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Samsung HW-Q600C review: Very capable but short on Atmos impact

Our Rating :
£280.00 from
Price when reviewed : 549
inc VAT

The Samsung HW-Q600C is confident and accomplished in most ways but isn’t quite the finished spatial audio article

Pros

  • Burly, detailed and quite expansive sound
  • Very acceptable quality of build and finish
  • Helpfully compact by prevailing standards

Cons

  • Atmos presentation disappoints
  • Lumpy music reproduction
  • No Dolby Vision HDR passthrough

In almost every respect, the Samsung HW-Q600C is well worth investigating. A relatively modest amount of money buys a two-box system that communicates wirelessly, a fistful of connectivity and some balanced, hefty and impressively detailed sound. It also buys the sort of standard of build and finish that we’ve all come to expect from Samsung and many of the best soundbars.

What it doesn’t buy, however, is much of the spatial audio effect that ought to be this product’s headline feature. Audio height is alluded to, rather than explicitly delivered – so prospective customers who are expecting to be immersed in state-of-the-art Dolby Atmos soundtracks should think long and hard about whether this is, in fact, the system for them.

Samsung HW-Q600C review: What do you get for the money?

The HW-Q600C has a list price of £549 but is often found a lot cheaper on Amazon, with third-party retailers selling it for as little as £280. In terms of actual stuff, it manages the impressive trick of being more than enough at the same time as being smaller and more usefully compact than the norm.

Your money buys you a 1,030 x 105 x 56mm (WDH) soundbar, proportions which are tidy enough to let it look less than ridiculous accompanying TVs of as little as 48in screen size, and an equally manageable 184 x 343 x 295mm (WDH) subwoofer that pairs wirelessly with the soundbar and so can be positioned pretty much anywhere in your room that there’s mains power available.

At the same time, though, the HW-Q600C is specified without apparent compromise. This is a 3.1.2-channel system, with the .1 being provided by the subwoofer thanks to its 165mm forward-facing driver and rear-facing bass reflex port.

The 3.2 bit is handled by the soundbar – it has a total of nine drivers (the type, size and composition of which Samsung is uncharacteristically coy about) dealing with left, right and centre channels through the front and two height channels firing upwards. Left and right channels are the responsibility of three drivers each, another takes care of the centre channel and the two up-firing drivers perform using Samsung’s “Acoustic Beam” technology. Power is of the Class D variety, naturally, and the all-in total is 360W – Samsung isn’t saying exactly how that total is divided up.

Pairing between the subwoofer and the soundbar should happen automatically. There’s a pairing button on the rear of the subwoofer (which is mostly made of vinyl-wrapped MDF) in the event that it doesn’t. Otherwise, all connectivity is handled by the soundbar.

The physical connections are located in a pair of recesses on the rear of the soundbar. One houses a connection for mains power and a USB slot that’s used for servicing. The other has a digital optical input and a couple of HDMI sockets, one of which is eARC-enabled. So 4K passthrough is available – but because this is Samsung, it will only pass HDR10+ dynamic metadata and not Dolby Vision. Wireless connectivity comes courtesy of Bluetooth 5.0, with SBC and AAC codec compatibility.

The soundbar is built almost entirely of plastic – but it’s completely built and finished, and the angled ends give just a little visual pizazz. The top and the front of the soundbar are perforated, and it’s just about possible to discern a driver or two behind those holes.

Control is available via a few physical buttons on the top of the soundbar as well as a bundled remote control handset. It’s small and unremarkable in the hand, but it manages to cover every eventuality from a gratifyingly low number of buttons. There’s no control app, but Amazon Alexa voice control is available  – although only after a struggle. You’ll need an Alexa smart speaker within shouting distance and a lot of patience when using both the Alexa and the Samsung SmartThings apps.

There are four sound mode presets: Standard, Surround, Game Pro and Adaptive. Those first three are self-explanatory, while Adaptive attempts to appraise the content you’re watching in real-time and finesse the soundbar’s output to suit. The HW-Q600C is also compatible with Samsung’s Q-Symphony technology – so if it’s accompanying a compatible Samsung television then the TV’s speakers can augment the soundbar’s output rather than be overridden by it.    

READ NEXT: The best Dolby Atmos soundbars

Samsung HW-Q600C review: What did we like about it?

Feed it an appropriate Dolby Atmos soundtrack (like that to 2020’s Promising Young Woman) and there’s lots to like about the way the HW-Q600C performs. Although it’s important to turn the subwoofer down from its factory settings first of all – otherwise everything is drowned beneath a load of overconfident bass. 

With that taken care of, the HW-Q600C proves to be an impressively natural, uncoloured performer where tonality is concerned, and a gratifying neutral listen from the bottom of the frequency range to the top. It creates a spacious, properly organised and easy-to-understand soundstage, even when the going gets complex, and makes the spaces and silences between occurrences nice and dark.

There’s more than enough width and depth to the soundstage for every soundtrack element to get a secure little space in which to do its thing and the Samsung steers effects around these two planes with real confidence.

Detail levels are high at every point – but despite a numerical disadvantage in driver terms, it’s the centre channel that’s the most impressive aspect of the sound. Dialogue projects well, and is loaded with information regarding character, attitude, emotional state… you name it, the HW0Q600C makes it plain. And it’s worth taking a moment to congratulate the subwoofer in this respect, too – despite considerable presence, there’s a decent amount of subtlety to the low frequencies the Samsung can generate.

Samsung HW-Q600C review: What could be improved?

The fact that the HW-Q600C isn’t the most musical speaker around when it’s asked to play some music via Bluetooth isn’t the end of the world. After all, there aren’t that many soundbars at this sort of money that haven’t had their cinematic performance made the big priority – and so while the Samsung sounds a bit lumpy and club-footed when asked to deliver a stream of Chic’s I Want Your Love, it’s not the worst soundbar around when it comes to music playback. If you’re after an all-in solution to your audio needs, you could do worse. Mind you, you could quite easily do better, too…

No, the main shortcoming here is that the sound the HW-Q600C makes is on the short side. The height aspect of Dolby Atmos soundtracks is quite severely curtailed – the Samsung has trouble projecting sound up towards the top of the TV screen it’s accompanying, and doesn’t even pretend that it can create an immersive spatial audio effect. This test was conducted in a room of unremarkable ceiling height – so anyone with a higher ceiling is going to be even less impressed.

Samsung HW-Q600C review: Should you buy it?

If you’re after a reasonably compact, undeniably well-made and robustly specified soundbar/subwoofer combo that’s more than dynamic enough to make film night a definite thing in your home, you could do a lot worse than this Samsung HW-Q600C.

It creates a quite large and properly defined soundstage, it retains and reveals plenty of information at every turn (especially through the all-important midrange) and it has quite an impressive low-frequency presence.

If the idea of Dolby Atmos (or DTS:X) spatial audio is the big turn-on for you, though, you may find this system slightly wanting. It struggles to throw effects all that far upward, and as a result the spatial part of spatial audio is only hinted at.

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