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Samsung Q950T Soundbar
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What we don't like
Samsung Q950T Soundbar
Soundbar tech may not be sexy, but there’s always something to be said for products that seek to meet the needs of your more demanding cinephiles. By offering a platform that can handle just about any demand a modern home theater could ask of it, the new flagship Samsung Q950T makes a strong case for your attention.
Read our full Samsung Q950T soundbar review to find out if this should be the next addition to your home theater system.
What is the Samsung Q950T soundbar?
The Samsung Q950T soundbar is a 9.1.4 channel sound system that offers the latest and greatest software and audio processing available to Samsung devices. For example, it has the most features of any soundbar offered by Samsung, including voice assistant support, satellite speakers and a sub, tap to connect, integration into the SmartThings hub, to name some of the bigger features.
The soundbar itself is much smaller than its packaging would imply, but that’s largely due to the hefty external subwoofer that comes included with the unit. There are two additional satellite speakers included in the packaging, meant to be placed behind the listener if the Samsung Q950T soundbar is being used as the workhorse of your home theater. However, you’ll need to have three additional free outlets ready for these extra channels, as the satellite speakers and sub each require external power to operate.
15.65lb (main unit),
4.6lb (satellite speaker)
HDMI input ports
Voice assistant support
Samsung imbued its flagship soundbar with pretty much every smart feature you could ask for, and it’s obviously intended to complement the QLED television line offered by the company. I say that because it actually was designed with the 2020 Q90 series in mind (per Samsung). The bar fits quite well over the metal stand of the television, and nestles in the gap between the bottom of the panel and whatever surface you might be resting the unit on. If you choose to wall mount your home theater — not to worry. Included in the packaging is enough hardware to also mount the soundbar onto the wall as a height of your choosing (we recommend you measure the distance from the floor to your usual listening height).
Also read: The best soundbars you can buy
Who should consider the Samsung Q950T soundbar?
As this is a flagship product, this is meant for someone who is buying other flagship products in their home theater — someone with money to burn. Of course, this soundbar isn’t going to compete with a high-end hi-fi system cobbled together with lengths of speaker wire, high-performing speaker cabs, and a suitable stack of equipment. However, it’s a perfect fit for someone who’s bought into the Samsung ecosystem and wants a smart device that can handle the job of audio conduit for a main living area without taking up too much space.
The Samsung Q950T soundbar is also a good option for those who want to start de-wiring their living room, as it’s a constant annoyance to have to deal with hiding lengths of speaker wire under your furniture and carpeting. A soundbar like the Q950T that connects its remote channels via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi isn’t going to have as many thin cables underfoot, despite the need for extra outlets for the satellite speakers and the subwoofer.
Movie buffs looking for a soundbar that can support different 3D sound standards should also keep the Samsung Q950T on their radar. While it isn’t contained in one unit like the competing Sennheiser Ambeo soundbar, the Q950T does a good job of representing spatial audio through its multi-channel design.
What’s under the hood?
If the “9.1.4 channel” thing is gibberish to you, that simply means that this soundbar has nine independent speaker elements, with one subwoofer, and four upward-firing channels (for Dolby Atmos, DTS:X). That’s a lot of speakers, and having that many channels in a soundbar is nothing to sniff at.
While “more channels = better” isn’t necessarily true, what the soundbar does with those channels is pretty cool. Instead of just using two large speaker elements to blast your ears, the several channels inside allow the soundbar to do things like fire sound off the walls to create the illusion of 3D space. Essentially, it’s a surround sound system that offloads some of its job to the walls of the room it occupies.
Given the very valid complaints from our neighbors at the office, we can vouch for the subwoofer's power.
To ensure you also get sound coming from behind you, the Q950T uses two rear channels that you’ll place directly opposite the wall that your television and soundbar are on. The main unit will communicate with these channels wirelessly, and sync playback. Pairing these can be a bit fiddly, but otherwise straightforward via the buttons on the back of each unit.
But the star of the show is that monstrous subwoofer. The huge side-firing unit uses a 28W speaker element and rear-oriented port to make sure that you can easily fill your room with as much bass and sub-bass as you desire. Given the extremely fair complaints from our neighbors at the office, we can vouch for its raw output.
Of course, that just covers the hardware. The real reason you’re paying so much for this soundbar is for the smart features and integrations into Samsung’s SmartThings platform.
Related: The best smart speakers you can buy
What can you do with the Samsung Q950T soundbar?
Hooking up the Samsung Q950T to a Samsung TV via HDMI eARC allows you to take full control of a lot of very convenient features through the company’s proprietary platform. The integrations offered by the SmartThings platform reduce a lot of friction for common tasks, and especially those that are somewhat newer for a home stereo to perform. For example, not only can you offload all of the audio processing to the soundbar, but you can also treat the Q950T like a standard smart speaker while it’s on.
If you want to listen to music through the soundbar, the television can be taken over by the Q950T by a quick tap on the side of the main unit, and your phone will take it from there. If you’re using a Samsung smart TV, the soundbar will use the display as a visualizer while the soundbar handles the playback for your tunes. You can also have it cycle through photo albums, or choose from a preset list of stock images.
How does the Samsung Q950T soundbar perform?
In short, the Samsung Q950T soundbar performs very well — even if you decide to forgo using the satellite speakers. The inclusion of different sound modes allows the soundbar to tailor your experience based on the content you’re consuming, so you shouldn’t be left high and dry if you’ve suffered through crappy soundbars before. For most people, sticking with the standard mode is excellent enough to forget tinkering with the settings.
Of course, optimal performance requires the use of the satellite speakers and subwoofer. Without them, there won’t be enough channels to support the the “surround sound” effect offered through Dolby Atmos, as these satellite speakers also have half of the upward-firing elements inside. Additionally, the sub is critical for adding rumble to your cinematic content, so try your best to find a good home for it.
Music comes through loud and clear, even over Bluetooth. If you find that you run into quality problems, you may want to explore some basic room treatment options (like roll out a carpet, increase distance from the wall).
Before you do anything else, we recommend you update the system with the included USB port, as the soundbar will downsample LPCM to PCM. This causes some issues for Apple TV and Nintendo Switch users, but the firmware update should solve that. Additionally, this unit doesn’t offer room correction. If that’s important to you, you’re going to want to skip this one.
Should you buy the Samsung Q950T soundbar?
Considering that the most credible competitor to the Samsung Q950T is the Sennheiser Ambeo, I think that anyone with the money to blow on this unit would be happy with it. The price tag is steep at $1,800, but you’re paying for a device that works fairly seamlessly with the Samsung SmartThings platform — and has the audio chops to justify the premium.
However, there are a lot of soundbars on the market, and you may find that price is a bigger motivating factor than a smart platform. If that’s the case, there are a number of options from Sony, Vizio and JBL that are well worth your time. For example, the JBL Bar 5.1 offers a much more affordable surround experience, at the cost of the high-end hardware offered by the Q950T.