The sound is subjectively better than in the cinema - a review of the Samsung Q950A set

The sound is subjectively better than in the cinema - a review of the Samsung Q950A set

High-quality workmanship is a key feature of the Samsung Q950A

After unpacking the kit, you immediately understand that it is a high-end equipment. The materials used make the equipment look impressive, but at the same time retain the important advantage of this type of device - compact size. The main beam, admittedly, is the largest we have encountered, but even in the case of 55 ”TVs (as shown in the photos, the excellent Samsung QN95A) will not dominate the size.

The design is completely different than in the case of the Q800A - instead of a metal grill, we have a fabric mask - this one, unfortunately, catches dust and hair quite quickly.

Overall, the soundbar is distinguished by its depth - it is about 3-4 cm deeper than typical solutions, which results from the number of drivers used in it. We have as many as 9 sound channels hidden here, some of which use two-way designs. We are really surprised that we managed to cram so many drivers into such a neat design!

Unfortunately, with such an advanced soundbar, we cannot afford to have anything in front of it - the speakers are literally across the width of the beam!

Ceiling channels are made by loudspeakers reflecting from the ceiling. Two of them can be found at the extreme ends of the upper surface of the beam - this is a common feature with smaller sets. Due to their presence, the beam cannot be "hidden" in the TV shelf - the soundbar must have "visual" contact with the ceiling (and preferably, the ceiling should be flat, with regular shapes).

The logo of supported standards is hidden on the back, but it's easy to remember what are supported - all of them :)

From the top, there is also a panel with (very convenient) physical buttons and a display (displaying up to 3 characters at the same time). And this is the only thing that we clearly disliked about this model - the location of the display makes it useless in 90% of cases and we have to use the equipment "on the feel" (or via the application / TV). By simply sitting on the couch or even crossing the living room, you usually can't see what's displayed on it.

Apparently, the Samsung Q950A has so many speakers at the front that the digital display has not been able to fit there and it has gone to the top of the device ...

What you can see are three dots that illuminate from the front of the housing when we control the device - after the order of their lighting, you can read whether we increase or decrease the volume, and generally receive confirmation of the command - at least that's it.

One could complain that the display is small, but since it is hidden from us anyway, it does not matter.

On the back of the beam you will find nothing (it can ultimately adhere to the wall), while underneath you will find connectors in a sufficient number for a soundbar. We have two signal inputs in the HDMI 2.1 standard (formerly 2.0) and one TV output with eARC (and ordinary ARC) support. Older high-class equipment can also be connected with an optical connector (Toslink).

You could complain about the lack of USB or analog inputs, but maybe their era has already passed?

It remains to be asked whether we would expect something more from the flagship design, such as USB support or a network cable (as an alternative to the current Wi-Fi). The structure has been thought out so that the cables can be conveniently led from under the beam to the channel in the wall, or directly behind the cabinet through the appropriate culvert. Similarly, the issue of the power cable was solved.

Probably the best subwoofer in its class

The bass speaker is a wooden open (with bass-reflex) construction with a 20-cm driver, well-known from previously tested models. Do not be fooled by the seemingly low power from the label - after all, in the case of refined audio sets, this is not a key parameter. Without hesitation, we can say that it is currently one of the best, if not the best movie-watching subwoofers available with soundbars!

If your child throws something into the "black hole", you can easily remove the panel and empty the subwoofer - checked;)

All we have to do is place it relatively close to the TV (it doesn't have to be a specific position, but it should definitely be in front of us). We connect the power supply and the loudspeaker connects to the beam by itself. Optionally, you can force such pairing manually, but we have never had such a necessity.

We will have the slightest problem with the placement of this loudspeaker - relatively in the front and not more than 1.5 m from the contact. In reality, the loudspeaker does not even have to face us.

What makes the Q950A set stand out the most - wireless satellites

In our opinion, the most interesting element of the set are the two wireless satellites (i.e. they still require power, but they do not need to be connected to the beam with a cable). These, like the beam itself, are made of solid and stiff plastic covered with perforated fabric on 3 sides. Why exactly on 3 sides? Because it is on three of the six walls that we find the drivers!

Their size only seemingly brings the Samsung set closer to a full home theater - wireless connectivity and compact size make it still a very minimalist solution.

These speakers are designed so that when placed behind the viewer, they not only support the rear channels, but also those that are normally to the side of the audience. That is why it is crucial to place them in the right way, while remembering not to cover them from the top (again - the shelf on the shelf is off, because a pair of upper-rear channels play into the ceiling from the top of the housing.

