Since the advent of soundbars, Samsung has been one of the leaders in the industry, offering a selection of soundbar solutions for every budget. This comparison of the Samsung Q800T and Samsung Q900T soundbars are a great example of the way they’ve built their equipment to meet these price points while maintaining quality and performance.
They also tend to bring new TVs to the market at the same time and that share almost the same model number, suggesting that one is matched to the other. That means you’ll find a Samsung Q800TV and a Samsung Q800T soundbar in the same model year. They are not truly matched. You can easily use Samsung soundbars with any of their TVs or any other brand as well. So, shop for the soundbar and TV as unique items that each have unique performance qualities.
There is one clear truth that you’ll want to recognize before shopping for your QLED TV and that is this. The built-in speakers do not do the TV any justice. They are weak, tinny, and have practically no bass to speak of. They also have no real surround sound capability and this is true even when the sales material suggests that they do. To get the most of your TV you are going to need some type of sound system and soundbars meet that need very well
The format of a soundbar is designed to fit well with your TV. Like your TV, it is long and relatively flat. You can set it just below the TV and in many cases, you can mount it to the same wall where your TV is mounted.
The sound quality brings your viewing to the next level and delivers acoustic performance that matches the expectations you had when you bought your fabulous TV. Obviously, not all soundbars will deliver the same level of performance but it will be hard to find any that do not improve on the built-in speakers your TV provides.
So, the question then becomes not whether you need a soundbar but, what soundbar will offer you the best listening performance and that fits within your budget.
Either of the Samsung soundbars we’re comparing here will do a good job and both are in the middle of the price range of most soundbars on the market today.
The Ground Work
First, let’s look at some of the most basic differences between the Samsung Q800T and Samsung Q900T, and that starts with the channels of sound each delivers. The Q800T has a bit less depth in the quality of the sound with just 3 midrange channels to deliver voice and background activity. This doesn’t have much impact on music though so if you are planning to use your soundbar principally for music playback you may not need to step up to the Samsung Q900T.
Where this difference between these two soundbars shows through the most is in the delivery of clear voices that are easily understood. One of the biggest complaints about soundbars revolves around the frustration that comes with not being able to stay connected with the movie’s dialog. The Samsung Q900T with 7 midrange channels, including 2 top-firing speakers does a noticeably better job of reproducing conversations that will keep you engaged but the Q800T still does a decent job. Overall though, the Q900T has a significant advantage over the Q800T on your movie nights.
What follows is a more detailed review of both soundbar solutions. Use these descriptions as a guide to what you should be looking for when you head out to shop for your setup, and while you’re in the store, be sure to give each of those you’re thinking about a good listen before buying. Even in big box stores, with poor acoustics, you can often hear differences that will help you make a buying decision you won’t wind up regretting.
How much do they cost?
With a nearly $300 difference in price between these 2 soundbars, it could be a bit tough to justify the added cost for the Samsung Q900T but if you aren’t making your decision based on price alone, there are still good reasons for spending this extra money.
The Samsung Q800T can be found on Amazon for $435. You’ll also find the Samsung Q900T on Amazon at $729. The same Q900T soundbar is listed on Best Buy but it has a significantly higher price so clearly, it is worth shopping around for both of these soundbars.
Based on the Amazon pricing, these are in the low to the mid-price range for soundbars in general, and for the full line of the Samsung models as well
|Samsung HW Q800T||Samsung HW Q900T|
|3.1.2 Channels||7.1.2 Channels|
|8” Subwoofer||8” Subwoofer|
|Wireless Subwoofer||Wired Subwoofer|
|No charging||No charging|
|No playback||No playback|
|Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD, DTS:X, DTS Digital Surround||Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD, DTS:X; DTS:5.1|
|1 HDMI in||2 HDMI in|
|1 HDMI Out||1 HDMI Out|
|HDMI ARC||HDMI ARC|
|Bluetooth, WiFi, SmartThings App Compatible||Bluetooth, WiFi, SmartThings App Compatible|
|Built-in support for Alexa & Google||Built-in support for Alexa & Google|
|Wireless Surround Sound Ready||Wireless Surround Sound Ready|
Samsung HW Q800T
First, while this is still a worthwhile choice, Samsung has replaced this 2020 model with the Q900A for 2021 so if you like the Q800T you might want to look at the Q800A as well. The performance profile is very similar to the Q800T but is more readily available, so shopping for the best price may be a bit easier. You can expect to spend about $50 more on this newer alternative.
The Samsung HW Q800T delivers a well-balanced sound profile. This means you’ll get solid performance across the high, middle, and low range frequencies. Nothing overpowers anything else in this design. Unfortunately, this means that movies don’t come across with the same immersive sound you may be looking for, and with no real surround speakers, you will lose out on sounds that should be coming from above and behind you.
Conversations are clear so stepping out of the pure action movie category for the moment, you’ll enjoy being able to follow the dialog with no strain at all. For many, this can be surprisingly important. It’s tough to anticipate just how frustrating it can be when voices are drowned out but trust me. You will not be happy with soundbars that don’t do this well.
