Samsung’s new top-of-the-range Q990B builds on the success of the previous Q950A, but how do they differ?

samsung hw-q990b vs hw-q950a: which flagship samsung soundbar is best and why?, Tech, Samsung HW-Q990B vs HW-Q950A: which flagship Samsung soundbar is best and why?
(Image credit: Future)

Join our newsletter

All the best features, news, tips and great deals to help you live a better life through technology

Thank you for signing up to T3. You will receive a verification email shortly.

There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.

By submitting your information you agree to the Terms & Conditions (opens in new tab) and Privacy Policy (opens in new tab) and are aged 16 or over.

Samsung uses a frustrating naming convention, often adding a different letter at the end of a model number to denote a new iteration (or year). For 2022, however, the company’s flagship soundbar helpfully has a completely different designation, but is the HW-Q990B a better proposition than the previous HW-Q950A? Or, if you can find the latter at a much-reduced price is it the obvious purchase?

Both Samsung soundbars support Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, delivering these object-based audio formats via an 11.1.4-channel speaker configuration that uses wireless rear speakers and a subwoofer. The Q990B has been redesigned, however, and sports a beefed-up sub, so is it the best soundbar (or indeed best soundbar for Samsung TVs) and worthy of your attention outside all else?

samsung hw-q990b vs hw-q950a: which flagship samsung soundbar is best and why?, Tech, Samsung HW-Q990B vs HW-Q950A: which flagship Samsung soundbar is best and why?

(Image credit: Future)

SAMSUNG HW-Q990B VS HW-Q950A: PRICE & FEATURES 

The newer Samsung HW-Q990B retails for £1,599/$1,899, while the older Samsung HW-Q950A can be picked up at a discounted price for under £/$1,000 now – check out the real-time widget below for up-to-date price comparison. 

This makes for an interesting dilemma, because despite the price differential, the two soundbars appear to offer very similar features. 

The Samsung HW-Q950A uses an 11.1.4-channel system to deliver Dolby Atmos and DTS:X immersive audio. There are two HDMI inputs and an output with eARC, with 4K and high dynamic range (HDR10, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision) passthrough. There’s an optical input, WiFi, Bluetooth, and AirPlay 2, along with built-in Alexa, Q Symphony, and SpaceFit Sound room correction.

The Samsung HW-Q990B delivers the same speaker layout and audio format support, but the subwoofer now boasts an 8-inch driver with an acoustic lens designed to produce deeper and more accurate bass. The Q Symphony and SpaceFit sound features have been upgraded, plus there’s now support for Wireless Atmos. 

Sadly, neither soundbar can pass 4K/120 or VRR for gaming, as part of HDMI 2.1 spec.

SAMSUNG Q950A VS Q990B: DESIGN & SETUP 

The Samsung HW-Q950A is based around a large soundbar with angled corners for the side-firing speakers, and a black fabric finish. There’s a display that for some reason is positioned on top where it can’t be seen, and some basic controls located either side of this panel. Samsung includes a decent remote, and the subwoofer and surrounds are styled to match the bar.

The HW-Q950A requires a bit of thought when installing, but the wireless nature of the sub and rear speakers makes this relatively easy. The SmartThings app allows you to create a wireless connection and set up Alexa, after which you simply connect the TV and any sources. The SpaceFit Sound feature will balance all the channels, using test tones and a built-in microphone.

The Samsung HW-Q990B uses the same large soundbar with angled corners, but swaps fabric for a more robust metal mesh grille. There are still some basic controls on top, but Samsung has sensibly moved the display to the front. The subwoofer is larger and the surround speakers sport new curved cabinets, while the remote adds more controls but remains intuitive to use.

The setup process is almost identical for the HW-Q990B as it is for Q950A, although the new SpaceFit Sound Gen II not only balances out the speakers and corrects for the room, but also periodically updates the equalisation to reflect any changes. Although both soundbars use a wireless sub and surrounds, don’t forget they need to be plugged in, and the upward-firing drivers require a reflective ceiling.

samsung hw-q990b vs hw-q950a: which flagship samsung soundbar is best and why?, Tech, Samsung HW-Q990B vs HW-Q950A: which flagship Samsung soundbar is best and why?

(Image credit: Future)

SAMSUNG HW-Q990B VS Q950A: SOUND QUALITY 

When it comes to object-based audio there’s no substitute for actual speakers, and the Samsung HW-Q950A uses 16 in total. There are three at the front, two at the sides, two width speakers and two firing upwards. Add in the sub and surrounds with built in side- and upward-firing drivers, and you have an 11.1.4-channel system using a total of 22 drivers powered by 616W of digital grunt.

The performance is stunning with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundtracks, creating a genuine sense of immersion that’s superior to most other soundbars. The front soundstage is wide, the surrounds fill in the rear and the four upward-firing drivers steer effects overhead. The sub digs deep, providing a solid foundation of bass that ensures a visceral cinematic experience.

The Samsung HW-Q990B doesn’t look to reinvent the wheel, and uses the same insanely immersive speaker layout and powerful amplification. However, the upfiring drivers use wide-range tweeters for greater accuracy, while the larger 8-inch sub with acoustic lensing delivers deeper bass with improved uniformity, resulting in a low-end that’s clearer and more precise.