A subdued look should suit virtually any living room.

The speakers on the rear have a hole for mounting a wall mount or a free-standing mount. There you will also find a button for manual connection (which, like in the case of the sub, we never had to use). The power cable can be discreetly led out from under the satellite, but in this case we have some reservations - it is too short. Luckily, the tip is a typical 2-pin connector for European RTV equipment, so swapping is not difficult. However, it is a pity that Samsung in such an expensive set did not provide a longer cable or even two sets of alternative cable lengths.

The speakers, as can be seen from the rear, are assigned a side in advance and you must follow this!

There is a remote control, but in practice there are much better ways to control

In the set, Samsung attaches its standard (infrared) remote control - the same as in cheaper sets, although in this case each key is actually applicable. The style matches the new Samsung TV remote controls, although it is a bit more "bent". A bit grotesque in this case is the fact that we can use it to control the equipment settings, but to do this, you still have to stand directly above the beam to read what is displayed on the screen ...

The remote control is good in the hand, but we don't really use it that often.

In everyday use, it is useful when we use the soundbar on our own, e.g. to play music and want to quickly turn down or stop the playback. Although here we actually reached for the phone more often, because it was usually the sound that was transmitted from it (or via Spotify Connect, also managed by the application).

There is no dedicated application, but it's actually better if we use the Samsung microsystem anyway.

The phone can be connected both via Bluetooth (although it is known here that the sound quality will be noticeably worse - this is due to the limitations of such communication), and via our Wi-Fi network (eg AirPlay 2 or Google Home). The device can also be controlled by Alexa and Google voice assistants, although we did not have the opportunity to thoroughly test this. Finally, we are left with the Samsung SmartThings app, which gives you the most control and access to all hardware settings.

Every device in the house should easily connect to the Q950A in order to transfer music - here the home control panel also acts as the central player.

Naturally, when the soundbar is connected to the TV, the volume is controlled by the TV remote control, and the soundbar itself activates and deactivates at the same time as turning the TV on / off. In the case of Samsung TVs from the newer series, you can additionally use their very extensive sound system to support the building of the sound stage by Q-Symphony and with this accent we can move on to the proper discussion of our experience of using the Samsung Q950A. But first, a quick look at the full specs.

Thanks to Q-Symphony, we can emphasize the upper channels even better and better position the sound on the main stage - for Dolby Atmos content, we definitely recommend it!

Specification of the Samsung Q950A set

Kit name: Samsung HW-Q800A
Total power: 616 W.
Audio format: 11.1.4
Subwoofer type: Active, wireless; 8 ", 160 W, bass reflex
Other speakers: 3x 10 W tweeter (front channels); 6x 18 W midrange (two for each of the 3 front channels); 6x 18 W mid-tweeter (one for the side and ceiling channels); 6x 35 W mid-tweeter (three for each of the front channels); satellite)
Range of transmitted sound frequency: 35 - 20,000 Hz
Supported audio formats: Dolby Atmos; Dolby Digital 5.1; Dolby Digital Plus; Dolby TrueHD; DTS 5.1; DTS-HD (MA); DTS: X; 5.1 / 7.1 PCM
Wireless connectivity: 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.2; AirPlay 2; Spotify Connect;
Connectors: 2x HDMI 2.0 input; HDMI 2.0 output (4K 60 Hz) - eARC; optical input (Toslink); USB (service)
Decoded formats: AAC, MP3, WAV, OGG; FLAC, ALAC, AIFF
Beam dimensions: 1232 x 69.5 x 138 mm (W x H x D); weight 7.1 kg
Satellite dimensions: 125 x 203 x 141 mm (W x H x D); weight 1.8 kg
Subwoofer dimensions: 210 x 403 x 403 mm (WxHxD); weight 9.8 kg
Additional Features: Q-Symphony; Touch & Play; Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant; Auto SpaceFit Sound + calibration; Active Voice Amplifier
Accessories: remote control with batteries; wall mounting brackets; power supply and power cables
Colour: black
Energy consumption: 0.5-1000 W; ~ 80 W typical
Guarantee: 2 years
Price on the day of the test: PLN 4999

Subjective opinion of the author of the review

I must admit that I approached the testing of the set with very high requirements - the price of PLN 5,000 basically already rubs against basic home theater systems, from which my ears do not bleed, so the bar for the soundbar has been set high, especially since I also have contact with quite high-class equipment (at least an order of magnitude of the more expensive B&W + Denon set).

