Samsung Q800T vs Samsung Q90R which is a better buy?

Samsung Q800T vs Samsung Q90R which is a better buy?

Take a close look at the Samsung Q800T vs the Samsung Q90R and get ready to reassess what you’ve always been told about soundbars.

In the world of audio, soundbars got a bit of an ugly start, with many immediately assuming they couldn’t possibly be any good when compared to traditional surround sound stereo setups that included separate amplifiers, and individual speakers that physically separated the audio, spreading it throughout the listening space. In the early days, this was a fair argument.

Soundbars tried unsuccessfully to squeeze too much into a compressed form factor and the trade-offs were painfully obvious.  The speakers were often underpowered and the drivers were improperly matched. Bass was either weak or overpowering. Surround sound seemed forced rather than what was naturally intended from the soundtrack. In short, they earned their poor reputation and had to fight hard to shed that cloak of negative expectations.

That was then. This is now and these two realities are now polar opposites. The following comparison will help prove that point. Unless you’re a true audiophile, there is a very good chance that sitting blindfolded in a room, you would be unable to hear the difference between these two sound system setups. Both the Samsung Q800T and Samsung Q900R do a great job of uncovering this new reality.

This is especially true with soundbar systems like these two where the bar and subwoofers are separate and satellite or rear speakers are either included or can be added. These have been dramatically improved in every way, and in the case of the Samsung Q90R and the partnership with Harman Kardon, the individual speakers are now challenging the best audiophile products you’ll get with component stereos.

It is time to think again and give soundbars your full attention. You can start with this comparison – Samsung Q800T vs Samsung Q90R, and at the end of this article, you’ll find a list of other soundbar comparison articles that will help broaden the range of soundbar systems you’ll want to consider.

You may just be surprised by how much you’ll enjoy the sound quality these sleek audio solutions deliver.

Digging Deeper

Once you’ve gained a good sense of how the Samsung Q800T and Samsung Q90R match up, we have a series of other comparisons that will help broaden your range of choices. We compare these and other Samsung products, as well as some great choices from JBL and Sonos.

Sticking to the Samsung family of products, have a read through our comparisons of the Samsung Q800T vs the Samsung Q900T and dig into which of these is the better choice. From there you can step outside of the Samsung family of soundbars and look through our comparison of JBL Bar 9.1 vs the Sonos Arc. We also have a comparison of the JBL Car 9.1 vs the Samsung Q90R and the JBL Bar 9.1 vs the Samsung Q950T that will help shed light on how Samsung stacks up against other brands.

You also find comparisons of Sony, Yamaha, and Bose soundbars, along with an excellent Top 5 articles on soundbars that offer Dolby Atmos support. You can find all of these on our list of Speakers page.

Now to the Comparison – Samsung Q800T vs Samsung Q90R

Performance Specs:

Samsung HW Q800TSamsung HW Q90R
3.1.2 Channels7.1.4 Channels
8” Subwoofer8” Subwoofer / 2 Satellites
Wireless SubwooferWireless Surround Sound (subwoofer and satellite speakers require power connections)
No chargingNo charging
No playback timeNo playback time
Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD, DTS:X, DTS Digital SurroundDTS 5.1, Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital Plus
No optical port1 Digital optical input
1 HDMI in2 HDMI in
1 HDMI Out1 HDMI Out
HDMI ARCHDMI ARC
Bluetooth, WiFi, SmartThings App CompatibleUSB, WiFi, Bluetooth
Alexa compatibility is built-inAlexa compatibility is built-in
Wireless Surround Sound ReadyWireless Surround Sound Ready

Samsung HW Q800T

SAMSUNG HW-Q800T 3.1.2ch Soundbar with Dolby Atmos / DTS:X and Alexa Built-In (2020)

Samsung has gained a reputation for delivering performance in soundbars, across a full range of price points, so is something for every budget that satisfies. When the Samsung Q800T was first introduced, it was at the upper end of Samsung’s soundbar family but with the newer Q800A now on offer, it has become even more affordable.

This soundbar delivers a highly balanced performance across the high, the middle, and the low end, so every part of the sound spectrum has the opportunity to shine. Nothing overpowers anything else. The bass line is solid, the high end is sharp, and voices come through with excellent clarity. This is, however, the proverbial double-edged sword.

It can seem a bit flat at times, and while not by much, you may notice a weaker punch at the low end where explosions and crashes don’t hit you with quite the force you might have been hoping for. It isn’t off by much and for most, the performance will be quite impressive, especially considering its very affordable price. However, compared to others it can seem slightly anemic.

One of the key tests for any surround system, including both soundbar configurations and component stereo configurations, is the ability of the system to deliver dialog that is crisp and clear. This was one of the earliest complaints when soundbars were first introduced and it’s still an issue with some brands and at lower price points. That isn’t the case with the Q800T. You won’t need to strain in the least to understand what is being said and this is true at all volume levels.

Visually, this soundbar blends in well. There is nothing in the design or the materials used that will either wow or disappoint you. It simply is what it was designed to be with no frills or thrills. Essentially, this is like the film crew sitting in the background and doing all of the hard work so everything you’re listening to sounds great.

