Samsung has just released this year’s new TV models, and as usual they have many exciting new features and improved picture quality on the equipment list. But the common denominator for these (and pretty much all TVs) is that the sound seems to come as an afterthought!
If you want a sound reproduction that matches the potent picture quality, be prepared to browse for a separate speaker solution. Believe us, it’s worth it!
We recently had Samsung visit the new 4K TV QN95A, and in that connection we also asked to borrow a suitable soundbar to test with. They responded by sending us the newcomer HW-Q810A, and here’s what we think of it!
This model enters into the middle layer of this year’s soundbar from Samsung. It ranks below the top models HW-Q910 and 960 in price, but has many of the same benefits. Here you get, among other things, a larger subwoofer, and more drivers than on the cheaper Samsung models.
The Samsung board supports true 3D sound in the form of the Dolby Atmos and DTS: X audio formats, and uses a speaker configuration of the 3.1.2 type. The number three means that it has a left, right and center channel, the number one stands for a separate subwoofer and the total number indicates that it has two “height channels” that point up to the ceiling. It is these height channels, where the sound is reflected from the ceiling, that contribute some of the 3D effect to Atmos soundtrack.
The HW-Q810A comes without separate rear speakers in the box, but Samsung offers this as an option. The speaker set you can buy in addition is called SWA-9500S and also has built-in height channels, that too. This means that you can get a 5.1.4 setup if you upgrade.
Fits under the TV
Today, you can find many beautiful soundbars with rounded and graceful shapes, and often with a nice fabric cover on the outside. Samsung HW-Q810A, on the other hand, does not fit into that category – this is a simple and functional soundbar with a rather rough, angular appearance in black metal.
The soundbar is 98 centimeters wide – about as wide as a 50-inch TV, and only 6 centimeters high, so that it fits under the screen edge on Samsung’s TV models. Alternatively, it can also be mounted on the wall. To help with the heavier work, it has a wireless subwoofer, which can be placed independently under the sofa, in a corner or the like.
Ease of use and features
Samsung HW-Q810 has good connectivity. It is equipped with the upgraded audio return channel HDMI eARC, and can both send and receive high-resolution audio signals if your TV supports this. In addition, it has plenty of wireless connections such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Airplay 2, Chromecast – the works.
The HW-Q810 also has some advantages if you choose to pair it with a TV from the same manufacturer. If you have a newer Samsung model, you can take advantage of full synchronization and remote control via the TV remote control. But the soundbar also comes with its own remote control, plus a small status screen that shows settings and source selection.
If you have a 2021 vintage Samsung TV, you can also take advantage of the Spacefit Sound space correction. This is a function where the TV uses a built-in microphone measures the reverberation in the room and adjusts the sound accordingly. You can access this by putting the TV in Adaptive sound mode. Although this seems like a nice touch, we would have liked to have seen the opportunity to measure the sound from several places in the room, most importantly in the listening position!
The setup is quick, and the soundbar immediately synched with the TV (in our case a Samsung QN95A) when we connected it via the HDMI output. But remember, if your TV supports eARC, it is also important to check this in the TV menu!
Potent sound quality
The Samsung HW-Q810 may not look so impressive in appearance, but what a sound! The first impression is that this is a soundbar with a surprisingly large, wide and dynamic soundscape.
Lately, I’ve seen a lot of the Netflix series Easy Money, but now I get to hear it in a completely different way. The dialogues are clearer, the background music gets a clear melody, and the crackling of the machine guns sounds far more intimidating than they did with the cheaper TS8111 from TCL. It quickly becomes clear that the Samsung bar can play very loud and clean, without a hassle.
As mentioned, the HW-Q810 has separate drivers on the left, right and center. It contributes to good channel separation, where especially the voices are very clearly anchored in the middle. The dialogues on the Formula 1 documentary Drive 2 Survive are crisp and clear.
With the HW-Q810 you can also take advantage of dedicated elevation channels, and this makes an absolutely audible difference to movies that support this. When The Irishman-Frank (Robert DeNiro) blows up a bunch of taxis, you can hear the movables fluttering to all sides. At this point, we can also both hear and feel that the subwoofer is giving a real boost. The bass goes surprisingly deep, making the room shake when required – without emitting troublesome distortion. Good!
Interaction with Samsung TV
The HW-Q810A also supports Q Symphony, which is a feature where the board plays in “symphony” with the TV’s built-in speakers. Instead of turning off the speakers, they are used to reproduce parts of the sound mix. This can work well and gives an impressive surround effect, in addition to the sound image itself being raised to screen level.
At really high volume, however, you can hear that the TV speakers run out of power and sound a bit strained, while the soundboard still has more to go on. Therefore, in many cases we preferred to play with the soundboard for ourselves.
What about music?
It has also become popular to use the TV and soundboard for music playback. With apps like Spotify and YouTube readily available in the menu system, the good tunes are not far away.
The Samsung bar works well for listening to music as well, but here we miss a little more sophistication. You can hear it on demanding jazz and acoustic music (as well as pumping techno rhythms) that the subwoofer’s bass sound is a bit dull, and out of sync with the rest of the soundscape. The rhythm is there, but could have been even tighter and more distinct. In addition, we can hear the tendency of a small dip in the frequency response, right in the transition between the subwoofer and the soundboard. While there is plenty of push in the deep frequencies, the upper bass is a bit slim.
We found some EQ settings in the TV that helped a bit on the bass reproduction, but the connection could have been a little better. And although the soundbar provides a wide surround sound image, it sounds pretty flat on regular stereo soundtracks. Samsung could have given us a dedicated music setting with a better stereo perspective!
A competitor like the Sonos Arc can provide a larger stereo sound image as well as even more airy 3D sound effects: however, it costs as much as the HW-Q810 WITHOUT subwoofer. With one sub in addition, the Sonos solution ends up at almost double that. Therefore, there is no doubt that the Samsung board provides a lot of sound for the money.
Those who want a proper upgrade of the TV sound do not go wrong with the Samsung HW-Q810A. This soundbar delivers a large and detailed sound image with a convincing surround effect, and a strong and clear voice reproduction. In addition, it has plenty of power and earthquake-like deep bass – enough to shock unsuspecting listeners! There are soundbars with even more delicate and high-resolution sound – especially for music. But as a good all-round audio package, the HW-Q810A is a good choice, and an excellent match for new Samsung TVs.