Samsung and Sonos are two popular soundbar brands that offer great value for the money. While shopping for the next soundbar to pair with your home theater, you may have come across the Samsung Q990B and Sonos Arc and wondered, ‘which of these products is the right soundbar for me?’
In our Samsung Q990B vs. Sonos Arc, we compare each product according to what you’d look for in a premium soundbar, including design, connectivity, features, and sound quality. Because the Samsung product is purchased as a bundle with accessories while the Sonos is a standalone, you will want to consider your setup carefully if you are price-shopping.
So, which one is best for you? Let’s take a deep dive into the two premium soundbars right now!
The Q990B’s claim to fame is its True 11.1.4ch sound, alongside wireless Dolby Atmos and SpaceFit Sound+ technology. Custom audio calibration and 11 channels, plus the subwoofer, is a must-experience for those who want truly immersive entertainment.
At an MSRP north of $1,500, the Q990B is not for the faint of heart. And if you could get around the problem most buyers had (wireless sound disconnects at random) then you’re looking at a pretty solid buy.
There are specific features, such as Adaptive Sound, Q-Symphony, Active Voice Amplifier, and Game Pro Mode, which work very well if you have a Samsung TV and gaming consoles, so it’s something to consider if you want to build an entertainment center that complements one another.
- Works very well with Samsung TVs and other soundbars
- Wireless Dolby Atmos speakers
- Rich, room-filling sound
- A bit pricey, and can only be purchased as a bundle
- Wireless speakers sometimes disconnect intermittently
The Arc is what modern soundbars should be — sleek, packed full of features, and with range and sound quality that’s nearly equal to traditional theater speaker setups. What’s mind-boggling is that Sonos has managed to fit eleven distinct speakers inside, including two height channels to create a one-of-a-kind product.
A sub-$1,000 price tag only sweetens the deal, but then some buyers say that the sound quality isn’t as great compared to high-end soundbars with separate speakers. Trueplay tuning technology adapts to the room’s dimensions, and setup only comprises of two steps — plugging it in and connecting the Arc to your TV or device.
Oh, and you can impress guests at parties by using the Arc’s touch and voice controls to adjust the volume, change tracks, and more.
- Elegant design fits every home theater setup
- Sonos Voice, Google Assistant, and Alexa support for hands-free control
- Very easy to install
- Bass may sound a bit muddy
- The lack of physical control buttons can be disorienting
The Q990B has a traditional, all-black exterior that doesn’t stray too far from the pack. Take a closer look and you’ll see the faintly-visible round channels at the front, as well as the Samsung logo emblazoned on every piece.
The soundbar unit sports sharp-angle tapered edges to give it a modern vibe. It instantly adds to the aesthetic atmosphere when you place it in front of your TV. That aside, Samsung won’t win any innovative design awards with the Q990B, but that’s just us nitpicking.
The Sonos Arc comes in either Black or White, with the White color option having a slight edge in terms of aesthetics. Its footprint isn’t too large — the Arc is just the size of a cardboard tube, and up front is the famed Sonos logo and a small LED light.
The soundbar is light enough to be installed anywhere you like, including mounted to a wall or placed atop furniture. Sonos has done a great job of making the Arc look good, and it’s instantly recognizable even for those who don’t own one.
A soundbar’s connectivity options can be a dealbreaker since TV owners will ask at one point, ‘how can I connect the soundbar to my TV?’
Luckily, the Q990B has several options, including Bluetooth, optical, and HDMI, just to name a few. Yes, the Q990B supports HDMI ARC and eARC, and if you have a Samsung TV then you can take advantage of this by going to your TV’s settings and enabling it.
Samsung’s premium soundbar can also connect via lesser-known Tidal Hi-Fi, and if you constantly stream music on Spotify you’ll be pleased to know that it has native support for Spotify Connect. You can also AirPlay music, podcasts, and audiobooks from your iPhone or iPad wirelessly.
It should be noted right out of the gate that the Sonos Arc doesn’t have Bluetooth connectivity, which can be a non-factor for those who have newer TVs.
The Arc soundbar mainly connects via HDMI eARC (or ARC) port with the included cable. If you want to use your TV’s optical, then it’s recommended that you attach the optical audio adapter first before plugging it in.
There’s an Ethernet port for hardwiring to your home internet, as well as WiFi at 2.4GHz frequency. There’s also Apple AirPlay 2 technology if you want to rock out using your iPhone, Mac, or iPad.
Now here’s where things start to get interesting. At the forefront is True 11.1.4ch sound, with 11 channels, 4 up-firing channels, and a subwoofer to fill the room with detailed audio. The Q990B is the world’s first soundbar to have wireless Dolby Atmos, which means you’re not encumbered by wires or cables to experience surround sound. To make this work, you’ll need a compatible 2022 Samsung TV and a Wi-Fi network with 2.4 or 5GHz frequency.
