Powered 9.1.4-channel soundbar with wireless subwoofer, surround speakers, Dolby Atmos®, and DTS:X
Wish your soundbar can give you a theatre-like experience and an immersive gaming experience at the same time?
Samsung has finally launched its two new high-end soundbars in its 2020 soundbars edition to change the way you look at your home speakers. HW-Q950T and HW-Q900T have 9.14 and 7.12 channel systems respectively, supporting Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and eARC.
With Samsung’s fanciest title – the Q90R soundbar, which was launched earlier in 2019. Samsung has added multiple soundbars in the mid-high range in its Qseries soundbars in 2020. Q800T, Q70T, Q60T, and now with HW-Q950T and HW-Q900T Samsung has completed the line-up for this year.
The Samsung HW-Q950T 9.1.4ch Soundbar is the latest high-end flagship product with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. The Korean giant has come up with a reply to their competitors LG SN11RG with a 9.14 channel delivery, changing the game in their favor.
As long as we are changing things, accessing your soundbar has never been easier thanks to the built-in voice assistant.
Now you can get all your new information, control your music, and manage your daily tasks all hands-free. You can ask Alexa to play you songs just by reciting a few lines from that song.
I guess sing-alongs are in session.
While you are busy getting the best theatre experience, the soundbar automatically analyses the sound signals and delivers an optimized sound for each scene.
Forget about reversing the quieter conversation to listen precisely, Samsung’s Adaptive sound lets you hear voices even at low volumes.
For all the gaming junkies out there, this soundbar has something in the gift bag for you too. With the Game Mode Pro setting you will experience an instant immersive sound thanks to the subwoofers that will enhance each scene and the surround sound engulfs you into the journey with the help of up-firing speakers.
The Game Mode is switched on automatically when connected to your Samsung TV.
Bye Bye setting up delay!
We already know that the soundbar has promised a theatre-like experience and an immersive gaming mode. Samsung’s HW-Q950T is a 9.1.4-channel equipped with consolidated side-firing and up-firing speakers in addition to a wireless subwoofer and considerate rear speakers (with up-firing units).
While HW-Q900T is a 7.1.4-channel system lacking rear speakers. Now that we have seen what our soundbar is capable of, it’s time to check if the design, features, and specs speak louder than the soundbar. If you know what I mean!!
Samsung HW-Q950T Soundbar Review
Set Up and operation:
Samsung’s newest flagship soundbar system the 9.1.4ch, 546 watt hwq950t replacing the Q90R as the top dock. We’ll be providing wide coverage here highlighting the areas that shine. And the ones that don’t. And offer up some conclusions and thoughts about spending money on this thing.
So let’s break down the model.
- HW : Stands for soundbar.
- Q: Meant to work with the TV, specifically Samsung’s QLEDs.
- 9: Highest tier in a series starting at 4[4,5,6,7,8,9].
- 50: Means you are not only getting a sub but also rear surrounds.
- T: This means it was released in 2020.
Just examining the model name, we have what should be the best soundbar Samsung has ever made.
In The Box:
You get a 246-watt soundbar, the main event, 160 watts subwoofer, and two- 270 watts speakers, adding up to 546 watts of max power. In addition, you get a high-speed HDMI cable, a dedicated remote with two double-A batteries, stickies for your soundbar to keep it from waddling off the stand, and a pretty basic wall mount.
With some screws and a guide. You get all the hardware you need to connect the soundbar to the Mount but leaving you to go screw hunting if you know you want to go all the way with it and connect the mount to the wall.
The surrounds have little friction nubs on the bottom making sure they don’t walk off and mounting holes for fixing it to a stand or wall mount.
Go through the instructions manual to get this done quickly. With the Q90R this laissez-faire approach works fine, but not so much with this product. It can take up quite a time to get to connect without the instruction. When setting up you have two options:
- Automatic: if you go the automatic route do this: plugin sub and then the surrounds and then the soundbar. Give a little breathing space between each plugin. Slow walk it, if after all this you see blinking blue lights on the back of the sub and surround your prescribed method to connect your system is successful.
