Samsung HW-Q90R SOUNDBAR REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.0
8.1
Mixed Usage
8.1
Dialog / TV Shows
8.2
Music
8.1
Movies
Channels
:
7.1.4

The Samsung HW-Q90R is a great soundbar that's versatile for a wide variety of uses and it is one of our best performing soundbars so far. It has a great overall audio reproduction, has a fairly wide and very focused soundstage and it will perform very well with pretty much all types of content. This 7.1.4 setup provides an immersive listening experience on supported content thanks to Atmos. It also offers plenty of connection options, wired and wirelessly. The setup is well-built and feels high-end. If you're looking for a premium setup that has great performance and can get loud regardless of the content you're listening to, the Q90R is a great option.

Test Results
Design 8.0
Sound 8.0
Connectivity 9.1
Pros
  • Great audio reproduction.
  • Multiple connection options.
  • Great performance at high volume.
  • Supports Atmos and height channels for immersive experience.
Cons
  • Small interface screen.
  • Very wide bar.
  • No room correction.

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Market Context

The Samsung HW-Q90R is the 2019 high-end, flagship soundbar setup from Samsung. This is a 7.1.4 setup, which includes rear speakers. This is something that the Samsung HW-Q80R is lacking, making it a bit more immersive when watching movies. The main competitors of the Q90R are the Bose Soundbar 700 complete setup with a subwoofer and rear speakers, and last year's Samsung HW-N950, which has the same bar.

8.0

Design

Style - Bar

This is a wide and heavy soundbar, whose sides are covered with metal grills, aside from the back which is made of solid plastic. The entire bar gives off a premium feel.

Style - Subwoofer

The subwoofer is mostly made of wood. The speaker on the side is covered with a round fabric that can get easily damaged or dirty. Like most subwoofers, it has the port on the back.

Style - Satellites

The satellites have a metal grill to cover the speakers at the front and on top, but the sides are made of plastic. They are slightly large, but nothing too bad.

Dimensions - Bar
Bar Width : 48.3" (122.7 cm)
Bar Height : 3.1" (8.0 cm)
Bar Depth : 5.4" (13.8 cm)

The Samsung Q90R soundbar is very wide and won't fit between the legs of any 55" TV stand. Although it's a little taller than most bars, you shouldn't have issues with it obstructing your view.

Dimensions - Subwoofer
Sub Width : 7.9" (20.1 cm)
Sub Height : 15.9" (40.4 cm)
Sub Depth : 15.7" (39.8 cm)

The subwoofer resembles a large desktop PC, and you shouldn't have issues finding a place to put it.

Dimensions - Satellites
Sat Width : 5.6" (14.1 cm)
Sat Height : 8.2" (20.9 cm)
Sat Depth : 4.8" (12.1 cm)

The satellites are slightly larger than average, but they contain the power transformer so you don't have to plan where you'll place the power brick, like with the Bose Soundbar 500. All you need is a power outlet.

Back - Bar
Bar Mounting Type
:
Universal (holes on underside)

This bar has only one opening for the input ports. The power cable connects at a different point. You can wall-mount the bar using the universal holes that are on the underside with the included brackets.

Back - Subwoofer
Enclosure
:
Ported

The back of the subwoofer has the port and a button for pairing. The power cable connects at the bottom and won't stand out much.

Back - Satellites
Sat Mounting Type
:
Universal (holes on back)

The satellites are labeled for left and right, so make sure you place them accordingly. There's a pairing button and a universal hole for wall-mounting each of them.

8.0 Build Quality

The build quality of the Samsung HW Q90R is great, very similar to the HW-Q80R. It's very robust and the entire setup feels premium thanks to the materials used and its rather heavy weight. Although we don't expect you to have any issues with the build quality, care should be given to the fabric on the subwoofer as it can get dirty or damaged easily.

