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Samsung HW-Q990B: Sets of Dolby Atmos soundbars!


The Samsung HW-Q990B maintains the company’s previous trend of providing its flagship soundbar with four physical boxes. But until now, Samsung has regularly managed to improve the number of channels jammed into those four boxes.

A year, the total system count has remained unchanged at 16, as it did last year. This leaves Samsung to depend on additional upgrades to propel its soundbar story.

Fortunately, the Samsung Q990B’s HW design upgrades to improve the sound quality produced by those 16 channels, making it one of the best soundbars of the year. The subwoofer, for example, has a new Acoustic Lens over its massive 8-inch driver to improve bass smoothness and refinement. At the same time, the rear speakers have a new angled top and compact pedestal bases to offer purer and better-positioned sounds.

In addition, Samsung has now included an auto-calibration mechanism in its current flagship soundbar (also featured in the impressive-sounding Samsung HW-S800B), making it much easier to get the most out of its unparalleled channel count. It can even collaborate with speakers in several of Samsung’s newer TVs to create a larger soundstage.

But, the Samsung HW-Q990B doesn’t require any assistance. The Q990B offers the most fully rounded & immersive stereo sound experience you have ever heard from even the greatest Dolby Atmos soundbars by adding new control, balance, and precision to the huge power & channel counts that predecessors are becoming renowned for.



The Samsung HW-Q990B takes the soundbar concept to its logical conclusion. After all, in addition to the main soundbar plus external subwoofer combo that represents the pinnacle of most soundbar goals, the Q990B includes a pair of wireless back speakers.

These aren’t your average back speakers, either, because each one manages to hold three independent channel drivers despite their small size. As expected, one firing out the front, another firing out the top edges at Atmos heigh, and another firing out the sides.

Those drivers resulted in a class-leading channels count of 11.1.4 (just at the time of writing). That’s front center, front left, front right; side left, side right, front side left, front side right, front side left, front side right, back side left, back side right, back side left, back side right, rear left, rear right, the subwoofer’s bass channel, and four up-firing drivers to provide Dolby Atmos’ overhead/height effects. Phew.

Q990B’s spec sheet

In addition to appearing good on the Q990B’s spec sheet, enabling so many real (instead of virtual/created by the processor) channels of sound has the potential to provide a large sound quality improvement. Specifically, constructing a perfect hemisphere of sound is the ultimate goal of the freshest and finest Dolby Atmos & DTS:X sound formats. Even if those channels still need some clever bouncing to get around you.

This Q990B wasn’t the first soundbar with 11.1.4 channels. That honor goes to its predecessor, the Samsung HW-Q950A, from 2021. So, how can the Q990B crank up the volume on Samsung’s soundbar to 11(.1.4)?

Introducing an Acoustic Lens to a chunky (chunkier than last year’s model) subwoofer is the most visible modification. A flared cover featuring open sides sits over a promisingly big 8-inch driver to increase dispersion and bass sound refinement.

Back Speakers also redesign

The back speakers were also redesigned. Their top edges, in particular, now curve down to enhance the directionality of up-firing drivers. At the same time, their primary cabinets now sit on short ‘feet’ to limit any sound coloration from whichever furniture or shelf they’re sitting on.

Samsung has also improved audio processing features to increase sound quality, particularly when mixing sources with low native channel counts (such as stereo music) to full advantage of the system’s 16-channel capabilities.

For the first time, Samsung adds a genuine built-in auto-calibrating system to its flagship soundbar with the Q990B. This ‘Space Fit’ feature uses the soundbar’s microphones to evaluate how the sound responds to the shape and contents of your room. It’s also backed up by an Auto EQ system, which analyses how the subwoofer’s bass output blends with the rest of the music. It allegedly re-runs itself all day, just in case you moved the coffee table, sofa, or whatever.

Suppose the Q990B’s 16 channels of sound are not enough for you. It has updated its Q-Symphony feature, which allows the soundbar to collaborate with the speakers within certain of Samsung’s premium TVs. This allows you to increase the total channel number of a Samsung TV/Q990B soundbar combo to 22.

Two HDMI inputs

The connectivity of the Q990B is mostly impressive. An HDMI forwarding system with 2 HDMI inputs and the HDMI eARC link to your TV is especially appealing. You may connect multiple outlets to the soundbar and pass the video to your TV. It avoids the sound sync issues that often afflict the HDMI ARC system. You must rely on soundbars with only single HDMI ports in specific setups.

