Samsung Q90R vs Samsung Q950T which is a better buy?

Samsung Q90R vs Samsung Q950T which is a better buy?

In the universe of soundbars, Samsung plays a major part in delivering a range of great products. In this article, we’ll compare the Samsung Q90R vs Samsung Q950T to give you a sense of how the upper range of these products stacks up against each other.

Samsung has two main categories in the soundbar products, one that pairs with almost any TV and another, the Q Series, that has been specifically designed to pair with QLED TVs. While there are great options across both groups, we are focusing on the Q Series, and Q-Symphony soundbars. Both the Samsung Q90R and Samsung Q950T are in the mid to upper end of this series.

If you’re wondering what Q-Symphony is you could be in for a nice surprise. Since 2019 Samsung has been producing QLED TVs that include an audio processing system they call Q-Symphony and when a compatible soundbar is matched to one of these TVs, the depth and breadth of the sound they deliver often called the sound stage, expand noticeably. This expansion delivers a fuller and much more detailed listening experience where elements of a movie soundtrack you might have missed before, are now brought to life. Both the Samsung Q90R and the Samsung Q950T include Q-Symphony.

To be sure, these are not inexpensive soundbar systems. The Samsung Q90R has an average price of $799 on Amazon. This puts it at the upper end of most mid-priced soundbars. The Samsung Q950T comes in with a slightly more premium price at $957. While these certainly aren’t cheap, neither one comes close to high-end systems from Samsung and others that can easily climb into the $3,000+ range.

On to the details – Samsung Q90R vs Samsung Q950T

Performance Specs:

Samsung HW Q90RSamsung HW Q950T
7.1.4 Channels9.1.4 Channels
8” Subwoofer / 2 Satellites8” Subwoofer / 2 Satellites
Wireless Surround Sound (subwoofer and satellite speakers require power connections)Wireless Surround Sound (subwoofer and satellite speakers require power connections)
No chargingNo charging
No playback timeNo playback time
DTS 5.1, Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital PlusDTS 5.1, Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital Plus
1 Digital optical input1 Digital optical input
2 HDMI in2 HDMI in
1 HDMI Out1 HDMI Out
HDMI ARCHDMI ARC
USB, WiFi, Bluetooth, SmartThings App CompatibleUSB, WiFi, Bluetooth, SmartThings App Compatible
Alexa compatibility is built-inAlexa compatibility is built-in
Wireless Surround Sound ReadyWireless Surround Sound Ready

 

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)

Open the box on the Samsung Q90R and you’ll find the bar, a subwoofer, two satellite speakers, power cords for all four pieces, an HDMI cable (something many other brands don’t include), and a remote with batteries. All are in matt black and are neither impressive nor unimpressive. They just are and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This setup just kind of looks like you’d expect.

When first released in 2019 it was Samsung’s flagship model and like most everything else in the market, it has been eclipsed. That said, it’s still a solid piece of sound equipment that’s well worth considering.

The soundbar for the Q90R is wide at 48.3” long, making it one of the largest soundbars on the market. If the cabinet or shelf you’ll be sitting it on isn’t as wide, you may need to use the included wall mounts to make this one work for you. The satellites and subwoofer are pretty average in size so you’re unlikely to have any placement issues with these. The subwoofer measures 7.9” wide x 15.9” high x 15.7” deep. The satellites are also average at 5.6” wide x 8.2” high x 4.8” deep and should be placed behind the primary listening area. It’s also a good idea to space them equally from left to right so you can enjoy a balanced listening experience.

Many of the Samsung soundbars and many among the competition as well, have a self-correcting feature that aims to shape the sound being delivered automatically. This means the bar is sampling the sound in the room and making AI-driven adjustments based on what it “hears”. The Samsung Q90R doesn’t have this feature. However, it does have voice enhancement and both bass and treble adjustments that give you control over the sound quality so it matches your personal preferences.

It also integrates with Samsung’s SmartThings App and that gives you a host of additional sound quality adjustments that help shape the sound quality. This is helpful since you can make adjustments based on what you are listening to or watching at any given moment. It’s reasonable to argue that this is the better approach for those that want to take control of their listening experience.

Next, and for immersive watching possibly the most important feature included with the Samsung Q90R is its support for Dolby Atmos. This Dolby tech creates what they call a 3D bubble of sound. This means sound that has height, depth, and width rather than just front to back and side to side. You’ll hear things moving overhead, rumbling beneath your feet and racing around you. It feels more like a cinema experience and the Samsung Q90R does a decent job of capitalizing on this tech.

In the end, and even though this model has been replaced as Samsung’s flagship soundbar, it’s still well worth your consideration, especially given its far more favorable price compared to when it was first introduced.

