The Samsung Q990B Soundbar is so good, it’s made me a soundbar guy.
If you have bought a new TV in the past 18 months, chances are your TV sounds great and you sit there wondering why you’d bother splashing the cash on what is essentially a speaker. But there are others who swear by them. As you can tell already, I am now the latter.
While reviewing Samsung’s 75-inch QN95B Neo QLED 4K Smart TV last week I was also given the opportunity to play with the company’s latest soundbar. It’s nice to look at, sounds great and is super easy to configure. Here’s my thoughts on the Samsung Q990B Soundbar with Wireless Dolby Atmos.
The Samsung Q990B Soundbar
The Q990B is one of ten (10) (!!) new soundbars Samsung has launched this year. The cheapest, the B450, will set you back $349 while the one I reviewed is the most expensive model, at $2,099. And it definitely sounds like $2,099-worth of sound.
Samsung’s new soundbar is pretty impressive, offering the first wireless soundbar experience with Dolby Atmos through a Wi-Fi channel (not Bluetooth). The flagship Q990B incorporates 11.1.4ch surround sound including one subwoofer channel, four up-firing channels and two wireless rear speakers for that immersive Dolby sound.
Usually, we’d go into detail of what’s required to set the piece of tech up that we’re reviewing. But, as with the Samsung Neo QLED, when I walked into the hotel room to put the soundbar through its paces, it was already set up for me. Setting the Q990B up should be a relatively smooth endeavour, considering it’s one cable and the thing is exceptionally smart. Configuring it to your specific tastes or changing settings when you change media type is easy to do, but more on that later.
It looks…like a soundbar
The Q990B soundbar has a neat, minimalist design. It’s black, because you’d be silly making it any other colour, and it has just the right amount of buttons and a nice casing. Here’s a less artistic* shot of the soundbar.
I touched on true 11.1.4ch sound above, basically, Samsung says this offers “unrivalled surround sound that envelopes you”; Q-Symphony, which is “orchestrated in perfect harmony” (more on that in a sec); SpaceFit Sound+, which is sound calibrated for your particular space; and up-firing rear speakers to project the sound above and around you.
How does it sound?
Like I was at the cinema. When reviewing the Samsung Q950A soundbar, we said exactly that. Somehow the new Q990B manages to top this.
The sound from the Samsung Neo QLED TV was great. Until, of course, I switched over to the soundbar. But what really slaps is the ability to use both the TV and the soundbar sound. It’s a whole other ballgame. Samsung calls this Q-Symphony.
It uses the TV and soundbar speakers at the same time. It doesn’t replicate the sound, rather it splits the sound between them, giving you better sound quality and more emersion instead of the TV speakers becoming essentially useless and muted.
It really does create a virtual surround sound experience when watching TV because the TV itself has other speakers built in (on the back of the TV) as well, so it actually elevates the height and sends the sound out around you. Basically, the Samsung Q990B Soundbar elevates the sound of the TV, rather than replaces it. Thus, there is a need for both.
As I mentioned above, Wireless Dolby Atmos is built into the new range of Samsung kit, meaning you don’t need a HDMI cable connected to the TV to pull the sound smarts. Additionally, the soundbar can work concurrently with the TV speakers and any additional speakers connected to it, if you want greater audio.
I switched over to the soundbar while watching Avengers: Endgame. I have never heard water coming from a tap sound so clear and as if I was the one running the tap myself. When Captain America is shaving his beard, you can hear the rumble of the plane long before I remember hearing it usually. The third act? Ho-boy. This sounded absolutely kick ass. The Samsung Q990B Soundbar is built for a battle scene. The third act is filled with crowd-pleasing moments, from cameos to epic action. The Q990B made this so much better than the first time I saw it.
Can you fiddle with the settings?
You can, but the Samsung Q990B Soundbar is quite smart and pulls a lot from either your Samsung TV and its surrounds or just its own common sense.
When you turn the TV on, it actually uses a microphone that’s built in to ping a sound (a sound you can’t hear) around the room. Called ‘intelligent mode’, this sound figures out the space in your room – how big the room is, if it’s wall-mounted or in a cabinet, etc, then it calibrates the sound to the space. This is passed through to the soundbar, too.
The soundbar volume up and down, as well as sound mode (standard, surround, game, Adaptive Sound+) can all be controlled by the TV remote, but the soundbar remote also allows you to flip through them easier than heading into the TV’s settings. You can see the mode on the soundbar:
Adaptive Sound, by the way, sees the Samsung Soundbar analyse audio signals to help deliver optimised sound scene-by-scene. This means you’ll hear voices clearly even on low volumes. SpaceFit Sound+, meanwhile, tunes the sound into what’s going on around the space the soundbar lives.
The other stuff
Our biggest issue with the Q950A soundbar was the amount of power points required to use the thing. The Q990B connects via the Samsung One Connect Box. The box is a media receiver with a built-in TV tuner. It minimises cable clutter by functioning as a hub for connecting gaming consoles, Blu-Ray players, etc. The One Connect Box then connects to the TV with the One Connect Cable that’s actually 2.5 metres in length.
This makes plugging in new devices less messy – rather than sticking each cable into the TV and having a bunch of spaghetti sprawling from behind it. But, placing the speakers next to lounge does still require access to power points.
The sound from the Samsung Q990B is not comparable to any other soundbar I’ve used. It truly is in a class of its own. Do you need a $2,099 soundbar? Probably not, but if you’ve read this far you’re likely after justification to drop the cash on one. If your budget is $2,000, this is the one. If it’s pushing the budget just a tad, Samsung also has nine other models ranging from $349 through to $1,599 that will probably do the job.