If your automatic setup doesn’t work, plug in all your speakers, turn the soundbar off using the remote, hold the ID SET button on the back of the sub until you get a rapid blue flashing pattern.
Do the same on each of the surrounds one at a time, then press the up button on the remote for five seconds. The status lights on the sub and surrounds will stop blinking.
And the soundbar display will say ID set. If this doesn’t work you have to try again. Try power cycling all the speakers to get it to work but it just might take longer than expected.
- Manual: So here’s the prescribed arrangement of speakers. Just keep in mind that the ideal space for enabling 3d audio with this kind of system would be a rectangular room with flat surfaces that allows some level of reflection.
Since the speakers are not firing directly at you, you need some reflectivity to get the desired sound effects. You will want a few meters distance between the bar and the sidewalls as well as a ceiling that is neither really high nor really low, 9 feet may be the sweet spot.
You want the room to be long enough so that you can have some distance between you and your surroundings. You should also leave some inches between your bar and the bottom of the TV, so the TV does not block your sweet expensive sound.
Note: The system does not automatically figure out which one is right and which one is left. Make sure you look on the back and set it up accordingly.
You can mount the Samsung HW-Q950T’s with the included wall-mount brackets (wall screws not supplied) on the wall or it could be placed on the table-top.
The wireless rear speakers can be mounted on the wall using their 1/4″-20 threaded inserts. You can get optional brackets (sold separately) if need be or they can be placed on the table or any place of your convenience.
The wireless powered subwoofer should be placed according to your optimum audio location to achieve the most out of it.
- Ideally, the wireless rear speakers and wireless powered subwoofer are positioned further than 32.8′ away from the soundbar.
- The power outlet or surge protector should be within 5’ to plug in the power cord. The power output should be AC. This applies to the wireless subwoofer, the rear speakers, and the soundbar.
- However, you’ll need brackets(sold separately) to wall-mount the wireless rear speakers. The speakers do not have brackets included, and no keyholes are present either.
AC Power Requirements:
The wireless subwoofer, the wireless rear speakers, and the active soundbar all come with a detachable 5’ AC power cord. The connections of these cords are at the back of each speaker and will need an AC wall outlet or power line for power input.
Samsung HW-Q950T Design:
With a redesigned cabinet the Samsung HW-Q950T flaunts a softer and more lifestyle-friendly appearance. Last year’s metal grilles found on the HW-Q90R are replaced by ubiquitous Kvadrat fabric with a newly developed look.
The result is a soundbar that looks modern and minimalist, with a black finish that should be suitably discreet at the front of the room. With a cabinet wrapped in the new ubiquitous Kvadrat, the design is smoother to the present style of living.
Unlike Q90R the Q950T has angled corners accommodating the width and side-firing drivers. With a smoother aspect ratio and a height of 69.5mm, the new soundbar should be checked for screen blockage before aligning it in front of your TV. It’s the perfect soundbar for 80-inch Television.
Brackets are included if some users need to wall mount, although you might require a few screws of your own(not a lot in the box). Considering other dimensions, the HW-Q950T is 1232mm wide and 138mm deep, while its weight clocks in at 7.1kg.
- Angled corners accommodating side-firing drivers.
- Smoother aspect ratio.
- 1232mm wide and 138mm deep while clocks in at 7.1kg.
- Ubiquitous Kvadrat fabric wrapped cabinets.
- Comes in a black color variant.
- There are LEDs in the front of the panel, lighting up while given command.
- Comes with 4 buttons on top. Volume up-down, mute-unmute and a multi-purpose button.
- The controls on the soundbar are black against the black fabric.
- The display is at the top instead of being in the front.
- The fabric is harsh to touch, which would trap dust or pet hairs
The sub and the surrounds are particularly high-end, the styling accent comes from this Kvadrat fabric covering the front and top of the surrounds, as well as the speaker on the sub, which suits credit feels tough, but it’s rather coarse and prone to picking up dust and fuzzies.
Samsung likes to partner with other companies to help make their products more exciting. For instance, the Q90R partnered with Harman Kardon. This time they have partnered with Kvadrat (The Global Design Textile Company) for their soundbar.
