Samsung HW-Q800A review: Samsung TV users will get the most out of it

With its tight, exact, and immersive sound, the $700 Samsung HW-Q800A makes for a compelling, compact, and feature-packed soundbar, though a few of its greatest methods are reserved for these with Samsung TVs and smartphones. Packing Dolby Atmos and DTS:X assist, together with built-in Alexa and AirPlay 2, this three.1.2-channel soundbar (upgradable to five.1.Four with an non-obligatory wi-fi encompass speaker package) delivers wealthy, managed sound, whereas its low-profile housing will forestall it from blocking the underside of your TV display.

Sadly, among the Q800A’s most attention-grabbing options, together with its “Q Symphony” audio expertise and room-correction performance, solely work with Samsung TVs, which suggests homeowners of different TV manufacturers gained’t get essentially the most bang for his or her bucks. That mentioned, the Q800A’s $700 listing value is fairly affordable given its characteristic set, even if you happen to don’t rely the Samsung TV-enabled features.

This assessment is a part of TechHive’s protection of one of the best soundbars. Click on that hyperlink to learn opinions of competing merchandise, together with a purchaser’s information to the options you must take into account when buying.

Specs

The Samsung HW-Q800A is a three.1.2-channel soundbar, which suggests it has discrete drivers for the left, proper, and middle channels (the “three” within the soundbar’s three.1.2 designation), together with a subwoofer for low-frequency results (the “.1”), and upfiring drivers for peak results (the ultimate “2”).

The primary soundbar unit has a complete of seven drivers, together with a pair of woofers and two tweeters which are cut up between the left and proper channels, plus a wide-range tweeter for the middle channel. Two extra upfiring drivers (which use Samsung’s horn-style Acoustic Beam expertise) bounce pontificate the ceiling for the peak cues of object-based Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundtracks, a neater and cheaper different to putting in precise peak audio system in your ceiling. All seven of these drivers are powered by a quartet of Class D amplifiers, whereas a fifth Class D amp is devoted to the Eight-inch driver within the wi-fi subwoofer.

As a result of it lacks encompass audio system, the HW-Q800A remixes Atmos, DTS:X, and 5.1-channel content material for its three.1.2-channel configuration. If you need true 5.1.Four encompass sound (together with two rear peak channels, for a complete of 4), you’ll be able to add Samsung’s $250 rear wireless speaker kit (SWA-9500S), though doing so will carry the soundbar’s general value as much as $950. That may sound like lots of money (and it’s), however the actuality is that a premium 5.1.Four-channel soundbar with Wi-Fi connectivity (which is what you’d find yourself with when you add the wi-fi speaker package) will price you a few thousand bucks lately.

Apart from the non-obligatory rear speaker package, the HW-Q800A can sync up with the built-in audio system of “choose” 2020 and 2021 Samsung TVs utilizing a expertise Samsung calls “Q-Symphony.” When paired collectively, the Q800A and a supported Samsung TV can ship “completely synchronized” sound for a “harmonious, cinematic expertise,” the producer guarantees.

Sounds cool, however like many who find yourself selecting the Q800A, I don’t personal a Samsung TV; as an alternative, I’ve an LG C9 OLED TV. The upshot is that I wasn’t in a position to take a look at the Q800A’s Q-Symphony capabilities, and certainly, this isn’t the one performance on the soundbar that depends on both a Samsung TV or a telephone. Those that don’t have a big-screen Sammy of their front room might want to take into account whether or not they’re OK with spending prime greenback on a soundbar just like the Q800A with options they gained’t be capable to absolutely make the most of.

Among the finest qualities of the Q800A is its dimension: small, comparatively talking. Measuring 38.6 x 2.Four x Four.5 inches (WxHxD), the Q800A is far narrower and shorter than earlier Samsung fashions I’ve examined. Take 2019’s HW-Q90R, a 7.1.Four soundbar that was so tall that it blocked a bit of my LG C9’s display. The Q800A, then again (and like Samsung’s newer soundbars, together with the pricier ones), has a a lot shorter profile that hardly grazes the underside fringe of my LG OLED TV. Another choice, after all, could be to put in the soundbar beneath your wall-hung TV, which you are able to do utilizing the included wall mount information and bracket/screw package.

