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Samsung HW-Q60R Soundbar Review

Samsung may have cut a few too many corners

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Samsung HW-Q60R Soundbar Review
SRP: £599.00

What is the Samsung HW-Q60R?

The Samsung HW-Q60R is the entry-level option in the company’s Q Series of premium soundbars. It shares much of its DNA with the HW-Q70R, with the main difference being that it doesn’t support Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, using a simple 5.1-channel speaker layout instead.

However, you get many of the other benefits, including the same attractive and well-made cabinet, a separate subwoofer, Harman Kardon tuning, and adaptive sound technology. The HW-Q60R also supports the Samsung Audio Remote App and provides the option to add rear speakers.

Dropping support for object-based audio helps get the price down, and you can pick up the HW-Q60 for £599 as at the time of writing (October 2019). So the question is does this soundbar do enough to justify its place in Samsung’s range, or are you better off simply buying the HW-Q70R?

Design

The Samsung HW-Q60R looks identical to the more expensive HW-Q70R, with exactly the same main unit. It uses an attractive and slimline design that measures 1100 x 59 x 100mm (WxHxD) and weighs 3.6kg. The build quality is very good, and the low form factor shouldn’t block your screen.

Samsung HW-Q60R

The minimalist design uses a black finish, with metal grilles on the front and top, and metal plates at either end. There's a small display on the front right that shows basic information like the source or volume level selected, and there are some simple controls on the right-hand end plate.

The HW-Q60 comes with additional foot holders for more stable support, and if you'd rather wall mount the soundbar there's included brackets, screws and a template for that purpose.

Samsung HW-Q60R

The soundbar comes with a bass-reflex subwoofer that uses a rear-ported enclosure and a side-firing 6.5-inch driver that Samsung claims can get down to 42Hz. The sub is composed of MDF, is well made and styled in matte black. It measures 205 x 353 x 303mm (WxHxD) and weighs 6.2kg.

The design is attractive and discreet, with a low form factor and good build quality

Connections and Controls

The Samsung HW-Q60R has its connections located in a recess on the underside of the soundbar, and these are identical to the HW-Q70R.

Here you'll find one HDMI input and an HDMI output, both of which support 4K/60p, high dynamic range (HDR10, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision), HDCP 2.2, and Anynet+ (HDMI-CEC). In addition, the HDMI output also supports ARC (audio return channel).

Samsung HW-Q60R

The only other physical connections are an optical digital input (Samsung also includes an optical digital cable in the box), and a Micro USB port for music playback and firmware updates. In terms of wireless connections, there's Bluetooth, but no Wi-Fi or support for Chromecast or AirPlay.

There are some basic controls on the soundbar itself for volume up and down, source select and power on/off. However, the majority of controls are on the provided remote, which is identical to the one included with the HW-Q70R.

Samsung HW-Q60R

It’s a well-designed and effective controller with central navigation and play/pause buttons, along with a sound control button for setting treble, bass and audio sync. There's also a source select button, a Bluetooth pairing button, the sound mode (Standard, Surround, Game Pro and Adaptive Sound), volume up and down, mute and a control for setting the subwoofer level.

A number of buttons on the remote have more than one function, and for a complete list of all these hidden controls see the user manual. You can also control the HW-Q60 using your TV remote control by pushing the woofer button up for five seconds. Each time you do this you cycle through “Samsung TV Remote”, “Off TV Remote”, and “All TV Remote” (for other manufacturers).

There's an HDMI input and an output with ARC, but no built-in Wi-Fi

Features and Specs

The Samsung HW-Q60R is built around seven custom-designed drivers in a five-channel configuration. There are left and right forward-firing speakers composed of a midrange driver and a tweeter, along with a centre speaker and two side firing speakers that all use midrange drivers.

The soundbar's low-end is supported by a wireless active subwoofer, with a 6.5-inch bass driver and rear port. The entire system has a claimed total of 360W of amplification, and a claimed frequency response of 42Hz-20kHz, which is reasonably good for soundbar and subwoofer combo.

The HW-Q60 was designed and tested in Samsung's Audio Labs in California, and the sound was then tuned and optimised by Harman Kardon to ensure a cohesive soundstage and integrated bass. The soundbar also uses acoustic beam technology to add greater width and depth.

