It doesn’t take long to get up and running with the Samsung HW-Q700B soundbar, but to ensure the best sound there are a few simple rules to follow. Soundbars go a long way to simplifying the dream of cinematic sound in the home. While an AV receiver and full complement of loudspeakers require quite a commitment in time and space, soundbars are refreshingly plug-and-play.
First up, to avoid any early frustration, ensure you connect the bar to your TV correctly over HDMI. Sounds obvious, but unless you choose the right HDMI input on your TV, which is the one marked 'ARC' or 'eARC', you’ll be left cursing. That’s because this Audio Return Channel routes sound out of the TV (be it from the broadcast tuner, streaming app or connected device) into the bar for playback.
Depending on your make of TV, you may then need to delve into the audio settings to instruct the TV to switch on the HW-Q700B automatically. The soundbar will confirm the connection by displaying ‘TV ARC’ on its LED display.
Think about positioning
Take care with placement too. Don’t put it in a cabinet or on the lower shelf of a racking system. This particular design utilises up-firing speakers for Dolby Atmos height duties, which requires a clear line of travel to your ceiling in order to deliver their reflected ambience.
Pairing the wireless subwoofer to the soundbar is simple enough – but the sub holds the key to the overall integrity of the soundstage. You may well be tempted to position the subwoofer out of sight. Perhaps your significant other doesn’t appreciate its boxy beauty, and would prefer to located it behind the sofa? After all, it’s wireless, right? But this would be a mistake.
A soundbar subwoofer is best placed left or right of your TV, just a few inches from the bar itself. That’s because subwoofers are localisable, and with soundbars in particular, carry a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to frequency range. Move the sub too far from the screen and it’ll sound as if your HW-Q700B is disconnected from any onscreen action.
Know your modes
The HW-Q700B also offers a variety of preset sound modes: Standard, Adaptive Sound, Surround and Game. The Standard setting is a good everyday option, but there’s a catch. When in Standard mode, the soundbar’s processor upscales 5.1 surround-sound sources to an Atmos-mimicking 3.1.2 channels, but any stereo source remains two-channel. The remaining modes – Adaptive, Surround and Game – all upscale stereo sources to 3.1.2 as well, making full use of the available speaker drivers. The result is a bigger, more fulsome sound.
This makes it a little awkward if you always want the biggest sound – it might be best to switch it to Adaptive or Surround and keep it there for general viewing (depending on which sound profile you prefer when trying them). Or you could keep it in Standard and just switch to another if you're watching a movie that's only in stereo – after all, you don't necessarily need the effect of Dolby Atmos for watching a cooking show…
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Steve has been writing about AV and home cinema since the dawn of time, or more accurately, since the glory days of VHS and Betamax. He has strong opinions on the latest TV technology, Hi-Fi and Blu-ray/media players, and likes nothing better than to crank up his ludicrously powerful home theatre system to binge-watch TV shows.