Inputs and outputs

The HW-Q800A’s numerous A/V and energy interfaces sit inside two rear cavities on the primary soundbar unit. Within the left cavity, you’ll discover an optical digital (Toslink) enter, a microUSB service port for updating the soundbar’s firmware (you can even set up firmware updates by way of the web), and a barrel-shaped port for the unit’s DC 19V energy adapter (which has an in-line energy brick, which means there’s no wall wart on the precise two-prong plug). There’s no legacy RCA-style plug, nonetheless, neither is there a three.5mm audio jack, which suggests you gained’t be capable to join the soundbar to older TVs that lack HDMI or optical connectors.

samsung hw q800a left inputs Ben Patterson/IDG

The Samsung HW-Q900A has two HDMI connectors: a single HDMI enter, and an HDMI-eARC inferface that doubles as an HDMI output with 4K HDR and HDR10+ passthrough.

Talking of HDMI connectors, you’ll discover two of them Within the Q800A’s left cavity, together with an HDMI enter and an HDMI output that doubles as an HDMI-ARC interface, full with assist for eARC, an “enhanced” model of ARC that helps lossless audio (you’ll be able to learn all about ARC and eARC on this different article).

The 2 HDMI connectors provide you with a few choices for connecting video sources. One possibility could be to attach an HDMI part (equivalent to a streaming video participant, a Blu-ray participant, or a sport console) on to the soundbar, after which join the soundbar to the TV by way of the HDMI output. The Q800A helps 4K HDR passthrough, together with HDR10+, however not Dolby Imaginative and prescient (no shock, provided that Samsung backs solely the HDR10+ customary). Whereas connecting a video supply on to the soundbar is simple, the only HDMI enter means you’ll be restricted to a single supply—and certainly, we’d count on a soundbar on this value vary to incorporate not less than two HDMI inputs.

samsung hw q800a right inputs Ben Patterson/IDG

The best-side Q800A inputs embrace an optical (Toslink) connection, a microUSB port for putting in firmware updates, and a barrel-shaped connector for the soundbar’s DC 19V energy adapter.

Another choice could be to attach the Q800A’s HDMI-ARC interface to the matching port in your TV after which join all of your video sources to the TV’s HDMI inputs. The great thing about this setup is that you just’ll solely be restricted by the variety of HDMI inputs in your TV (typically three or extra), and also you’ll additionally have the option ship audio out of your TV’s built-in tuner and streaming apps (equivalent to, for instance, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+) to the soundbar. And because the Q800A helps eARC, you might take heed to lossless Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Grasp Audio soundtracks on Blu-ray discs by way of the HDMI-ARC port, supplied your TV additionally helps eARC.

Setup

Putting in a soundbar in your front room is often a straightforward course of (that’s one of many greatest points of interest of getting a soundbar within the first place), and the HW-Q800A doesn’t include any unwelcome surprises within the setup division.

As I discussed earlier, you’ll be able to both place the soundbar in entrance of your TV or set up it beneath your TV with the included mounting supplies. Subsequent, you place the wi-fi subwoofer (which, as all the time, has an influence wire, which means it’s not completely wi-fi) in a handy spot within the room (hopefully not too near your couch, nor snuggled too close to a wall or caught deep in a nook). When you energy each the soundbar and the subwoofer on, the 2 models ought to robotically pair with one another; in the event that they don’t (they did for me), a straightforward guide pairing course of ought to do the trick.

After you join the Q800A to your TV (an HDMI and optical cable are included within the field) and the subwoofer is paired up, it’s time so as to add the soundbar to your Wi-Fi community, which you are able to do utilizing the Samsung SmartThings app. Fortunately, the method isn’t too difficult; the app shortly discovered the soundbar, and shortly after getting into my Wi-Fi credentials, the Q800A was related and on-line.

A remaining setup possibility is to attach the Q800A to your TV by way of Wi-Fi or Bluetooth relatively than a wired connection, though you’ll want (you guessed it) a Samsung TV to do this.

Controls, distant, and app management

On prime of the Q800A are simply 4 buttons: a “multifunction” button that wakes the soundbar from standby mode in addition to switches inputs; two quantity management buttons; and a mic-mute button for Alexa you could press for privateness.

samsung hw q800a top controls Ben Patterson/IDG

The HW-Q800A’s mic-mute button on the correct may give you some privateness from Alexa.

