To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Samsung HW-Q990D review: Incredibly immersive and great for gamers

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £1699
inc VAT

Delivering excellent immersive audio, the HW-Q990D is a multi-channel soundbar that will be hard to beat


  • Incredibly immersive spatial audio delivery
  • Deep, powerful and controlled bass
  • Includes HDMI 2.1 connectivity


  • Front display isn’t very useful

The Samsung HW-Q990D is the latest flagship soundbar from the brand and uses the same class-leading 11.1.4-channel setup as last year’s HW-Q990C.

As with previous generations, it’s well-made, feature-packed and can deliver a fully immersive Dolby Atmos and DTS:X spatial audio experience. There’s AI-enhanced processing, a range of dedicated sound modes, auto room correction and built-in Alexa, but this year we also get HDMI 2.1 support, which is great news for gamers.

Shop Samsung's soundbar range

Samsung HW-Q990D review: What you need to know

The Samsung HW-Q990D uses the same speaker configuration as previous generations, but it’s hard to imagine how any more drivers could be crammed into the system, which comprises a soundbar, two rear speakers and a subwoofer.

It’s a system designed primarily for film fans seeking genuine immersion from a package that’s more convenient and space-efficient than putting together an AV receiver and multi-speaker package. As such, there’s support for the two major object-based audio formats: Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.

This year Samsung has added HDMI 2.1 connections that not only pass every version of HDR including Dolby Vision and HDR10+, but can also pass 4K/120Hz, VRR and ALLM next-gen console features.

There’s a host of other features, including several different sound modes, high-res audio support, auto room correction, built-in Alexa for voice control and added smarts, Q Symphony integration for supporting Samsung TVs, and even wireless Atmos.

READ NEXT: Best soundbars

Samsung HW-Q990D review: Price and competition

The Samsung HW-Q990D costs slightly more than last year at £1,699, but that remains good value when you consider it creates a genuine sense of three-dimensional immersion, and Samsung has addressed complaints about previous generations. It’s pretty much as good as a separate-based home cinema sound system, but cheaper and much easier to set up.

It isn’t just better value when compared to an AV receiver and full speaker package, but also more affordable in comparison to competitors like Bose and Sonos. You can pick up the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar for £900 or the Sonos Arc for around £770 but once you add compatible wireless rear speakers and a wireless subwoofer, the cost increases significantly.

If you’re looking for a slightly cheaper alternative that not only offers a similar level of immersion but also includes clever ideas like rechargeable rear speakers, then you should consider the JBL Bar 1300. It’s not quite as feature-packed as the Samsung, but retails for a very tempting £1,300.

Samsung HW-Q990D review: Design and features

The Samsung HW-Q990D looks identical to last year, with angled corners and a robust metal mesh grille. The display is located at the front right, but isn’t very useful and is hard to read behind the mesh grille, while a selection of basic controls can be found on the centre top of the cabinet.

The minimalist design is finished in black, the build quality is excellent and the soundbar’s fairly wide dimensions make it better suited for larger screen sizes of 55in or bigger. There’s a choice of stand or wall mounting, with Samsung including dedicated brackets for the latter.

The subwoofer and surround speakers are finished to match the soundbar, with the rears using the same metal mesh grille to create a more cohesive aesthetic. The latter can be stand- or wall-mounted, and while the sub and rears are wireless, they need to be plugged into power sockets.

The sub generates a powerful low-end thanks to its 8in driver, while an acoustic lens produces clearer, more precise bass, and offers a greater sense of uniformity.

The system enjoys excellent tonal balance thanks to the use of identical drivers and is composed of front left, right and centre channels; front and rear overheads; width channels at the front; and side channels at the front and rear. All this ensures seamless steering of effects around the room.

In addition to supporting Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, the HW-Q990D supports Wireless Atmos, transmitting the signal to compatible Samsung TVs via Wi-Fi using Dolby Digital Plus.

SpaceFit Sound will automatically optimise the audio in your room to correct the dialogue, surround effects and bass. Adaptive Sound, meanwhile, uses AI-enhanced processing to give content an added boost and is particularly useful for making general audio clearer at lower volumes.

Other sound modes include Standard, Surround and Game. 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.

The surround speakers offer a front mode for greater width but no rears; a private mode that only uses the rears for watching TV at night without disturbing others; and a sound grouping feature where the rears work as independent speakers duplicating the same music as the main unit.

If you own one of Samsung’s Q Symphony-compatible TVs, the HW-Q990D can sync with it to create an even bigger front soundstage by utilising all the speakers in the TV and those in the soundbar, while also applying the extra processing power of the TV’s AI-enhanced chipset.

