Samsung HW-Q800A review: Powerful sound without the bulk


The Samsung HW-Q800A is the most expensive 3.1.2 soundbar in the South Korean company’s Q-Series lineup, but while it lacks the surround channels of its high-end siblings, this set compact delivers sonic fireworks right off the bat. With a newly refined design and a wireless subwoofer, this £ 799 soundbar is ready to add rock, rumble and roll to a movie night.

First impressions bode well: Support for Dolby Atmos and DTS: X is present and correct, Alexa is built in, and a range of features allow the HW-Q800A to pair with Samsung’s 2020 and 2021 TV models. . It’s a shame that some of these features are only available to Samsung TV owners, but luckily there are plenty of other reasons to buy the HW-Q800A.

Samsung HW-Q800A review: What do you get for the money?

Its size is a key draw: it is a refreshingly small soundbar. It measures 980 x 115 x 60 mm (WDH) and weighs 3.6 kg. Samsung suggests that the HW-Q800A fits a wide selection of its own models, ranging from 50 inches to 75 inches. In truth, its width makes it a good choice for most TVs ranging from 49in and larger, although it may be a bit too large to fit neatly under smaller 43in screens.

Naturally, the wireless subwoofer is bulkier, but it still fits easily behind a TV stand or sofa – it’s a sturdy and reassuring 9.8kg box, measuring 210 x 403 x 403mm (WDH) . And you get a basic remote, which also slides easily between the sofa cushions when you’re not careful.

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There are two HDMI inputs on the rear – one of which supports eARC – and an optical digital input as well. Four touch-sensitive buttons on the top panel let you turn the soundbar on and off, adjust the volume, turn the microphone on and off, or change the source.

The HW-Q800A’s 3.1.2 speaker arrangement includes two woofers and five tweeters, including a full-range tweeter, to reproduce the front, center and front height channels. Two dedicated speakers in the soundbar bounce sound off the ceiling to produce both height channels, while the active wireless subwoofer handles .1 and plays all the tasty low-frequency channel effects ( LFE).

It’s also possible to upgrade the HW-Q800A to a 5.1.4 system with the addition of Samsung’s SWA-9500S surround speakers (£ 249). These small Atmos surround speakers have two small speakers in each housing, one towards the front and one towards the top to bounce the sound off the ceiling.

The HW-Q800A has a wide range of features, but unfortunately some of the more intriguing of them are only available to owners of certain Samsung TVs.

For example, the “SpaceFit” feature is able to tailor the frequency response of the soundbar to your room, but because it relies on the microphones of compatible Samsung TVs, it is not available to everyone.

Likewise, the Q-Symphony feature allows the soundbar to work in tandem with compatible Samsung TVs. Depending on the model, the TV speakers take on surround or virtual surround channel functions and allow the pairing to produce even more immersive sound. It also enables Samsung’s OTS (Object Tracking Sound) technology to more accurately track on-screen action and provide a more immersive viewing experience.

Fortunately, other features are universal. Active Voice Amplifier (AVA) is a simple but rather ingenious concept: AVA monitors the ambient noise levels in a room and dynamically increases the volume of dialogues to ensure that they remain audible. For those of us who live with noisy children (or even noisier adults), this is actually a very useful feature, as it eliminates the need to constantly turn the volume up and down while watching TV – or to resort to the nuclear option of activation The subtitles.

Apple Airplay 2 and Amazon Alexa compatibility is also welcome, and you get Bluetooth and Wi-Fi streaming to boot, though the latter requires you to first install Samsung’s SmartThings app on your phone or mobile device.

Initially there were some startup issues with Alexa not responding to commands; something other users have had issues with according to a Reddit thread. After a few resets, the problem turned out to be something simple: the microphone is muted by default, and there is no question of turning it on or off on the soundbar before using Alexa in the instruction manual.

When activated, the microphone does a good job of picking up the wake-up call, even in the midst of raucous action scenes. This means that you can adjust the volume of the soundbar with voice commands, which can come in handy when you lose the remote, but unfortunately you cannot change the source or change the settings, nor take advantage of the features. of Alexa communication. That said, you can still use voice commands to control other Alexa-enabled devices on your network, so it’s still nice to have it onboard.

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Samsung HW-Q800A soundbar review: how does it sound?

In short, impressive. The HW-Q800A is only 98cm wide – which is really tiny compared to some of the competition – but despite its compact dimensions, the soundbar delivers incredibly dynamic performance. The wireless subwoofer also delivers surprisingly deep bass for its size, dropping down to 30Hz before it starts to shut off, which is very respectable – and especially since it uses a single woofer. 8 inch modest size.

Crank up the volume on the Incredibles 2 Dolby Atmos soundtrack and the talents of the HW-Q800 are showcased. The retro-sounding spy movie soundtrack is rendered with a beautifully skillful touch, and the subwoofer delivers pleasantly high-pitched subwoofers alongside a mind-boggling rumble. Even with the volume turned up, the soundbar keeps dialogue crisp and clear, and the effects spread nicely across the front of the room. It’s a shame that the sound doesn’t really extend to the left and right of the soundbar – it feels rather narrow compared to discrete surround speakers – but it’s a nice presentation nonetheless.

Even standard 5.1 and stereo equipment sounds great. You don’t get quite the same wall of sound experience the HW-Q800 can muster with the best Atmos or DTS: X content, but enabling the HW-Q800’s surround mode does a good job of bridging the gap. ‘difference. The sound travels up and around in a little more immersive fashion, and adds that little bit of pizzazz that lacks in Standard mode.

The HW-Q800A also does well with music. It doesn’t exaggerate any part of the sound spectrum, so everything from the deepest bass to the highest treble sounds natural and well-balanced. It’s a shame that there isn’t a lot of stereo width, but that’s to be expected from a sound bar. Either way, the surround effect works just as well with music: it widens the soundstage upwards and gives a more airy sound, although it tends to add a bit too much treble in the process.

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Samsung HW-Q800A soundbar review: should you buy it?

If you are looking for a sound bar capable of producing powerful and awe-inspiring sound in a relatively small package, the Samsung HW-Q800A is a great buy. Even if you don’t have a compatible Samsung TV, Active Voice Amplifier and Alexa support are welcome – and if you have a compatible Samsung model, the extra features will definitely be welcome.

The strong point here is the pure quality of the sound offered. Whether it’s music or movies, this is a soundbar that sounds great and reaches impressive volumes – and most importantly, it also knows how to shake up furniture when it comes to movie night. Add to that the ability to take full surround sound a step further, and Samsung has a winning formula in its hands.

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