The Q800A’s wand stays unchanged from earlier years—certainly, it’s precisely the identical distant that got here with 2019’s Q90R, amongst different fashions. Whereas different soundbar wands come cluttered with buttons, the Samsung distant retains it easy, choosing a central four-way navigation pad, enter and Bluetooth pairing buttons above, mute and settings buttons under, a sound mode button (we’ll dip into the varied sound modes momentarily), and rockers for the primary soundbar and subwoofer quantity ranges. It’s a easy format that’s straightforward to determine at nighttime.

samsung hw q800a remote Ben Patterson/IDG

Samsung’s customary soundbar distant doesn’t boast many buttons, but it surely’s straightforward to make use of at nighttime.

Additionally unchanged is the Q800A’s three- to four-character show, which sits on the correct finish of the soundbar, peeking out from the black aluminum speaker grille. The indicator lights as much as present you the amount degree, detected sound format, the present enter, and the varied setting submenus. The show is kind of shiny, but it surely goes to sleep after just a few seconds, so it’s not distracting whilst you’re watching a video. Beneath the show is a blue mild that flashes when Alexa is awake and listening to you. While you press the mic-mute button, this mild turns crimson.

The Samsung SmartThings app is meant extra for sensible dwelling management relatively than audio, however you can management some soundbar settings inside the app. For instance, you’ll be able to change between the 4 sound modes (Commonplace, Encompass, Sport, and Adaptive Sound, which we’ll cowl in a bit), in addition to tweak bass and treble ranges and EQ sliders, modify the subwoofer degree, and allow the voice enhancer, bass booster, and evening modes. The app additionally allows you to add the soundbar to a room in your SmartThings dwelling, grouped with sensible lights and different sensible gadgets.

Options and performance

The HW-Q800A comes with many of the perks we prefer to see in a premium soundbar, beginning with audio casting within the type of Apple’s AirPlay 2. Which means you’ll be able to solid audio to the Q800A from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, together with tunes from any put in music app, equivalent to these from Amazon Music, Spotify, Tidal, YouTube Music, or Apple Music. You can too group the soundbar with different AirPlay 2-enabled audio system in a multi-room audio setup. Chromecast isn’t supported, however that’s not shocking; typically talking, soundbars will assist both AirPlay 2 or Chromecast, however not each. In case you are an Android relatively than an Apple person, you’ll be able to all the time stream tunes to the soundbar by way of Bluetooth.

The Q800A additionally works as a Spotify Join system, which means you’ll be able to tee up tunes from Spotify on virtually any system after which select the soundbar because the speaker output.

Apart from AirPlay 2 and Spotify Join, the Q800A comes with Alexa on board. To get began, simply sign up together with your Amazon credentials utilizing the SmartThings app. When you’re signed in, you’ll be able to chat with Alexa on the soundbar simply as you’ll on another Echo speaker, which suggests you’ll be able to ask in regards to the climate, get information headlines, add objects to your buying listing, play music (supported companies embrace Amazon Music, Spotify, Deezer, and Tidal), and even management sensible dwelling gadgets. You can too ask Alexa to alter the soundbar’s quantity, mute the audio, or flip the unit off, however the voice command is so clunky (“Alexa, set quantity to five on Samsung soundbar”) that you just’re higher off merely reaching for the distant.

One other fast phrase about Alexa on the Q800A: For now, her quantity is tied to the primary soundbar quantity, which suggests if you happen to beforehand had the sound dialed up for a present or a film, Alexa could START SHOUTING AT YOU the following time you wake her, except you remembered to show the amount again down. Ideally, the Q800A would have a discrete quantity setting for Alexa, and the excellent news is that Samsung is “engaged on an answer for later this yr,” I’m advised.

A pair different Q800A options will (as with the “Q-Symphony” characteristic) solely work along with Samsung TVs and smartphones. SpaceFit Sound, for instance, robotically calibrates the Q800A’s audio primarily based on the acoustics of the room; nonetheless, it requires a 2021 Samsung QLED TV (mannequin Q70+ or higher), and as I’ve an LG TV, I wasn’t in a position to take a look at the characteristic.

It’s value noting that room-calibration options for different high-end soundbars, equivalent to these from LG, Bluesound, and Sonos, don’t care what sort of TV you’ve gotten. You’ll encounter the identical restriction with Samsung’s Faucet Sound characteristic that allows you to faucet your Samsung telephone (I’ve an iPhone) on the soundbar to reflect no matter music is enjoying on the handset.

Click on right here for extra in regards to the Samsung HW-Q900A’s sound modes and audio efficiency