Samsung HW-Q990D review: full immersion, no compromise

Samsung’s 2024 flagship soundbar delivers an immense spatial audio experience

T3 Platinum Award
Samsung HW-Q990D review
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

This peerless soundbar system delivers Dolby Atmos and DTS:X three-dimensional audio with incredible immersion and plenty of cinematic flair thanks to rear speakers and a powerful subwoofer. The use of high-quality drivers also makes it a good choice for music fans, while gamers will be delighted by the addition of HDMI 2.1 connections that lacked in previous models. The Samsung HW-Q990D is a near-flawless package if you're seeking incredible sonic immersion.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Incredibly immersive spatial audio delivery

  • +

    Powerful and well-integrated subwoofer

  • +

    Plenty of features for next-gen gamers

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    The front display is a bit useless

  • -

    The Q990C is discounted now

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The Samsung HW-Q990D doesn’t differ wildly from its HW-Q990C predecessor. But it would be hard for the brand to cram any more speakers into this flagship soundbar combo with its wireless rear speakers and separate subwoofer. It's an immense system.

The Q990D can compete with the best separates surround sound packages thanks to its immersive reproduction of the Dolby Atmos and DTS:X object-based audio formats, plus you get plenty of features like AI-enhanced processing, a range of dedicated sound modes, auto room correction, and built-in Alexa. It's clearly one of the best soundbars for Samsung TVs

For this new 'D' model Samsung has finally added HDMI 2.1 connections capable of passing 4K/120Hz and VRR for high-frame-rate gaming, which is great news for next-gen console owners. While this range-topper doesn't come cheap, it offers a fully immersive experience with the minimum of aggravation.

Samsung Q990D: Price & Availability

The Samsung HW-Q990D will retail for £1,699 at launch (the on-sale date is to be confirmed), and while slightly more expensive than much of the competition it makes sense. 

Consider this soundbar’s build quality, extensive features, and ability to compete with a multichannel separates system in terms of delivering total immersion. The widget above will show you regional pricing for USA and Australia. 

Samsung Q990D review: What's New?

Samsung HW-Q990D review

(Image credit: Future)

The Samsung HW-Q990D remains the most immersive soundbar system you can buy, based around a main unit, wireless subwoofer and wireless rear speakers that combine to create an 11.1.4-channel soundstage thanks to a total of 22 drivers, all powered by 656W of amplification.

The soundbar itself is composed of front left, right and centre channels, plus width drivers, front side-firing speakers, and upfiring drivers that bounce sound beams off the ceiling for the sensation of height.

The rear speakers each manage to house the surround channels, rear side-firing speakers, and up-firing drivers to create the back height sound effects too.

The bass and low-frequency effects (LFE) channel is handled by the subwoofer, with its 8-inch driver combined with an acoustic lens that produces deeper bass with greater precision and clarity.

Samsung HW-Q990D review

(Image credit: Future)

The HW-Q990D can decode both the Dolby Atmos and DTS:X object-based audio formats, making full use of all the speakers at its disposal, and thus delivering an immersive sonic experience.

The soundbar can also support Wireless Atmos, allowing the format to be transmitted wirelessly via Wi-Fi using lossy Dolby Digital Plus from any supporting Samsung TV.

In terms of other features, SpaceFit Sound automatically optimises the audio in your room by using a microphone to acoustically correct the dialogue, surround effects and bass.

Adaptive Sound uses AI-enhanced processing to give non-Atmos and DTS:X more dimensionality, along with clearer sound at lower volumes. There’s a total of four sound modes, with the other three being Standard, Surround, and Game.

There’s also a Night mode if you need to flatten the dynamic range so as not to disturb the rest of the household in the wee hours, and a Voice Enhancement mode to boost dialogue if necessary.

Samsung HW-Q990D review

(Image credit: Future)

The surround speakers now offer a front mode for greater width (but at the expense of the rears). Conversely, there's also a private mode that only uses the rears for watching TV at night without disturbing others. There's also a sound grouping feature where the rears work as independent speakers duplicating the same music as the main unit.

Samsung's Q Symphony allows owners of compatible Samsung TVs to make full use of their extra speakers by synchronising the sound from both devices to produce a bigger front soundstage. This feature also uses the processing power of TV, and works with either a wired or wireless connection.

There is a built-in smart assistant thanks to the inclusion of Amazon Alexa, support for multiple music streaming services, the HW-Q990D is Roon Tested with Hi-Res Audio support, Tap Sound for compatible Samsung devices, and the Active Voice Amplifier (AVA) for noisy surroundings.

In addition to the HDMI 2.1 connections, the HW-Q990D offers another gaming feature called Game Mode Pro. When used in conjunction with a Samsung TV this feature optimises the sound settings based on the specific genre selected in the connected TV’s pop-up gaming hub.

Samsung Q990D review: Performance

Samsung HW-Q990D review

(Image credit: Future)

The Samsung HW-Q990D is less hassle compared to a separates system based around one of the best AV receivers and speaker package, with fewer components and no cables running around the room. Although it obviously requires a bit more setup in comparison with a single-unit soundbar. 

However, once you’ve installed the soundbar, rears and sub, the Q990D proves relatively easy to setup, with everything connecting flawlessly. The SmartThings app adds to the simplicity, while SpaceFit Sound calibrates across the entire frequency range, ensuring properly integrated bass.