The Samsung Q950A takes the cinematic soundtrack and takes it to a whole new level

Quick unboxing and the placement of all the speakers made it possible to appreciate the significant advantage of such a solution over the classic ones - I did not plan to use a home theater in the living room and there were no speaker cables led anywhere, but Samsung does not need them - not even to the rear satellites. It was enough to connect the extension cord to one of the speakers (hidden under the couch, of course) to the power strip under the sofa.

Here the speakers are slightly more spaced - ultimately they should be mounted on dedicated stands or wall brackets.

I sat down on the couch, turned on the TV (Samsung QN95A immediately detected the soundbar and set it as the audio output) and launched the Dolby Atmos technological demo ... out of the camera frame. The volume set to 70% turned out to be the limit of decency for me, due to the desire to maintain good relations with my neighbors (who live in the building 30 meters next to ours).

Hardly anyone can afford such an arrangement of the speakers. In reality, however, they can fit quite well into most salons and, at most, for these few key sessions, their arrangement can be slightly improved.

However, it was not the technological demos that impressed me the most, but the films recorded using the Dolby Atmos and DTS: X system (with an indication of the former). The way the creators play with the sound can make you shiver on your back, as in the first episode of the second season of the Witcher series on Netflix, where at one point the heroine hears a voice in her head, which the Samsung Q950A perfectly represents by playing it through the upper channels (and the following after that, the fight scene is a masterpiece in terms of audio!). Similarly, in the latest Bond, the heroes had a radio conversation with each other, while leaving the dialogues spoken by the characters visible on the screen on the "mundane" channels - a sensational robot that greatly increases the immersion!

The use of ceiling channels, when we have at least four of them, makes an amazing impression, completely beyond the reach of a classic 5.1 home theater system

However, this is not the end of the attractions offered by these inconspicuous two satellites - as each of them supports two channels, the sound effect that surrounds us is practically perfectly reproduced here, without the "fading" between the speakers, characteristic of 5.1 speakers. This, of course, works best with "object" recorded content (which is Dolby Atmos), but activating the surround mode can quite cleverly use older 5.1 / 7.1 recordings to extend the sound to 11.1.4 offered by the Samsung Q950A.

A scene from the Witcher series (Netflix) - a great use of all the benefits of the 11.1.4 set has been made here. Man himself begins to look around the dark living room!

The spatiality of the sound is definitely a huge advantage of this set, but it is only half responsible for the jaw dropping to the floor. The 8-inch subwoofer does the job here. I would not like to write that it is inconspicuous, because it is one of the larger models that come with soundbars, but with the (much more expensive than the entire Q950A set) boxes dedicated to home theater, it looks quite modest. Meanwhile, it turns out that it can generate such low descents that we would definitely not expect, even from these larger structures.

Samsung's subwoofer in movies can make a huge difference - make an inconspicuous explosion on the screen evoke our subconscious need to seek shelter

Anyway, I'm not even talking about the most obvious scenes, in which everything explodes and the earth part. The bass box of the Q950A set can make even such details as tapping the cane on the ground in the movie (A Boy Called Christmas' 2021) cause us to worry about our dance floor in the living room ... You can really feel it, not just hear it!

This is a photo from the Q800A review, but since the subwoofers are identical ..;)

To make sure that I was not exaggerating with admiration, I went to the movie I had just watched at home (Dune with Blu-Ray) on a Samsung Q950A set (and a QN95A TV - you could read a review of a similar QN91A model earlier) to the cinema (quite an intimate room with large adjustable seats and Dolby Atmos certification). Effect? Cinema is definitely losing here! Yes - the big screen has its advantages, although I missed a bit of the contrast offered by the new miniLED screens, but in terms of sound, the cinema room did not defend itself.

Sound from Samsung Q950A better than in the cinema? Yes, especially if you like loud screenings!

The sound positioning in the theater room was average at best, despite using even more channels. It might have been the result of the huge cubature of the room or the location of the speakers in relation to the viewer, but anyway, the impressions were noticeably worse than in the privacy of your home. Although the term "quiet" in this case is more appropriate for a cinema room, because it was at home that I could (and wanted to) experience the film with greater volume.

With the Samsung Q950A, you always have the best cinema seat without leaving your home :)

Of course, man does not live by film and series alone (although they will probably be) and the home sound system must also be good at playing music. There is nothing to be charmed about here. Even a cheaper amplifier + stereo speakers set will sound much better. Samsung definitely lacks detail in the upper parts, and the powerful bass that overturns the guts in the movies gets completely lost in the faster songs.

