Soundbars have become the audio upgrade of choice for TVs, letting you enjoy clear, powerful sound for movies, music and more. Samsung and Sonos stand at the pinnacle of premium soundbars, though their approaches differ. If you‘re looking to enhance your home theater with one of these audio giants, this comprehensive comparison will help you decide!
I‘ll be your friendly guide through this soundbar showdown between Samsung and Sonos. We‘ll explore all the key factors from sound quality to design and smart features so you can determine which brand better suits your needs and budget. Let‘s dive in!
Company Histories – Audio Legends
Samsung began in 1938 as a grocery trading company before entering the electronics business in the 1960s. Headquartered in South Korea, Samsung has become synonymous with cutting-edge televisions, smartphones and home appliances. Samsung‘s first soundbar, the HT-Z510, debuted in 2010. Their audio line expanded to encompass budget and premium Dolby Atmos models catering to every home theater.
Sonos was founded much later in 2002 by John MacFarlane and Tom Cullen in California. Dedicated exclusively to audio, Sonos pioneered a new category of wireless multi-room speakers controlled by intuitive apps. Sonos launched their first soundbar, the Playbar, in 2013. Additional products like the Beam, Arc and Sub followed with a focus on delivering pure, immersive sound.
Now, let‘s see how these different origins influence each brand‘s soundbars.
Soundbar Lineups – Bars for Every Budget
Samsung offers an unparalleled variety of soundbars spanning entry-level to premium home theater models:
The 2.1 channel HW-T400 provides thunderous bass courtesy of its wireless subwoofer. With just a soundbar and sub, it‘s an affordable audio upgrade over your TV‘s speakers.
Stepping up to the HW-Q600A gives you dedicated left, right and center channel speakers plus Dolby Atmos height channels in the soundbar itself for a true surround sound experience.
At the premium end, the HW-Q950A is a flagship 11.1.4 channel system with mind-blowing audio immersion. Upfiring rear speakers and four height channels combine with the wireless sub for room-filling Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
Sonos soundbars are more limited but focused on quality over quantity:
The compact Beam soundbar fits easily in your living room while enhancing TV audio with crystal clear sound. For wider rooms, the Playbar‘s nine-speaker design fills the space with deep, rich stereo audio.
Their flagship Arc soundbar adds dedicated upfiring Dolby Atmos speakers to create an enveloping 3D soundstage. A wireless Sub and surround speakers can be added to transform it into a complete 5.1.2 home theater system.
Now that we‘ve seen the lineup options, let‘s compare how they actually sound.
Sound Quality Showdown
When it comes to audio performance, Samsung and Sonos each have their strengths:
Samsung soundbars emphasize a powerful, cinematic audio experience. The dedicated wireless subwoofer and additional woofers in the main soundbar deliver earth-shaking bass you can feel. This low-end heft combined with the wide, layered surround stage gives Samsung bars an incredibly immersive audio experience.
The extra center channel speaker ensures crisp, clear dialogue while Dolby Atmos height channels complete the three-dimensional soundscape. Samsung soundbars bring the thrill of the big screen into your living room!
Sonos soundbars favor pure, accurate audio reproduction. While they lack the chest-thumping bass of Samsung‘s wireless subs, instruments and vocals are crystal clear. The wider mid-range presence gives Sonos bars exceptional detail for music listening.
Dialogue sounds perfectly balanced against other ambient sounds in TV and movies. The Trueplay tuning calibrates the output to sound amazing regardless of positioning. Overall, Sonos soundbars excel at realism over excitement.
Let‘s examine the frequency response charts of Samsung‘s Q950A and Sonos Arc to visualize these audio profiles:
Image credits: RTINGS.com
The Samsung Q950A (blue line) has an emphasis on bass and surround effects that gives it an energetic, immersive character suited for movies. The Sonos Arc (red line) favors mids for realistic reproduction that sounds great for music.
Both deliver awesome performance – just optimized for different uses. Choose Samsung for cinematic thrills or Sonos for musical purity!
Now let‘s explore the factors that enable these distinct audio profiles…
Under the Hood – Sound Technologies Compared
What gives Samsung and Sonos soundbars their powerful yet balanced audio capabilities? Let‘s look under the hood at the drivers, amplifiers and technologies powering these soundbars:
Samsung‘s HW-Q950A utilizes multiple woofers along with its wireless subwoofer to create seismic low-end impact. The dedicated center channel ensures clear voice reproduction. Upfiring drivers bounce sound off your ceiling to create the Dolby Atmos height plane.
The Q950A packs 17 speakers powered by a total 560W of amplification. Samsung‘s proprietary Q-Symphony tech seamlessly integrates the soundbar‘s audio with your compatible Samsung TV‘s speakers for an expanded soundstage.
Sonos Arc houses eleven class-D digital amplifiers powering its elliptical drivers including two upfiring Atmos speakers. The tweeter array produces crisp highs while four mid-woofers ensure rich, detailed mids ideal for music.
Sonos Trueplay tuning allows the Arc to self-calibrate using advanced microphones and DSP for optimized room-filling sound. The lack of a separate subwoofer helps the Arc achieve a compact, unified design.
Both soundbars utilize advanced engineering to achieve phenomenal audio suited for different listening preferences. Samsung gives you cinematic muscle while Sonos provides pure musical fidelity!
