Samsung HW-Q800A Soundbar Review

hcc_recommendedThis 'bar is a stellar performer but if you're not a member of the QLED club, some star turns remain off limits, says Steve May

The HW-Q800A is a mid-range Dolby Atmos soundbar 'n' sub combo, capable of dramatic theatrics. Most will use it as a TV upgrade – its official channel designation is 3.1.2 – but the more determined can unlock full-blown 5.1.4 surround by adding optional rear speakers.

It's a doppelganger for last year's HW-Q800T [HCC #315], but there have been subtle changes under the hood to upgrade performance and functionality. Samsung points to improvements that have been made to distortion cancelling, while the centre channel features a revised wideband tweeter, which I came to be rather fond of.

Ideally deployed beneath 50in to 65in screen sizes, the HW-Q800A is a large beast. Wide at 980mm, it can be wall-mounted if required. The 'bar has a hard grille (with solid plastic end-stops), behind which sit L/C/R driver arrays and a pair of units partnered with Samsung's Acoustic Beam technology, actually a line of 56 tiny holes, to steer audio out and up.

On top is a small selection of physical buttons, including power and volume control. The overall aesthetic borders on looking functional rather than fabulous.

Straight from the box, you'll be up and running in no time. The HW-Q800A is literally plug and play. Powered up, the soundbar automatically pairs with the subwoofer.

There's a simple, ergonomic remote zapper, but if you want additional control you can adjust bass and toggle voice enhancement using Samsung's Smart Things smartphone app. An small LED text display to the front right scrolls info, including volume, input and signal format acknowledgements. It's nice and bright, and then politely dims after a few seconds.

Just The Two Of Us
Connections are a bit frugal considering the HW-Q800A's £800 price. You're limited to just a single HDMI input and an output with eARC (HDR compatibility includes HDR10+ and Dolby Vision), plus an optical digital audio socket. There's no USB port for media playback, nor Ethernet. Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and AirPlay 2 (for multiroom streaming) are your wireless options.

Total power output is specified at 330W, including 60W amplifiers for the left and right channels and 180W for the Q800A's subwoofer, a rear-ported design with an MDF cabinet and side-firing 8in driver.

As for smarts, options are limited. The HW-Q800A works with Amazon Alexa, but not Chromecast.


A criticism of recent Samsung soundbars is their lack of calibration options. The brand has gone some way to address that here with SpaceFit, although it's a halfway house until higher-price models debut full Auto EQ later this year.

That's because SpaceFit is only available to owners of select new Samsung QLED TVs, specifically the Q70A range and up. The reason? Processing is carried out in the TV, rather than in the soundbar. The TV can analyse the room itself, identify absorbers, like curtains, and adjust accordingly.

Similarly, Q Symphony only works in conjunction with certain QLED screens, and creates a unified soundbar and TV audio front. The result is a far bigger, more impressive sonic presentation, with physical height and width.

California Dreamin'
The HW-Q800A bears the sonic stamp of Samsung's Californian Sound Lab facility. This might go some way to explaining its sunny disposition. It's bright, breezy and consistently entertaining,

This two-piece does a terrific job when it comes to sonic steerage – objects fly around the soundstage like cows in a twister. It doesn't just image left and right with authority, it places effects up high too. A quick taste of the Dolby Atmos Amaze trailer confirms the considerable width and detail, and huge subwoofer LFE, on offer. In fact, I found the system's bass handling impressive in particular. There's a convincing synergy between the subwoofer and the soundbar enclosure. No disconnection, just a seamless blend that creates a single, solid wave.