The best soundbar on the market!
I'm going to start my review off a little differently than I do most. If you are looking at or even considering this soundbar for purchase...GET IT. There. Now, let me explain why...
The soundbar market is ever-expanding and slowly getting better in quality. You have those that prefer a full home theater system and they will argue that even a lower quality home theater system (5.1) would be better than even an Atmos soundbar, because the Atmos is usually very "gimmicky". Then you have others who prefer the soundbar due to various reasons, such as aesthetics and space limitations. I fall into the soundbar crowd. So, why should someone who prefers soundbars suffer from "lesser quality" than those who prefer a full home theater system? Well...we no longer have to...and for not much more than a higher quality home theater system would cost!
Enter the Samsung Q90R, Samsung's flagship model for 2019. Under this model, you also have the Q80R (the same system as the Q90, just minus the rear Atmos speakers) and their smaller sibling, the Q70R. There's also a Q60R as well, I believe. These were made in partnership with Harman/Kardon and woah, it shows. These soundbars are designed to go with their respective Q-series Samsung TV's, even down to the size, to match. If you already have one of these TV's, even better. If not, they still work great solo - just minus a few "quality of life" features that basically builds the soundbar into the TV (feature-wise). It's definitely not a deal-breaker, however. I personally feel that this series of soundbars is the first to make them a viable centerpiece for your Home Theater setup.
This is the Q90R. Let's get to it!
Let's take a look at the packaging first - this is usually where our first impressions come from. No standard L-shaped "Tetris" soundbar box here. Nope. This is a full-fledged packaging. This can be a bit awkward (and heavy) to move around and/or carry, so, you MAY need help. Inside, everything is packaged great. Upon opening the box, the first thing I see is a bag with an included USB thumb drive that includes the (still current, as of this review) 1008.0 firmware. I believe they included this because some people were having issues with updating the firmware from the factory version. This 1008.0 version also fixes an issue where the rear speakers would pop/crackle and wireless connection problems. Up top, the first thing you get to is the soundbar itself. Weighing in at nearly 20 lb. alone, this thing is a behemoth! It's color and full metal body/grill are a sight to behold. Getting this out of the box, below you will find the subwoofer, two rear surround speakers and a box with all of your accessories (power cables, remote, HDMI cable, etc - everything you will need for hookup), all well packaged.
As far as general impressions go, I'm going to be gushing over pretty much everything for this review. Let me say - this DOES NOT HAPPEN OFTEN. I am prone to finding issues with things and also being super picky in various aspects when I am setting up and using something. While there are some minor flaws here and there (I mean, nothing is perfect!), I literally cannot find a single thing to dock a star for. The quality of this soundbar is exceptional. Of all the soundbars I've ever owned in the past, or even seen on store shelves, this one is king. The only thing I can think of to advise here is - make sure you have the space for this! Unboxing it is an "OMG" experience and I immediately began wondering how I'm going to make it fit. I didn't. I had to buy a whole new entertainment center to accommodate this beast. And I'm glad I did. Even in the new entertainment center, I had it on the shelf just below the TV and found that the upper shelf was blocking the upward-firing Atmos speakers. So, I had to get a riser stand for the TV just so I could move this soundbar up top with the TV. Without the riser stand, it would have blocked some of the bottom of my LG C8's screen.
Ok, setup! You are going to want to spend some time setting this up properly. By "properly", I mean updating the firmware (which takes about 30 minutes) and getting the rears on wall mounts or some form of speaker stands. I will warn you that the rears weigh about 4.5 lb. each and may be incompatible with some speaker stands. The stands I got would not hold them properly and they were sagging. So, I got a pair of stands (Monoprice) where I could just sit the speakers on them and they worked perfectly and look good, to boot! For the firmware update, the maintenance USB port is underneath the soundbar (really, my biggest complaint...). I had to prop the bar on it's backside and pray that it didn't fall over on me while I had the USB stick in, doing the update. The instructions that came with the thumb drive are VERY specific. There are multiple steps and you MUST follow them exactly. I think the reason why a lot of people still have issues with the rear speakers after the update is because they didn't do the last step, which is updating the subwoofer and rear speakers after the initial update to the soundbar. I did the update specifically as outlined and it took about 30 minutes total and have had ZERO connection issues.
