren't very big. They connect to the bar wirelessly, which is handy. However, you have to wire them to the receiver module to get them to work.

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

On the back of the bar, there are 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

On the back of the sub, there's the port. There's also a power cable input and a pairing button.

Design
Back - Satellites
Mounting
Universal (holes on back)

The satellites have a fairly plain back, with 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-Q850T has an impressive build quality. The bar itself is mostly made of plastic, with a metal grille on the top and the front that helps to protect the drivers. The satellites have a similar build, with plastic tops and bottoms and metal grilles covering the front and sides. The sub is made of wood. However, the thin fabric on one side 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 for wireless receiver module
  • HDMI cable
  • 2x speaker wires for satellites
  • Wall mount guide
  • 2x wall-mount brackets
  • 2x holder screws
  • 2x screws
  • Rubber foot
  • Remote with batteries (2x AA)
  • Toroidal Ferrite Core
  • Manual

Sound
8.5
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response
Tested Preset
Standard
Slope
-0.57
Std. Err.
2.42 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
28.3 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
19.9 kHz

The Samsung HW-Q850T has an excellent stereo frequency response out-of-the-box. Overall, it has a pretty neutral, balanced sound profile that's suitable for listening to lots of different audio genres. It reproduces an extended low-bass, so you really feel the deep thumps and rumbles in action-packed scenes. There's also a graphic EQ and presets as well as bass and treble adjustments to help you customize its sound.

Note: We noticed some occasional pops and screeching while testing this soundbar. We suspect that these sounds are unique to our testing unit.

8.5
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response With Preliminary Calibration
Suggested Preset
Standard
Suggested Bass Setting
0
Suggested Treble Setting
0
Slope
-0.57
Std. Err.
2.42 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
28.3 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
19.9 kHz

We tested this soundbar in several different configurations after adjusting the bass and treble to try and get a slope closer to 0. However, we weren't able to find a configuration that performed better than its default settings.

7.0
Sound
Stereo Soundstage
Crosstalk Error
2.21 dB

The Samsung HW-Q850T has a decent stereo soundstage performance. The soundstage is perceived to be a touch wider than the bar, but it doesn't have any tricks to make it sound wider than that. It has good focus, though, so objects in the soundstage seem to come from a pinpoint location rather than a general area.

7.8
Sound
Stereo Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
94.0 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
1.71 dB

The Samsung HW-Q850T soundbar has very good stereo dynamics. It gets pretty loud, and there isn't a lot of compression when you play it at max volume, so it's a suitable choice for listening to loud music at crowded parties or in large rooms.

6.6
Sound
Stereo Total Harmonic Distortion
Weighted THD @ 80dB
1.68
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
2.22

The THD performance of the Samsung HW-Q850T is okay. At a normal listening volume, there's some distortion present, and there's a slight jump in THD when you push it to max volume. However, this may not be noticeable with real-life content.

7.9
Sound
Center
Localization
Discrete
Slope
-0.17
Std. Err.
3.77 dB
SPL @ Max Volume
88.0 dB SPL
Weighted THD @ 80dB
0.42
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
2.14

The Samsung HW-Q850T is a 5.1.2 setup that offers a discrete center channel, which results in clearer and more accurate reproduction of dialogue. The frequency response is also quite balanced, especially in the mid-range, so vocals are clear and present.

7.4
Sound
Surround 5.1
Localization
Discrete
Slope
-1.31
Std. Err.
4.00 dB
SPL @ Max Volume
90.3 dB SPL
Weighted THD @ 80dB
0.32
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
0.80
7.1 Rears
No

The Samsung HW-Q850T has a satisfactory surrounds performance. It has dedicated surround speakers, so surround objects like voices and footsteps are clearly and accurately localized in the soundstage. However, its frequency response is quite bass-heavy, which may be overwhelming for some listeners.

