For discerning customers who love a good home entertainment experience, the quality of standard TV audio does not end up being enough. While inbuilt TV speakers have gotten a lot better with time, the size restrictions and positional constraints can sometimes leave a lot to be desired.
The solution, in many cases, is to invest in a quality soundbar.
Soundbars have become popular for providing a high-quality audio experience when paired with TVs, while also providing other functionality, often with Bluetooth audio, surround sound, and other features.
Samsung has often led the charge when it comes to soundbars, creating popular products that lead the pack in terms of features and performance.
In this article, we are comparing some of the most popular Samsung soundbars, the Q700A, the Q800A, the Q800B, and the Q900A. We will look at the USPs, major differences, and what might be a good choice for you according to your requirements.
At their core, the major difference in the soundbars lies in the number of audio channels they can render.
All of these Samsung soundbars have built-in support for three-dimensional audio in the form of advanced standards like Dolby Atmos and DTS. To facilitate the rendering of 3D audio, soundbars utilize a number of speaker units built into the soundbar body to recreate the separate audio channels.
Usually, this consists of multiple standard audio channels that fire audio out at an ear level. They also have different directionality, thereby helping with the creation of a 3D space. This is combined with one subwoofer unit that helps render the lower frequencies.
The package is rounded out by a couple of speakers that fire towards the ceiling. By manipulating their output, the soundbars can use audio reflections to create the complete experience of immersion in a 3D space.
The Samsung Q700A comes in as the lowest-priced unit in this comparison. This is a 3.1.2 unit that has three front channels, one subwoofer, and two up-firing channels (hence the 3/1/2 numbers). The higher-priced Q800A is also a 3.1.2 unit, but with better audio quality and more advanced features.
The Q800B, on the other hand, is a 5.1.2 unit, which ramps up the number of front-firing speakers to five. With more of these channels, the audio experience can become significantly better.
The most expensive soundbar in the comparison, the Q900A, is a 7.1.2 unit, providing a truly premium and immersive three-dimensional audio experience.
Therefore, it becomes clear that the two main considerations while choosing between these speakers are the number of audio channels you want and your budget. Read on for a more in-depth comparison of sound quality and features.
Entertainment content that customers view on large TVs and displays often contains audio that is encoded according to a surround sound standard.
The soundbar decodes this audio and pushes the appropriate audio to the appropriate channel, creating a three-dimensional space that creates a truly immersive experience, particularly while watching movies or playing games.
The Q700A and Q800A from Samsung can provide you with an entry into the realm of surround sound, with the important proviso that these being 3.1.2 units do not come with satellite speakers.
Satellite speakers are usually placed at different locations in the listening space, typically in the front and rear corners. Their impact on the experience is crucial and 3.1.2 systems, at best, can only provide a watered-down experience as they have to sum this content to stereo so that it can be played back on the 3.1.2 system. Both models have top-firing beam-forming speakers that aid in the creation of the 3D space.
With that said, the Q700A and the Q800A both perform reasonably well in terms of sound quality, with the higher-priced Q800A providing a more natural, well-rounded soundstage. The bass extension is more pronounced and the higher frequencies do not sound harsh or tinny, making for pleasant listening even for long hours.
One major point of difference is the Active Voice Amplifier technology in the Q800A that identifies and amplifies speech content so that users can enjoy crystal-clear dialogue while watching movies.
The Samsung Q800B is a significant upgrade from the previous two soundbars, with a segment-first wireless audio connection feature with select Samsung smart TVs that helps users enjoy a great audio experience without worrying about cables. This is a 5.1.2 system that can truly elevate the experience, creating a more concrete audio space for a believable experience.
These speakers also present an upgrade path as users can later purchase a separately sold wireless rear speaker kit to upgrade the surround capabilities. For the Q700A and Q800A, this gives users a chance to effectively upgrade to a 5.1.2 system down the line while with the Q800B users can end up with a capable 7.1.2 system with the addition of the wireless rear speakers. Since all of these units come without rear surround speakers, this can be a smart upgrade option in the future.
The highest-priced Q900A also provides the most premium audio experience, being 7.1.2 capable out of the box. The package lets users enjoy the full impact of the surround experience without having to make any additional purchases. The adaptive audio features and support for the latest HDMI and wireless audio standards translate into a convenient, hassle-free experience.
If your priority is sound quality, the Q900A becomes the automatic choice. Based on this, according to your budget, you can obtain decent results with the other models as well, especially if you consider upgrading to the extra rear speakers later.
All four of the Samsung soundbars under review have a myriad of extra features that can lead to convenient use in many scenarios. Moreover, in many of these cases, these features are only available if you pair these soundbars with one of the compatible Samsung TVs to fully enjoy their impact.
The first important feature that can easily let you extend the capability of these soundbars is the Q-Symphony feature.
When paired with a compatible Samsung TV, you can get even more impact out of these speakers as they combine seamlessly with the speakers built into the TV. These play in sync, offering more audio channels to play with and more volume range. This is a great way to make use of the built-in TV speakers to elevate the experience.
These speakers also come with SpaceFit Sound technology, again available when used in conjunction with compatible Samsung QLED televisions. This calibrates the sound of the soundbar to properly fill your entire entertainment space. This makes for a consistent listening experience irrespective of where you are located in the space. It also prevents blind spots and changes to the sound signature based on your location in the room.
