Sony HT-X8500 vs Samsung HW-Q60T which is better?

The Sony HT-X8500 vs Samsung Q60T is a rare and interesting comparison. Where others have looked at this and concluded that the 2.1 channel soundbar from Sony is an overall better choice when compared to the 5.1 channel Samsung HW-Q60T, for me, it just doesn’t seem to make sense so I decided to see for myself.

I have looked at the HW-Q60T in the past so this wasn’t completely new territory for me. That review – Samsung Q60T vs Samsung Q800T which is better? – concluded that those two soundbars were nearly equal in performance. The Q800T came out slightly ahead but that was mainly a factor of price vs performance. Had that not been the case I think I would have leaned toward the Q60T as the better all-around performer.

Going into this, there is one factor that has a significant impact on the performance of the Samsung HW-Q60T and that is the inclusion of Q-Symphony, a proprietary link between Samsung soundbars and matching TVs. It’s still good when paired with other TV brands but it certainly loses some of its edge.

Why do you need a soundbar?

Before I start talking about these two specific soundbars I want to touch on a question that keeps popping up and that is “why a soundbar and not a dedicated surround sound stereo”.

When soundbars were first introduced they were clearly inferior alternatives to the many dedicated surround sound systems on the market at the time. They were underpowered and the sound stage they produced was shallow. That put them in the category of the poor man’s entertainment center, at rich men’s prices, but that didn’t last very long. Legacy brands began looking at this format and saw an opportunity to grow their product lines. That helped soundbars quickly grow into truly competitive entertainment systems.

All of this happened while still keeping these soundbar systems relatively inexpensive bits of kit that are easy to install, and that fit well with today’s crop of flat-screen TVs. Now just about everyone can enjoy a great movie-watching experience from the comfort of their sofas that rival the movie theater experience.

Performance Specs:

Sony HT-X8500Samsung HW Q60T
2.1 Channels5.1 Channels
Built-in8” Subwoofer
Wired & Wireless BluetoothWireless Subwoofer
360w Output120w Output
No WiFi SupportNo WiFi Support
No playbackNo playback
Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby True HD, Dolby Dual Mono, DTS, DTS HD High-Resolution Audio, DTS HD Master Audio, DTS ES, DTS 96/24, DTS: X, Dolby AtmosDolby Digital, DTS, DTS:X, ARC eARC
1 HDMI in1 HDMI in
1 HDMI Out1 HDMI Out
Optical digital I/OOptical digital I/O
1 USB 2.0 port1 USB 2.0 port
Bluetooth, SmartThings App CompatibleBluetooth, SmartThings App Compatible
Google Assistant Built-inBuilt-in support for Alexa & Google
No Airplay or other streaming service supportNo Airplay or other streaming service support

While on first blush it appears that these two soundbars are quite different, the differences that have a real impact are limited to the value of having a separate subwoofer and the sound quality improvements that should be realized with support for Dolby Atmos. Beyond these, the differences are negligible.

Pro and Con of the Samsung Q60T vs Samsung Q800T:

Samsung HW Q60T Pros

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  • By separating the right, left and center channels from the subwoofer, the soundstage gains depth and improves your surround sound experience.
  • Wireless connectivity makes the placement of the subwoofer flexible. You just need a power outlet.
  • Bluetooth support allows easy streaming of music from any Bluetooth-compatible device.
  • With its USB port, you can easily update the bars’ firmware and play music directly.
  • The eARC connection allows a single cable connection to do everything the bar needs while allowing full control through the TV.
  • Since my last review of this soundbar, prices have dropped to about $225 or $100 less than the price back in October of last year.
  • Q-Symphony, when paired with a compatible TV effectively takes 5.1 channels to 7.1 channels by using the TV’s built-in speakers.

Samsung HW Q60T Cons

  • Unfortunately, this soundbar doesn’t include support for Dolby Atmos.
  • It’s also unfortunate that this soundbar doesn’t have built-in support for Apple AirPlay.
  • With no WiFi support, you will be limited to Bluetooth and its inherent quality limitations.
  • You may experience some dropouts with the wireless connection to the subwoofer.
  • Music playback is a bit flat with this soundbar. It seems to be much more in tune with video soundtracks.

Sony HT-X8500 Pros

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  • First up is the support for Dolby Atmos though there are some questions about how well this has been implemented.
  • It performs well delivering crisp and consistently clear dialog, something other soundbar systems find challenging
  • Bluetooth connectivity is supported so you can stream music from any Bluetooth-compatible device.
  • The eARC connector makes this a single-wire connection and control of the soundbar is available on the TV’s remote.
  • Listening to music is very enjoyable with this soundbar. In fact, I think it’s better for music than for movies. The sound is rich and even with a built-in subwoofer, it performs well.
  • With an exceptionally wide set of audio processing features built into this system, you can push almost any media through it.