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

  • Manuals
  • HDMI Cable
  • Remote & Batteries
  • Bar power cable
  • Subwoofer power cable
  • Satellite power cables (x2)
  • Screws
  • Wall mounting adapters

8.0

Sound

8.3 Stereo Frequency Response
ST Slope
:
-0.48
ST Std. Err.
:
2.45 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
:
28.3 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
:
16.7 kHz

The Samsung Q90R soundbar has a great frequency response that results in a neutral sound profile. It also has a very extended bass, which will accurately reproduce the deep thump and rumble in music, movies, and games. The overall sound of this soundbar is great for stereo content and will be suitable for a wide variety of music genres, as well as dialog. There's also a good amount of customization you can apply to this bar, including an available EQ.

Stereo Raw Frequency Response
7.5 Stereo Soundstage
Crosstalk Error
:
2.51 dB

When listening to the Samsung HW-Q90R, the soundstage is good. The bar is pretty wide and the soundstage feels about the same width. Sound isn't diffused, resulting in a focused soundstage, which is good because objects seem to be coming from a more accurate pin-point location rather than from a general area. Although the bar is wide, it didn't sound as large as the Sonos Beam or the Bose 700.

9.0 Stereo Dynamics
ST SPL @ Max Volume
:
101.3 dB SPL
ST DRC @ Max Volume
:
1.12 dB

The Samsung Q90R soundbar can get very loud and is great to use in large rooms or in a crowded environment. It performs quite well at maximum volume as well, as you don't get much compression, which is excellent.

8.3 Stereo Total Harmonic Distortion
ST Weighted THD @ 80
:
0.19
ST Weighted THD @ Max Volume
:
1.51

The THD performance is excellent at normal volume (80dB SPL), and you'll get a clean sound and great fidelity of audio reproduction. However, when pushing the bar to its maximum capacities, there's a small jump in THD in high-bass and low-mid. You might not hear this on real-life content.

9.0 Center
C Localization
:
Discrete
C Slope
:
-0.37
C Std. Err.
:
2.59 dB
C SPL @ Max Volume
:
96.5 dB SPL
C Weighted THD @ 80
:
0.42
C Weighted THD @ Max Volume
:
1.36

This is a 7.1.4 setup that has excellent performance in the center channel. Due to its configuration, the Q90R has a dedicated center speaker, which results in a more clear and accurate audio reproduction of the dialog in movies.

6.4 Surrounds
Sr Localization
:
Phantom (Side Firing, Bar)
Rears
:
Yes
Sr Slope
:
0.60
Sr Std. Err.
:
6.55 dB
Sr SPL @ Max Volume
:
91.9 dB SPL
Sr Weighted THD @ 80
:
0.30
Sr Weighted THD @ Max Volume
:
0.79

When sending surround content to the bar, the HW-Q90R has an okay performance. Content comes out from the side firing speakers on the bar, and while it has satellites, they only work if you send them a rear signal. This means this setup won't provide the most accurate and clear representation of surround objects in the soundstage, and won't feel as real as a discrete surround like with tower speakers. If you prefer dedicated surround speakers, take a look at the Vizio SB36512-F6.

6.8 Height (Atmos)
H Localization
:
Phantom (Up Firing, Bar & Satellites)
H Slope
:
0.68
H Std. Err.
:
5.28 dB
H SPL @ Max Volume
:
95.6 dB SPL
H Weighted THD @ 80
:
0.33
H Weighted THD @ Max Volume
:
1.46

The Samsung HW-Q90R supports Atmos for a more immersive experience, especially when watching movies. While this setup sounds fairly big and wide thanks to the up-firing speakers on the bar and satellites, the localization of objects is diffused. It doesn't sound as real as a discrete localization provided by down-firing speakers.

6.3 Sound Enhancement Features
Room Correction
:
No
Dialog Enhancement
:
Yes
Auto-Volume/Night Mode
:
No
Subwoofer Level Adjustment
:
Yes
Bass Adjustment
:
Yes
Treble Adjustment
:
Yes
EQ
:
Graphic
Surround Level Adjustment
:
Yes
Rear Level Adjustment
:
Yes
Height Level Adjustment
:
Yes
Virtual Surround
:
Yes

The high-end HW-Q90R lacks some of the most important sound enhancement features such as a night mode and Room Correction. Without room correction, this soundbar may sound a bit differently depending on your room. On the upside, it does offer a lot of control and customization options to manually make it sound the way you like.