We have this unique 3d six-sided shape, making it in an irregular hexagonal prism. These 45 degree angled edges give the soundbar a rather unique shape. The general vibe of this bar is dominated by the kvadrat fabric.
The fabric covers a noticeable amount of surface area. The horizontal grills on the side add that extra edge to this new tech.
Features and Specs of Samsung HW-Q950T Soundbar:
The surrounds are made up of premium quality plastic. Although the bar has a higher build quality as it is the star of the show. The bar is made of a better grade plastic and is covered with the premium Kvadrat fabric. The overall built quality is good.
We have a 9.1.4 system. This means that there are 9 channels of sound shooting at you at the ear level, 1 channel dedicated to low bass frequencies or subwoofers. And a total of 4 upward-firing channels intended to mimic in-ceiling speakers as the sound shoots up, will bounce off ceilings and back down to your precious noggin.
In total there are 20 drivers on the system. There are 3 tweeters covering the high frequencies. 16 woofers covering the kind of lows through the kind of highs and a subwoofer covering the very low frequencies. The tweeters are all 10 watts. The woofers are all 35 watts and the subwoofer is 160 watts.
The soundbar by itself is a 7.0.2 channel system. So left, wide left, center left, center right, wide right, and right making up the ear level channels. The left and right upward-firing speakers on the top making up the two height or ceiling level channels. The Y-channel drivers are the newcomers here.
The 6 channels that are not in the centre are just single 35-watt woofers. The 3 centre channels are each composed of two woofers and a tweeter. So 80 watts of power max in each of the centre channels.
The surrounds are both 1.0.1 systems with a forward and upward-firing channel, each consisting of a single 35-watt woofer. The Woofer has an 8- inch 160-watt driver.
You have a dedicated eARC HDMI port that connects the bar to the TV. Yes, it’s not a regular old audio return channel. It’s enhanced to support higher quality audio formats. It also has two pass-through HDMI ports for a direct connection between media devices in the soundbar and a legacy optical port.
Note: If you don’t have to don’t use that one. It can limit the audio quality you can get.
For better cable management you need to really need to attach the cable tight. The HDMI cable will lay flat on the desk to avoid bending tensions. If you use the provided wall mount, examine your cords.
Updating the soundbar:
While we’re talking ports, you also have a USB service port for updates. Otherwise, if your bar has internet connection updates should happen automatically. You can always check your software version and initialize an update in your Smartthings app.
As is typically the story, this soundbar supports just about all your music, podcasts, audio formats. If you want to play just audio, you’ll be able to do it with very few exceptions.
Dolby Atmos and DTS:x :
Dolby Atmos and DTS:x support the two main 3d audio formats. 3d audio is an object-based audio codec, which aims to create a multi-dimensional sound that moves around you like it would in real life.
Whereas with surround sound while it has an immersive property, you tend to hear sounds coming from discrete speaker location and is overall less true to life.
Dolby Atmos and DTS:x do have practical differences:
This is more widely used. You’ll see it in streaming services, though it’s also supported by a rather large percentage of 4k blu-rays discs.
This is better equipped to create 3D sound if there aren’t any height level channels. Though it’s a bit of a viewpoint here as there are upward-firing speakers, you will find that some 4k blu-ray discs only support DTS:x.
With this product, you’re covered either way. Please note that 3d audio is not all created equal. The Atmos you get from a streaming service is virtually all delivered via Dolby Digital Plus, which delivers a lossless Atmos is perhaps not all that distinguishable from 5.1 surrounds.
Netflix supports Atmos using both smart TV and Apple TV.
With physical media, you get Dolby true HD which delivers lossless Atmos. To enable lossless Atmos or DTS x, your audio device needs to be eARC enabled, which supports 37 times the bandwidth of the regular old audio return channel. The vast majority of TVs prior to 2020 do not support eARC.
Luckily with this soundbar, you are riding above the fray, since you can plug your blu-ray player right into the bar. You can get Dolby true HD on eARC plus 2020 Samsung TVs using these pass-thru ports.