Sony HT-X8500 Cons

  • By having a built-in subwoofer, this soundbar loses much of the punch a separate subwoofer typically offers.
  • This soundbar is underpowered and just doesn’t deliver the same impactful listening experience that more powerful soundbars offer.
  • Music listening is equally flat in comparison to other soundbars. It does deliver crisp highs and a solid mid-range performance but the base performance is lacking.

Comparing Sizes – Sony HT-X8500 vs Samsung Q800T

 Sony HT-X8500Samsung HW Q60T
Width34.9 inches – 88.7 cm38.7 inches – 98.2 cm
Height2.5 inches – 6.3 cm2.3 inches – 5.8 cm
Depth3.9 inches – 9.8 cm4.2 inches – 10.7 cm
Width 7.9 inches – 20.1 cm
Height 13.9 inches – 35.2 cm
Depth 11.9 inches – 30.3 cm

The Samsung looks balanced when placed below a TV that is at least 40”. The Sony soundbar seems a bit undersized with anything more than 40”.

You can find the Samsung HW-Q60T on Amazon for $221.21. This is also available on eBay for $206.99. Both are very fair prices. This puts this soundbar at the lower end of the soundbar market and given the level of performance you’ll enjoy, that’s a very fair price.

You can find the Sony HT-X8500 on Amazon. You can also find it on eBay for $268.49 and on Walmart for $398.27. That’s a significant difference, including when compared to the HW-Q60T but still, there is good value for money. This is especially true when you consider that this soundbar delivers Dolby Atmos.

The Verdict

In the end, the $40+ difference leaves me even more confused by those reviews that suggest Sony is the better choice. Sure it has Dolby Atmos support but it doesn’t do that very well. It doesn’t offer a separate subwoofer and even with all of the various formats it does support, the quality always seems to come up just a bit short compared to the Samsung HW-Q60T.

This doesn’t mean that there isn’t value to be found with the Sony HT-X8500. On the contrary. In a smaller viewing space, and especially when matched to a Sony TV, there is a lot to like with this soundbar. Given the opportunity, I’d like to test this again with a matched TV and get a feel for the benefits of having a complete Sony setup. That might be the secret to understanding why this soundbar has come out on top with other reviewers.

This also doesn’t mean that I am enamored with the Samsung HW-Q60T. In this match up it had a distinct advantage. I own a Q-series Samsung TV so I was able to take full advantage of the Q-Symphony technology and I can say, it most certainly makes a difference. By adding the two built-in speakers to the two side channels in the soundbar, there is a distinct improvement in the sound quality.

I am left to wonder what would happen if the tables were turned and these two soundbars were tested with a Sony TV. Would that flip the script on this and hand the Sony HT-X8500 the win? I’m not sure but I’d certainly like the opportunity to give that a quick test.

For now, I am convinced that even with unmatched TVs, Samsung will come out on top. In my experience, the separate subwoofer simply can’t be compared to a soundbar that has it built-in. It’s just a bit of simple logic. The separate components result in a wider and deeper soundstage that the built-in subwoofer can’t match.

If you’d like to look at other alternatives there are several reviews of the Bose Smart Soundbar 300 that claim that it compares favorably with the Samsung Q60T, but it has no subwoofer. Plus, it costs more so I do have my doubts

We’ve also written comparisons of the JBL Bar 9.1 vs Sonos Arc and the Yamaha Yas-209 Vs Sony Ht-x8500, among others, that will expand your range of options.

The Samsung HW-Q60T also stands up well against the Klipsch Cinema 400 Sound Bar + and at about the same price. Like the Q60T, it has a separate subwoofer and no satellite speakers. That’s impressive given the legacy reputation for high-end excellence that Klipsch brings to the soundbar ecosystem.

For me the bottom line is clear. The Samsung HW-Q60T costs less and delivers better performance and while it’s certainly not the best soundbar on the market today, it has a lot going for it. The Sony HT-X8500 is a worthy competitor but it’s saddled with a built-in subwoofer that weighs it down. If you like Sony I would look at the Sony HT-S40R that comes packaged with both a subwoofer and 2 satellite speakers. It adds about $30 to the total cost, and while I haven’t had the opportunity to get hands-on with it, it seems logical that this soundbar would come out on top of both the Sony HT-X8500 and the Samsung HW-Q60T.

So there you have it. To answer the question “Sony HT-X8500 vs Samsung HW-Q60T which is better?”, I am giving Samsung a clear Thumbs Up.

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