Samsung HW-Q60R

The speakers use wide range tweeters designed to create a larger sweet spot, thus ensuring everyone watching gets the best experience. While the acoustic beam technology adds side channels, there are no surrounds. However, you can buy wireless rear speakers separately (SWA-8500S), creating a 7.1 system.

In terms of audio formats, the Samsung can decode Dolby and DTS, but unlike the HW-Q70R there’s no support for immersive audio formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. The lack of Wi-Fi means there’s also no support for high-resolution audio, with the HW-Q60R restricted to AAC, MP3, WAV and OGG.

The soundbar supports the Samsung Audio Remote App (Android only) via Bluetooth, but once again the lack of Wi-Fi means there’s no support for the SmartThings App, nor does the HW-Q60 work with Alexa. There’s also no Bixby, Google Assistant, AirPlay, Chromecast or Spotify Connect.

Samsung HW-Q60R

The soundbar does include the Adaptive Sound mode, which analyses the incoming audio and depending on the type of content will adapt the sound using all the available channels to give you the best performance on a scene-by-scene basis.

So, if it's a news programme or documentary the centre channel is emphasised for clearer dialogue. Conversely, the left and right channels are prioritised for music, while all the channels will be enhanced for the crowds at a football match or the effects in a movie or game.

In terms of gaming, if you have a PS4 or Xbox One connected via HDMI to a 2019 Samsung TV you can enjoy certain features. The TV will automatically detect the connected game console and select the low input lag game mode, while the soundbar simultaneously goes into its Game Pro sound mode.

Samsung HW-Q60R

This results in a seamless experience for gaming, although if you then decide to use your console for something other than playing a game (such as watching an app or Blu-ray), the TV registers the metadata and switches out of game mode (as does the soundbar).

The various modes use digital signal processing (DSP) to up-mix audio for all the available channels, but there’s also a Standard mode that decodes the audio format without processing, so 2.0 is output as 2.1 and 5.1 is output as 3.1 (or 5.1 if you buy the wireless rear speakers).

The lack of Atmos and DTS:X support, along with no Wi-Fi, limits the appeal of this soundbar

Set-up and Operation

The Samsung HW-Q60R is easy to install: simply place it on a level surface in front of your TV, make sure it's not blocking the screen and that the drivers are clear of any obstructions at the front and sides.

All you need to do then is place the subwoofer towards the front of the room, on either the left or right of the TV. The sub should pair automatically, although you can do it manually if necessary, and don't forget that although the sub is wireless you’ll still need to plug it into a wall socket. You can then set the subwoofer level so that it feels balanced – supportive rather than overpowering.

Samsung HW-Q60R

Operating the HW-Q60 is easy, you can either use the controls at the side (if it’s basic), the provided controller, your TV remote or (if you have an Android phone) the Samsung Audio Remote app. In most cases, the soundbar’s remote is probably your best bet.

For testing, I connected various devices directly to the soundbar via the HDMI input: Panasonic DP-UB820 UHD Blu-ray player, a PS4 Pro, an Apple TV 4K and a Humax FVP-5000T set top box. I also paired an iPhone X to the soundbar via Bluetooth to test its capabilities with streamed music.

However, for most of the testing I connected the PS4, Apple TV, and Humax directly to an LG OLED65C8, and then sent the audio back to the soundbar using the audio return channel. I also sent the audio from the TV’s built-in apps to the HW-Q60R via HDMI-ARC.

The soundbar is easy to set-up, and there's a choice of control options

Performance

The Samsung HW-Q60R is a solid all-round soundbar, and will certainly elevate the audio of any modern TV. The ‘bar itself creates a well-defined soundstage thanks to the three front-firing speakers, while the acoustic beam technology adds greater width and a sense of depth to the system’s sonic presence. Once you add in the subwoofer, you have an excellent 3.1 system that effectively handles music, TV and movies.

The mid-range drivers and wide-range tweeters ensure that wherever you’re sat, you can enjoy the audio experience, and the built-in amplification delivers plenty of power – so the HW-Q60 won’t run out of steam. The sound can go loud without distorting, and the mid-range and treble are well defined and free of any sibilance or harshness. The sub goes fairly deep without sounding strained or over-powering the soundbar, and the two are well integrated.

