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Review: Samsung HW-Q800C Movie Audio & Clear Sound

Don’t be deceived by the unassuming appearance of the Samsung HW-Q800C. Inside its angular grey plastic casing, you’ll find a remarkably robust multi-channel speaker system. This system excels in delivering cinematic soundtracks, potentially outperforming other soundbars in its category. You also have the option to enhance immersion further by adding optional rear speakers.

NewForTech Opinion:

Pros:

  • Exceptional power and projection
  • Upgradeable for complete surround sound
  • Competitively priced considering its capabilities

Cons:

  • Lacks 4K/120Hz HDMI passthrough
  • Falls short in musicality compared to some competitors
  • Aesthetically, not the most attractive soundbar available
Samsung HW-Q800C
(Image Credit: Samsung)

SAMSUNG HW-Q800B: A Quick Review

The Samsung HW-Q800C is Samsung’s premium “convenience” soundbar in 2023. Unlike the flagship Q990C soundbar, it lacks rear speakers, size, and some power. Still, it offers more power and real channels (claiming 5.1.2) compared to many rival soundbars in its £749 / $699 / AU$799 price range.

This soundbar supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, featuring two up-firing drivers for height channels. It also handles various music files, including high-resolution formats like FLAC.

For those concerned about HDMI ports, it offers HDMI passthrough. If used with a recent Samsung TV, you can combine both devices’ speakers for a more expansive sound using Samsung’s Q-Symphony technology.

In action, the Q800C impresses with its power and precise channel distribution for movies and TV shows, rivaling the best soundbars in its price range. It delivers deep bass, clear dialogue, and convincing spatial effects, albeit limited by the absence of rear speakers. While it may not consistently match the “hi-fi” quality of the Sonos Arc for music, not everyone will find this a drawback.

SAMSUNG HW-Q800B: A Quick Review
(Image Credit: Samsung)

SAMSUNG HW-Q800C REVIEW: PRICE & RELEASE DATE

  • Release Date: June 2023
  • Price: £749 / $699 / AU$799

The Samsung HW-Q800C had a global launch in the summer of 2023. Initially, it was priced at £849 in the UK, $999 in the US, and $1,099 in Australia. However, recent and seemingly permanent price cuts have brought it down to £749, $699, and AU$799. These lower prices make the Q800C much more competitive, especially in the US, given the fierce competition in the mid-range soundbar category.

Comparatively, Samsung’s flagship soundbar for 2023, the Samsung HW-Q990C, offers included rears, a larger and more powerful main soundbar component, and an impressive 11.1.4 channel setup, priced at £1,299, $1,499, and AU$1,599.

This pricing undercuts competitors like the Sonos Arc and Sony HT-A7000, both of which lack a subwoofer.

If desired, you can enhance the Q800C’s performance by adding Samsung’s optional SWA-Q9500S wireless rear speakers for £249, $299, or AU$349. These speakers feature an up-firing driver each, in addition to the standard forward-facing driver, creating a 7.1.4 system.

SAMSUNG HW-Q800C REVIEW: SPECS

  • Dimensions: Soundbar: 1111 x 60 x 120mm / 43.7 x 2.4 x 4.7 in; Subwoofer: 210 x 403 x 403mm / 8.3 x 15.9 x 15.9
  • Speaker Channels: 5.1.2
  • Connections: 1x HDMI input, 1x HDMI with eARC support, digital optical, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
  • Dolby Atmos/DTS:X: Yes/Yes
  • Subwoofer Included: Yes
  • Rear Speakers Included: No
  • Features: Q Symphony, SpaceFit sound calibration, Hi-Res Audio Decoding, LED display, 4K HDR10+ and Dolby Vision passthrough

SAMSUNG HW-Q800C REVIEW: FEATURES

  • 5.1.2 Channels, 360 Watts
  • 4K HDR HDMI Passthrough
  • Samsung TV-Specific Features

The HW-Q800C packs a punch with 360W power feeding into 5.1.2 real audio channels, which is impressive for a mid-range two-piece soundbar. Additionally, the optional rear speakers, with both up-firing and forward-firing drivers, enhance the Dolby Atmos effects.

Its standard 5.1.2 channels consist of a center speaker, front left and right speakers, side left and right speakers, two up-firing speakers on the soundbar’s top edge, and a bass channel from the external wireless subwoofer. The Q Symphony feature lets compatible Samsung TVs collaborate with the soundbar, expanding the soundstage.

While the subwoofer boasts an 8-inch driver, it lacks the acoustic lens for wider bass dispersal found in Samsung’s Q990C soundbar.