The combination of all these speakers creates a hemisphere of sound that immerses the listener, and while the two soundbars are very similar sonically, the upgraded room correction does allow the HW-Q990B to sound tighter and slightly more balanced. The subwoofer also goes deeper, but manages to remain responsive, while the lower frequencies are extremely well integrated.

SAMSUNG Q990B vs Q950A: VERDICT

The Samsung HW-Q950A is the kind of product aimed at someone who wants the convenience of  a soundbar and the performance of an AV receiver and speaker package. In that sense it’s an unqualified success that can genuinely give a separates system a run for its money, with a Dolby Atmos and DTS:X performance that’s exceptional.

The Samsung HW-Q990B is equally as impressive, and thanks to upgraded room correction tech and a souped-up subwoofer, it actually sounds tighter, more balanced, and delivers deeper bass impact. 

However, cosmetics aside the two soundbars are very similar, which makes the HW-Q950A a tempting proposition based on its more affordable price position. Ultimately, whichever bar you choose, you won’t be disappointed – we suspect it’ll come down to how much you can find each option for at retail.

TECH NEWS RELATED

Galaxy S22 is the first to receive the October 2022 security update

For once, Samsung has jumped ahead of the competition by releasing the October security update first for the Galaxy S22. This is being released in the United States and should be available in other countries soon. We’ll show you how to get it. By obtaining Android 13 first, the OnePlus ...

View more: Galaxy S22 is the first to receive the October 2022 security update

Carrier-locked Galaxy S22 gets October 2022 security update as well

Earlier today, Samsung released the October 2022 security update to the unlocked Galaxy S22 units in the US. Now, the update is rolling out to the Galaxy S22’s carrier-locked version, too. The latest software update for carrier-locked versions of the Galaxy S22, Galaxy S22+, and the Galaxy S22 Ultra ...

View more: Carrier-locked Galaxy S22 gets October 2022 security update as well

Apple requests a 3,500ppi OLED display from Samsung for its AR headset

Recent reports suggest that Apple has bumped up the specifications of the OLED on Silicon (OLEDoS) panels for maximum immersion for its AR headset. Apple has requested its suppliers, Samsung Display and LG, to manufacture upgraded displays for its AR headsets. But this upgraded display won’t be used in the first-generation Apple AR ...

View more: Apple requests a 3,500ppi OLED display from Samsung for its AR headset

Google Maps gets updated Immersive View, faster Live View access

Google is continuing to add new features to Google Maps to keep it right at the top. Google has now announced a slew of features that will enhance your Google Maps experience. Live View, one of the best AR features of Google Maps, is now getting a search with the Live ...

View more: Google Maps gets updated Immersive View, faster Live View access

Samsung Galaxy Flip 4 is 15% Off on Amazon—Best Budget-Friendly Foldable So Far?

Samsung has seen huge success in the shipments of the Galaxy Z Flip 3 last year. The popular foldable handset has been impressive so far for the users, but the South Korean tech giant wants to improve it further. With the debut of the Galaxy Z Flip 4, the company ...

View more: Samsung Galaxy Flip 4 is 15% Off on Amazon—Best Budget-Friendly Foldable So Far?

Inflation Reduction Act fuels South Korean uncertainty on Chip 4 membership

On her visit to South Korea, US vice president Kamala Harris vowed to work with the country to resolve the disputes surrounding the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Signed into law last month, IRA lays out tax credits of up to US$7,500 for electric vehicles (EV) assembled in the ...

View more: Inflation Reduction Act fuels South Korean uncertainty on Chip 4 membership

Galaxy S21 is also getting the October 2022 security update in the US

Earlier today, Samsung released the October 2022 security update to the Galaxy S22 series in the US. That’s quite strange, as the US models are usually the last to get new updates. The South Korean firm has now released a new security update to the Galaxy S21 series in ...

View more: Galaxy S21 is also getting the October 2022 security update in the US

Galaxy Watch 3 update brings new watch faces, snore detection, and more

Staying true to its promise, Samsung has released a new software update to the Galaxy Watch 3. The new software brings new watch faces that the company debuted with the Galaxy Watch 5 series. The update also brings more reliable health tracking and snoring detection. The new software update ...

View more: Galaxy Watch 3 update brings new watch faces, snore detection, and more

Samsung Rolls Out One UI 5 Beta 3 with iOS 16 Like Lock Screen Features

Samsung batteries reportedly disproportionately affected by swelling issues

Has Verizon really released stable Android 13 update to the Galaxy S22?

Amazon turns Samsung’s competitor in the US with its new QLED TV

Galaxy S22 is the first Android phone to get the October 2022 security update

Samsung showed off a Rollable Screen PC concept at Intel Innovation

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Design Renders Leaked; Looks Identical to Galaxy S22 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 FE emerges on Geekbench

Samsung Galaxy batteries might have a serious swelling issue

Samsung and Intel showcase upcoming rollable PC

Amazon's new Fire TV Omni isn't just another bargain QLED. It's basically a dupe for Samsung's The Frame.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Design Leaked? Here's What It Possibly Looks Like; Rear Cam Update and More!

OTHER TECH NEWS

Top Car News Car News