The look and feel of this soundbar isn’t particularly impressive or unimpressive. It doesn’t come across as being cheap but it also doesn’t compare to even the Q900T. It just kind of blends in and that’s okay.
This soundbar links with the Samsun SmartThings app and that allows you to make a wide range of adjustments to the sound quality using the app-based Graphic Equalizer. While other soundbar makers offer this as well, it’s typically something you find only on higher-priced systems so having it here is a nice added bonus.
This soundbar also includes automatic adaptive sound enhancement. This is accomplished with a built-in microphone that samples the sound in the room and makes AI-driven adjustments to try and shape the sound more accurately. While not massive, there is a clear difference in the sound quality when this is activated.
The Samsung Q800T also benefits from balanced sound quality across a wide range of volume levels, without experiencing any noticeable distortion. You can turn this soundbar up so you can feel those crashes and explosions without paying a price in quality.
Excluding the prices references, you can take a deep dive into the specifics of the Samsung HW Q800T with this Youtube video from TotallyDubbedHD. He spends a good amount of time breaking down all of the pros and cons of this midrange soundbar.
We’ve also done a comparison of the Samsung Q950T and the Samsung Q90R, two competitive choices you may want to take a closer look at. We compared both to the JBL Bar 9.1 in both of these articles so you can have a look at that one as well and get a sense of what the next level up in soundbars has to offer.
Samsung HW Q900T
When you compare this Samsung HW Q900T to the Q800T the first and most obvious difference is the size. This soundbar is a good deal longer than the Q800T. The next thing you’ll notice is the side-firing speakers the Q800T doesn’t offer. They immediately suggest you’ll be getting a fuller sound from this soundbar and when you fire it up, you’ll find the truth in that.
The next thing you may notice is that this soundbar has a premium look to it that doesn’t come across with the Q800T. The combination of the side grills and cloth covering suggests that this soundbar delivers greater value. That doesn’t mean the Q800T looks cheap. As we said earlier, it doesn’t. It’s just that without the side-firing speaker, it is decidedly less impressive.
Getting to the quality of the sound, the Samsung HW Q900T is fairly consistent across a range of uses, and in all cases, it performs just a bit better than its smaller sibling. Also like its sibling, it is a bit flat, especially when it comes to real surround sound features that make you feel like you’re in the middle of the action. In both cases, this is the result of having no rear speakers to work with.
Where the real difference between these two soundbars comes to the fore is with the delivery of conversations in every movie genre. The 4 additional channels work to deliver sharper voice reproduction, even during the most intense action scenes, and that alone really helps tilt the scales in favor of the Q900T.
Like the Q800T, it delivers Atmos support, and like the Q800T, that falls a bit flat given the lack of rear speakers. It does a better job but it simply can’t compete with soundbar setups that include two rear surround speakers. This means you may be looking to upgrade this soundbar sooner rather than later. Fortunately, it does offer support for 2 wireless satellite speakers and they won’t cost you an arm and a leg to add.
Like the Q800T, the Samsung Q900T has Amazon Alexa built-in so all the things you can do with an Amazon Echo you should also be able to do with this soundbar as well. That makes this soundbar pretty useful even when you aren’t listening to your favorite tunes or watching your favorite movies. You can even use Alexa to find and play them for you by just asking.
Finally, connectivity is better on this soundbar compared to the Q800T, with 2 HDMI inputs. For example, you can connect your TV into one port and a Blueray player into the other. This is convenient, even when your TV has open HDMI ports since the access on the soundbar will likely be easier to get to.
On balance, the Samsung HW Q900T soundbar delivers a well-balanced sound that most folks will find satisfying. It won’t be the best sound system you’ll ever hear. It won’t deliver the most impressive surround sound or Dolby Atmos experience either. But, it also won’t cost you nearly as much as those soundbars that do these things better, and you probably won’t notice the difference.
While not the top of the Samsung soundbar line, this Youtube video, offered by ABT Electronics, does provide some interesting additional details about the Samsung HW Q900T. It’s well worth a quick watch.
For a truer candidate for top-of-the-line soundbars, have a look at our comparisons of the Samsung HW Q950T vs the JBL Bar 9.1. Both come with a cost that’s closer to $1,000 but you get a fair bit more at that price.
We like both of these Samsung soundbars. The Samsung HW Q800T soundbar is an excellent choice, sitting at the lower end of the price scale. So for those on a tight budget, you get a lot without having to spend a lot.
When you’re budget has just a bit more room in it, the Samsung HW Q900T steps things up very nicely, and the price is still relatively low compared to the many others you’ll encounter as you shop. We especially like the addition of the 4 channels and the side-firing speakers those channels support. They make a real difference in overall performance.
Broadly speaking, we also like Samsung in general. Their products, including their soundbars, are well designed, well built, and well supported, and their prices/performance compares well to all but the highest of the high-end manufacturers.
We can comfortably recommend both but for us, the extra cost for the Samsung HW Q900T is justified. It’s a soundbar we would be very happy to have in our living room.