Kicking off with some music, the Samsung performs extremely well, producing good stereo separation and nice imaging. All the instruments have precise localisation, and the sub creates a solid foundation of bass that gives the drums a driving edge. Listening to the La La Land soundtrack, the HW-Q60R brings out the vocals with clarity, while adding a sense of scope to the orchestration. The more intimate songs have a sparse beauty, while the sub helps give the uptempo numbers greater impact. It’s just a shame that this soundbar is restricted to lower resolution music formats.

Samsung HW-Q60R

The performance with TV shows is also very good, especially the less demanding programming where the audio is primarily focused around music and dialogue. News, documentaries and game shows all sound excellent, with clear dialogue and a focused delivery. The Rugby World Cup also benefits from the soundbar’s ability to create a wide front soundstage and, while the commentary remains clear, the crowd feels larger and more enveloping. The adaptive sound mode often proves highly effective when used in conjunction with normal TV programming.

Due to the lack of rear speakers, the sound is obviously front heavy, so the 5.1 soundtrack of The Boys on Amazon is actually being delivered as 3.1 in Standard mode. As a result, the sense of surround is minimal, but if you engage the Surround mode this up-mixes the audio to use the acoustic beam technology to add greater width and depth to the audio. This sonic processing can be surprisingly effective, with a soundstage that benefits from focused dialogue and a more epic scope. The sub gives the super-heroic punch-ups more low-end impact, and while it doesn’t go as deep as some of the competition, it’s certainly sufficient for the average lounge.

The final area where the HW-Q60 can add value is with gaming, and especially if you own a 2019 Samsung TV. The combined system creates a seamless gaming experience, and the Game Pro mode helps deliver an immersive and enjoyable soundstage that elevates your gameplay. However, even if you don’t own a Samsung TV, the results will impress with effects placed across the front of the room with precision, and the comms and dialogue handled with clarity. The sub gives gunfire and explosions greater heft, and the overall sonic presence places you in the game’s world.

The sound quality is good, with an open soundstage that has width, depth and solid bass

Verdict

Pros

  • Good audio performance
  • Nicely integrated bass
  • Attractive and well-made
  • Effective sound modes

Cons

  • No Dolby Atmos/DTS:X
  • No built-in Wi-Fi
  • No eARC

Samsung HW-Q60R Soundbar Review

The Samsung HW-Q60R is a perfectly good soundbar, with an attractive design, great build quality and a solid audio performance. If you’re looking for something to boost the sound quality of your TV, it will fit the bill nicely, with a wide and well-defined front soundstage and plenty of bass thanks to a separate subwoofer. It’s also a good choice for gamers, with some handy features for those who already own a Samsung TV.

In order to get the cost down Samsung has dropped a number of features found on the more expensive HW-Q70R. The lack of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X may not be that big a deal for some but at this price, object-based audio support is becoming more common. However, the lack of built-in Wi-Fi is surprising and reduces the HW-Q60’s feature set considerably. As a result, there are better alternatives available, making it hard to recommend this soundbar.

What are my alternatives?

Samsung HW-Q70R

The obvious alternative is the Samsung HW-Q70R, which is an excellent soundbar and subwoofer combination. For a start it delivers a big and bold Atmos and DTS:X performance thanks to forward-, side- and upward-firing drivers, while the bigger sub ensures plenty of deep bass. There’s the same HDMI input, but it adds built-in Wi-Fi which means support for the SmartThings App and high-resolution audio, along with the ability to work with Amazon Alexa. Best of all, the HW-Q70 is only two hundred quid more expensive at £799.

Panasonic SC-HTB900

If you’re looking for something in the same price bracket, then the £599 Panasonic SC-HTB900 is a good choice. This 3.1-channel soundbar can decode Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, using psychoacoustic processing to create a more immersive experience from its three front-firing speakers and separate subwoofer. The sound has been tuned by Technics, and there's a decent set of features including two HDMI inputs, high-resolution audio support, Bluetooth, Chromecast and the ability to work with Google Assistant. The inability to pass Dolby Vision and HDR10+ is the only ink blot on an otherwise clean copy book.

Scores

Build Quality

.
.
8

Connectivity

.
.
.
7

Ease of use

.
9

Sound Quality

.
.
8

Features

.
.
.
7

Value for Money

.
.
.
7

Verdict

.
.
8
8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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