Of all of the benefits that come packaged with the Samsung Q90R, its support for Dolby Atmos may be the most important and this review from Digital Trends focuses on this feature in much more detail. It’s well worth the 6 minutes it will take to watch it.

Samsung HW-Q950T Impressions

SAMSUNG HW-Q950T 9.1.4ch Soundbar with Dolby Atmos/ DTS:X and Alexa Built-in (2020), Black

As a premium product in the Samsung lineup, the first impression when you unbox this isn’t terribly positive. It’s primarily plastic, covers in fabric, and while it has a fair amount of heft to it, it just doesn’t seem to be as good as you would expect for a soundbar system that comes in at nearly $1,000. It doesn’t come close to feeling like some cheap knock-off, and when you get to the performance, you’ll tend to forget about the look and feel but still, it could be better.

Like the Samsung Q90R, the Samsung Q950T has also been replaced by an improved model that addresses the shortcomings of this model but again, this is marginal and that newer model will cost you more than 2 times as much.

The soundbar for the Q950T is also wide at 48.4” long, making it one of the largest soundbars on the market and just a touch wider than the Samsung Q90R bar. Like that bar, you may find that you’ll either need to replace your TV shelf or mount this to the wall to make it fit well with your TV. The subwoofer is also slightly larger, measuring 8.2” wide x 15.8” high x 15.9” deep. The satellites are basically the same size at 4.8” wide x 8.2” high x 5.6” deep and should be placed behind the primary listening area. It’s also a good idea to space them equally from left to right so you can enjoy a balanced listening experience.

Also like the Samsung Q90R, the Samsung Q950T doesn’t deliver any form of self-correcting AI functionality. It does have all of the same adjustable sound features of the Q90R, including the links with the SmartThings App so you still have a good amount of control over the quality of the sound you’ll be enjoying. The presents on this bar also seem to work just a bit better than the same adjustments on the Q90R. You hear the difference just a bit more distinctly with this Q950T.

Q-Symphony here also has a much greater impact on the sound quality. It could be that this comes as a result of the additional 2 center channels that are built into the Q950T. It just feels like a much more immersive soundstage and this comes through quite remarkably when watching action scenes. It just “feels” much more like you are watching in a movie theater when Q-Symphony is engaged.

We would have liked to see the build on this soundbar be more in tune with its “flagship” positioning, and we would like to see Samsung join many other manufacturers by adding adaptive sound technology but on balance, this is still an excellent choice, and with a current market price of less than $1,000, it is well worth considering. I should note here that we have seen a wide range of prices for the Samsung Q950T that range from the high 800s to nearly 1,200 so this is one you’ll want to shop around. You may even find a few good clearance sales. The same doesn’t seem to be true for the Samsung Q90R where prices are much flatter.

Watch a full review of this Samsung HW-Q950T Soundbar, hosted by Jonah Matthes.

He also does a detailed comparison review of this Samsung Q950T, compared to Sonos and LG, Visio, and Nalamichi soundbar products that you may want to have a look at.

The Final Verdict

The Samsung Q90R vs the Samsung Q950T started looking like a battle of equals. After all, they are both models that have been superseded by newer versions and as far as prices are concerned, there is hardly any difference between these two. But some notable differences are worth considering.

First, the difference between 7 and 9 center channels makes a surprisingly noticeable difference. The Samsung Q950T brings you a much broader soundstage. It also delivers much clearer dialog. It does look a bit cheaper coming out of the box but once you have it set up, that perception fades away. Consider that in almost every other way, this soundbar equals the Samsung Q90R and you can get a sense of where this is heading.

Before we get there though, the Samsung Q90R also delivers an impressively rich sound, thumpy bass, and crisp voices. It does a better job at higher volumes as well, with less distortion when you turn up the tunes, and speaking of tunes, we like the Q90R’s overall sound profile more. It gives you the sense that you are closer to the music source, whether that’s in the studio where it was recorded or in the concert hall where it was performed.

While the price difference can have some influence on the final choice, they are close enough that it probably won’t have an impact on most budgets.

In the competition between Samsung Q90R vs Samsung Q950T, we have to call this one a near draw, with the final decision going to the Q950T. The only real tipping point comes with the 2 additional channels you’ll get with the Q950T and the broader soundstage that addition helps to create.

Additional Resources

Learn more from our series of articles covering Samsung, Sonos, and JBL soundbars.  You can start with our Samsung Q800T vs the Samsung Q900T article and dig deeper into the Samsung line of soundbars. We cover two other leading brands in this article – JBL Bar 9.1 vs the Sonos Arc. We also compare the JBL Bar 9.1 to the Samsung Q90R and Samsung Q950T.  Have a read through these two articles – JBL Car 9.1 vs the Samsung Q90R and the JBL Bar 9.1 vs the Samsung Q950T and you’ll get a sense of how well Samsung stands up to the competition.

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