The Q990B works better if your TV is the same brand. If you happen to have some spare Samsung soundbars or speakers lying around, you can connect them all through Q-Symphony and an HDMI cable.
As with any respectable soundbar, there’s room-filling technology in the form of SpaceFit+ Sound. The processor chip analyzes the room the soundbar is in, then calibrates the audio so the sound is thrown at the best angle and range.
If your TV and game console supports it, you can enable Game Pro Mode to enable 3D audio, or Adaptive Sound for news, movie, sports, and dialog. The AVA, or Active Voice Amplifier makes it easy for those who want to elevate the actor or actress’s voice and make it rise above the music and sound effects in TV shows and movies.
Outside of TV, the Q990B proves to be quite the entertainer. You can play a podcast or your favorite playlist from your phone simply by tapping the device on the soundbar. Bluetooth and AirPlay 2 are there, as are built-in Alexa controls.
There’s a remote included, and a wall mount kit if you want your soundbar lifted off the ground.
The Arc packs premium engineered sound inside its modern frame. It’s been fine-tuned for crystal-clear dialogue, and you can enable Speech Enhancement for even greater clarity.
Once installed, you can allow the soundbar to attune to its surroundings and come up with the best acoustics for localization. This way, the sound hits you at the right moment and elevates the experience.
If you think that a single soundbar unit isn’t enough, then you’d be happy to know that you can mix and match Sonos speakers and products to build your very own home theater system. This may require a bit of tinkering and know-how, but you can always turn to the Sonos app for help. Rear speakers (such as a pair of Sonos One SLs) and a subwoofer (the Sonos Sub) connect rather well via Wi-Fi for wireless convenience.
In the absence of hardware controls, you’ll have four ways to manage the volume, playlist, and settings. There’s AirPlay 2, using the TV remote, the Sonos app, and a hidden touch panel at the Arc’s top section. The TV remote sync is a nice touch and eliminates extra clutter by having another remote to control the sound.
The Arc has built-in Alexa and Google Assistant, which act as smart assistants for all your other activities, including managing your other smart devices. Sonos Voice Control works the same way, albeit limited to the Sonos ecosystem.
Using the Sonos app is a snap, and you’ll be able to change granular options once it’s downloaded on your smartphone. Some of the things you can enable here are Night Sound, Speech Enhancement, the equalizer, and more.
Before we forget, the package doesn’t include a wall mount or extendable TV mount, which can be purchased separately.
The Q990B blows you away with powerful audio at a whopping 656 watts. The soundbar system can fill a medium-sized room quite well without loss of detail or quality, but you’ll really have to think about positioning and where each speaker should be for immersive sound.
Dolby Atmos is a wonder to behold, and the way it works within a wireless platform is truly impressive. To get all the bells and whistles, we recommend letting the device pick up the layout of the room first, then enable Adaptive Sound.
The subwoofer churns out respectable bass in music and where there’s rumbling in movies and shows, but you may be interrupted now and then when the speaker disconnects. Troubleshooting may vary, but we recommend moving the WiFi router closer to the soundbar or having the separate speakers moved closer to the main soundbar unit. Disabling the 5GHz network can work as well.
The Arc puts out excellent cinematic sound in Dolby Atmos, enveloping you and making you feel as if you’re really there. Trueplay tuning adapts to the acoustics of the room, and the height channels calibrate to the walls and listeners quite quickly.
The soundbar is just as good with the TV turned off. You can stream content via AirPlay 2 or Sonos and at the same quality. In the absence of a dedicated subwoofer, some may say that the bass is a bit muddy, but you can always add supported boxes to fill in a need.
What the Arc excels is in voice clarity. Even without Speech Enhancement, you can hear the difference, and the voice gets a dedicated channel to achieve this end. With the option enabled, the on-screen voice gets an even better boost so you won’t have to lean forward to catch the conversation. This works even when there are frequent whisperings and quiet talks with a loud background sound.
On the other end, Sonos has thoughtfully added a ‘Night Sound’ mode for smaller spaces. It equalizes loud sounds and quiet ones so as to not disturb people who might be sleeping.
Samsung Q990B vs. Sonos Arc Conclusion
Both the Q990B and Arc are highly respectable soundbars in their own right, and they both have modern technologies that make them a superb fit in any smart home or home entertainment system.
The Arc is sleeker and fits most spaces, while the Q990B will require a bit of space in your room. You can also connect compatible speakers and soundbars to really maximize the sound.
Ultimately, you should let your goals and budget make the decision.
The Sonos Arc functions well as an all-in-one system and is cheaper than the Q990B as a standalone device. However, the Arc will end up being much more expensive if paired with a sub and surround speakers — in this case you may be wise to save money with the bundled Q990B.