If you are considering this soundbar as the companion for one of Samsung Q-Symphony equipped TVs, you are in for a nice surprise. The Q800T is also Q-Symphony compatible and this combination improves movie soundtracks by synchronizing the bar and the built-in TV speakers. This effectively expands the depth of the audio and while not dramatic, it does improve things nicely.

The Samsun Q800T doesn’t have many controls that allow you to shape the sound this system delivers but you probably don’t have to. What it has is an AI function called adaptive sound that dynamically listens to the sounds in your viewing space and makes adjustments to balance, bass, treble, midrange, and more. Basically, it does what you would have done if this system had an equalizer.

Finally, you will be happy with the Samsung Q800T at all volume levels without having to deal with distortions in the sound quality. Even at top volumes, the audio remains crisp and clean and with the adaptive sound feature, even low volumes continue to deliver the full spectrum of audio quality.

To dig a bit deeper into what you can expect with Samsung HW Q800T spend 10 minutes with this Youtube video from MyEverydayTech. They offer a detailed explanation of what you’ll be getting and what their thoughts are on the quality of this soundbar solution.

Samsung HW-Q90R Impressions

SAMSUNG Harman Kardon 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos Soundbar HW-Q90R with Wireless Subwoofer and Rear Speaker Kit, Adaptive Sound, Game Mode, 4K Pass-Through with HDR, Bluetooth & Alexa Compatible (HW-Q90R/ZA)

When you open the box on the Samsung Q90R, especially if you’ve watched any of the reviews on these soundbars or looked at the Q800T while shopping, you are going to notice some glaringly obvious differences. First, this bar is larger than the Q800T on all sides. This is a long 48” compared to the 36.6” for the Q800T, and it comes packaged with an 8” subwoofer and 2 satellite speakers. It just looks and feels much more impressive.

The reason for the additional length is as obvious since it’s sitting behind the metal grill but this soundbar with its 7.1.4 channels packs a total of 17 speakers in total, with 14 of these set in the soundbar. This includes 3 speakers for each of the right, left, and center channels, along with side and top firing speakers that envelope the listening space in sound. It gives this soundbar a much wider sound stage when compared to most of the other soundbars in the Samsung line.

Add the matching subwoofer and rear satellite speakers to the mix and your anticipation will grow as you slip each piece of this kit from its cardboard and Styrofoam packing, but there is still more to be uncovered.

While all of the other soundbars from Samsung come with the Samsung badge alone, this one adds a badge from Harmon Kardon, one of the best know speaker designers in the industry. They’ve partnered with Samsung on this design and that’s why their badge is as prominent as Samsung’s badge. For those that know audio equipment, and speakers, in particular, this partnership alone will be reason enough to give the Q90R very careful consideration.

Given the number of speakers in the bar and the addition of the subwoofer and satellites, this is a very well-balanced audio system at every level in the audio range. Solid lows, a well-rounded middle, and sharp highs work in concert to deliver both enjoyable music playback and a movie-watching experience that shines brightly. And, while many soundbars have a tough time delivering dialog that consistently comes through with clarity, the Samsung Q90R delivers that dialog smoothly and consistently.

The one real drawback is with the wireless connections that link the bar to the subwoofer and satellites. These are Bluetooth connections that we have had some dropout issues with. This seems to be particularly true when you’ve been watching for a long time or when the room you’re in has several other wirelessly connected devices that create the potential for interference. If Samsung gets this problem sorted out, this soundbar solution would be nearly flawless. Except…

In comparison to the Samsung Q800T, the Q90R is expensive and by expensive, we mean by a factor of 3. For those on a tight budget or for the more casual listener that doesn’t care too much about satellites and Harmon Kardon, the latest models, etc., it will be tough to look past this price difference.

For a different take on the quality of the Samsung Q90R, have a look at this review from the Manchester Tech Guy. He does a deep dive into the specifics of the construction and audio quality of this soundbar that will offer you a good bit more to consider as you shop for your best soundbar option.

The Verdict

In the soundbar market, there is an enormous number of options to chose from but few have the history Samsung has in delivering solid soundbar solutions for every budget. This holds true for both the Samsung Q800T and the Samsung Q90R that deliver for both the middle and upper ends of the market.

The current listings on Amazon for the Samsung Q800T show a price range that has come down to just under $400. By comparison, the Samsung Q90R is listed on Amazon for an average of $799. This is a huge difference that could well be justified but still, it will be hard to look past when you’re worried about your budget.

So, both of these soundbar solutions are worth considering. For those that are comfortable with the higher price, the Samsung Q90R delivers a much richer audio experience, both when watching movies and when listening to your favorite tunes. The Samsung Q800T saves you a bundle and still delivers a great listening experience, albeit not as rich and deep.

If your budget can cover the Q90R’s premium you won’t be disappointed with what the increased spend brings you. If your budget is going to be strained at a higher price, don’t worry. The Q800T will deliver an excellent listening experience too, and truth be told, most of us will have a hard time telling the difference between one and the other.

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