So truly excellent lossless 3d audio support here. much credit deserved.
You have basic and advanced EQ adjustment options, you can adjust the level of each general region. So centre channels, side channels, front top-level, rear level, rear top level, and bass, all from -6 to 6.
When you encounter virtual, you will be asked whether you want the bar to simulate surround sound, this function is just a convenience feature in the HW-Q950T as you have rear surrounds.
The Q900T, in contrast, does not come with surrounds so this feature is essential to that one. You have four sound modes at your disposal.
Original sound mostly presents audio as intended. So playing 5.1 audio in this mode will not utilise the surrounds unless it’s 5.1 DTS. You might not hear anything from your surrounds in this mode.
Here every format is upscaled to 9.1.4. Samsung claims this mode widens the soundstage. That description is truly justified, the surround sound experience that transcends you to a different environment virtually. You can take the full experience of this mode while listening to your fave music or podcast.
Game Mode Pro
This uses stereoscopic sound to immerse you in the game environment. The stereoscopic sound is a method of sound reproduction that creates an illusion of a multi-direction audible perspective.
With the subwoofers enhancing every scene and up-firing speakers that provide incredible surround sound, you get the best of both worlds. You can seamlessly connect to your Samsung TV wirelessly and the soundbar would automatically change to Game Mode.
This mode enhances your movie-watching experience. This mode makes the dialogue more audible at lower sound volumes. Samsung has achieved this by raising the low dialogue noises and lowering the peak sounds.
If you have a 2020 Samsung TV, you are eligible for Q Symphony. What is it? Well, it’s an option to play soundbar and TV sound together. TV speakers are placed on the side and top of the 2020 TVs. Q-Symphony augments the surround sound experience.
You have the option to enable and disable Q Symphony in your Samsung’s TV sound settings. Just look for a TV plus soundbar option.
The surrounds and sub, just have a link button for manual setup. The soundbar has four clicky physical controls:
- Circle Function Button: It can turn the bar on, but not off.
- The function button: It also toggles inputs with single presses, it can activate the Alexa voice assistant with a three-second hold.
- Volume: You have an up and down volume button.
- Mic: A microphone enable-disable button.
The remote looks very similar to Samsung TV remotes. It can do everything the bar controls can do except deactivate the mic. In addition, you can put the soundbar in standby, change the sound modes, and adjust EQ and channel levels.
When talking about taking connected living to the next level, you can connect your speakers to the network giving you better control of your audio.
You can adjust sound modes and EQ, but not the channel level in the app. Other than the subwoofer, it would be easier to adjust the channel level on the app than with the remote.
The Soundbar Display:
The display at the top centre of the bar. It is rather small with rounded ends. It gives you sufficient information while scrolling. A secondary offset or display on the front that is just in an array of three physically distance LEDs.
These LEDs provide volume up-down confirmation with a left-right illumination sequence. If you hold the volume up or down, the lights start lighting up. These LED lights are used to indicate other modes like Bluetooth pairing, a single red pixel was used to indicate that the integrated mic is off.
When you are done with setting up the soundbar correctly, the sound is quite impressive. Overall, the sound as with every part of the system is reliable. You are up for a sound that’s soft at the most intrinsic parts as well as other times you would really appreciate the complexity of the sound.
Coming out of the bars, nine channels is kind of a unique experience. They are not that many 9.1.4 bars out there that endorsed the notion that the integrity of the sound stood up at higher volumes. And with this soundbar, you are all assured to get that amazing experience.
In general, as the audio codec improves, the more robust the sound and sub audio becomes. When considering a soundbar system like this, to get 5.1 out of the rears it will need to be upscaled. Dolby Atmos via streaming is pretty good, you will first hand experience the immersive sound that transcends you into the scenes.
While watching your favorite movies, the cinematic audio experience you may find yourself in a blu-ray atmosphere with the soundbar all the time. Adjust the sound according to your volume preferences. It’s fairly impressive on that front.
Note: You can’t change audio mode when Dolby Atmos is playing.
