I' m an owner of a HW-Q90R
I read multiple posts (here and in other Audio forums) regarding the EARC issue in the HW-q90r. I understand that might be an issue for some, but with some workarounds you can still have lossless audio connecting an external device such as a blue ray player or nvdia shield to the hdmi port of the bar. And still the difference Vs lossless and losy sound in this kind device is almost imperceptible. But I'm really surprised that the low volume of rears is not as popular in the main discussion forums.
Main issue for me is the lack of power of rears. Rears really make the most of the difference in price Vs the other bars of the range (hw-q80r), but the performance does not justify the cost.
With good material (a 4k blu-ray movie with 7.1 atmos audio) the experience is absolutely jaw-dropping. Try for example Disney's "Frozen 2" 4k blu ray. And you will have an almost real cinema experience. With multiple effects coming from almost everywhere ,there is a scene with ice crystals falling from the sky where atmos really live comes alive.
However, I'm very dissapointed with non atmos content though.
With non atmos the rears lack power , the sound it's really faint and you need to put your ear close to the speaker to really feel that they are actually working. it is a fact that rear channels (Rb and Lb) are really marginal in the majority of non high definition audio mixes. It is not used in all the 5.1 audio. Let alone in audio mixes with fewer than 6 channels. But IMHO I think that Samsung has not done a good joob in building a proper way to enable a sorround/full mode that diverts/replicate sound from the front/sorround channels to the rears. The "sorround mode" in theory should do the trick, but the reallity ,as I said, that even setting the volume of rears to +6 the sound is almost imperceptible.
Fortunately I have lot of Atmos blu rays , and I can really enjoy the potential of this machine, however without Atmos content I would not recommend this bar at all, as the rears would be almost useless.
I suspect that there is not hardware limitation , as the rears sound very powerful with the right content. But I'm not a sound engineering expert. Then , my question/petition for Samsung would be , Is there any way to provide more power to the rears in non atmos content via a firmware update?
This is indeed a real problem with this soundbar. If you read about the sound modes then 'Surround' mode should create a surround effect which should involve the rear speakers. And with a lot of content it does not do that.
It really does depend on the source I experienced. On Netflix the rears do next to nothing while watching 'Joker' on Rakuten TV created a nice surround soundscape even though not being Atmos. Also if I switch to 'Game mode' when playing PS4 the rears are really loud (sometimes even too loud in comparisant with the front but you can balance the volume with the remote).
It's something I still can't get my head around and I still hope it will be fixed with an update because it sounds like a software problem to me.
Yes, I also think that there must be software solution.
As you mentioned in netflix this issue is very anoying. The rears are completely useless.
For me, the ideal solution would be to enable a fifth sound mode on top of the existing four.
It would be a "5.1" sound model that would work with audio mixes of 6 or fewers channels (5.1 and less) it would do the following:
- For 5.1 audio mixes (the majority of movies/series in streaming services) it would replicate the sorround channel sounds in the rear speakers. This way the sound still would sound very natural without the necesity of any virtual upmixing. Having the sorround souns coming from both the side speakers of the bar and the rear speakers the sound filling effect would be great. And I do not think that it would require great science.
- For 2.1/stereo mixes it would replicate front channel sounds in the rears speakers.
I hope some Samsung engineer might read this :-)
That's exactly the solution!
Knowing Samsung they will just put a mode like that in newer models and keep us hanging. But maybe they will update our system.
I also think it is a Netflix problem because, like I said, my PS4 gives me a super surround experience in game mode. Had some great moments in Days gone where a horde of zombies was chasing me and I heard them coming closer from behind.
And movies from other streaming services (Rakuten TV and Apple TV) also incorporate the rear speakers very well with 5.1 content.
I've started this topic three months ago. And after that time I've have to admit that I've changed my mind. I'm quite happy now with the HW-Q90R performance and the volume from the rears. However, theres are some caveats and explanations needed for those struggling with this issue.
I will always speak about non atmos/DTS:X content. Atmos/DTS:X should be perfect unless there is some technichal issue with the sound bar or configuration/compatibility/technical issue non related to the soundbar. Here I refer to 5.1 sources ,from streaming services (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney +) and from REMUX mkv files played from a Nvidia Shield TV Pro 2019.
My TV is a LG C9 (2019) , with eARC enabled (but this does not make any difference whatsoever for my configuration) and sound out in "passtrough" mode .
First, and foremost, if you want to enjoy the rears in your HW-Q90R to the full of their capacity there is only one option, choose always STANDARD sound mode.
In the beginning I always used SURROUND sound mode, as it seemed to make more sense. The reality is that this sound mode is not really well implemented for a soundbar with rears like the HW-Q90R. The idea about this sound mode is good, sound coming from all the speakers, but there are two big issues:
- Lack of sound placement. All the sound is mixed and it is not coming from the right channels as the director/sound engineer intended .
- Rear speakers are muffled. With this sound mode the rear speakers volume is really low, like a whisper. I do not really know why. I suspect it is because it is a sound mode designed for a sound bar without rears. Anyways, it is really disappointing. Surround sound mode should surround you with sound, and it is not the case, period.
Then , I've changed to ADAPTATIVE. Adaptative is a great sound mode in my opinion specially if your soundbar does not have rears, as it really lift the dialogues. However it does so at the expense of the rears, which are almost non existent.
I found that both Sorround, and Adaptative are good for 2.0 , stereo sources , (I prefer adaptative) , so for example for Youtube are the best sound modes.
I mostly watch series and movies with 5.1 sound track in the evening, and I was about to throw the towel with the bar because the rears were almost useless. But then I started to use STANDARD sound mode. Standard is definitely the Ugly Duckling of the sound mode options, in the beginning it seemed that it was not providing any added value, I was wrong. Standard has a lot of advantages, and one disadvantage.
- First of all, sound is completely natural, it sounds exactly the way intended by the director. The sound placement is perfect. In a 5.1 sound track , the rear speakers will play the rear channel of the sound track. And they will sound loud enough.
- Second, Standard makes good use of the rears. The caveat is that all depends on the source. There is no magic, if the soundtrack has been recorded making an active use of the rears it will sound loud enoug in the hw-q90r . I can tell you about dozens of titles which are really a delight for the ears: Series, such as Stranger Things, Black List, Bosch, Man in the High Castle, etc Movies, such as the majority of Spielberg titles, Tarantino titles, etc. There are others, in which the rears are really pasive, for example "Orange is the New Black" , but it is because the director wants to be this way.
- Only caveat is that Standard sound mode leaves center channel a little bit weak. Ideally I would like to have the center channel sound of the Surround/Adaptative sound mode, and the sound allocation of the Standard sound mode.
However by lifting the center speaker volume you can somewhat tackle this issue. Since I've started to use Standard I'm really happy with the "Sammy" , my family is happy as well as we all enjoy more movies and series.
My volume configuration is the following:
Center top : +6
Rear top: +6
Virtual sound: OFF
I live in a flat, and I play movies/series between 12-18 dB in the afternoon, and between 8-12 dB in the evening. Exceptionally Atmos remux between 18-24 db in the afternoon. Now I think I have finally the sound bar calibrated, and I do not use the soundbar remote anymore.