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 finest tips 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 3.1.2-channel soundbar (upgradable to five.1.4 with an non-compulsory wi-fi encompass speaker equipment) delivers wealthy, managed sound, whereas its low-profile housing will forestall it from blocking the underside of your TV display.

Sadly, a few of the Q800A’s most fascinating options, together with its “Q Symphony” audio know-how and room-correction performance, solely work with Samsung TVs, which suggests homeowners of different TV manufacturers received’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 in case you don’t depend the Samsung TV-enabled capabilities.

This evaluation is a part of TechHive’s protection of the most effective soundbars. Click on that hyperlink to learn opinions of competing merchandise, together with a purchaser’s information to the options it’s best to think about when procuring.

Specs

The Samsung HW-Q800A is a 3.1.2-channel soundbar, which suggests it has discrete drivers for the left, proper, and heart channels (the “3” within the soundbar’s 3.1.2 designation), together with a subwoofer for low-frequency results (the “.1”), and upfiring drivers for peak results (the ultimate “2”).

The principle soundbar unit has a complete of seven drivers, together with a pair of woofers and two tweeters which can be break 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 know-how) bounce hold forth 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 8-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 3.1.2-channel configuration. If you would like true 5.1.4 encompass sound (together with two rear peak channels, for a complete of 4), you’ll be able to add Samsung’s $250 rear wi-fi speaker equipment (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 5.1.4-channel soundbar with Wi-Fi connectivity (which is what you’d find yourself with when you add the wi-fi speaker equipment) will price you a couple of thousand bucks lately.

In addition to the non-compulsory rear speaker equipment, the HW-Q800A can sync up with the built-in audio system of “choose” 2020 and 2021 Samsung TVs utilizing a know-how 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 a substitute, I’ve an LG C9 OLED TV. The upshot is that I wasn’t capable of 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 think about whether or not they’re OK with spending prime greenback on a soundbar just like the Q800A with options they received’t be capable of absolutely make the most of.

Among the best qualities of the Q800A is its dimension: small, comparatively talking. Measuring 38.6 x 2.4 x 4.5 inches (WxHxD), the Q800A is far narrower and shorter than earlier Samsung fashions I’ve examined. Take 2019’s HW-Q90R, a 7.1.4 soundbar that was so tall that it blocked a piece of my LG C9’s display. The Q800A, however (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. An alternative choice, in fact, 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 equipment.

Inputs and outputs

The HW-Q800A’s numerous A/V and energy interfaces sit inside two rear cavities on the principle 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 through the web), and a barrel-shaped port for the unit’s DC 19V energy adapter (which has an in-line energy brick, that means there’s no wall wart on the precise two-prong plug). There’s no legacy RCA-style plug, nevertheless, neither is there a 3.5mm audio jack, which suggests you received’t be capable of 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 element (resembling a streaming video participant, a Blu-ray participant, or a recreation console) on to the soundbar, after which join the soundbar to the TV through 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+ normal). Whereas connecting a video supply on to the soundbar is straightforward, the one 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 no less than two HDMI inputs.

samsung hw q800a right inputs Ben Patterson/IDG

The correct-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.

An alternative 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 (usually three or extra), and also you’ll additionally find a way ship audio out of your TV’s built-in tuner and streaming apps (resembling, for instance, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+) to the soundbar. And because the Q800A helps eARC, you can hearken to lossless Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Grasp Audio soundtracks on Blu-ray discs through the HDMI-ARC port, offered your TV additionally helps eARC.

Setup

Putting in a soundbar in your front room is often a simple 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 at all times, has an influence wire, that 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 items ought to mechanically pair with one another; in the event that they don’t (they did for me), a simple 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 tough; the app rapidly discovered the soundbar, and shortly after getting into my Wi-Fi credentials, the Q800A was linked and on-line.

A ultimate setup possibility is to attach the Q800A to your TV through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth moderately 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 that you could press for privateness.

samsung hw q800a top controls Ben Patterson/IDG

The HW-Q800A’s mic-mute button on the precise can provide 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 assorted sound modes momentarily), and rockers for the principle soundbar and subwoofer quantity ranges. It’s a easy structure that’s simple to determine at midnight.

samsung hw q800a remote Ben Patterson/IDG

Samsung’s normal soundbar distant doesn’t boast many buttons, however it’s simple to make use of at midnight.

Additionally unchanged is the Q800A’s three- to four-character show, which sits on the precise finish of the soundbar, peeking out from the black aluminum speaker grille. The indicator lights as much as present you the quantity stage, detected sound format, the present enter, and the assorted setting submenus. The show is sort of brilliant, however it goes to sleep after just a few seconds, so it’s not distracting when you’re watching a video. Under the show is a blue gentle that flashes when Alexa is awake and listening to you. Once you press the mic-mute button, this gentle turns crimson.

The Samsung SmartThings app is meant extra for good house management moderately than audio, however you can management some soundbar settings throughout the app. For instance, you’ll be able to change between the 4 sound modes (Normal, Encompass, Recreation, and Adaptive Sound, which we’ll cowl in a bit), in addition to tweak bass and treble ranges and EQ sliders, alter the subwoofer stage, and allow the voice enhancer, bass booster, and night time modes. The app additionally enables you to add the soundbar to a room in your SmartThings house, grouped with good lights and different good units.

Options and performance

The HW-Q800A comes with a lot of the perks we wish 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 forged audio to the Q800A from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, together with tunes from any put in music app, resembling these from Amazon Music, Spotify, Tidal, YouTube Music, or Apple Music. You too can group the soundbar with different AirPlay 2-enabled audio system in a multi-room audio setup. Chromecast isn’t supported, however that’s not stunning; usually talking, soundbars will assist both AirPlay 2 or Chromecast, however not each. If you’re an Android moderately than an Apple consumer, you’ll be able to at all times stream tunes to the soundbar through Bluetooth.

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

In addition to AirPlay 2 and Spotify Join, the Q800A comes with Alexa on board. To get began, simply sign up along 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 some other Echo speaker, which suggests you’ll be able to ask concerning the climate, get information headlines, add objects to your procuring listing, play music (supported companies embrace Amazon Music, Spotify, Deezer, and Tidal), and even management good house units. You too can 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 principle soundbar quantity, which suggests in case you beforehand had the sound dialed up for a present or a film, Alexa could START SHOUTING AT YOU the subsequent time you wake her, except you remembered to show the quantity 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 12 months,” I’m informed.

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

It’s price noting that room-calibration options for different high-end soundbars, resembling these from LG, Bluesound, and Sonos, don’t care what sort of TV you will have. 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 taking part in on the handset.

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



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