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Home / Reviews / Home Cinema / Soundbars / Samsung HW-Q990D review: An enveloping spatial experience

Samsung HW-Q990D review: An enveloping spatial experience

Samsung’s latest flagship soundbar proves you don’t need a separates system to enjoy all the benefits of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X

Samsung HW-Q990D review Front Speakers

Stuff Verdict

A feature-packed flagship that offers greater immersion than any other soundbar. While installation takes a bit longer, the HW-Q990D rewards you with an amazing spatial audio performance.


  • Highly immersive spatial delivery
  • Tightly integrated subwoofer
  • HDMI 2.1 connectivity


  • Not as easy to install as a basic ‘bar
  • Front display is fairly useless


Over the last few years Samsung has redefined the spatial audio capabilities of multi-component soundbar systems, by bringing the channel count up to a remarkable 11.1.4 and enabling them to deliver a genuinely immersive soundstage.

The new flagship HW-Q990D retains all the benefits of previous models, but adds new features like HDMI 2.1 for passthrough of 4K/120Hz high-frame-rate gaming. But are these enough, or is the law of diminishing returns kicking in?

How we test home cinema equipment

Every prjector, sound bar and home theatre separate reviewed on Stuff is used for a minimum of a week’s worth of daily watching and listening. We use a playlist of test footage made up of multiple genres to assess picture and sound, and use our years of experience to compare to other models. Manufacturers have no visibility on reviews before they appear online, and we never accept payment to feature products.

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Design & build: more of the same

The HW-Q990D looks the spitting image of last year’s Q990C, with the main bar measuring a near-identical 70 x 1232 x 138mm (HxWxD). While not exactly small, the dimensions start to make sense when you consider there are 15 drivers crammed inside.

It’s finished discreetly in black, and has a robust build thanks to mesh metal grilles on the front, side and top – where you’ll also find some basic controls. There’s a simple display at the front, which isn’t very useful and also hard to read. All the connections are located at the back.

The wireless rear satellites each include three speaker drivers, and sport the same design and robust build as the soundbar. The rear-ported wireless subwoofer uses Samsung’s Acoustic Lens system, with a circular deflector an inch or so above the large eight-inch driver, for more accurate bass.

Features: gamers will be happy

The HW-Q990D is feature-packed, befitting its status as a flagship model. It sports an 11.1.4-channel speaker layout using a total 22 drivers, and there’s sufficient juice to power them all without running out of steam. The speakers include side- and up-firers at the front and rear.

This basically means the Q990D can not only decode Dolby Atmos and DTS:X object-based audio, but deliver these spatial formats in a genuinely immersive fashion. This explains why it can compete with separates based systems, although it requires a bit more setup than other ‘bars.

While primarily aimed at TV shows and movies, there’s support for a host of music streaming services – including the option to listen to songs mixed in Atmos via Tidal Connect, Amazon Music, and Apple Music. The HW-Q990D is also Roon Tested, making it a good choice for music fans.

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.

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.

Samsung has finally upgraded the two HDMI inputs, and the output, to version 2.1  – which is great news for gamers. The HW-Q990D now passes 4K/120Hz and VRR, as well as the previously supported ALLM. In addition, if you’re using a Samsung TV there’s also Game Mode Pro, which optimises the sound based on the genre selected in the TV’s gaming hub.

Connections, control & setup: immersion without the aggravation

An output that supports eARC allows the HW-Q990D to receive lossless Atmos sound from compatible TVs. The HDMI 2.1 connectors also pass HDR10+ and Dolby Vision video.

In terms of wireless connectivity there’s also Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, while owners of supporting Samsung phones can share content by simply tapping them against the soundbar’s cabinet.

Samsung includes a remote that’s reminiscent of its TV zappers and provides all the controls for setup and operation. There’s also the excellent SmartThings app, which includes all the options offered by the wand plus a few extras. You even have voice control thanks to built-in Alexa.