This HDMI passthrough solution supports 4K HDR video, such as the premium HDR standards HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. You read that correctly: a Samsung AV product supports Dolby Vision! If only the brand’s televisions would follow suit…

The Q990B is Samsung’s first soundbar to allow wireless Dolby Atmos broadcasting when paired with compatible Samsung TVs. Only the compressed ‘DD+’ version of Atmos, not the lossless TrueHD version available via the eARC connection.

The Q990B, as expected, supports both Bluetooth & Wi-Fi for portable audio streaming, featuring Apple AirPlay 2. Suppose you have a modern Samsung phone. You can link it to the Q990B merely by tapping this against the soundbar’s bodywork.

Finally, high-resolution audio formats such as AAC, WAV, FLAC, AIFF, OGG, and ALAC are supported. Of course, MP3s are supported.

What has changed in Samsung HW-Q990B?

What has changed in Samsung HW-Q990B?

It’s time to discuss how the Q990B varies from previous models, besides its wireless Dolby Atmos technology. While the primary soundbar retains the same channel layout, sculpting, and size, both rears and subwoofer have received major upgrades.

Rears now sit on brief pedestal stands, which appear to neutralize potential coloration from whatever surface you’ve placed them on. But their top edges also angle down at the front to the flat. To help propel the sound from up-firing drivers forward, where it meets the audio from the front up-firers better and creates a more genuine overhead effect.

Meanwhile, the subwoofer retains the same massive 8-inch driver as its predecessor. However, its enclosure is larger and includes an exciting Acoustic Lens feature. To improve the consistency and Omnidirectional dispersion of the bass output. A cover stands slightly proud of the recessed driver.

The Samsung HW-Q990B also has built-in auto-calibration (called Space Fit by Samsung). This allows the soundbar to change its channel balance & sound to fit your room setup. This feature re-runs itself automatically every day. It is accompanied by Auto EQ: a system that constantly monitors and fine-tunes how the subwoofer integrates into the larger soundstage.

Samsung’s Q Symphony function allows its soundbar to collaborate only with speakers in suitable Samsung TVs. Depending on where the soundbar is paired with the Samsung TV spec. It is carried over to the Q990B, although the potential combination channel count is increased to 22.

Finally, Samsung has upgraded the Adaptive sound mode, which it utilizes to upconvert stereo (as well as other low-channel) inputs into something that employs all of the Q990B’s available channels.

Is Samsung HW-Q990B Dolby Atmos Sound Quality good?

Is Samsung HW-Q990B Dolby Atmos Sound Quality is good?

It is compatible with Atmos content and uses two up-firing speakers on the bar to bounce sound off the roof to create the appearance of height.

Even though last year’s Samsung Q950A was the greatest soundbar in town for producing both fully formed Dolby Atmos’bubble’ and loads of pure surround sound power, the new Q990B sounds even better.

The primary reason for this is the increased balance and cohesiveness of all the Q990B’s various channels. The sound circle around your seat feels even more full, with no noticeable gaps in the front side, behind, or above you to disrupt your immersion in a solid Dolby Atmos mix.

Details feel even more precisely placed, and sounds that travel around a mix, whether back to front, side to side, or both, find their way around your living room much more convincingly than they did on the Q950A in 2021. This is apparently due to the better back speaker & subwoofer design and the new Space Fit auto-cal mechanism.

Samsung HW-Q990B: Acoustic Lens mechanism

The Acoustic Lens mechanism also looks to help the enhanced balance of the Samsung HW-Q990B. Bass appears to be able to go even deeper now than did with the Q950A, which is saying a lot given that the Q950A’s bass was already among the surest bet in the soundbar industry.

The enormous depth of the Q990B’s rumbles does not sound forced, sagging, or disconnected from the rest of the mix. There are virtually no distortions under the most intense film soundtrack pressure.

The primary soundbar may not have the obvious physical improvements that the other parts do. But it still sounds better than its predecessor. Again, this is most likely due to enhanced calibration combined with Samsung’s efforts to make the additional pieces more effectively integrated with the primary soundbar.

