Samsung HW-Q800A Soundbar Review Page 2

When Harley Quinn lands a socko punch on the roller derby track early into Birds of Prey... (Sky Cinema, Dolby Atmos), the 8in sub delivers the blow with delicious intent. But this system doesn't just thump. It handles mid- to high-frequency elements with surprising finesse. The secret to this success are the aforementioned wideband tweeters, which are amazingly adept at creating an almost holographic atmosphere.

The subsequent Harley Quinn nightclub scene is busy in the extreme, with plenty of realistic crowd chatter depicted in a crowded space. There's no sense of unfocused clarity here.

Importantly for Blu-ray collectors, DTS:X decoding is also in the Samsung's armoury, so I put it to the test with Bumblebee (4K BD). Here, when John Cena's government agent first encounters the hero character, there's imposing physicality to the friendly Autobot when he gradually stands tall, the subwoofer rumbling in awe. There's also convincing weight to his footfalls as he runs from his pursuers, and lovely metallic detail as he transforms into a jeep. When he stumbles and falls, there are LFE consequences. And this system does its best work with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X mixes. Regular 5.1 surround lacks their grand spatial depth. It feels somewhat smaller, centring on the 'bar itself, but there's still excitement to be had.

The opening sentinel attack in X-Men: Days of Future Past (Blu-ray) is full of energetic gusto which this Samsung handles with consummate ease – the higher register of Iceman's crystalline attacks, the throaty mid-range flame attack of Sunspot. This movie melee misses the height element enjoyed by Atmos and DTS:X, but it remains a thrill.


One major difference between the HW-Q800A and its HW-Q800T predecessor (Samsung appears to have gone back to the start of the alphabet) is the inclusion of Active Voice Amplifier technology. This is a clever bit of processing that analyses the incoming audio system in order to extract and amplify the dialogue channel. Selectable via the remote control, it's undoubtedly a boon for those with boisterous families or housemates.

This processing also fundamentally changes the nature of the audio mix, but it's a clever way to improve sonic clarity. Many listeners complain that dialogue is often too low in a soundmix, or just muffled, spoiling their enjoyment of specific content.

Of course, a soundbar isn't just for the movies. Bluetooth convenience means that the HW-Q800A will likely double as a wireless audio speaker. In that role it passes muster, although I would hesitate to describe it as a hi-fi solution. With stereo sources, the presentation is somewhat cramped. Still, it'll entertain, and that fluid mid-range means it's great for podcasts too.

Movie Maestro
This mid-range Samsung easily earns a recommendation for the superb job it does with movies and cinematic TV shows, particularly those blessed with Atmos/DTS:X soundtracks. Even in this base 3.1.2 configuration, it's convincingly theatrical and has top-notch dialogue handling – although you'll need to invest in the optional rear speakers for genuine surround sound.

Value for money is less clear cut. It arguably only really justifies its price tag when used in conjunction with a compatible Samsung display. Suitably partnered up, you'll unlock Q Symphony technology and be able to tailor its performance, albeit modestly, with SpaceFit calibration. Without a new Samsung TV, Space Fit and Q Symphony are off the table... n

HCC Verdict

Samsung HW-Q800A

Price: £800

We say: This exciting Dolby Atmos soundbar offers a seamless cinematic presentation, excellent detail and punchy bass. But you'll need a modern QLED TV to unlock all its toys.

Overall: 4/5


DRIVERS: 2 x bass/mid drivers; 5 x tweeters (two via upfiring Acoustic Beam tech) ONBOARD POWER (CLAIMED): 330W total CONNECTIONS: 1 x HDMI input; 1 x HDMI output with eARC; 1 x optical digital audio input Dolby Atmos/DTS:X: Yes/Yes SEPARATE SUB: Yes. 160W, 8in woofer REMOTE CONTROL: Yes DIMENSIONS (Soundbar) 980(w) x 60(h) x 115(d)mm WEIGHT (Soundbar): 3.6kg

FEATURES: Acoustic Beam Array technology; SpaceFit; Q Symphony; wall-mount bracket supplied; wireless subwoofer; Bluetooth v5.0; Dolby Vision/HDR10+ passthrough; High-Res Audio compatible; Amazon Alexa support; Apple AirPlay 2; Spotify Connect; Smart Things app; Active Voice Amplifier technology; compatible with SWA-9500S surrounds for 5.1.4