When installing the HW-Q990D, make sure nothing is blocking the side- and up-firing drivers on the soundbar and rear speakers. Also remember that while the subwoofer and surrounds connect wirelessly, you’ll still need to plug them into power sockets. So that’s four plugs total, including the ‘bar.

The good news is that once you’ve installed everything, setup is easy. The main unit, subwoofer and rear speakers will automatically synch with each other, while Samsung’s SmartThings app takes you through the rest of the process, including the Wi-Fi connection and audio calibration.

Performance: peerless spatial audio delivery

The Samsung HW-Q990D is one of the few soundbars capable of going toe-to-toe with a separates system, delivering spatial audio that’s genuinely immersive. The majority of competing soundbars are single-unit systems, although some may also include a separate subwoofer. While this makes setup easy and requires minimal space, they are also very limited when it comes to enveloping you in surround and rear height effects.

Where the HW-Q990D is head and shoulders above most of the competition is that by having actual surround speakers and rear height channels, it can generate a compelling hemisphere of sound, allowing audio objects to be moved around believably within three-dimensional space.

In Dune Part One as Paul and Jessica fly into the desert storm, the Atmos track utilises all the channels to completely envelop you in the sand and wind. The Q990D delivers this scene with visceral reality as dust blasts all around and stones chip at the ornithopter’s windscreen.

The HW-Q990D also delivers this acoustic bubble with precision and detail, faithfully rendering the complex object-based sound design, while the use of identical drivers ensures excellent tonal balance and cohesion. No amount of psychoacoustic trickery can come close to replicating this.

Oppenheimer might only have a 5.1 mix, but the Trinity test is the perfect demonstration of the Q990D’s ability to deliver a soundstage with scale and slam. There is sufficient power to simultaneously drive all the channels when the sonic shockwave hits, and the sub digs deep.

Previous Samsung soundbars have struggled with unruly bass, but the Q990D integrates the low-end perfectly, creating a solid foundation of infrasonic effects. The rest of the system is equally tight and confident, with a clean overall delivery, a composed midrange, and a treble that bites.

The HW-Q990D is also capable of a surprisingly nuanced delivery, with clearly focused dialogue and a delicate touch when necessary. The numerous senate hearings and private meetings in Oppenheimer are rendered with a pleasing subtlety that adds space and life to the environments.

This general sense of cohesion and composure also lends itself to music, making the Q990D a good choice for listening to two-channel, multi-channel, and especially Atmos mixes. This is definitely an area where Samsung soundbars have improved over the last few years.

Finally, the Q990D’s ability to precisely locate and smoothly steer sound effects realistically within a three-dimensional dome of sound makes gaming more exciting and immersive. The first-person perspective is more pronounced, while threats and dangers from behind are easier to pinpoint.

Samsung HW-Q990D verdict

Samsung HW-Q990D review Front View

If you want a soundbar capable of delivering the immersion of a separates system without all the installation hassles, this is the one for you. When it comes to Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, no other ‘bar can deliver such an enveloping a spatial audio experience, while great build quality, relatively easy setup, and a host of features including HDMI 2.1 inputs, rounds out a near-perfect package.

Stuff Says…

Score: 5/5

This feature-packed flagship offers greater immersion than any other soundbar on the market, and while installation takes a bit longer you’ll be rewarded with an amazing spatial audio performance.


Highly immersive spatial delivery

Tightly integrated subwoofer

HDMI 2.1 connectivity


Not as easy to install as a basic ‘bar

Front display is fairly useless

Samsung HW-Q990D technical specifications

Drivers22 speakers for 11.1.4 surround (via soundbar, subwoofer and rear speakers)
Power output656W (combined, claimed)
Sound formatsDolby Atmos, DTS:X
Connectivity2x HDMI in, 1x HDMI eARC out, digital optical in, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay, Spotify Connect
Dimensions1232x70x137mm, 7.7kg (main unit)
220x413x410mm, 11.7kg (subwoofer)
130x201x104mm, 3.4kg (rear speakers, each)
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