There is built-in smart functionality courtesy of Amazon Alexa, support for multiple music streaming services – the HW-Q990D is Roon Tested with Hi-Res Audio support – Tap Sound for compatible Samsung devices and the Active Voice Amplifier (AVA) for noisy surroundings.

In addition to the HDMI 2.1 connections, the HW-Q990D offers another gaming feature called Game Mode Pro. When used in conjunction with a Samsung TV, this feature optimises the sound settings based on the specific genre selected in the connected TV’s pop-up gaming hub.

Shop Samsung's soundbar range

Samsung HW-Q990D review: Connections and control

The Samsung HW-Q990D offers an improved choice of connections, with two HDMI 2.1 inputs and an output that supports eARC. They all pass every version of HDR and also support ALLM, plus 4K/120Hz and VRR for high frame rate gaming. In terms of wireless connectivity, there’s 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, voice control via Alexa or the TV remote using HDMI-CEC.

READ NEXT: Best PC speakers for gaming, streaming and music

Samsung HW-Q990D review: Sound quality

The Samsung HW-Q990D is easier to set up and requires a lot less space when compared to a more traditional separates-based approach to immersive spatial audio. But it’s also one of the few soundbars able to compete with a receiver and speaker combo in terms of overall performance.

It still takes a bit longer to install in comparison with single-unit soundbars, but that extra time pays dividends in terms of object-based audio. Once you’ve installed the main unit, sub and rear speakers, you’ll have a system that blows away any soundbar using psychoacoustic processing.

The sub and rears connect automatically, while the SmartThings app discovers the Wi-Fi network without any issues. SpaceFit Sound works flawlessly, measuring the acoustic properties of the room and ensuring the overall soundstage is optimised and the bass properly integrated.

In terms of the Q990D’s general performance, it’s impressive. The overall delivery feels tighter and more precise than in previous models, while the larger drivers ensure sufficient clarity and detail. This makes it unusually good with music, and the width of the cabinet allows for decent stereo separation.

Whether the songs are in two-channel, 5.1-channel or even Dolby Atmos, the Q990D delivers audio with subtlety and fidelity. At the same time, the big subwoofer delivers a solid foundation of bass that feels well-integrated and controlled, never overpowering the rest of the system.

With multichannel mixes, the width speakers spread the sound across the front of the room, while the centre channel keeps the dialogue clear and focused on screen. The rears ensure surround effects genuinely emanate from behind – something that’s impossible for psychoacoustic trickery.

Watching Tenet, which has a 5.1 mix, the HW-Q990D demonstrates its ability to produce size and scale, especially when the 747 crashes into the airport terminal. The larger drivers and powerful amplification play their part, while the sub adds plenty of infrasonic slam to the explosions.

When the full 11.1.4-channel soundstage is engaged the Q990D is unrivalled in terms of its ability to create a believable dome of sound. The front and rear up-firers make a huge difference, as do the front and rear side drivers, allowing sound effects to steer seamlessly around the room.

Dolby Atmos and DTS:X object-based audio formats sound superior to any other soundbar, and even rival some AV receiver and speaker package combinations. The Q990D not only creates a realistic three-dimensional soundscape but also has sufficient headroom for excellent dynamic range.

When watching The Creator, the system’s ability to produce a visceral hemisphere of sound lends the battle sequences added impact as explosions shake the floor and missiles zoom overhead. However, among the chaos, the Q990D also delivers nuanced detail with remarkable precision.

The performance with TV shows is excellent thanks to clear dialogue, expansive music scores and well-rendered surround effects. The HW-Q990D’s ability to place sounds precisely in three-dimensional space also makes it ideal for gaming, successfully immersing you in another world.

Shop Samsung's soundbar range

Samsung HW-Q990D review: Verdict

The Samsung HW-Q990D is another class-leading soundbar from the brand, flawlessly delivering Dolby Atmos and DTS:X using a room-filling and highly immersive 11.1.4-channel speaker system.

Installation is simple, with the rears and sub connecting automatically, and the effective room correction ensures the system is performing optimally, with tight and well-integrated bass.

The delivery with film soundtracks is fantastic, producing a big, powerful and cohesive presence, while the performance with music is equally impressive. The soundbar’s spatial audio prowess is also great for gaming, and the addition of HDMI 2.1 connections is very welcome. This makes the HW-Q990D the multi-channel model to beat this year, and a deserved Best Buy badge winner.

Read more