On the rear, you have one HDMI input, two HDMI outputs and an optical input. There is NO ethernet network cable port on this. I used the optical input for my PC sound and it works fantastic! I use it primarily for gaming on my PS4 PRO and also watch Netflix/Hulu, etc via my TV apps. Everything works great together. I also wanted to say that I've read and heard about issues from others with Samsung soundbars and LG TV's not playing well together. Well, I guess that issue is fixed with this soundbar as well, as I've not had any problems. CEC works great and everything shuts down and powers on automatically, depending on what I'm using.
The HDMI ports on the Q90R are 2.0. Nope, no 2.1 here. Which, given the price of this, made me a little sad...and the fact of knowing that next years model will likely have 2.1 ports. But regardless, it's still pretty future-proof because of the e-ARC support. If you also have an e-ARC supported TV (likely via a firmware update, if one was available...I know the LG C8 TV's and previous models did not get an e-ARC update...) that you can plug the device into another HDMI port of your TV and it would basically act as if it were plugged straight into the soundbar. You can get full, uncompressed audio, including Dolby Atmos, via ARC. I did want to also comment on the wireless bass speaker. Not only is it MUCH bigger than I expected, but it's side-firing. Also, if you own cats (or other shedding animals, lol) - be super careful. The side of the bass has a huge, round fabric mesh on it which can easily be clawed and destroyed (and collect lint, dust and fur equally as well). Just be mindful of that.
I did also quickly want to go over the Samsung SmartThings app. Honestly, this gave me the biggest impression of all, as I didn't have very high expectations. I was worried that it would be useless, not very functional or just gimmicky. Seeing it had great reviews in the iOS app store, I immediately thought...well, it must not be that bad! It's great, actually. Download the app, create or sign into your Samsung account and get started. You can create a "room" in the app that each of your Samsung devices are located and even move the devices in-between rooms. You can also fully control the soundbar via the app! This includes input, levels for bass, center, left, right, etc. Oh and the main reason you want this app is for the firmware updates. Given that I've already updated via the USB and there's not been a new firmware released since this one, back in July, there's no updates currently available. But it's nice to know I can do my future updates via this app.
Finally, lets go over sound quality. Let me preface this by saying I do have a hearing disorder (mostly in my right ear), but both ears have certain tone frequencies that I can and cannot hear easily. I want to say, this Q90R soundbar has the best sound that I've ever heard from either a soundbar or a dedicated Home Theater System. Cranking up Fortnite on my PS4, which was PLENTY loud for me, even at 20% volume (it goes to 100%...), I was able to hear sounds and effects that I've literally never heard before. EVER. Mind blown. Even my wife was seriously impressed and she's not easily impressed by electronics and gadgets. I also tested the new Borderlands 3 and Remnant games and both were equally impressive! I moved to Netflix, via my LG C8 TV app and tried out Love, Death and Robots (which also has a great Atmos track)...it almost blew me out of the room. I'm used to the volume of this show being super low on other soundbars I've played it on. Not now!
***Because of this soundbar, I can hear things so much better and so much clearer and for that, Samsung, I thank you. Thank you for providing me with something that will allow me to experience and enjoy fuller and more sound in my games and movies that I otherwise would have never experienced. I've never been this far immersed in sound in my life.***
In conclusion, I absolutely LOVE this soundbar and hope that it lasts me many, many years, until I'm finally ready to move over to HDMI 2.1. This gets 5-stars all the way. The price and sound quality alone kills any other soundbar out there and even some standard 5.1 home theater systems. I seriously can't recommend this (or again, any soundbar in the Q-series) enough. Buy it.
Originally posted on Samsung.com
Yes, I recommend this product