Soundbars are increasingly becoming popular because they are easy to set up and take less space than traditional home theater systems. Whether you want to upgrade your extremely thin smart TV audio performance or your general home entertainment, there are various models you can choose from. In this case, we will compare Samsung Q800A and Sonos Arc, two of the most popular Dolby Atmos soundbars, to see which is the best choice.
Samsung Q800A is a capable soundbar with satisfying sound and deep bass. It will offer you an all-round performance as well as a present and enjoyable listening experience. On the other hand, the Sonos Arc is a great standalone soundbar with a minimalist design. In addition, it comes with 11 high-performance that produces solid sound quality.
The soundbar is aesthetically pleasing with the matt black metal grille that wraps around. In addition, it has an LED display on the front, but you will have to wait patiently for an entire word to scroll past. Also, the accompanying subwoofer is decently sized with a matt black finish and a 20cm driver on the side.
Ideally, you should put both the soundbar and the sub close to each other for a better sound integration. Nonetheless, you can tweak around with the placement to achieve the best sound balance.
The soundbar has two tweeters and mid-range/bass race-track drivers on the sides and a wide-range tweeter at the center. Moreover, two tweeters face upwards and offer height channels for DTX:X and Dolby Atmos formats.
It uses Samsung’s ‘Acoustic Beam 2.0’ technology to enhance the sound from the drivers. Also, the two rows with 23 holes direct the wavefront outwards and upwards, giving you a captivating listening experience.
The input connections for the power and HDMI are at the back, and buttons for power/source, volume, and microphone mute are at the top. You can use the microphone to give commands to the inbuilt Amazon Alexa voice assistant and even monitor background levels.
It comes with decent remote control, allowing you to access the system’s settings and increase/decrease the volume. What’s more, you can connect the soundbar to a Wi-Fi network and download a SmartThings app to control it.
The Sonos Arc is designed to work with various devices but matches well with a large TV, especially a 55″ model and above. It will sound great whether you place it on a piece of furniture or mount it on the walls, and even the frequency response will adjust automatically.
Whichever position you place it, you will see a 273-degree matte black grille that conceals powerful drivers. Also, each end has drivers covered with a grille.
The curvy design gives a slender and elegant look. In addition, it has LED lights that shine above the Sonos logo at the front, which adds to the sleekness. Their brightness is set to match with the room’s ambient light so as not to appear too bright.
Its play/pause button is touch-sensitive on the frame and lined with touch panels to increase or reduce the volume. There is also a microphone button that you can use to give Alexa or Google Assistant commands.
The soundbar has a power output of 330W, which gives it sufficient muscle to produce outstanding sound quality. This is divided between 2x 60W drivers on the sides, 2x 20W center driver plus the acoustic beam array, and 160W on the sub.
Although you shouldn’t entirely believe such numbers by manufacturers, the Q800A has a considerable dynamic attack and plays loud. In addition, the system is agile and light, so it will come in handy when listening to music, watching movies, and playing games.
In fact, it has four main sound modes: Standard, Game Pro, Surround, and Adaptive. The standard mode (Direct mode on other soundbars) does not upmix 2.0 channel audio sources to full-on 3.12 channel sound. However, the Surround mode upmixes everything to 3.12 sound, including the stereo sources.
Furthermore, the Game Pro mode is designed to produce ‘3D directional audio’ for gamers. Finally, the Adaptive Sound mode will analyze the sound and automatically tune it to whatever you are listening to or watching.
The Samsung team put a lot of effort into developing this soundbar. It presents a soundstage beyond its size, and you can use it for all of your audio needs. For example, watching a highly engaging movie like Mad Max Fury is total bliss. You will hear every detail of the car crashes, guns, and explosions while the dialogue is direct and clear.
This is a standalone soundbar without a subwoofer, which may seem like a limitation, but you will be mistaken. Besides the sophisticated exterior, it has a lot going on in the background, including 11 drivers and 11 Class-D amplifiers.
The center channel consists of two elliptical woofers and a tweeter, while the left and right channels have two woofers. Additionally, sideways-firing woofers and diagonal tweeters create a perception of surround sound. Finally, it has two upwards-firing drivers that handle the Atmos overhead channels.
These drivers combine to deliver an impressive and cohesive performance. For example, the Arc drivers produce a significant Atmos height effect while the diagonal and side drivers join to create a deep and wide soundstage. Although the surround audio isn’t enveloping like satellite speakers, the sound seems to come from all directions.
The effort of iterating the internal waveguide curvature has paid off as the Sonos Arc delivers high-quality Atmos presentations. For example, when watching a movie like Extraction, you will get every detail clearly, including the fistfights, car crashes, gunshots, etc.
Samsung gives you a lot of flexibility to connect the Q800A soundbar. For example, you can use the HDMI connection at the end of the chain with ARC/eARC functionality or pass-through configuration. In addition, there is an optical port to connect devices that lacks an HDMI port.
Alternatively, you can wirelessly link the soundbar to your TV through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity. However, you should use this option if the wired solution is not available because wireless connections are not stable. Also, Bluetooth connection is only viable for stereo audio, constraining the system’s performance.
After plugging into their respective power outlets, the central unit and the subwoofer will connect automatically. If it does not work, you have to go the manual way.
The Q800A soundbar has basic settings from the usual bass configuration, treble, and EQ graphic. In addition, there is an option to adjust each channel’s volume to strike a balanced level.
Lastly, choose the appropriate sound mode depending on the material you are playing. Alternatively, you can set it at Adaptive mode for the soundbar to select the most suitable sound mode each time.
The only way to connect this soundbar to your TV is through the HDMI ARC port that passes the audio signal. Audio Return Channel (ARC) is a technology that lets the TV send audio to the connected speaker via a single HDMI cable. So, this means that everything else you connect to your TV will play through the soundbar. The unit also has optical input for standard Digital decoding if your TV lacks HDMI ports.
After connecting the soundbar to your TV, you will need to download the Sonos S2 app. This will give you access to two main tuning features: time alignment TruePlay and phasing rays. The TruePlay tuning helps to ensure the sound waves are reflecting the walls simultaneously. On the other hand, phasing rays focus the sound by eliminating distractions.
One of Sono’s biggest strengths is simplicity and ease of use. That’s the entire setup process, and you can finish in minutes.
What we liked
- Supports DTS:X and Dolby Atmos
- The subwoofer produces satisfying bass
- Robust construction with the MDF cabinets
- Detailed and dynamic sound
- Setup simplicity and ease of use
- Supports Google Assistant and Alexa
What we didn’t like
- Single HDMI input
- Lacks a USB playback
- Does not have a subwoofer
- Limited connectivity options
Both the Samsung Q800A and Sonos Arc are outstanding soundbars with plenty of amazing features, including the Dolby Atmos. So, either option will serve your audio needs. However, as seen in the comparison above, the Q800A is a winner in various facets. For example, it comes with a subwoofer that adds to the richness of the bass. Also, it utilizes a reflection mechanism and digital processing technology to create a surround sound.