For your inputs you have:
Enhanced Audio Return Channel(eARC) port’s main benefit is to give a big boost in bandwidth and speed. This allows you to send higher-quality audio from your TV to your soundbar or AV receiver. This ensures you receive lossless sound even if your TV has devices connected to it (consoles or DVD players)
HDMI 2.0 is a reimagining of the interchange between your bits of home entertainment gear, one that factors in the immense amount of data required to get high-quality audio and video to something like a 4K 3D-capable TVs. The soundbar is compatible with all the Samsung QLEDs released in 2020.
The soundbar comes with Bluetooth connectivity. You can pair your devices on the go and listen to your music whenever you need.
You can also connect your soundbar to tv wirelessly through Wi-Fi direct. If your TV is Wi-Fi direct compatible, this would be your superior wireless connection to Bluetooth.
Note: When watching TV and decide to switch to Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. You may find that your TV will go back to playing TV audio through the TV speakers. You can change it back.
As the bar supports Bluetooth, you have the option to connect a bar to the TV wirelessly. You can also connect your soundbar to tv wirelessly through Wi-Fi direct. If your TV is Wi-Fi direct compatible, this would be your superior wireless connection to Bluetooth. Some interesting features that come with the soundbar are:
Tap and Play
With the soundbar’s tap to play enabled, you can quickly pair your devices via Bluetooth by simply tapping the bar with your device. You’ll need to enable this function in the SmartThings app in your device that needs to be Android 8.1 or higher. With this tap theory moving seamlessly between Bluetooth and TV audio.
Your best streaming option is Spotify Connect, which allows you to play music on the soundbar via your device. With a Wi-Fi connection, you can play your favorite music literally on the tap!
Note: You should not smash your device on the bar because you might break something.
Alexa is a built-in voice assistant that you get with the soundbar. There is an internal microphone so you don’t have to go through a separate Alexa device to control the bar. So now you can ask Alexa to play your favorite dinner music without getting to your soundbar!
So this is clearly another avenue to play music, news podcasts, etc. on the bar via Wi-Fi.
So when going to Alexa the bar goes into Wi-Fi input and as mentioned before the TV sound will likely start going through the tv speakers.
Note: Make sure your TV speaker volume is set to zero before switching to Alexa.
Q90R and Q950T differences:
- Pricing: Q950T is more expensive than Q90R.
- Styling: Q950T is a scratchy sofa and the Q90R is a macho tank, it’s a draw.
- Weight: The Q950T is shorter and lighter, which may reduce TV obscuration and make it easier to move around while recording YouTube videos.
- Alexa: We have an integrated mic for Alexa.
- Software stability: The Q90R has had over a year of updates to go from probably quite bad to just bad. And I really think from a software perspective, the Q950T has no business being in the hands of consumers. This feels so much like a beta product.
- Sound quality: You would be immediately blown away by the Q90R. No question as far as sound bars go, it’s up there amongst the top. With the Q950T the sound quality was kind of impressive.
When it comes to sound even though the Q950T has more wattage and more channels it could now perform as good as the Q90R. You would be far from convinced that the sound matches, much less exceed the Q90R in overall quality.
Now that we know everything about the product, its time to weigh the good against the not so good features:
- Impressive immersive sound.
- 9.1.4-channel speaker layout.
- Supports Audio Return Channel (ARC) and enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC)
- HDR and 4K video pass-through via HDMI
- Dolby Atmos and DTS:X decoding.
- Dolby Vision and HDR10+ passthrough.
- Amazon Alexa built-in.
- Sleek and attractive design.
- 2 HDMI inputs and 1 HDMI output.
- ENERGY STAR® certified
- Comes with 1 Year Warranty.
- 60-days replacement.
- Can’t see the display when sitting down.
- Plastic material for Subwoofer is not premium quality.
- SmartThings app can’t access setup menus.
- Google Assistant is not supported.
- No automated room correction.
- It’s not cheap.
- Needs better software updates.
