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Samsung HW-Q800C review: A great soundbar with room for expansion

Our Rating :
$747.99 from
£465.98 from
Price when reviewed : £799
inc VAT

The Samsung HW-Q800C offers many of the benefits of Samsung’s higher-end Dolby Atmos soundbars without the corresponding premium


  • Overall presence has width and height
  • Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support
  • Option to add wireless rear speakers


  • Soundstage is understandably front-heavy
  • No 4K/120 and VRR passthrough

The Samsung HW-Q800C is the latest mid-range soundbar from the brand and offers a 5.1.2-channel speaker layout based around a large main unit and a powerful subwoofer. There’s support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X object-based audio formats, plus optional wireless rear speakers.

The performance has been tweaked, but otherwise, this new model remains identical to last year’s version, with the same robust build and finish, AI-enhanced processing, a range of dedicated sound modes, auto room calibration, and a built-in smart assistant courtesy of Amazon Alexa.

Samsung HW-Q800C review: What you need to know

The Samsung HW-Q800C offers a 5.1.2-channel experience through the combination of a main unit and a wireless subwoofer with an 8in driver. While the system doesn’t include surrounds, these can be bought separately, allowing you to build a fully immersive 7.1.4-channel speaker configuration at a later date.

Naturally, there’s support for Dolby Atmos spatial audio, along with the less popular DTS:X, plus the HDMI connections can pass every version of HDR including Dolby Vision and HDR10+. There’s also SpaceFit Sound Pro for automatically calibrating your system, along with built-in Amazon Alexa, Q-Symphony TV integration, and Wireless Dolby Atmos.

Samsung HW-Q800C review: Price and competition

The Samsung HW-Q800C isn’t the cheapest soundbar at £799, but you do get a well-made and generously-specified soundbar and subwoofer combo for your money. If you decide to add the SWA-9500S wireless rears that adds another £239, but even at £1,038, this system is cheaper than Samsung’s flagship HW-Q990C, which adds four more channels but is otherwise largely the same.

If you want to save money, the obvious alternative is last year’s Samsung HW-Q800B at £465. It’s still available and, aside from a few minor tweaks, is basically the same as the HW-Q800C, sporting full support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, combined with the same optional wireless surrounds.

Alternatively, you could take a look at the Samsung HW-S800B at £337, which is a more lifestyle-friendly option that delivers a 3.1.2-channel experience based on a super-slim main unit combined with a compact but powerful subwoofer using an innovative force-cancelling design.

In terms of other brands, the LG SP9YA at £599 is probably the closest competitor to the HW-Q800C, with the same 5.1.2-channel speaker layout, and a very similar set of features that includes the ability to add wireless rear speakers.

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Samsung HW-Q800C review: Design and features

The Samsung HW-Q800C uses exactly the same cabinet as last year, with angled corners, a robust metal mesh grille, and a display at the front right. The build quality is excellent, and the cabinet is finished in matte black, which means it won’t draw attention to itself under the TV.

The cabinet’s dimensions make it better suited to TVs with panel sizes of 55in or larger, but at only 57mm high, it won’t block the screen unless your telly has very little clearance underneath it. There’s a choice of stand or wall mounting, and if you decide on the latter, Samsung includes dedicated brackets for this purpose.

The wireless subwoofer is also finished in matte black to match the soundbar and has a side-firing 8in driver with a bass port at the rear. In combination with the 10 speakers built into the soundbar itself, the system delivers a 5.1.2 system with front height and width channels.

The Samsung is able to decode both the Dolby Atmos and DTS:X object-based audio formats, plus it also includes Wireless Dolby Atmos, allowing it to receive a signal via Wi-Fi using Dolby Digital Plus from supporting Samsung 2022 and 2023 TVs.

SpaceFit Sound Pro has been enhanced to automatically optimise the audio in your room to correct dialogue, surround effects and bass. Adaptive Sound 2.0 uses AI-enhanced processing to give content an added boost and has been upgraded to provide clearer sound at lower volumes. In addition to Adaptive Sound 2.0, there are other sound modes that include Standard, Surround Sound and Game Pro 2.0. There’s also a Night mode if you need to flatten the dynamic range so you don’t disturb others, and a Voice Enhancement mode to boost hard-to-hear dialogue.

Q Symphony Gen III not only allows the soundbar to integrate with compatible Samsung TVs, but also makes full use of the latter’s superior processor, as well as all the available speakers, to produce a bigger front soundstage. It even works using a wired or wireless connection.

