Samsung's newest elite Dolby Atmos soundbar needs a price cut before it's even launched

 Samsung S900C soundbar on white background
Samsung S900C soundbar on white background

Samsung has unveiled a new Dolby Atmos speaker in its lineup of 2023 soundbars. The HW-Q900C joins the Atmos-enabled Q-Series range, which packages Samsung’s most advanced technologies in their high-end audio kit.

This new soundbar comes with a 7.1.2 channel sound system, including a wireless subwoofer and remote. Buyers will also benefit from 4K video passthrough (for connecting a games console or 4K Blu-ray player through the same HDMI cable as your soundbar), HDR10+ support (if not Dolby Vision), and support for both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X premium audio formats.

That’s alongside HDMI eARC, Bluetooth, AirPlay 2, and support for Spotify Connect / Tidal Hi-Fi. As ever, Samsung TV owners will benefit the most, with wireless Atmos capability and the chance to operate in tandem with TV speakers for certain Samsung screens through the company’s Q-Symphony technology.

The HW-Q900C, however, looks set to retail for $1,400 (around £1,150 / AU$2,150), which is only a stone’s throw away from the higher-end HW-Q990C, which incorporates twice the number of upward-firing speakers in a 11.1.4 channel arrangement for only $200 more.

Up and up!

Upward-firing speakers are a necessity for any home cinema-loving audiophile, allowing you to recreate a sense of verticality in your sound that would usually only be possible by having a ceiling-mounted speaker – as in a real cinema. It’s a huge boon for spatial audio formats like Dolby Atmos, particularly, which attempt to place audio objects in three-dimensional space for a more immersive sonic experience. (The third number in ‘7.1.2’ refers to these upward-firing speakers, whereas, the first and second refer to main speakers and subwoofers respectively).

There’s a world of difference between the HW-Q990C’s 11.1.4 setup and the 5.1.2 system found in the HW-Q800C, which retails for just $800 / £849 / AU$900 and packs in half the number of drivers overall. But the new HW-Q900C, with a 7.1.2 system, is much closer in its arrangement to the cheaper HW-Q800C, and yet has a price tag far closer to the higher-end model. Explain the math, please?

Samsung’s Q-Series soundbars are generally of a very high quality, but unless the company brings in a price drop pretty quickly on this new model, there’s little reason to buy it instead of the cheaper (and similarly specified) HW-Q800C, or the higher-specified (and similarly priced) HW-Q990C. Otherwise, you might as well go to our best soundbars guide and get something else entirely.