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Best TVs for sound

By Ben Stockton

From screechy soundtracks to muffled dialogue, we’ve heard it all. If you want a great TV experience without needing a sound bar, check out this round-up of the best sounding sets.

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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.

Only logged-in Which? members can view our recommendations in the table below. If you’re not yet a member, you can get instant access by taking a £1 trial to Which?.

Best TVs for sound

Lowest price (in stock) £1,489.00
Which? score 80%
Reviewed Jun 2017
Picture quality:
4 out of 5
Sound quality:
5 out of 5
Ease of use:
5 out of 5
Screen size:
Member exclusive
Curved:
Member exclusive
Resolution type:
Member exclusive

As the highest rated TV of 2017, it's no surprise to see this excellent OLED on this list as well. It nails sound, as well as picture quality, and is truly one of the most desirable TVs around right now.

Lowest price (in stock) £1,248.00
Which? score 76%
Reviewed Jun 2017
Picture quality:
4 out of 5
Sound quality:
5 out of 5
Ease of use:
4 out of 5
Screen size:
Member exclusive
Curved:
Member exclusive
Resolution type:
Member exclusive

A 49-inch screen that impresses across the board, but really ticks the boxes for sound, as one of the best we've put through the labs in recent years.

Lowest price (in stock) £2,498.98
Which? score 75%
Reviewed Jun 2017
Picture quality:
4 out of 5
Sound quality:
5 out of 5
Ease of use:
3 out of 5
Screen size:
Member exclusive
Curved:
Member exclusive
Resolution type:
Member exclusive

It's arguably the best TV we've heard in a long time. To match the stunning picture quality, you get crystal clear audio with an unrivalled richness. This is one wish-list TV worth splashing out on.

Lowest price (in stock) £1,299.00
Which? score 74%
Reviewed Aug 2017
Picture quality:
4 out of 5
Sound quality:
5 out of 5
Ease of use:
4 out of 5
Screen size:
Member exclusive
Curved:
Member exclusive
Resolution type:
Member exclusive

If you're after a 65-inch set, this is one of the more affordable options that doesn't compromise on quality. Sound is superb, it's easy to use and has also offers a decent picture.

Lowest price (in stock) £849.00
Which? score 74%
Reviewed May 2017
Picture quality:
4 out of 5
Sound quality:
5 out of 5
Ease of use:
4 out of 5
Screen size:
Member exclusive
Curved:
Member exclusive
Resolution type:
Member exclusive

Great sounding TVs tend to be expensive, but this is a more affordable model that still gets top marks for audio, and matches it with a great picture, especially in 4K.

Pricing, recommendations and test scores correct as of November 2017.

Not found the set for you? Browse all of our TV reviews

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

Lowest price (not in stock) £479.00
Which? score 52%
Reviewed Sep 2017
Picture quality:
4 out of 5
Sound quality:
1 out of 5
Ease of use:
3 out of 5
Screen size:
Member exclusive
Curved:
Member exclusive
Resolution type:
Member exclusive

It's less common to see truly awful sound on larger screens, but this is an exception. Picture quality is actually pretty good on this 55-inch TV, but audio is so poor it compromises the whole experience.

Lowest price (in stock) £199.00
Which? score 42%
Reviewed Aug 2017
Picture quality:
3 out of 5
Sound quality:
1 out of 5
Ease of use:
4 out of 5
Screen size:
Member exclusive
Curved:
Member exclusive
Resolution type:
Member exclusive

Another popular comes a cropper in the sound stakes with this screen, and poor motion handling means it's a bit of a dud all round. The result - a dreaded Don't Buy.

Lowest price (in stock) £198.00
Which? score 40%
Reviewed Jun 2017
Picture quality:
3 out of 5
Sound quality:
1 out of 5
Ease of use:
4 out of 5
Screen size:
Member exclusive
Curved:
Member exclusive
Resolution type:
Member exclusive

A rare don't buy from this brand, whose poor efforts at this smaller 32-inch screen size are really underlined by the dreadful sound. Picture quality isn't much better either, though.

Pricing, recommendations and test scores correct as of November 2017.

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 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 put the best and worst TVs, sound bars, surround sound systems and hi-fis through the same sound-quality test to find out whether it’s ever worth buying an additional sound system.

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.

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