Samsung HW-Q800T soundbar evaluation: beam me up, Sammy

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Execs

  • Transparent, tough sound

  • Numerous options

  • Impressively narrow design

Cons

  • Stunted overhead results

  • Buggy Alexa efficiency

Samsung has assorted its Dolby Atmos lineup considerably since its first access, the $1,500 5.1.4-channel HW-K950, now providing a slew of Atmos choices to suit a much wider array of setups (and budgets). An iteration of 2019’s Q70R, the two-piece Q800T is pared down when in comparison to flagship Atmos setups with encompass audio system, providing only a bar and subwoofer combo. Whilst there are a couple of large competition in its elegance (together with Sonos’ sensible Arc and LG’s loaded SN9YG), the bar’s best pageant for worth might come from inside of: Samsung’s a lot less expensive HW-Q70T stacks up extraordinarily in a similar way, with only some notable variations. Here is the way it all breaks down.

Concerning the Samsung HW-Q800T soundbar

Credit score: Reviewed/Jackson Ruckar

Earlier than we dig in, a handy guide a rough have a look at the HW-Q800T’s elementary specifications:

  • Peak x Width x Intensity: 2.4 x 38.6 x 4.5 inches (bar), 15.9 x 8.1 x 15.9 inches (sub)
  • Weight: 7.9 kilos (bar), 21.6 kilos (sub)
  • Audio system/drivers: 8 drivers, together with twin upfiring drivers the use of Acoustic Beam generation
  • Amplification: 330 watts of claimed energy
  • Wi-fi Connection: WiFi, Bluetooth, wi-fi connection to Samsung TVs
  • Stressed connection: HDMI eARC/ARC enter/output, spare HDMI enter, optical enter
  • Sensible options: Amazon Alexa inbuilt
  • Sound codecs: Dolby Atmos, Dolby Virtual+, Dolby TrueHD, DTS:X, DTS Virtual Encompass
  • Video strengthen: 4K/HDR passthrough together with Dolby Imaginative and prescient and HDR10+

The HW-Q800T helps each main “3-D” encompass codecs in each Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. A three.1.2-channel device, the bar provides left, middle, and proper channels on the entrance, a side-firing wi-fi subwoofer, and twin upfiring channels to create the hemispheric impact for which Dolby Atmos and its contemporaries are prized.

However the Q800T does Atmos in a different way than competition. As an alternative of a conventional driving force for every of its twin top channels, it make use of’s Samsung’s Acoustic Beam generation, a chain of up-firing sonic chambers designed to paintings in a similar way to the keyholes of a flute. As we’ll discover under, this provides each plusses and minuses relating to its efficiency.

Together with the bar, the HW-Q800T ships with a elementary handbook, energy cables, a wand-style far flung, an HDMI cable, and mounting brackets.

What we adore

A shockingly small footprint

Samsung HW-Q800T soundbar front 3

Credit score: Reviewed/Jackson Ruckar

As touched on above, the Q800T is impressively compact for a Dolby Atmos bar, particularly one with none encompass audio system to unfold the soundstage round (even though you’ll be able to upload Samsung’s wi-fi rear encompass package for round $180). At simply over 38-inches throughout and a pair of.4 inches excessive, its reduce to suit on maximum TV consoles with out obscuring your TV display like Sonos’ beefy Arc.

Set in all black, the bar seems excellent (if elementary) at the mantle. The one notable factor is that the totally perforated duvet is a styrofoam magnet; I used to be by no means ready to take away the entire little white bits with out resorting to tweezers.

Slick and easy keep watch over

Samsung HW-Q800T soundbar remote

Credit score: Reviewed/Jackson Ruckar

Samsung has caught with its wand-style far flung for its soundbars (and plenty of of its TVs) for years now, and there’s excellent reason why. The far flung is sexy and smartly laid out, with tactile keys for each subwoofer and quantity ranges that really feel like the ones electrical window switches in your folks’ outdated station wagon—in an effective way.

I used to be at a loss for words to peer no energy key at the soundbar’s topside controls however, importantly, there’s a mute key to stay Alexa’s nostril out of your corporation.

Samsung’s Adaptive Sound mode works beautiful smartly to robotically optimize the bar for many content material, and I best now and again switched to the Usual mode for a bit of extra readability. I discovered a excellent stability via merely elevating the adjustable middle channel via 1 level, which allowed for transparent discussion throughout genres. The bar auto switches in your enter supply while you dial one thing up, which means you’ll be able to most often simply stick to your TV far flung for elementary keep watch over when attached by way of HDMI eARC/ARC (required to supply Dolby Atmos).