4.4
Sound
Height (Atmos)
Localization
Phantom (Up Firing, Bar)
Slope
0.93
Std. Err.
8.68 dB
SPL @ Max Volume
86.5 dB SPL
Weighted THD @ 80dB
0.93
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
2.06

The Samsung HW-Q850T has a poor Atmos performance. It uses up-firing speakers on the bar itself to bounce sound off the ceiling and back down to the listener to give the illusion of height. However, this doesn't sound quite as real as discrete localization created by down-firing speakers. Also, the bar sounds quite bright, and it lacks some low-bass, which can be disappointing if you like to feel the deep thump and rumble in action-packed scenes.

5.9
Sound
Sound Enhancement Features
Room Correction
No
Dialogue Enhancement
Yes
Auto-Volume/Night Mode
No
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-Q850T comes with a graphic EQ as well as several EQ presets: 'Standard', 'Surround', 'Game Pro', and 'Adaptive Sound'. These features help you customize the bar's sound to your liking, and the Adaptive Sound mode can automatically optimize the sound based on the content you're listening to, though we don't currently test for this. Unfortunately, it lacks some more premium sound enhancement features, such as room correction, so it may sound a bit different depending on the room you're listening in.

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-Q850T has the same selection of inputs as the Samsung HW-Q800T. There's a Full HDMI In port, so you can use the bar as a hub between your different devices. However, it lacks a 3.5mm AUX port, so you can't wire older devices like smartphones to the bar.

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

Update 10/06/2021: We retested this soundbar after updating the firmware and found that it now supports 5.1 PCM content.

The Samsung HW-Q850T supports many common audio formats over ARC. It can playback Dolby Digital and DTS content, which is great for movie fans as these formats are commonly found on streaming platforms and Blu-ray discs.

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

Update 10/06/2021: We retested this soundbar after updating the firmware and found that it now supports 5.1 PCM content.

The Samsung HW-Q850T has incredible audio format support via Full HDMI In. It can play audio from most sources, including DTS and Dolby Digital content commonly found on Blu-ray discs and streaming platforms.

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

The Samsung HW-Q850T also supports Dolby Digital and DTS content via Optical. These formats are commonly found on streaming platforms and Blu-ray discs.

8.2
Connectivity
Latency
ARC
-31 ms
Optical
-51 ms
Full HDMI In
72 ms

The Samsung HW-Q850T has a great latency performance. Its latency falls within good limits via ARC, Optical, and Full HDMI In, which is great if you like watching videos. However, some apps and some TVs compensate for latency differently, so your real-world experience may vary.

8.0
Connectivity
Wireless Playback
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
Yes
Chromecast built-in
No
Apple AirPlay
No

You can play audio content wirelessly from your mobile devices using a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection.

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-Q850T Soundbar can passthrough the highest bandwidth signals. When you use your soundbar as a hub between your TV and your PC, the text on the screen is clear and crisp.

Connectivity
Connectivity - Subwoofer
Sub Wireless
Yes

The subwoofer connects wirelessly to the bar. There's only an input for the power cord.

Connectivity
Connectivity - Satellites
Sat Wireless
Partial, satellites wired together

The satellites connect to the receiver module over a wired connection. The receiver needs to be plugged into a power outlet in order to work, but on the upside, it connects to the bar wirelessly.

Additional Features
Additional Features
Interface
Display
Yes

There's a small display on the right side of the bar that shows the volume number and the current input. It has a four-character display, and it scrolls for longer words. Also, there's a red light that turns on when the microphone is muted.

Additional Features
Bar Controls

On the top of the soundbar, there are some touch-sensitive buttons. You can adjust the volume, mute the microphone, or use the Multifunction button to change inputs and enable Alexa voice assistant.

Additional Features
Remote
Universal Remote
No

The remote is simple, and it lets you control most of the bar's functions. However, the app gives you access to a few more EQ presets.

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

The Samsung HW-Q850T soundbar 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 lets you control many of the soundbar's functions, though you can't use it to sync, adjust the center level or the front top level, or turn the virtual surround on and off. It also comes with a few additional EQ presets, including Pop, Jazz, and Classical.

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

The Samsung HW-Q850T has an auto-off function that turns off the bar after 18 minutes without an audio signal. 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-Q850T comes in 'Black', and you can see the label for the model we tested here

If you come across another version of this soundbar, let us know in the discussion section below so we can update our review.