The HW-Q990D is a stupendous performer, with large, high-quality drivers that make it better with music than many competitors. There’s some excellent stereo imaging, and the well-integrated sub provides a solid foundation of bass that feels deep but controlled thanks to the room correction.

The overall delivery of sounds slightly tighter than previous generations, but the clarity remains the same with an uncongested midrange and clean treble. As a result it retains the fidelity of the source, whether it’s stereo, multichannel or a spatial audio format like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.

There are multiple music streaming services supported on the Q990D, along with it being Roon Tested and able to handle Hi-Res Audio, so whatever your poison it has you covered. You can even enjoy music in Atmos, and listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon is a revelation.

There’s excellent width to the front soundstage, while the centre channel ensures that dialogue is clear and focused on the screen. The use of identical drivers ensures 5.1-channel soundtracks are rendered with great tonal balance, while sound effects are placed around the room with precision.

Samsung HW-Q990D review

(Image credit: Future)

As good as the Q990D is with stereo and multichannel tracks, it’s with object-based audio that it really sets itself apart from the competition. The system fully utilises its entire 11.1.4-channel soundstage, creating a sense of sonic envelopment that’s superior to any other soundbar.

There’s real scale to the delivery, with effects steered seamlessly around the room and placed within a dome of sound with precision. This is something that a soundbar without rear speakers can’t do, but for the Samsung the front and rear upfiring speakers make a huge difference.

There’s plenty of dynamic range, and all the amplification has more than enough power to fill a decent-sized room. The 8-inch subwoofer provides exceptionally deep and powerful bass, but also weaves itself in amongst the other speakers without swamping them or the overall soundstage.

All these attributes are perfectly demonstrated when watching Top Gun: Maverick, with the height channels putting you in the cockpit as fighters fly all around you. Explosions hit with depth and power, while the climactic attack enjoys a visceral energy as you barrel down the canyons.

This ability to generate a realistic hemisphere of sound and then place audio effects precisely within three-dimensional space is perfect for games. It adds to the sense of immersion by moving spatial cues smoothly around the room in response to the first-person view playing Call of Duty.

Samsung Q990D review: Design & Usability

Samsung HW-Q990D review

(Image credit: Future)

The Samsung HW-Q990D looks identical to last year, with the same sizeable cabinet, angled corners, and robust metal mesh grille. The design is elegant in its minimalism, with a matte black finish that ensures this soundbar doesn’t draw attention to itself when placed under your TV.

The front display is hard to read and fairly useless, but the build quality is excellent, with dimensions best suited to TVs with screen sizes of 55 inches or larger. There’s a choice of stand- or wall-mounting, and if you choose the latter Samsung provides dedicated brackets for this purpose.

Samsung HW-Q990D review

(Image credit: Future)

The subwoofer and rear speakers are finished to match the soundbar, and automatically connect during setup. The surrounds can also be stand or wall-mounted using provided brackets, and while this system is wireless, don’t forget there are four devices in total needing to be plugged in.

The provided remote remains well-designed, with all the controls you need laid out in a sensible fashion. The SmartThings app is also an effective controller, while also making setup easier by quickly creating a Wi-Fi connection, configuring Alexa, and updating the firmware. Other control options include buttons on the soundbar, voice control via Alexa, or the TV remote using CEC.

Samsung HW-Q990D review: Verdict

Samsung HW-Q990D review

(Image credit: Future)

The HW-Q990D retains Samsung's position as top dog when it comes to delivering immersive audio, and is one of the few soundbars capable of competing with a separates system. This ‘bar combo flawlessly reproduces Dolby Atmos and DTS:X spatial audio thanks to its 11.1.4-channel layout.

While the system takes up more space than less capable soundbars, it’s simple to install with the rears and sub connecting automatically. The room correction also ensures the system is performing optimally, with big, powerful and engaging effects, supported by well-integrated bass.

In addition there's a host of useful features, including Q Symphony to pair with recent Samsung TVs, and Wireless Dolby Atmos. Best of all Samsung has finally added HDMI 2.1, making the HW-Q900D a great choice for gamers and ensuring this fantastically immersive soundbar remains the best in its class.

Also consider

If you’re looking for alternatives, an obvious choice is last year’s Samsung HW-Q990C. This earlier model is still available and very similar to the Q990D, aside from the lack of HDMI 2.1, meaning you can enjoy a similarly awesome immersive spatial audio experience but at a reduced price.

In terms of other brands, the JBL Bar 1300 is worth considering because it’s slightly cheaper but offers a similar level of immersion, and also includes clever ideas like rechargeable rear speakers. It’s not quite as feature-packed as the Samsung, but is an excellent multichannel soundbar.

Stephen Withers

Steve Withers is a professional calibrator and freelance journalist who regularly contributes to T3, reviewing audio and video products, and writing articles. Steve has been writing about audio and video products for over ten years and, along with T3, he also contributes to TechRadar, Trusted Reviews, Expert Reviews, AVForums, Pocket-lint, Home Cinema Choice, and Wired. Steve is Level 2 certified with THX, the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and the Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA). As such, he remains abreast of all AV technology developments and the latest industry standards as we transition into a new era in home video and audio.