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Samsung HW-Q930C review: A superb step-down soundbar

Samsung HW-Q930 - featured image
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £899
inc VAT

If you can’t afford to fork out for the HW-Q990C, the Samsung HW-Q930C is a significantly cheaper and very capable alternative


  • Strong value for what’s on offer
  • Impressively powerful and aggressive
  • Excellent detailing and true surround staging


  • Not very insightful with music
  • No 4K/120Hz HDR passthrough
  • Potential eARC issues with some setups

Samsung’s HW-Q990C is one of the best soundbars on the market, but things haven’t tended to be such plain sailing with step-down models such as the Samsung HW-Q930C.

Second-rung systems like this haven’t necessarily been bad, but they haven’t held on to as much of the Samsung flagship soundbar DNA as we would have liked – a fact that’s particularly unfortunate given how expensive Samsung’s flagship soundbars are.

The HW-Q930C, though, is here to change that narrative by maintaining a full multi-speaker surround-sound experience and channels galore, despite being hundreds of pounds cheaper than its flagship sibling.

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Samsung HW-Q930C review: What you need to know

The Q930C sits one step down from Samsung’s HW-Q990C. Whereas in previous years that might have meant it only offering a two-piece solution, the Q930C gets four separate speakers: a soundbar, a subwoofer and two rear speakers.

This ensemble delivers 14 channels in a 9.1.4 configuration, which is only a couple of channels down on the HW-Q990C and way more than most other brands’ flagship soundbars manage, never mind their less expensive models.

This setup delivers true full surround-sound immersion, rather than limiting you to a front-only experience, with the ‘.4’ part of the channel configuration providing support for the height effects of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundtracks.

The HW-Q930C delivers some extra features if used with Samsung TVs, but unlike LG soundbars such as the LG USC9S, it hasn’t been specifically designed for use with Samsung TVs.

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Samsung HW-Q930C review: Price and competition

The Q930C costs £899 if bought from Samsung but can be picked up for as little as £639 from Amazon. This puts it in a similar bracket to acclaimed rivals such as the Sonos Arc, Harman Kardon Citation Multibeam 1100, Sony HT-A5000 and Sennheiser’s Ambeo Mini.

All of those products are either single soundbar or single soundbar plus subwoofer packages, however. When compared to Samsung’s 11.1.4-channel HW-Q990C, the Q930C comes in significantly cheaper. The manufacturer has its flagship model listed at £1,399, although you can grab it for just £935 from Amazon.

Samsung HW-Q930C review: Design and features

The Q930C’s main soundbar is essentially a smaller version of the soundbar you get with the Q990C. It’s clad in a heavy-duty plastic finish that looks clean and hides dust well, while its sculpting is distinguished by attractive angular ends.

At 119 x 28 x 6cm (WDH), the soundbar is around 12cm narrower than the Q990C’s main bar and 10mm shorter. So while it’s not that much smaller than its flagship equivalent, it feels like a more comfortable partner for TVs of 55in and below.

The rear speakers look similar to those you get with the Q990C. They’re a striking combination of a hard plastic grilled finish and some sharp angles and lines, including a pitched top edge that enables the up-firing speakers to angle their sound slightly forward. The only big difference is that the cheaper model misses out on the side-firing drivers that add rear-side channel information.

The subwoofer is the most visibly different item, chiefly because it loses the distinctive Acoustic Lens design of the Q990C’s sub. Instead, there’s just a regular felt circular cover over the bass driver, although at 8in across this driver is still large by soundbar system standards.

The subwoofer lacks the glamorous metallic-feeling finish of the rears and main bar. However, since deep bass sound is non-directional, there’s no reason why you can’t hide it under a table or beside the sofa.

Despite the Q930C’s main bar being a bit smaller than that of the Q990C and its rears losing one channel each, the Q930C manages to fit in an impressive 17 separate speakers, compared to 22 on the Q990C. These include front centre, front left, front right, up-firing front left, side-firing front left, side-firing front right, front side-firing left, front side-firing right, up-firing front right, rear left, rear right, rear up-firing left and rear up-firing right channels, plus a dedicated bass channel via the sub.

The rise of AI has fed into the Q930C’s processing, meanwhile, in the shape of Adaptive Sound 2.0, which can recognise the type of content you’re listening to and automatically optimise the audio profile accordingly. An auto-optimisation process capable of making dialogue clearer without any manual input is also available.

A separate Active Voice Amplifier feature can listen out for ambient noise in your room and adjust the prominence of dialogue in the mix accordingly, while Game Mode Pro enhances the directionality of sound to make gaming feel more intense and immersive.

Samsung’s SpaceFit Sound Pro is on hand to automatically optimise the Q930C’s sound to your room, while the brand’s Q-Symphony feature enables the soundbar to join forces with the speakers in recent Samsung TVs to create a larger soundstage with more detailed centre channel and height effects.

As you would hope with a soundbar as ambitious as the Samsung Q930C, it’s capable of playing both of the leading DTS:X and Dolby Atmos sound formats. Music formats supported include AAC, WAV, FLAC, AIFF, MP3, OGG and ALAC.

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Samsung HW-Q930C review: Connections and control

The Q930C has an HDMI passthrough system but only one HDMI input compared to the Q990C’s two. The HDMI output supports eARC, though, so you can use it to take in audio from your connected TV (assuming that TV also supports eARC).

