This impressive soundbar delivers immersion without the clutter, making it ideal for movies and games
- Big and immersive sound
- Dolby Atmos and DTS:X
- Well-integrated subwoofer
- Solid build quality
- Simple to set up
- Single HDMI input
- Limited audio setup
- No eARC support
- Review Price: £800
- 3.1.2-channel system with wireless sub
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
- Dimensions: W110 x H5.9 x D10cm
- 330W total power output
- 2 x HDMI, 1 x optical
What is the Samsung HW-Q70R?
The Samsung HW-Q70R is the latest mid-range soundbar from the company, and squeezes three forward-firing and two upward-firing drivers into a slimline chassis. The new model replaces last year’s HW-N650, and while it retains acoustic beam technology, it also adds Dolby Atmos and DTS:X decoding.
The inclusion of 3.1.2-channel immersive audio support isn’t the only difference; the subwoofer has also received a makeover, which Samsung claims improves its depth and control. The company undoubtedly hopes that this new soundbar will prove a hit with movie fans and gamers, both of whom benefit from object-based audio these days.
Samsung HW-Q70R – Design
The Samsung HW-Q70R sports a slender main unit that’s only 59mm high, making it ideal for slipping in front of your TV and boosting the sound without blocking the screen. It should fit beneath most TVs, but if there’s an issue then you can also wall-mount it using the included brackets. Build quality is excellent, and this attractive and well-made soundbar goes a long way towards justifying its not-inconsiderable price tag.
The usual three-letter scrolling display sits on the far front-right of the soundbar. The display lights up when you select inputs, change settings, adjust the volume or choose one of the four available sound modes: Standard, Surround, Game Pro, and Adaptive Sound. On the end panel at the right you’ll find some basic controls for power, volume and source select; everything else is controlled using the included remote.
The remote is ergonomically designed and effective to use, with all the controls you’ll need for setup and operation. The button layout is centred around the navigation and play/pause buttons, with volume, mute and the subwoofer level controls underneath. Other buttons allow access to the treble, bass and audio sync controls, along with keys for source select, sound mode and Bluetooth pairing.
The subwoofer, too, has received a makeover, but it retains the same styling as the soundbar. The new design measures W20.5 x H40.3 x D40.3cm, and weighs in at 9.8kg. It’s a rear-ported model with a side-firing 8-inch driver that Samsung claims can get down to 35Hz. The sub is wireless but will need a power source, although it should pair automatically with the bar.
Placement is fairly flexible, but for best results try locating it at the front of the room and slightly away from the wall.
Samsung HW-Q70R – Features and connectivity
The Samsung HW-Q70R is a seven-driver soundbar and wireless subwoofer combo that delivers 3.1.2-channel surround sound. The Acoustic Beam technology is based around a tuned resonating tube that directs sounds out to the side and up towards the ceiling. These acoustical beams reflect off the side walls and ceiling to create a more immersive sonic experience.
The acoustic beams are controlled using psychoacoustic processing developed at Samsung’s Californian Audio Lab. There are also three forward-firing speakers, which means the soundbar has a dedicated centre channel for dialogue. When all these speakers combine with the sub, the result is a 3.1.2-channel object-based audio experience.
The HW-Q70R supports both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, along with all their other variations aside from IMAX Enhanced DTS:X. The resulting immersive experience is very front-heavy, but those looking to add rear channels can buy the optional SWA-8500S wireless speakers. Harman Kardon was involved in the soundbar’s development, adding its expertise and tuning the system.
Related: HDMI 2.1 – What you need to know
As mentioned, there are four sound modes: Standard, Surround, Game Pro, and Adaptive Sound. The first leaves the audio as it was encoded; the second adds a greater sense of envelopment to movies and TV dramas; the third is designed to make you feel like you’re in the world of the game. The final mode is new, analysing the audio signal and adapting the balance as the volume increases.
This soundbar is ideal for gamers – and if you own a PS4 or Xbox One and a Samsung TV, then there are some handy features. The TV will automatically go into game mode when it detects a games console connected via HDMI. At the same time, the soundbar will automatically select the Game Pro mode, resulting in a seamless gaming experience.
Samsung’s SmartThings app allows you to easily set up the HW-Q70R, and it also works with Amazon Alexa, providing access to Spotify Connect and hands-free control. There’s support for all the popular audio formats including AAC, WAV, OGG, ALAC, AIFF and FLAC, along with UHQ 32-bit upscaling for supporting devices.