- Airplay is not supported.
|Power Supply||AC 120 V, 60 Hz|
|Power Consumption||47 W (Main) + 13 W (Rear) + 28 W (Subwoofer)|
|Standby Power||0.45 W (Main) + 0.33 W (Rear) + 0.45 W (Subwoofer)|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||1232 mm x 69.5 mm x 138 mm|
48.5 x 2.7 x 5.4 inches
|WEIGHT (kg, lbs.)||Main Unit – 7.1 kg (15.7 lbs.)|
Subwoofer – 9.8 kg (21.6 lbs.)
Surround Speaker – 2.1 kg (4.6 lbs.)
|Total Power||546 W|
|# of Channels||9.1.4|
|# of Speakers||20|
|ECO Mode / ECO||✔|
|Dolby Digital Plus||✔|
|DTS-HD Master Audio||✔|
|Smart Things App||✔|
While the specs and features seem really promising, the soundbar itself has a lot of software failures. For people looking for a great experience, there are alternatives that would be better in this soundbar range. For the audio to stand out you would need a big rectangular room with the exact specifications as mentioned earlier.
The soundbar does have some shortcomings that may be fixed if not now than later. The soundbar itself does not provide an excellent experience if the room you are setting this up on is not to the dimensions provided by Samsung.
If you are looking for alternatives, you can check out the Samsung Q90R. The reviews of this product are better than Q950T. Also, the price for the Q90R is fluctuating so you can find a better deal. There are also different options out there to compare.
Samsung HW-Q950T Frequently Asked Questions
Should I Buy the Samsung HW-Q950T?
Here are my recommendations for buying. See Samsung knows this, specs tend to evoke a primal response. Please suppress your urges for this product, you’re going to get neither a quality, rounded experience nor consistent high-quality audio experience that you should expect from a soundbar system this expensive.
Samsung layered a poorly conceived user experience on top of an unfinished product. A subtle giveaway is that they have not even put together a promotional video. Hope that those amongst you that plan on keeping this product are met with quick significant software updates.
To answer the question, you should look for better alternatives than the Samsung Q950T. If you still want the product, you can wait until the price gets low or until Samsung fixes the software bugs and updates the soundbar for the output users expect from specs like this.
What are my alternatives?
If you want a full 9.1.4-channel system AV receiver and speaker package route is the one you should hop-on. While this approach would sound better, this is a more expensive and invasive land to put a leg on.
The following three choices are optimal for you if you prefer the simplicity and discretion of a soundbar system but still want to enjoy a genuinely immersive object-based audio experience.
- JBL BAR 9.1: If you are looking for a soundbar that has great value for money, you should consider the JBL BAR 9.1 ($$$). It is equipped with a wireless subwoofer, eARC, auto-setup, and supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. Although this soundbar does not have HDR10+ passthrough, it has one HDMI input.
The system has detachable wireless rear speakers but no remote app. With the head-turning soundbar, you get a little narrower front soundstage, but the overall performance is excellent and the best product if you’re tight on budget.
- The Q90R: As mentioned earlier, the Samsung’s Q90R is the premium soundbar from Samsung that has incredible audio and a much better experience altogether. Like the Q950T, the Q90R has a 7.1.4 channel layout and comes with a wider front soundstage.
The soundbar has a 9.1ch, wireless rear up-firing speakers with a wireless subwoofer. The soundbar supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, eARC, and has two HDMI inputs. The Q90R can also pass both Dolby Vision and HDR10+. The soundbar has much better software than the Q950T making it an amazing product to invest in.
- LG SN11RG: Saving the best for the last, the LG-SN11RG is the best alternative out there. The soundbar produces an excellent 7.1.4ch soundstage while supporting both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. LG delivers immersion and width along with some amazing overheads effects.
LG-SN11RG crashes Samsung’s soundbar while supporting eARC, Hi-Res audio, and Chromecast. The soundbar is also equipped with two HDMI inputs, AI room correction and comes with Google Assistant built-in.
With its interesting new AI room correction feature, you are up for a journey that would engulf you and takes you places you have never been before. LG does lack a bit of depth at the low-end, and it can’t pass HDR10+. If you are not a fan of those, this is the soundbar for you.