Finally, there are built-in smarts and voice control thanks to the inclusion of Amazon Alexa, support for multiple music streaming services, Hi-Res Audio, Tap Sound for supporting Samsung devices, and the Active Voice Amplifier (AVA), which can be helpful in noisy surroundings.

Samsung HW-Q800C review: Connections and control

The Samsung HW-Q800C offers a single HDMI input and an output that supports eARC. Both pass 4K/60p, and every version of HDR (HDR10, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision), plus they also support ALLM, but not VRR and 4K/120 high frame rate – which is a shame. In terms of other connections, there’s an optical digital input, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and AirPlay 2.

The One Remote Control remains simple and intuitive to use, while the SmartThings app is equally well designed, making setup easy and allowing you to quickly create Wi-Fi connections, configure Alexa, and update the firmware if necessary. Other control options include buttons on the soundbar itself, voice control via Alexa, or the TV remote using HDMI-CEC.

Samsung HW-Q800C: Sound Quality

The Samsung HW-Q800C is simple to setup, with the subwoofer connecting automatically, and the SmartThings app discovering the Wi-Fi network without any issues. SpaceFit Sound Pro is also effective, using test tones to calibrate the system and eliminate the more egregious aspects of the room, thus ensuring the soundstage is balanced and the bass properly integrated.

The 10 tweeters and drivers built into the soundbar itself produce a total of seven speakers that are configured into front left and right channels, a centre channel for dialogue, left and right width channels, and two upfiring speakers that bounce sounds off the ceiling to create the front overhead channels. The subwoofer handles the all bass, completing the 5.1.2-channel system.

The Q800C is a solid performer overall, and the two front channels combine with the wireless sub to produce a soundbar that’s genuinely good with music. The larger and better quality speakers ensure there’s both clarity and detail, while the width allows for decent stereo separation. As a result, you can use the HW-Q800C to listen to music, even though that’s not its main purpose.

The subwoofer lays down a solid foundation of bass that feels tight and controlled, with no signs of delay caused by the wireless connection. Thanks to the automated room correction, the low frequencies are also integrated well and cross over smoothly with the other speakers. Although depending on where the sub is positioned, you may need to tweak the bass level a little.

Film and TV multichannel soundtracks benefit from the side-firing speakers, adding greater width to the front soundstage, while the centre channel keeps the dialogue clear and focused on the screen. However, it’s with these 5.1-channel mixes that the limitations of the HW-Q800C are made apparent, with no sense of surround envelopment due to the lack of rear speakers.

The Samsung can definitely produce a big front soundstage, with a fantastic sense of scale and slam. The 747 crash in Tenet sounds epic, with some titanic bass, but the effects are restricted to the front of the room. You can always add wireless surrounds to create a genuine 5.1-channel experience, but if you don’t the soundstage will remain front-heavy.

This inherent limitation extends to Dolby Atmos and DTS:X object-based audio, where the lack of rear speakers stops the HW-Q800C from genuinely immersing you in these spatial soundtracks. There’s plenty of sonic action in the first third of the room, and some nice overhead effects at the front, but without surrounds you can’t experience the full three-dimensional effect.

This is perfectly demonstrated in Spider-Man: Far From Home during a scene where Mysterio taunts the titular web-slinger. His voice is supposed to move around in a 360-degree bubble, but this isn’t possible without surround and rear overheads. This is easily addressed by adding the optional wireless speakers, turning the soundbar into a full 7.1.4-channel system.

As long as you understand these inherent limitations, the performance with immersive audio is excellent. The HW-Q800C has plenty of power, which gives the soundbar a dynamic delivery, and really deep bass thanks to the sub. The spatial audio decoding also renders all the detail in the audio effects and places them with precision across the front of the room and overhead.

Samsung HW-Q800C: Verdict

The Samsung HW-Q800C is a great soundbar and subwoofer system that immediately elevates the sonic performance of your TV. It’s an excellent all-rounder that enhances TV shows, movies, games and music, producing an expansive front soundstage that benefits from a sense of scale.

The soundbar itself has a sleek design and plenty of connectivity options, both the remote and mobile app are effective, while built-in Alexa not only adds a smart assistant but also voice control.

There’s a decent set of features, all of which are useful and many of which are designed to offer greater integration with supporting Samsung TVs and other devices, while the decoding for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X means you can enjoy object-based spatial audio soundtracks.

However, the amount of immersion on offer is limited by the lack of surround speakers, and as a result, the soundstage is rather front-heavy. Thankfully, this is easily addressed by adding the optional and inexpensive wireless rear speakers, thus creating a fully-immersive experience.

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