Samsung Hw-q90r Sound Bar Test: Almost Like a Home Cinema

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Samsung offers a high-end 7.1.4 kit in the form of a sound bar assisted by a subwoofer and two wireless speakers. Enough to forget about a home theater?

To accompany its LCD and QLED televisions with disappointing sound performances (even the top-of-the-range models), Samsung markets a range of sound bars There’s something for every budget, and at the top of the basket is the 7.1.4 system called HW-Q90R – the same name as its most expensive TV. For this price, you have an installation close to a dedicated home theater kit, except for a few installation constraints (we’ll come back to this later).


Samsung HW-Q90R sound bar // Source: Samsung

The HW-Q90R kit is of course compatible with all current technologies, including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X formats, which add 3D sound effects (in this case bouncing the stream through the ceiling). Either it’s a real treat for the ears – or it’s a real treat for the eyes if you have a state-of-the-art TV set.


Known for its meticulous aesthetic choices in TV design, Samsung offers here a very imposing – and not very elegant – sound bar. At least we can enjoy very neat and reassuring finishes. The manufacturer has opted for a metal grille rather than fabric, which accentuates the somewhat raw look. Note that the bar is a little over 8 centimetres high, a consideration if you plan to install it in front of a TV with a short stand. We also deplore the absence of a screen, even if only to help to better switch from one source to another (we have to be satisfied with a meagre indication on the right side of the bar).

The sound bar comes with two compact surround speakers with a simplistic look to be placed behind you, high up, ideally on a stand. They don’t need a wire to be connected to the bar. On the other hand, you still have to feed them. There is also a subwoofer with contained measurements – practical to integrate it in a living room. The remote control for its part, does the bare minimum but allows you to navigate between sources, independently manage the volume of the subwoofer or access a few parameters.


Samsung HW-Q90R sound bar // Source: Samsung

Like a Home Cinema

If the HW-Q90R is stored in the sound bar area, it is in fact a complete kit requiring space and installation thought for. The installation is similar to that of a home theater, minus the wires that need to be hidden (between the speakers and the amplifier), minus the automatic calibration that allows to adjust the acoustic performances to the characteristics of the room (a big lack for a kit presented as 7.1.4).

In short, the HW-90R is aimed at those who can afford to invest in an above-average sound solution – 1,500 euros – but without the constraints of a pure home cinema (which requires some knowledge in addition to special logistics). At Samsung, you plug in and get an immediate earful, for an immediate benefit that has its limits.

  • To be read : Our home cinema guide

Some limitations

To use the HW-Q90R kit with your TV, simply connect it to the ARC-compatible HDMI jack. In addition, the sound bar has two HDMI inputs with 4K and HDR compatibility – for connecting an Apple TV, game console or other device – or an optical port for older sources. There’s also Bluetooth connectivity and compatibility with Spotify Connect for listening to your music. Strangely enough, there is neither Chromecast nor AirPlay to facilitate the broadcasting…

Via the Samsung SmartThings application (Home Ecosystem), you can access an equalizer or music applications (TuneIn and Deezer) – not to mention a few handy commands. The HW-Q90R kit is compatible with all home cinema sound formats, including the most advanced (DTS:X and Dolby Atmos). It can also be used with Alexa, through an Amazon Echo


Samsung HW-Q90R sound bar // Source: Samsung

What power!

The HW-Q90R kit is from Harman/Kardon, Samsung’s sound specialist, and you can hear it from the very first seconds (best test: when you go to an advertisement, often over-emphasized). One is immediately amazed by the power in reserve, which forces one to measure the listening volume in order not to become deaf to the first sequence of action. As a bonus, because it’s a true multi-channel design, you get a beautiful 360-degree sound envelope. It is simply unfortunate that there is no automatic calibration, which would allow the facility to compensate for investment obligations (which may result in less precise effects).

A very coherent show

In any case, the HW-Q90R ensures a very coherent show, with a precise frontal scene, especially in terms of voice reproduction (a very important point when you want to enjoy a movie, especially if it is of a quieter nature). And when it comes to strong sequences, we are entitled to effects retranscribed with generosity and intelligence, which supports the relevance of the channels located at the back. The whole thing is supported by a subwoofer that wasn’t designed to do too much, more to be fair. The rendering therefore never falls into saturation. The bass is very pleasant and certainly increases the pleasure tenfold.

There are still the 3D effects, provided as much by the sound bar as the surround speakers (hence the .4 in the name). They are of course transcribed by reverberation on the ceiling. This principle makes installation easier but has its limits in terms of restitution – especially if your ceiling height is too high. In the case of the HW-Q90R, it is convincing enough to add an extra degree of immersion, which is the purpose of these formats. Forget the Samsung sound modes (with automatic switching thanks to artificial intelligence). Like those dedicated to the image, they tend to distort rather than anything else. It is therefore advisable to stick to the standard format, adapted to all contents.


Samsung HW-Q90R sound bar // Source: Samsung

Indicative note : 4/5

For 1,500 euros, the Samsung HW-Q90R kit is too expensive compared to a real dedicated home cinema installation. Except that the Korean firm goes a little further than the simple sound bar with a set compatible with the sound formats of the moment and, above all, with a very, very appreciable rendering (the power in reserve, in particular).

Above all, he makes the argument of simplicity, both in installation and use. There are necessarily limits to this approach to a solution for purists. But for those who want to take a real step forward without getting too carried away (and with no budget limit either), the HW-Q90R is an ideal product.


  • Beautiful power
  • True multi-channel sound
  • Easy integration


  • No AirPlay or Chromecast
  • No calibration
  • Fickle 3D effects

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