Connections sit in a recessed area at the rear of the unit, and they’re a bit on the sparse side. For a start, there’s only a single HDMI input to go with the HDMI output – but at least they both support 4K/60p, HDCP 2.2, and all the high dynamic range formats ( HDR10, HLG, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision). The HDMI output supports ARC (audio return channel), but the promised eARC update has never materialised.
The limited connectivity doesn’t stop there, with the only other physical input being optical digital audio. In terms of wireless connections there’s Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but considering the cost of this soundbar it’s disappointing that it doesn’t support Chromecast or Apple’s AirPlay.
Related: What is HDR?
Samsung HW-Q70R – Performance
The HW-Q70R is another great soundbar from Samsung, a company which has been on something of a roll over the past few years. The overall performance is excellent, with a big and robust soundstage at the front of the room. The left and right drivers ensure precise stereo imaging, the centre speaker delivers clear and focused dialogue, and the Acoustic Beam technology ensures there’s additional width and an overhead presence.
The extent to which that works will very much depend on your environment. For this type of technology to perform properly, you need reflective walls and ceilings. That means you should avoid an excess of soft furnishings, which will absorb the sound beams; you also require a low and flat ceiling to bounce the beams back down towards the listener.
If you have a very high or vaulted ceiling, then this type of technology isn’t for you – you’ll probably have to fit speakers on the ceiling if you really want overhead channels.
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In the right kind of room, however, this soundbar can really deliver the goods. As long as you give it room to breathe (wall-mounting would probably be ideal; but definitely don’t go putting it inside a cabinet), you’ll be rewarded with a lively and expansive sonic performance. This is a ‘bar that sounds much bigger than it looks – and it can go loud, too, giving today’s blockbuster soundtracks the kind of impact they really need.
A great example is Aquaman, which has a titanic Dolby Atmos soundtrack. The HW-Q70R handled this big and brash mix with great skill, delivering the epic soundscapes and using all the channels to create the impression that you’re under water. The dialogue is centred and clear, while the effects move seamlessly across the front of the room and overhead, and the upgraded sub does a fantastic job of handling the film’s huge bass.
The action set pieces hit with the force of a sledgehammer, and the Acoustic Beam technology creates a wall of sound at the front of the room. Despite the sheer scale of the sub-aquatic mayhem on show, the level of detail retrieval remains impressive, and the there’s a pleasing amount of clarity. The only issue is there’s no real surround due to the lack of any rear speakers, so the overall experience is very front-heavy.
It’s a similar story with the new DTS:X soundtrack for Hellboy II: The Golden Army. The HW-Q70R delivers the action set pieces with all the force of a red right hand, but also manages to retain a degree of subtlety. The score is reproduced with a lovely musicality, and the well-integrated sub delivers deep bass that’s also tight and controlled. The soundbar handles the dynamic range in the soundtrack extremely well, resulting in a complete system that’s fast and responsive.
Overall this is a very competent soundbar and subwoofer combination that sounds impressive with music, TV shows, movies and games. As a result, it’s an excellent all-rounder and a highly effective way of getting an immersive audio experience with minimum clutter and fuss.
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Why buy the Samsung HW-Q70R?
If you’re looking for a model that can deliver an impressively immersive experience without a load of extra cables and speakers, then the Samsung HW-Q70R will be right up your street. The 3.1.2 speaker configuration and Acoustic Beam technology ensure you get the full object-based audio experience, while the revamped sub delivers plenty of deep but controlled bass.
This is an attractively designed and well-made package that benefits from Harman Kardon’s input. There are plenty of cool features, including some that will appeal directly to gamers. The setup procedure is rather simplistic considering the processing sophistication; the only other issue is a lack of HDMI inputs, because one doesn’t cut it at this price point.
In terms of alternatives, the obvious contender is the LG SL8YG. It’s almost identical with a 3.1.2-channel configuration, plus offers support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. In terms of differences the tuning is by Meridian, there’s Chromecast, and LG offers Google Assistant built-in. The wireless subwoofer isn’t as beefy, but at £700 it’s worthy of consideration.
This impressive soundbar delivers a fantastic performance when it comes to sound quality and features, making it ideal for movies and games. It offers immersive audio without the clutter, and it’s only the limited set of connections and hefty price that keep it from scoring full marks.
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