Best TVs for sound
By Martin Pratt
There’s more to a TV than picture quality. And we believe you shouldn’t need to buy a sound bar or surround sound system to get a great experience from your brand new TV.
Perhaps you don’t have room for a sound bar or simply don’t want to spend yet more money after buying a new TV. Here, we round up the TVs that not only have the best sound quality, but also still deliver the same great picture and easy-to-use smart-TV platform as all of our Best Buy sets.
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Best TVs for sound
And here are three TVs to avoid
TV sound quality varies wildly, and modern flatscreen TVs have a poor reputation when judged against their boxy CRT predecessors. But recent years have seen some TVs deliver quality sound despite their ultra-thin profile. That said, poor-sounding TVs are still easy to find – here are some of the worst we’ve seen in the Which? test lab.
TVs with poor sound
As long as people still want a TV for their kitchen or bedroom there will always be a demand for 24-inch TVs, but a small screen doesn't excuse low quality. The sound is horrendous and in motion, the picture is a blurry mess.
Should I buy a sound bar or surround sound system?
If your TV sounds great on its own, is there really any point splashing out on a surround sound system, too? Logic tells us that a sound bar – something specifically designed for sound – should sound better than a TV, which has many other functions. But that isn’t always the case.
We found that a TV rated five stars for sound quality will actually sound worse when hooked up to a one-star sound bar. But if you’re looking to take your TV experience to the next level, the best sound bars will always improve TV sound quality.
The graph below shows the results of our tests. We asked our listening panel to score each five-star product out of 10, using the same tracks on each.
Interestingly, the hi-fi system we tested blew the sound bar out of the water. So if you already have a decent hi-fi in your living room, you’re best off simply connecting it to your TV.
While our listening panel didn’t prefer the sound of the home cinema surround sound system, it of course has a unique selling point: true surround sound. But keep in mind that well-balanced, crisp and detailed sound is what matters most, regardless of what type of system you’re using.
So unless you particularly value the idea of sound effects coming from all directions, you can save money (and space) by repurposing your hi-fi system or going for a sound bar. For more help deciding which is best for you, check out our sound bar vs home cinema and surround systems guide.