The HDMI can pass all of the four main high dynamic range formats: HDR10, HLG, HDR10+ and even Dolby Vision, despite Samsung’s TVs continuing to have no truck with Dolby’s premium HDR format. HDMI passthrough doesn’t extend to supporting the 4K/120Hz gaming feeds, however.

Gamers can, of course, connect their consoles directly to their 4K/120Hz-capable TVs and use those HDMI eARC support to pass Dolby Atmos through to the soundbar. However, the eARC/ARC system can cause issues with some setups, as we’ll see later.

There’s an optical audio input option, too, along with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi music-streaming capabilities. The soundbar can even receive Dolby Atmos sound wirelessly from compatible Samsung TVs.

Wi-Fi support covers Airplay and Spotify Connect playback, but there’s sadly no Chromecast support. The Q930C offers some compensation for this in the shape of Tap Connect, which lets you connect a reasonably recent Samsung smartphone to the soundbar by tapping it against the Q930C’s bodywork.

The HW-Q930C ships with its own sleek, button-lite remote control, but if you’ve lost that down the sofa or you want to access functionality such as the auto-calibration feature, you can use Samsung’s SmartThings app.

There’s a roster of subtly integrated buttons on the soundbar’s top edge, too, and you can activate some of the Q930C’s features simply by talking to it, courtesy of built-in Alexa voice recognition support.


Samsung HW-Q930C review: Sound quality

The first thing that struck me as I put the Q930C through its paces was just how good it felt to get genuine surround sound from a soundbar. The rear speakers aren’t particularly big, but they punch above their weight in terms of how well they balance up with the main bar and how much presence their rear and rear height channel effects have.

There’s no vague surround-sound ambience here; instead, the rears truly contribute to the object-based audio delights of both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. Details are clearly defined and well positioned, and the HW-Q930C successfully conveys a sensation that you’re sitting at the heart of a wrap-around three-dimensional soundstage.

The subwoofer’s contribution to a movie soundtrack is even more effective than that of the surprisingly punchy and powerful rears. Its 8in driver manages to hit some fearsome depths without sounding chuffy or bottoming out. Its sound is propelled out well enough to ensure that it rolls all around your room rather than sounding trapped near the speaker, while its large driver is nimble enough to deliver punchy beats just as well as it handles long rumbles.

Thankfully, the main soundbar doesn’t let the side down. It’s powerful enough to provide a strong heart to even the most rowdy of action movie soundtracks, and can get seriously loud without starting to crackle or compress. It projects sound in every direction with confidence and vigour and even reproduces very shrill treble sounds without them sounding harsh or thin. At the other end of the spectrum, it can get low enough to tie up nicely with the rumbles coming out of the subwoofer.

The up-firing drivers in the rear and front speakers place effects convincingly and, provided you don’t have a vaulted or unusually high ceiling, there’s even a sense of these overhead effects from the front and back speakers meeting overhead.

Transitions of sounds across and through the 360-degree soundstage are handled convincingly, and dialogue remains clear and reasonably contextualised even when it has to compete with serious pressure from the rest of the mix.

Excellent though the Q930C’s movie playback is, there are a few areas where it falls short of the Q990C.

Vocal tracks – typically deep male ones – can sound a little trapped within the soundbar rather than enjoying the elevation to screen level that the Q990C delivers with all vocal tones. The lack of side-firing drivers in the Q930C’s rears, meanwhile, means its rear soundstage is narrower than that of the Q990C’s, and I was aware of a gap in the Dolby Atmos/DTS:X hemisphere of sound.

While excellently deep and surprisingly nimble, the bass from the Q930C’s subwoofer feels a touch less refined than that of the Q990C. Finally, not having quite as much raw power as Samsung’s flagship soundbar can mean that the channels that depend on reflecting their sounds off walls and ceilings sound a little less defined.

The Q990C costs hundreds of pounds more than the Q930C, however, so you’d expect such differences to exist. Compared more fairly with other soundbars in its price class, the Q930C’s movie performance holds up excellently, especially when it comes to delivering a full surround experience.

While streaming, the HDMI and optical digital inputs on the Q930C all worked flawlessly, but I did suffer some audio lag and distortion when trying to use the Q930C’s eARC feature with a 2020 Samsung TV. These problems disappeared with every other TV I tried the soundbar with, though.

Samsung soundbars have typically not excelled as well with music as they do with films. This trend continues with the Q930C, which sounds slightly contained and lacking in expressiveness compared with the most musical soundbars in its class. The mid-range can sound a bit soupy, too, particularly if a song has a heavy bass line.

It’s not all bad on the music front. The sound is quite even in its presentation compared with the more potent but occasionally over-aggressive Q990C’s musical performance. Samsung’s ‘Surround Sound’ and ‘Adaptive’ options for upmixing stereo sound to utilise all the system’s speakers are easier on the ear than hi-fi enthusiasts might expect, too.

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Samsung HW-Q930C review: Verdict

The Q930C is easily the best step-down soundbar Samsung has ever made. It gives you a healthy amount of the class-leading immersion and power of Samsung’s flagship soundbars, while retaining a significant price advantage for people who can’t afford those top models.

Its considerable charms are more evident in movie soundtracks than they are in music, however. So if your priority is music, you might want to consider the Sonos Arc or the Harman Kardon Citation Multibeam 1100 instead.

For sheer power, detail and movie immersion, though, we’re struggling to think of anything that truly challenges the Q930C for the same sort of money.

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