Compared To Other Soundbars

The Samsung HW-Q850T is a very versatile 5.1.2 setup. Like the Samsung HW-Q800T and the Samsung HW-Q950T, it comes with Q-Symphony technology that's advertised to create a more immersive sound by syncing your bar with the speakers on compatible Samsung QLED TVs, though we don't currently test for this. It offers lots of sound customization features, including a graphic EQ and presets, but unfortunately, it doesn't offer room correction. See also our recommendations for the best soundbars, the best soundbars 5.1, and the best Samsung soundbars.

Samsung HW-Q950T

The Samsung HW-Q950T is a better soundbar than the Samsung HW-Q850T. The HW-Q950T has a better soundstage performance, and it gets louder. Also, it has better performances with its surrounds and height channels. However, the HW-Q850T is better-built.

Samsung HW-Q850A

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-Q950A

The Samsung HW-Q950A is better than the Samsung HW-Q850T. The HW-Q950A is an 11.1.4 setup with better soundstage, surround, and Atmos performances. It also gets louder, and it comes with more sound enhancement features like room correction. That said, the HW-Q850T is better built.

Samsung HW-Q700A

The Samsung HW-Q850T is better than the Samsung HW-Q700A for mixed usage. The HW-Q850T is a 5.1.2 setup that comes with discrete satellites. It can reproduce a more extended low-bass, so you feel more thump and punch in your audio. It also has a better surrounds performance. That said, the 3.1.2 HW-Q700A has a better soundstage. Unlike the HW-Q850T, it also supports Apple AirPlay.

Sonos Arc

The Samsung HW-Q850T is a better soundbar than the standalone Sonos Arc. The Samsung comes with a subwoofer and satellites, and it has a more extended low-bass. It's also more customizable thanks to its graphic EQ and presets, and it's Bluetooth-compatible and comes with a Full HDMI In port. However, the Sonos has a better soundstage and a better Atmos performance. You can also compare the Samsung to the Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers.

Samsung HW-Q800A

The Samsung HW-Q800A is better than the Samsung HW-Q850T. The HW-Q800A is a 3.1.2 setup that offers better soundstage, center, and Atmos performances. It even comes with some additional sound enhancement features, like auto-volume mode. That said, only the 5.1.2 HW-Q850T comes with discrete satellites, and it offers a better surrounds performance.

Samsung HW-Q800T

The Samsung HW-Q800T and the Samsung HW-Q850T are similarly performing soundbars, so depending on your listening habits, you may prefer one over the other. The HW-Q850T is a 5.1.2 setup that comes with dedicated satellite speakers, so it offers a better, more immersive surrounds experience. However, the 3.1.2 HW-Q800T gets louder, which some listeners may prefer.

JBL Bar 9.1

The JBL Bar 9.1 is a slightly better soundbar than the Samsung HW-Q850T. The JBL has a better soundstage performance, and it performs better on its height and surrounds channels. It also has a room correction feature, and it has wireless playback capabilities with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay, and Chromecast built-in. However, the Samsung has a more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box, and it comes with a graphic EQ for sound customization.

Samsung HW-Q900T

The Samsung HW-Q900T is slightly better for mixed usage than the Samsung HW-Q850T. The HW-Q900T is a 7.1.2 setup with a better soundstage. It also gets louder. However, the HW-Q850T comes with discrete satellites, so it offers a better surrounds performance.

LG SN9YG

The Samsung HW-Q850T is a slightly better soundbar than the LG SN9YG. The Samsung has a more balanced sound profile out-of-the-box, and it gets louder. It also comes with dedicated satellite speakers that help create a better surrounds performance, and it has a graphic EQ for sound customization. However, the LG comes with a room correction feature, it has a better Atmos performance, and it has Chromecast built-in.

Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers

The Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers is a slightly better soundbar than the Samsung HW-Q850T. The Sonos is better-built, and it has a better soundstage performance. It performs better on its surrounds and height channels, and it also comes with a room correction feature. However, the Samsung is more customizable thanks to its graphic EQ and presets. It also supports Bluetooth, and it has a Full HDMI In port.

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