In the Q900A, you get SpaceFit Sound+, an enhanced version that makes use of calibration and auto EQ to deliver a sound that is perfectly tuned to your listening space. It also has the ability to adapt to different room dimensions and speaker placements.
All of these soundbars come with a Game Pro mode that uses directional audio capabilities and beam-forming up-firing speakers to provide three-dimensional audio while gaming.
The soundbars are also equipped with the Alexa voice assistant, giving you a whole range of extra functionality that ranges from assistant features to smart home control.
Since the soundbars support HDMI eARC technology, they can be connected to the TVs with a single cable and you can use a single, unified remote to control your entire setup.
Coupled with select Samsung televisions, you also get to experience multiple levels of adaptive audio playback, starting at a basic level in the Q700A and culminating in complex, nuanced calibrated playback with the Q900A. This feature actually tweaks the audio on a scene-by-scene basis, selecting the appropriate audio profile based on scene characteristics to ensure a seamless, high-definition audio experience.
Other interesting features include support for the AirPlay standard and tap-to-play support for NFC-equipped Samsung phones that can make it easier to use these soundbars to play music from your phone.
All the models support the Dolby Atmos and the DTS Virtual X standards, covering the entire gamut of currently available entertainment media that includes surround sound encoding.
The Role of Room Acoustics
Even if you have the best soundbar, it is important to remember that room acoustics can greatly impact your home theater audio experience. The sound coming from your soundbar is going to interact with the shape, size, and materials in your room, affecting what you hear.
Large rooms with hard, reflective surfaces (like wood or tile floors, windows, and bare walls) often result in sound reflections that can muddy the overall sound quality. Smaller rooms, on the other hand, may become easily overwhelmed with bass frequencies, leading to an audio experience that seems “boomy” or overpowered by low-end sounds.
To combat this, consider placing your soundbar and subwoofer wisely. It is best to position your soundbar directly below your TV for optimal listening. If you have a subwoofer, placing it in a corner often helps to amplify the bass.
Adding some simple acoustic treatments to your room, like rugs, curtains, or even dedicated foam panels, can help absorb unwanted sound reflections and significantly improve the audio experience. Thus, while purchasing a soundbar, don’t forget to account for the room’s characteristics.
Longevity and Maintenance of Your Soundbar
Investing in a high-quality soundbar means you’ll want it to last for a good while. Just like any other piece of electronic equipment, soundbars need regular maintenance to ensure they function optimally.
Avoid exposing your soundbar to excessive heat or humidity, as these conditions can damage the internal components. Regular dusting is also important, as dust can build up over time and impair the sound quality. Use a dry, soft cloth to gently wipe the surface of the soundbar and keep it clean.
When connecting or disconnecting cables, always do so gently to avoid damaging the ports. It’s also advisable to periodically check the soundbar’s software and update it whenever necessary, as manufacturers often release updates to improve performance or fix bugs.
Remember, a well-maintained soundbar can provide excellent audio quality for years to come.
From the tight budget Q700A to the premium Q900A, there is a clear ramp of quality and price across this range of Samsung soundbars.
While the Q700A and the Q800A can be your entry to the world of surround audio in entertainment, the Q800B and the Q900A are the clear favorites if you want the quintessential surround experience as they provide more channels for better immersion.
While Samsung has done a fine job of maintaining a reasonable uniformity of added features across these models, it’s critical to remember the differences between 3.1.2, 5.1.2, and 7.1.2 systems before making a purchasing decision.
Also, to extract the most performance and use from these soundbars, make sure you have a compatible Samsung television. Without a compatible television, you will still get excellent audio, but many of the features are wasted. Before paying for these features, it might be worth considering a Sonos Arc or Bose 900. If you are committed to the Samsung ecosystem, also consider the Samsung Q950A, which we discuss further here.
Can I use these Samsung soundbars with a non-Samsung TV?
Yes, you can use these soundbars with non-Samsung TVs. However, some features like Q-Symphony and SpaceFit Sound, which enhance the audio experience, work only with compatible Samsung TVs. If you have a different brand of TV, you may not be able to utilize these features.
Do these Samsung soundbars support wireless subwoofers?
Yes, all the Samsung soundbars mentioned (Q700A, Q800A, Q800B, Q900A) come with a wireless subwoofer, allowing for a cleaner setup without the need for a physical connection between the soundbar and subwoofer.
What is the main difference between 3.1.2, 5.1.2, and 7.1.2 systems?
The difference lies in the number of audio channels each system can handle. A 3.1.2 system has three front channels, one subwoofer, and two overhead channels. A 5.1.2 system adds two more front channels for better directionality, and a 7.1.2 system adds two more for even greater immersion.
Can I use voice commands to control these Samsung soundbars?
Yes, all these Samsung soundbars come with built-in Alexa voice control. This means you can control your soundbar using voice commands, which is a handy feature for hands-free operation.
Can I add additional speakers to these Samsung soundbars in the future?
Yes, Samsung offers wireless rear speaker kits that can be purchased separately. These allow you to upgrade your audio system and enhance the surround sound experience. However, do verify the compatibility of the rear speakers with the soundbar model you have.