Also, while the main soundbar didn’t alter much, it didn’t need to. It’s almost impossible to reconcile the amount of power, clarity, dynamic range, projection, and channel detail it can generate with such a little unit.

The scale of its audio is sufficient to fill even a big room. But it does not overpower the channels given by the surprisingly modest back speakers. A problem could occur with the Q950A at times unless the back channel volume manual increases.

Final Features

One final feature of the Q990B that distinguishes it from the great majority of high-end competitors is how aggressively it produces ‘hard’ impact sounds like gunfire and punches. These normally land gently with soundbars, but they sound bone-breakingly violent on the Q990B.

While the Samsung HW-Q990B continues the pattern of Samsung flagship audio systems being unrivaled performers with Dolby Atmos & DTS:X movie mixes. It also maintains the trend of Samsung flagship audio systems being unrivaled performers with music. In Standard Mode, which delivers audio sources in their natural (typically stereo) format, bass can come on a touch too strong, and layered recordings can appear muffled & hemmed in, losing that clarity that is so obvious with film soundtracks.

To be fair, vocals are often handled quite well with stereo music, with greater strength and separation than you’ll find in almost any normal hi-fi solution. However, there are many more musical soundbars available.

Samsung HW-Q990B: Music Aficionados

However, there is some great news for music lovers. Samsung’s latest Adaptive mode, which repurposes stereo music, takes full advantage of all of the Q990B’s speakers and outperforms its predecessor. Instead of delivering the same sound to each channel. A true endeavor is to break out the individual aspects of a mix and intelligently arrange them in different channels, despite being created on the fly by a processor with no human participation. The results can sound uncannily similar to a ‘real’ Dolby Atmos mix.



Here already discussed the functional aspects of the rear & subwoofer redesigns. However, the rears & main soundbar also have a new finish. Or, more precisely, the reappearance of an old finish.

The felt covers that Samsung has employed over whole drivers on its soundbars for such past couple of years had returned to the metallic grille appearance that was utilized before the felt became popular. This isn’t as rich and luxurious as the felt coverings. But it accumulates far less dust & makes the speakers seem weirdly more ‘techy.’ That’s alright with us.

The Q990B’s main soundbar also wins hearts and minds by relocating its little LED window from the top edge (where it’s been inconveniently placed for the past few years) to the front. So that you can see what it’s telling you about the input you’ve chosen and the sound format. You’re trying to listen without having to get up from your sofa.


Four components

The Q990B’s use of four components may push the meaning of a soundbar to its limits. But the number of connections carried within the primary soundbar. Additionally, despite the latter speakers having to transport three components apiece, the rear ends were very small. It makes the Q990B far less imposed on your living area than an equally powerful differentiates system would be.

Of course, the subwoofer is substantial. However, as with any subwoofer, it may place behind a sideboard or in another tucked away location without affecting its sound.

For 2022, Samsung has updated its soundbar remote, opting for a lighter, flat appearance. To be honest, that misses its predecessor’s chunkier, more angular feel and ‘prouder’ button layout. But this is a minor quibble. The essential point is the remote’s low button count, combined with the newly placed LED. ‘Tap’ smartphone connectivity and the regularity with which all the individual components wirelessly link. It makes the Q990B rather straightforward for such a high-end system.

Are Samsung HW-Q990B soundbars worth the money?

Are Samsung HW-Q990B soundbars worth the money?

The HW-Q990B, as they come to expect out of a premium Samsung soundbar, has a class-leading feature set… and, of course, a premium cost to match.

Samsung Q990B costs £1,599 in the United Kingdom. It costs $1,899 in the United States. Also available in Australia for AU$2,099. That’s a large sum of money, roughly equivalent to a separate-based AV Receiver & speakers bundle.

But, certainly, if you’re looking once at a soundbar. You’re doing it because you want the convenience, compatibility, and compact soundbars, rendering the separate comparison meaningless. Like the Q990B, even one is created of four different components.


While Samsung may have been concerned about the Q990B since it lacks the normal ‘look, more channels!’ story, its focus on increasing quality instead of putting another number to a spec sheet has paid off nicely.

The HW-Q990B outperforms its predecessor in almost every regard for both music and movies, leaving it as the finest all-around immersive soundbar money could currently buy. A tremendously powerful sonic experience.

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1 Response

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