9.1

Connectivity

Physical Inputs - Bar
Optical Audio In
:
1
HDMI ARC
:
1 (shared)
Full HDMI In
:
2
HDMI Out
:
1 (shared)
Analog Audio In 3.5mm (Aux)
:
No
USB for Files
:
No
Ethernet
:
No

The Samsung Soundbar HW-Q90R can serve as hub between your TV and your other devices thanks to its nice set of inputs. Unfortunately, there's no Analog Audio In to directly connect to older devices through their Audio Out. You can't play files from a USB and you can only connect to your network wirelessly.

8.4 Audio Format Support - ARC
eARC
:
No
ARC Dolby Atmos
:
Yes
ARC DTS:X
:
No
ARC Dolby Digital
:
Yes
ARC Dolby Digital Plus
:
Yes
ARC DTS
:
Yes
ARC Dolby TrueHD
:
No
ARC DTS-HD MA
:
No
ARC 5.1 PCM
:
No

Apart from the common Dolby Digital and DTS, the Samsung Q90R soundbar supports Dolby Digital Plus that can also serve as a carrier for Dolby Atmos. If you have such content, the bar will deliver a more immersive sound experience as it will decode and playback surround sound.

Note: There has been numerous comment about some Samsung's soundbars supporting eARC. At this time, this isn't the case and we confirmed it directly with Samsung. We will retest it with future firmware updates.

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

This soundbar has excellent support for surround sound and object-based sound formats, which results in an immersive experience when watching movies, like from Netflix and Blu-rays, or for gaming.

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

Using the Optical Audio In, you can enjoy Dolby Digital and DTS content usually found on Blu-ray discs and streaming platforms like Netflix.

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

You can connect to the soundbar via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to play your content, but in the absence of that, you won't be able to cast using Chromecast built-in or Apple AirPlay.

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

When used as a hub, the Samsung Q90R soundbar has no issues passing through the highest quality signals. If you connect it between your PC and your TV, the text on the screen will be clear.

Connectivity - Subwoofer
Sub Wireless
:
Yes

The subwoofer connects wirelessly to the soundbar and the only wire you’ll need is the power cord.

Connectivity - Satellites
Sat Wireless
:
Yes

The only wire connected to the satellites is the power.

Additional Features

Interface
Display
:
Yes

The small screen in the front serves as the interface and can display the volume level and the input source. It's simple and easy to read, but it's rather small and sometimes it has to scroll to display its message.

Bar Controls

The buttons on the bar are found on the rear edge of the top side. They can power on or off the system and control the volume, or choose the input source.

Remote
Universal Remote
:
No

The remote has the same style as the remotes of the latest high-end Samsung TVs. It sits well in your palm and allows you to control all of the functions of the soundbar, but it can't act as a universal remote to control other devices.

App
App Name : Samsung SmartThings
iOS : Yes
Android : Yes
Acts as the Remote
:
Limited Support
Controls Soundbar's Settings
:
Some
Casts Device Files
:
Audio Files Only

The app that pairs with the HW-Q90R soundbar is the same that pairs also with the latest Samsung TVs and many other Samsung house appliances. There are a few things the app can't do, like changing the sound profile, so it can't really replace the remote.

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

The Samsung Q90R soundbar can turn itself off after some time of inactivity. It also supports HDMI CEC, which allows your TV remote to control basic features of your soundbar like the volume and power.

Compared to other Soundbars

The Samsung HW-Q90R is one of the best performing soundbars we've tested so far. It is very versatile for every type of content you play and performs great overall. It is a high-end model that looks and feels premium and supports Atmos for an immersive experience with movies. See our recommendations for best soundbars, best Dolby Atmos soundbars and the best soundbars with subwoofer. 

