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Best TVs for sound

By Martin Pratt

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, try Which? to get instant access.

Best TVs for sound

81%
£1,799.00
Reviewed

This 55-inch TV exudes class. The picture is stunning and the sound is expansive. Your room is filled with rich audio and the whole thing is a dream to use. It's the best TV of 2020.

First month only £5, then £9.99 per month, cancel any time
72%
£599.00
Reviewed

This 49-inch marvel is one of the cheaper Best Buys that comes close to matching some of the top-tier OLEDs and QLEDs from 2020. There's very little this excellent set does wrong.

First month only £5, then £9.99 per month, cancel any time
71%
£1,499.00
Reviewed

This 55 incher sounds spectacular and has some of the best 4K picture quality around.

First month only £5, then £9.99 per month, cancel any time
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

49%
£350.00
Reviewed

This 32-inch TV is short on features and short on quality. In fairness to it, the HD picture quality is quite good, but the audio is atrocious.

First month only £5, then £9.99 per month, cancel any time
49%
£279.00
Reviewed

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.

First month only £5, then £9.99 per month, cancel any time

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 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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