A (just about) complete function set

Samsung HW-Q800T soundbar inputs 2

Credit score: Reviewed/Jackson Ruckar

The Q800T provides as regards to the whole thing you’d be expecting in a brand new bar that nips on the $1,000 value level. That comes with WiFi streaming along integrated Alexa strengthen to keep watch over elementary playback and a litany of good options. For connection, the bar provides a spare HDMI enter to supply Dolby Atmos at once from a Blu-ray participant or recreation console (one thing Sonos’ Arc doesn’t have), in addition to HDMI eARC connection. The latter means that you can supply full-resolution audio out of your TV by way of HDMI, in addition to regulate audio sync problems—supplied you’ve were given a more moderen TV that additionally helps eARC.

The Q800T additionally helps HDR passthrough, together with each the more moderen HDR10+ layout (which Samsung champions) in addition to Dolby Imaginative and prescient, even though Samsung doesn’t record it within the specifications. It is going to decode Dolby Atmos in each compressed Dolby Virtual Plus (for streaming out of your TV) and uncompressed Dolby TrueHD, in addition to DTS Encompass Sound and DTS:X, even though the latter is outwardly going extinct.

Whilst I wasn’t ready to check this option, the Q800T additionally options Samsung’s Q Symphony, designed to include make a selection Samsung QLED TV audio system into the soundstage. The one notable omissions are WiFi add-ons like Chromecast and AirPlay 2 strengthen and a three.5mm analog enter—to hand for connecting legacy gadgets like turntables, however increasingly more uncommon in 2020.

Detailed, tough, and dimensional sound

Samsung HW-Q800T soundbar front

Credit score: Reviewed/Jackson Ruckar

Whilst the sound signature is significantly gentle within the midrange, the Q800T sounds fairly excellent, even if enjoying again same old fare like sitcoms. There’s a lot of element, gentle and lyrical treble reaction, and bold stability, to the purpose that I infrequently discovered myself pumping the sound up or down between the loudest and quietest moments. Feed it one thing of upper high quality and issues get much more intriguing.

Certainly one of my favourite Blu-ray take a look at discs, Sam Mendes’ Skyfall, presented an excellent palette on which the Q800T’s talent set flourished. Discussion rang thru with pristine readability, gunshots have been punchy and whole in the entire proper techniques, and dynamic scenes just like the epic helicopter crash towards the climax proved this little bar has a lot of oomph. Whilst the hefty subwoofer hammers house the colourful thump demanded in such scenes with accuracy and aplomb, it’s the intricate placement and vast growth of the soundstage up entrance that truly known as my consideration.

I’d wholly forgotten about Samsung’s Acoustic Beam generation, which first rolled out in a gaming soundbar at CES a few years again. From the beginning I used to be stuck off guard via how smartly the beaming tech builds the soundstage up entrance, seeming to mission the consequences each vertically and horizontally like a sonic gentle display. Even though lots of the sound is confined to the entrance of the room, it pulls you into the motion, permitting you to take pleasure in exactly positioned ambient main points and but by no means pass over a line of debate.

Streaming track over Spotify Attach by way of WiFi supplies a equivalent, if extra toned-down, impact. The Q800T puts even stereo tracks alongside the vertical aircraft with care, losing an acoustic guitar to the higher left right here, a Hammond organ whirling to the decrease proper there. As you’ll be expecting from its compact audio system, the bar’s lighter sound way acoustic tools sound much less herbal than what you’ll get from conventional audio system, in addition to the Sonos Arc’s bulbous tube. Nonetheless, the Q800T sounds extra natural and luxurious than LG’s ultra-thin SN9YG, particularly within the higher midrange.

What we don’t like

Overhead results fall flat

Samsung HW-Q800T soundbar top

Credit score: Reviewed/Jackson Ruckar

The flipside of the Acoustic Beam coin, in my revel in no less than, is that the overhead immersion you are expecting from a soundbar with upfiring drivers is considerably diluted. Enjoying my go-to Dolby Atmos demo discs, I discovered myself ready in useless for results to successfully rain down upon me. From shards of glass to a jungle thunderstorm, the overhead trick so integral to making the hemispheric immersion of Atmos is stunted right here. Turning the peak channels up did not lend a hand a lot, as an alternative making results sound strained.

