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Samsung HW-Q70R soundbar review: This easy-to-install soundbar delivers Dolby Atmos and DTS:X

If you want to bring rich, detailed, and immersive sound into your living room with a minimum of components and fuss, Samsung’s HW-Q70R soundbar should be near the top of your shopping list. At $700, the HW-Q70R is as pricey as some higher-end soundbars we’ve reviewed, but given that Samsung’s top-of-the-line soundbar sells for twice as much, $700 appears to be the new mid-range.

Price tags aside, the HW-Q70R soundbar and its wireless subwoofer make for an easy way to get dazzling Dolby Atmos and DTS:X surround sound, while a convincing pseudo-surround mode adds surprising depth to other content. If you want true surround sound, however, you’ll need to drop an additional $100 for Samsung’s SWA-8500S wireless rear speaker kit (available on Amazon). Samsung did not send the kit for review.

Configuration

Boasting Harman Kardon-designed audio (Samsung acquired Harman International in 2017), the HW-Q70R is a 3.1.2 soundbar, which means it has dedicated left, right, and center drivers (with the center channel being particularly important for delivering clear dialog); up-firing left and right drivers for immersive, object-based Dolby Atmos and DTS:X with audio height cues achieved by bouncing sound off your ceiling; and a wireless subwoofer for deep bass response and low-frequency effects in movie soundtracks.

Measuring 43.3 x 2.3 x 3.9 inches, the main soundbar unit can sit directly in front of your TV, or you can mount it on the wall with the included bracket, while the 15.9 x 15.9 x 8.1-inch subwoofer can sit nearby on the floor.

Inputs and outputs

On the bottom of the soundbar, you’ll find a pair of cavities where the various ports and buttons sit. A button on the left-hand side lets the soundbar connect to your Wi-Fi network (with a little help from the Samsung SmartThings mobile app), along with a microSD service port and a 19V DC power port. The cavity on the right-hand side hosts one HDMI input, one HDMI-ARC (so your TV can send audio from its onboard tuner and video-streaming apps back to the soundbar), and a TosLink (optical) digital audio input.

Setup and installation

Setting up the HW-Q70R was a fairly straightforward process. Once I’d placed the soundbar in front of my TV, I connected the power adapter and then plugged the included HDMI cable into the soundbar’s HDMI output (which supports 4K 60Hz video and HDR passthrough) and connected the other end to one of my TV’s HDMI inputs. I then connected my Apple TV 4K (which is capable of Dolby Atmos audio output) to the soundbar’s HDMI input.

samsung hw q70r soundbar inputs and outputs Ben Patterson/IDG

The Samsung HW-Q70R features a single HDMI input, an HDMI-ARC output, and a Toslink input.

Since the HW-Q70R only has a single HDMI input, you’ll need to manually swap out the cable if you want to switch to another video source (such as a game console or a Blu-ray player).This is essential if you want Dolby Atmos output via the lossless Dolby TrueHD format (a Toslink connection cannot provide enough bandwidth)..

If you don’t want to be switching cables all the time, you can also connect all your video sources to your TV, and then send audio back to the soundbar using HDMI-ARC. The drawback to relying on ARC for audio is that you’ll have to settle for lossy Dolby Atmos via Dolby Digital Plus. If the speaker supported Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC, which offers more bandwidth), this wouldn’t be an issue.

Last but not least, you’ll need to hook up the wireless subwoofer, which might be the easiest step in the process. Since the soundbar and the subwoofer are paired out of the box, the soundbar should automatically connect with the subwoofer once they’re both powered on, and that’s exactly what happened for me. A steady blue light on the back of the subwoofer indicates you have a good wireless connection. A blinking blue or solid red light means the subwoofer can’t connect automatically to the soundbar, in which case you’ll need to manually pair the units by pressing the “ID Set” button on the back of the subwoofer, and then press and hold the “up” button on the remote.

SmartThings and Alexa integration

Once you have the soundbar connected to your TV and the subwoofer, you can also connect it to your Wi-Fi network using the Samsung SmartThings app. Just install the app on your iOS or Android device, sign into or create a SmartThings account, press the Network button on the soundbar, and then discover it using the app.

Once the SmartThings app has the soundbar on its radar, you can connect it to your Wi-Fi network, add it to a “room” in your smart home, and then control it like any of your other SmartThings devices. You can also control your Wi-Fi-connected soundbar with Amazon Alexa voice commands, or stream music to it via Spotify and other compatible music-streaming services. Last but not least, the SmartThings app lets you fiddle with the soundbar’s EQ settings.

Remote and Samsung TV integration

The AA battery-powered remote that comes with the HW-Q70R is pretty much identical to those that come bundled with other Samsung soundbars. Some TechHive contributors have praised this remote; but as a newcomer to Samsung’s ecosystem, I found it a bit confusing, particularly when digging into the HW-Q70R’s various settings.

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