The Q800C supports various sound formats, including Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, surround sound, stereo, and a range of music file formats like FLAC, AIFF, AAC, ALAC, WAV, WMA, OGG, and MP3. It also offers connectivity options like Spotify Connect, Apple AirPlay 2, and Tidal Connect.

SAMSUNG HW-Q800C REVIEW: FEATURES
(Image Credit: Samsung)

Wireless Dolby Atmos transmission is supported by compatible Samsung TVs. Note that this method compresses Atmos signals.

The Adaptive Sound system analyzes scenes in real-time, adjusting sound based on content and volume. It improves vocal clarity at low volumes and enhances voices with the Active Voice Amplifier, especially in noisy environments.

Gamers will appreciate the Game Mode Pro, creating a dynamic soundstage. It can automatically switch to Game mode with compatible Samsung TVs.

However, the HDMI passthrough lacks support for 4K 120Hz and variable refresh rates. This feature is rare in soundbars, with some exceptions like Sony’s HT-A7000.

Features Score: 4.5/5

SAMSUNG HW-Q800C: AUDIO PERFORMANCE

  • Astounding Power with a Delicate Touch
  • Excellent Clarity and Detail in Busy Scenes
  • Great Dolby Atmos Spatial Effects

Having spent extensive time with Samsung’s flagship soundbar, the Q990C, I must mention that I immediately missed the surround sound experience provided by its included rear speakers. The Q800C, as we’ll see, excels in channel utilization, but its sound primarily stays in front and slightly to the side of you.

SAMSUNG HW-Q800C: AUDIO PERFORMANCE
(Image Credit: Samsung)

This is expected with a bar-plus-subwoofer package, considering it’s less than half the price of the Q990C. True surround-sound Dolby Atmos playback offers a different level of immersion for those who can invest in it.

When compared to other two-piece models in movie soundtracks, the Q800C stands out with its remarkable power. It delivers a soundstage that fills large living rooms without compromising sound quality.

The mid-range is impressive, offering a wide dynamic range and impactful bass to complement action scenes. It can also adapt smoothly to the demands of a movie soundtrack.

Despite its forceful main soundbar, the Q800C maintains intricate details. Its 11 drivers, combined with excellent channel steering, create a busy, clean, and engaging soundstage, especially with Dolby Atmos mixes. Details remain balanced, even with deep bass.

The subwoofer contributes epic rumbles without overshadowing other elements. It maintains agility and avoids being overpowering.

SAMSUNG HW-Q800C: AUDIO PERFORMANCE
(Image Credit: Samsung)

Apart from lacking rear staging and a slight reduction in power compared to the Q990C, the Q800C’s movie performance impresses, especially considering its price.

What about music playback, an area where Samsung soundbars have recently faced challenges? Thankfully, the Q800C shows significant improvement.

SAMSUNG HW-Q800C: AUDIO PERFORMANCE
(Image Credit: Samsung)

Vocals are well-placed within a wide stereo soundstage, striking a balance between brightness and integration. Track details and layers come through with clarity and credibility, creating a well-timed soundstage that feels natural.

These strengths hold true across various music genres, marking a departure from its predecessors.

SAMSUNG HW-Q800C: AUDIO PERFORMANCE
(Image Credit: Samsung)

The subwoofer’s contribution to music playback is more subtle and integrated, avoiding distraction.

The Q800C’s musicality is further enhanced by its Adaptive Sound mode, which expands the soundstage while maintaining balance and the original track’s feel.

One note: For the best integration, place the subwoofer in front of your seating position.

If you prioritize a soundbar for both music and movies, consider that while the Q800C has improved, there are Hi-Fi-focused rivals like the Sonos Arc and Harman Kardon Citation Multibeam 1100 that offer more consistent finesse with music. However, when it comes to movie soundtracks, the Q800C excels.

Sound Quality Score: 5/5

SAMSUNG HW-Q800C REVIEW: DESIGN

  • Gray Metallic Plastic Finish
  • Angled Industrial Design
  • Fits Well with 55-inch and Larger TVs

The Samsung HW-Q800C’s main soundbar component resembles its counterparts. At 1111mm (43.4 inches) wide, it fits nicely under your TV. It’s slightly narrower than the average 55-inch TV but matches the width of a 50-inch TV like the Samsung Q90C. It’s also a bit wider than a 48-inch TV like the LG C3.

