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Technology.

3 August 2021

Best TVs for sound

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.
Martin Pratt
Watching-TV-LCD LED advice

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

  • 78%
    £1299.00

    This excellent TV creates room filling sound that's perfectly balanced so whatever you like to watch you can be sure it will sound superb.

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  • 76%
    £2079.00

    The special sound processing tech on this TV means it really feels like it's coming from specific parts of the screen. It's impressive and rich.

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  • 72%
    £2699.00

    Comfortably one of the best sounding TVs around. It does an excellent job with stereo separation and it feels expansive. Its HDR use is exemplary, too.

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

And here's one 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%
    £298.00

    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.

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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? A sound bar – something specifically designed for the best audio– 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.

Head to our top five sound bars guide to see which do the best job of upgrading your TV audio.

How we test: To ensure our TV sound quality tests are fair, we use a precision sound level meter to tune every model to the exact same volume.

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.

We asked our listening panel to score each five-star product out of 10, using the same tracks on each, and the results were surprising.

  • Five-star TV - 3.3 out 10
  • Five-star home cinema system - 5.3 out of 10
  • Five-star sound bar - 5.7 out of 10
  • Five star micro hi-fi - 7.8 out of 10

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.