The Samsung Q950A is a perfect home theater system, but it is very average when it comes to playing music

At the same time, don't get me wrong - it is still a very pleasant sound and is even above average among competing soundbars. It works very well as background music, for conversation, work or home cleaning (it seems that our robot started cleaning even faster from the moment I connected the Q950A soundbar;)). What I'm trying to convey is that there is no need to count on a thrilling experience while recreating your favorite concerts or albums. Although I can imagine that it can do very well and very loud in some genres of music

A few more details

The Samsung Q950A set, as for the highest product in the manufacturer's line, offers a full package of additional functions. Here are a few more that we haven't mentioned before:

It's time for a handful of tests

We checked a few parameters that can quite objectively help in assessing the tested set. We started by examining the actual frequency of the transmitted sounds (for a tolerance of +/- 3 dB). Here the result surprised us a bit - while the descents to almost 33 Hz are definitely noticeable and there are no surprises, the reaching 18 500 Hz on the other side of the chart surprised us. Another thing we tested is the maximum volume level and here the 99dB result coincides with what we hear - it's very loud!

Measurements confirm what we feel subjectively - Samsung Q950A is a powerful set that perfectly fulfills its role in home theater

Finally, we checked the signal-to-noise ratio - even at 80% volume it is very good - higher than we would expect from non-audiophile equipment. For 80 dB THD was only 0.21, but from this level it started to increase up to 1.35 for the highest volume setting (which is closer to the performance we associate with soundbars).

These white dots on the front are basically the only things we see when steering from the couch ... There are three in total and they can change color, but we would prefer to see the display here anyway.

We also measured the delay that the set adds when we send a signal through it, e.g. from a console - the result is about 20 ms, which for our very fast Samsung QN95A TV means a result of 20 ms in game mode - a very good result. The audio itself is characterized by a delay of about 60 ms (desynchronization of the image with the sound) - the difference is not detectable by the ear, but can be compensated for in the TV settings if necessary.

Samsung Q950A power consumption measurement [W]

Watch: 5
Music Playback (Spotify) Stereo, Volume 20%: 19
Movie playback (ARC) Surround, volume 20%: 31
Movie Playback (ARC) Surround Volume 70%: 86
Movie Playback (ARC) Surround Volume 100%: 99

You might expect that the energy consumption of such an extensive and powerful set will also be huge, but in this matter the Samsung soundbar leaves all classic home theater systems far behind. Of course, the results are higher than in a typical 3.2.1 soundbar, but taking into account how much more the set tested today offers, it does not make sense to even analyze it.

Is it worth choosing the Samsung Q950A as a home theater system?

The tested set offers a powerful experience during film screenings or the latest "movie" series. The sound literally surrounds the viewer, and the dynamics of the sound can create a perfect illusion of presence in the film (especially when accompanied by an excellent TV, such as in our case Samsung QN95A). At a price of up to PLN 5,000, it is in vain to look for even half of such a powerful-sounding classic set (amplifier, five speakers and a subwoofer) that we will not even mention the more advanced ones with speakers in the ceiling (because it is an order of magnitude higher price).

Kitchen stools can even replace the target coasters well, although of course they are not the essence of functionality and style.

Of course, however, there are certain factors to consider alternatives - the main one being the issue of sound quality in music playback. While the typical movie soundtracks sound great, the more classical music (in a general sense, but also in terms of genre) will sound better on other types of equipment (than sound bars in general). If listening to music is important to you, then subtract one eye from the final grade. Another aspect will be having an irregular vault in our showroom - for optimal operation of the upper channel it is required to have a flat ceiling at a height of 2.5-3 m.

Soundbars are always a compromise, but the Samsung Q950A almost breaks this pattern!

However, if you are looking for a set that will extract 110% of the soundtrack of the latest movies and series, and pamper you with the comfort of control and a multitude of functions, look no further - you just found it. Even despite a few of the drawbacks described, the set is definitely worth the money.

The satellites can always be turned temporarily or even moved to deliver more music to other rooms - can your home theater do this?

Of course, the PLN 5,000 is definitely not a small amount, but looking through the prism of possibilities, it seems to be a real opportunity. We recommend finding out how much free-standing sets with similar capabilities (for example 7.1.4) cost - these are always 5-digit amounts. The fact that they will be more universal (they will work better in music), but the question will arise where to put these 12 columns and who will lead the speaker wires to the ceiling? The Samsung Q950A is indeed an amazing opportunity to experience the highest quality cinema sound at a relatively low cost and trouble with implementation.

Our review of the Samsung Q950A in the Home Cinema Soundbar category

100% 5/5

Review of the Samsung HW-Q950A

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