The metallic, grilled finish of the Q800C looks appealing in an industrial way. It’s an improvement over previous fabric speaker covers Samsung tried in previous soundbar generations. The main bar and subwoofer have a slightly grayer color scheme compared to their 2022 predecessors. This might make them seem a bit more plain, but it also gives them a lighter appearance.

SAMSUNG HW-Q800C REVIEW: DESIGN
(Image Credit: Samsung)

The main bar has a distinct angular look with sharp edges and pointed ends. While some may prefer a softer design, the aggressiveness serves a practical purpose by optimizing the positioning of side-channel effects.

In contrast, the subwoofer is more straightforward, resembling a large angular gray wooden box with an eight-inch driver on one side and a vent for air pressure on the rear. Usually, you’d hide the subwoofer discreetly in your room. However, as mentioned in the performance section, placing it near the soundbar and TV is necessary for optimal sound quality.

Design Score: 4/5

SAMSUNG HW-Q800C REVIEW: SETUP & USABILITY

  • Automatic SpaceFit room calibration
  • Easily controlled via app or remote
  • Manual pairing is needed for the subwoofer

Typically, Samsung soundbar setups are a breeze, but the Q800C had a slight hiccup. The subwoofer and soundbar didn’t automatically connect as expected, necessitating a somewhat complicated manual pairing process. While this may not be the norm, it was an unusual experience.

SAMSUNG HW-Q800C REVIEW: SETUP & USABILITY
(Image Credit: Samsung)

However, apart from this issue, the setup is relatively straightforward. Installing Samsung’s SmartThings app on your phone enhances the user experience, providing a user-friendly menu that complements the soundbar’s simple remote control. The soundbar also integrates with Alexa voice control and can work with Google Assistant via external listening devices.

For added convenience, the Q800C can establish a connection with recent Samsung phones simply by tapping them against the soundbar.

If you don’t have your phone or remote handy, there’s a row of touch-sensitive buttons on the soundbar’s top edge. An LED display on the front edge offers basic information like selected inputs and sound formats.

Setting up and optimizing the Q800C is made easier with Samsung’s Space Fit automatic calibration system. It effectively tailors the sound to your room layout and continually checks its settings after the initial setup, sparing you from constant adjustments.

Setup & Usability Score: 4/5

SAMSUNG HW-Q800C REVIEW: VALUE

  • Unmatched movie audio quality at this price point
  • Other options in the same price range excel in music
  • Optional rear speakers, though pricey, offer impressive specs

If your primary goal for a soundbar is to elevate your movie and TV show experience, the Q800C provides exceptional value. It outperforms its competitors, delivering the most powerful, impactful, and accurate Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundstage for a two-piece soundbar system.

While the Q800C is indeed more musical than its predecessors, it can be surpassed by some rivals in the hi-fi department. However, when it comes to movies, nothing in this price range quite matches it.

SAMSUNG HW-Q800C REVIEW: VALUE
(Image Credit: Samsung)

The optional rear speakers may seem a bit costly compared to the rest of the system, but they come equipped with up-firing drivers in addition to regular forward-firing ones. When you break it down per channel, the wireless rear additions may not be as expensive as they first appear, but they are still an optional purchase.

Value Score: 4.5/5

SHOULD I BUY THE SAMSUNG HW-Q800C?

Features: 4K 120Hz HDMI passthrough is the only significant omission. Otherwise, it’s incredibly well-equipped. Score: 4.5/5

Audio Performance: The Q800C excels with movie soundtracks and offers improved music performance compared to its predecessor. Score: 5/5

Design: The industrial gray finish may not suit everyone’s taste, but it exudes a certain seriousness. Score: 4/5

Setup & Usability: While there was a wireless sync issue, most buyers are unlikely to encounter it. Overall, the setup and usability are slick and user-friendly. Score: 4/5

Value: With its substantial power, impressive clarity, and a plethora of features, the Q800C offers outstanding value that outperforms most competitors at a similar price point. Score: 4.5/5

Buy it if…

  • You want an exceptionally powerful soundbar for a remarkable movie performance. The Q800C excels, especially with Dolby Atmos soundtracks.
  • You own a recent Samsung TV, as the Q Symphony and wireless Dolby Atmos transmission capabilities enhance the experience with compatible Samsung TVs.

Don’t buy it if…

  • You prioritize music above all else. While the Q800C delivers good music performance, there are soundbars at a similar price that excel in stereo mode.
  • You require 4K 120Hz HDMI passthrough. If your TV has only two HDMI 2.1 ports and you use multiple next-gen consoles, the Q800C’s limitation in passing through 4K 120Hz signals may be frustrating.

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