How a lot this issues might rely on how a lot Atmos content material you watch—it is nonetheless reasonably restricted on maximum streaming services and products. I must additionally be aware that Atmos content material like Wonder’s Ant-Guy on Disney+ nonetheless sounds compelling and dynamic even with out the putting overhead results.

Not like its Sonos and LG opponents I stay referencing, the Q800T additionally foregoes side-firing drivers. This additional diminishes the immersion degree you’ll get from Dolby Atmos and different encompass sound content material; swirling results are bring to a halt starkly ahead of they curl at the back of you, and the ones designed to blow previous you from at the back of appear to only all at once seem on the entrance of the room, breaking the semblance.

Show and interface might be friendlier

As soundbars (even of the Dolby Atmos selection) get increasingly more compact I’ve transform used to virtual shows creeping out of the image—Sonos soundbars be offering not anything greater than a color-coded LED strip. Nonetheless, whilst it’s a small gripe, the phrases crossing the Q800T’s compact show stay you ready to spot them like a skywriter when adjusting settings. And when in comparison to Sonos, the backup show within the type of Samsung’s SmartThings app is reasonably rudimentary.

Alexa integration is buggy

Whilst Alexa responds dutifully while you bark out instructions (if you happen to’re into that) there appears to be no strategy to quiet her down when she barks again. That’s nice for content material on the similar quantity degree, however relying at the content material it may be an issue. After I streamed The Workplace on Netflix, as an example, it was once about part as loud as Alexa, leading to her shouting responses with biting pressure. A Samsung rep tells me this can be brought about via a recognized computer virus for Alexa when attached to a hardwired virtual supply, which he expects to be corrected in a firmware replace.

Then again, even if attached over WiFi, Alexa integration had problems. The primary hangup once more gave the look to be balancing the quantity of streaming audio with Alexa responses. Quantity is of course diminished when she responds to a question, however every so often the bar appeared to get caught and stored the track on the decrease quantity.

She’s now not arrange for Spotify instructions, both, even though you’ll be able to keep watch over Spotify from each the SmartThings app and Spotify Attach at once. Samsung says Alexa Spotify keep watch over is coming, once more by way of firmware, however gave no indication of when. Total, the Q800T’s Alexa integration simply does not appear in a position for primetime.

Will have to you purchase it?

Sure, however with some caveats

Whilst 2020 has been brief on mid-tier and top rate soundbars in comparison to “customary” occasions, the HW-Q800T’s sound efficiency is without doubt one of the best possible we’ve got heard all yr. It provides the entire main options we predict for a soundbar in its elegance and, on semi-permanent sale no less than, its value is most often consistent with the contest. It is also beautiful simple to make use of and does not absorb a lot area at the mantle (for a Dolby Atmos bar anyway).

That mentioned, Samsung’s HW-Q70T soundbar provides just about an identical specifications with two standout exceptions: there is no integrated microphones for Alexa, and it provides a smaller subwoofer. Given the truth that it will possibly nonetheless strengthen Alexa instructions with the addition of an Echo speaker at $50, it is surely a strategy to reduce down the associated fee considerably (particularly given the ones Alexa insects). Bass fanatics will pass over the heftier sub, however the ones with smaller residing quarters might welcome the switch.

Those that need higher Dolby Atmos immersion—specifically relating to overhead and encompass results—might need to go for the Sonos Arc as an alternative. The Arc is larger, does not come with a subwoofer, and does not include a spare HDMI enter, which means you can want a more moderen TV with Dolby Virtual Plus to supply Atmos at once. Then again, it provides hotter, extra herbal efficiency, more effective techniques to construct out a encompass device (like including the Symfonisk wi-fi audio system), and is sponsored via high-powered instrument. On the time of e-newsletter, Vizio’s 46-inch 5.1.4 soundbar (with separate surrounds) additionally rings in at equivalent pricing and gives a lot higher encompass immersion.

In spite of everything, whether or not the HW-Q800T is best for you might rely on your love for overhead results, bass, and Alexa herself. That mentioned, at its sale value, the Q800T is a stalwart new competitor that are supposed to are compatible fairly effectively into maximum residing rooms.

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Meet the tester

Ryan Waniata

Ryan Waniata

Managing Editor – Electronics


@ryanwaniata

Hailing in the beginning from Montana, Ryan parlayed his time operating as a musician and audio engineer right into a profession in virtual media in 2012. Since then he is had in depth revel in as a author and editor, together with the whole thing from op-eds and lines to evaluations on TVs, audio equipment, good house gadgets, and extra.

See all of Ryan Waniata’s evaluations

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