I’ve lived happily without a soundbar for years now. ‘How much of a difference can it really make?’ I remember thinking. It turns out a lot, which is something I discovered after testing Samsung’s premium Q950A soundbar system.
The picture quality of televisions has come a long way in just a few years. Just recently I reviewed Samsung’s Neo QLED QN90A TV and was stunned by its picture, but felt the in-built sound couldn’t live up to it.
Enter the Q950A soundbar, which more than makes up for it. It was the perfect partner for the QN90A TV but it will also easily bolster the sound of any TV you attach it to.
At nearly $1,500, the Q950A is definitely not a soundbar set-up for the faint of heart. It’s designed for those wanting true surround sound that makes your home feel like a cinema, and you have to be willing to pay for it.
Samsung Q950A Soundbar
WHAT IS IT?
Samsung’s latest 11.1.4Ch Dolby Atmos Soundbar
Immersive surround sound, ease of connectivity.
Expensive, too many pieces to plug in.
Design and Setup
Let’s start with the setup. The Q950A is a beast both in terms of sound and in terms of setting it up.
The box contains a soundbar, two rear speakers and one subwoofer. Where some soundbars may be a solo piece, this one gives you the whole package in many pieces.
The main problem I had during setup was a lack of power points in my living room. I don’t know about you but between my TV, consoles, lamps and other charging needs, I don’t have any power sockets to spare.
Finding space to set up the rear speakers was the biggest challenge seeing as you want them placed an equal distance apart on opposite sides of your couch for optimal sound.
The cords aren’t really long enough for both speakers to stretch to the same dual power point so that’s one extended power board you’re going to need. Depending on where you choose to set up the subwoofer – that’s a second power board.
It’s really a set-up that is designed for those decking out a home cinema. If you move around a lot, have a smaller room or live in a rental it’s not the easiest in terms of portability and ease of setup.
There are positives though, particularly when it comes to ease of connectivity between the soundbar and your TV.
After connecting the main soundbar unit to the HDMI port in your television (remember to choose the eARC port) it will automatically connect wirelessly to its partner speakers in the room.
Using sonar technology it also automatically calibrates and adjusts the sound to fit your room, which as a soundbar newbie I super appreciated.
As for the design of the soundbar itself, the button interface is clean and simple but is also easily controlled by a separate remote that looks similar to Samsung’s TV controller. The remote allows you to switch through sound modes and control both the volume and the bass individually.
The soundbar itself is quite large at 1.2-metres and only just fit under my TV, so make sure the cabinet or stand you’re setting it up on has the space.
Let’s get to the important stuff, the sound. Long story short: sound = good. Actually, sound = awesome.
The Q950A is an 11.1.4Ch soundbar. This number means that the soundbar has 11 speakers, one subwoofer and four upward-facing speakers which provide added depth by pinging sound at your roof.
It also means the Samsung soundbar has a whole lot of grunt behind it.
Having been a non-soundbar person up until this point, the difference was immediately noticeable once I’d plugged this bad boy in. It was like everything had been muffled and suddenly I was hearing clearly for the first time.
I tested a variety of different programs including Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and 1917, but one that really stood out was The Book of Boba Fett.
I found this a good one to test because it runs the gamut of dialogue, action-packed sound effects and music, sometimes all at the same time.
Every element in The Book of Boba Fett’s soundscape became insanely pronounced thanks to the soundbar and the power of Dolby Atmos. The incredible sounds of Mando’s darksaber striking against his rival’s armour will live rent-free in my brain forever.
But it’s not only the blockbuster sounds this system can handle.
I also found less genre heavy shows like Pam & Tommy to be a great test. The soundbar crisply translated every word that was said between characters and then easily shifted to immersive head-banging sound whenever music came on.
What also blew me away was how integral each and every speaker was in the setup.
Occasionally I would unplug the subwoofer or the rear speakers to see the difference and every time found there was a noticeable change in the sound quality.
The soundbar by itself already makes a difference but, my complaints about power points aside, every additional speaker adds to the whole experience.
The subwoofer brings that rumbling depth that makes you feel like you’re in a cinema chair and the rear speakers add to the feeling that you’re right in the centre of whatever you’re watching. It really made me appreciate the difference good sound can make.
On top of kick-ass sound, the Samsung Q950A soundbar has a few nifty features that deserve a call out.
Q Symphony is a feature Samsung has devised to help its Q-series televisions and soundbars work together.
The process allows the sound from both the TV’s internal speakers and the soundbar to play in sync together, creating different levels of sound. Seeing as I was testing this on the Neo QLED TV at the time, I can certainly say I found a match for its perfect picture. It’s a small detail but certainly an added benefit for anyone planning to pair add a Samsung soundbar to their repertoire.
Another one is Game Mode Pro. AV brands have been big on added ‘game modes’, particularly since we got a new generation of consoles.
Having access to a PS5 myself, I decided to see whether the soundbar’s Game Mode Pro sound made a difference.
I’m sorry mostly for my Pulse 3D headset, which was cast aside like trash after hearing the epic sound quality that the Q950A provided. It was a truly immersive experience.
A lot of the quality is subjective, depending on the depth of sound in the game you’re playing, but I found the soundbar could turn even generic noises into excellent ones.
Another cool quality of life output that Samsung has implemented is an active voice amplifier which will automatically raise the volume of dialogue in a video if there’s a loud noise in the room. A godsend for those times a loud plane flies over or someone is vacuuming.
Samsung Q950A Soundbar: Price
Like I said this soundbar is not for the casual soundie.
This is Samsung’s top of the line surround sound system and at $1,499 RRP, it’s going to cost you as much as a TV would.
For that price, it basically squeezes anyone who is not committed to the best possible surround sound out of the market. I stand by my opinion that this is the right choice for those hoping to make their home into a cinema, but for anyone who just wants a soundbar, there are cheaper options out there.
All that being said, it’s hard to find a soundbar with this much grunt in such a consumer-friendly package.
Samsung Q950A Soundbar: The Verdict
When it comes to the sound of the Samsung Q950A soundbar, it’s hard to find a fault. The entire system packs a real punch and can turn even the dullest of viewing options into cinematic experiences.
The set-up is a bit of a pain in terms of finding places (and plugs) for each of the different speakers, but there’s no doubt that each and every one of them added a vital piece to the Q950A’s soundscape.
This is a top-notch soundbar at a top-notch price, but it is perfect for any hardcore home cinema set-up. It has also completely sold me on the idea of soundbars.