Bose Soundbar 700
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Samsung HW-Q90R is a better soundbar system than the Bose Soundbar 700, although we didn't test it with the complete setup with a sub and satellites. With the bar by itself, the Bose 700 falls short to the Q90R. The Samsung soundbar system gets louder, has better overall performance, and supports Atmos, on top of having better connectivity options since the Bose 700 doesn't have any full HDMI In inputs. On the other hand, the Bose 700 can easily be upgraded, and the bar itself has a great stereo soundstage and feels premium and better-built.

Samsung HW-Q80R
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Samsung HW-Q90R is basically the Samsung HW-Q80R, but with rear satellites that have up firing speakers. They both perform quite similarly, but the Q90R has a small edge over the Q80R. The 7.1.4 setup has better overall surrounds performance thanks to the rear speakers, which is the main difference. Both bars are very similar and your choice will come down to personal budget and preference of content.

Sonos Playbar
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Samsung HW-Q90R performs better than the Sonos Playbar, although we didn't test the Playbar with a sub and satellites, which are sold separately. The Q90R has better overall performance, supports Atmos, and has plenty of inputs that are lacking on the Playbar. On the other hand, the Playbar has a room correction feature and can easily be upgraded.

LG SL10YG
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Samsung HW-Q90R is a noticeably better soundbar system than the LG SL10YG. It gets louder, has a better overall sound and soundstage, and performs better at max volume. The 7.1.4 configuration is also more immersive thanks to the additional side-firing speakers and up-firing speakers on the satellites, resulting in better performance with both surround and Atmos content.

Vizio SB36512-F6
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Samsung HW-Q90R is a better soundbar system than the Vizio SB36512-F6. It’s a 7.1.4 setup that can get very loud and performs very well regardless of the content you send it. It's also noticeably better built and feels high-end. Its soundstage sounds wider and it also has a nice graphic EQ. On the other hand, the Vizio has an analog audio jack if you want to plug in your phone. The Vizio's satellites are considered surround speakers, while the Q90R’s are considered rear speakers. The surrounds of the Samsung are side-firing speakers situated on the bar itself.

Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar
Unavailable
Amazon.com

The Samsung HW-Q90R is a better soundbar system than the Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar. The AMBEO is a system that tries to do it all with only a stand-alone bar, but doesn't quite excellent at being versatile like the Q90R does. The stereo audio quality of the Q90R is noticeably better, just like the Atmos performance thanks to the up-firing speakers on the bar and the satellites. On the other hand, the surround AMBEO mode of the Sennheiser soundbar is quite impressive for a stand-alone bar and adds to the immersive listening experience.

+ Show more
8.1 Mixed Usage

Great for mixed usage. The Samsung HW-Q90R soundbar has a very good, neutral and accurate sound profile. It will perform well with all sorts of content such as dialog, a wide variety of music genres, and movies. You can also get an immersive listening experience since it supports Atmos on its 7.1.4 setup. This soundbar performs well even at very high volume, and it offers decent manual sound customization, but lacks a room correction feature.

8.1 Dialog / TV Shows

Great for dialog and watching TV shows. The Samsung Q90R soundbar is also great for podcasts and audiobooks. It sounds neutral and the overall reproduction of voices is accurate. It gets very loud and has a feature to make dialog clearer at low volumes too. You can also easily stream audio content from your phone to the bar.

8.2 Music

Great for music. The Samsung Q90R soundbar setup has an accurate and neutral sound profile which is suitable for a wide variety of music genres. It also has a good soundstage size and is also focused. This setup can get very loud and doesn't compress, even at higher volumes, which is great. You can easily EQ this setup and set the level of the subwoofer separately, to your liking.

8.1 Movies

Great for movies. The Samsung HW-Q90R soundbar sounds great and also supports Atmos, which gives you a more immersive experience when compared to some other soundbars. However, it won't sound as real as a setup with down-firing speakers. You'll still be able to play surround sound content with a good sound quality. There are also a few features to customize the sound to your liking, and you can easily set the amount of bass you want from the sub.

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