Design and Build – Audio Artwork
Beyond sound, aesthetics are important for home theater gear you‘ll showcase in your living room. Let‘s examine how Samsung and Sonos soundbars stack up when it comes to design and build quality:
Samsung soundbars all flaunt a minimalist, rectangular profile in either black or silver. The metal grille gives them an understated yet modern high-tech look. The soundbars effortlessly blend in with your decor while complementing Samsung TVs.
Sonos soundbars like the Arc feature a matching white or black plastic construction with a perforated grille over the speakers. The shorter height and curved edges give Sonos bars a softer, more subtle appearance compared to Samsung‘s angular look.
Both brands construct their soundbars from durable high-quality materials that can withstand everyday use. However, Sonos soundbars tend to be lighter as they lack the heft of Samsung‘s wireless subwoofer.
When wall mounting, Samsung‘s heavier models may requirestud mounts but Sonos‘ lighter soundbars can adhere directly to drywall with the right hardware. Ultimately you can proudly display either as stylish audio centerpieces!
Connectivity and Controls – Smart Sound
Great usability is vital for the best experience. Let‘s examine how easy it is to connect and control Samsung and Sonos soundbars:
Samsung soundbars offer HDMI and optical audio inputs to hook up to your TV‘s ARC port. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth allow wireless music streaming while USB ports enable playback from flash drives.
Initial setup is a breeze with auto audio syncing via HDMI-CEC. The handy remote provides quick access to vital controls. The SmartThings app unlocks deep customization of audio settings like EQ and surround levels.
Sonos soundbars connect to your TV using a single HDMI ARC cable or optical input. Streaming music wirelessly is enabled by Wi-Fi and AirPlay 2 support. To start using them, download the Sonos app for iOS or Android which walks you through the initial configuration.
Trueplay tuning leverages the mobile app‘s microphone to optimize the soundbar‘s output for your room. Without HDMI or a remote, operation is completely dependent on the app. But the app provides a powerful yet intuitive interface for tweaking and playback.
Both solutions make it a breeze to level up your TV‘s audio. Samsung gives you more physical control options while Sonos focuses on app-based simplicity. Choose what fits your preferences!
Now let‘s explore how these different approaches impact compatibility…
Compatibility – Ecosystem Integration
Soundbars don‘t exist in a vacuum. Seamless integration with your other gear impacts the experience. How do Samsung and Sonos fare on this front?
A key advantage of Samsung soundbars is close compatibility with Samsung TVs. Models like the Q950A with Q-Symphony can harmonize with your QLED TV‘s speakers for amplified audio.
Samsung soundbars also integrate beautifully with Alexa devices and other SmartThings gear like robot vacuums. However, the ecosystem mainly centers on Samsung‘s own products unlike Sonos‘ wider interoperability.
Conversely, a Sonos soundbar like the Arc can directly connect over Wi-Fi with other Sonos speakers scattered around your home for whole-home audio. The Sonos app provides unified playback control of all speakers at once or by groups.
Sonos gear works seamlessly with Alexa and Google Assistant devices for expansive voice control. You can even use Sonos speakers as rear surrounds for the soundbar. The flexibility is unparalleled.
Both brands play nicely within their own ecosystems. Samsung brings TVs and soundbars into harmony while Sonos enables expansive whole-home audio. Choose the ecosystem that aligns with your needs!
Value for Money – Price to Performance
With advanced audio technologies, how much value do Samsung and Sonos provide at different price points? Let‘s break it down:
|Samsung HW-Q600A||$400||Great value with Dolby Atmos on a 3.1.2 channel system|
|Sonos Arc||$900||Significant premium but outstanding music playback to justify price|
The Samsung HW-Q600A packs dedicated upfiring drivers for Dolby Atmos 3D surround at just $400. Competitors offering similar Dolby Atmos support cost almost twice as much, making this a stellar value choice.
The Sonos Arc commands a $500 premium over the Q600A yet lacks true Dolby Atmos decoding. However, you pay for the superb music playback, reliable wireless performance and seamless Sonos integration.
Ultimately both deliver great bang for your buck, just catering to different audio preferences. Samsung gives you more affordable access to premium cinema sound while Sonos provides a unified musical solution.
The Final Verdict
So which brand of premium soundbar should you choose? Here‘s a quick summary:
|Key Strength||Immersive cinematic audio||Accurate musical reproduction|
|Good For||Movies, gaming, TV||Music, podcasts, vocals|
|Ecosystem||Integrates with Samsung TVs, SmartThings||Interconnects with other Sonos speakers|
|Value||Affordable pricing for features||Quality commands premium pricing|
Choose Samsung soundbars if you want:
- Heart-pounding, deep bass for action movies
- Panoramic Dolby Atmos and DTS:X
- Voice clarity for TV and dialogue
- Affordable access to premium features
- Integration with Samsung smart TVs
Choose Sonos soundbars if you want:
- Pure, natural audio fidelity
- Crystal clear vocals and mid-range
- Whole-home audio via Sonos ecosystem
- Reliable wireless performance
- AirPlay 2, Alexa and Google Assistant support
Both Samsung and Sonos make excellent soundbars – it ultimately depends on your priorities. As a home theater enthusiast, I‘d go with Samsung for the cinematic audio thrills. But Sonos would be my choice to fill my home with sublime musical sound.
Hopefully this detailed showdown between these two audio titans helps you decide which suits your needs and budget! Let me know if you have any other questions.