Best TVs for sound quality – Which? test lab round-up [updated]

A recent survey of Which? members showed that nine in 10 people count sound quality as an important factor when considering buying a new TV. So why is finding a set with great sound quality such a challenge?

The main reason is space. As TVs have become thinner and thinner, it has become harder for manufacturers to insert speakers large enough to deliver good sound. Sometimes sound processing software inside the TV can partly make up for this, but it’s a tall order. Adding a sound bar, or hooking your TV up to hi-fi speakers, can improve things but if you just want a TV with good sound supplied, we’ve picked out the best models for sound quality from our latest tests below.

Click through for the full reviews of each TV on the links below, or see our Best Buy TVs to find an all-round great model. Though sound’s important it’s not everything and our TV tests look at every aspect of how you’ll use your TV.

Under £500 – Samsung UE40ES5500

40-inch LED

This TV is from Samsung’s mid-range selection and shows hints of the style, and a few of the features, of its high-end LEDs. We found sound quality to be suprisingly good for such a slim TV.

The built-in speakers cope well across the whole frequency range, and even if the bass is a bit flabby and the high-end slightly tizzy, there’s plenty of clarity and detail.

Full Samsung UE40ES5500 review – find out if the picture quality could match up to make this model a Best Buy.

Under £800 – Samsung UE40ES68000

40-inch LED

This TV is the full package on paper. A top-end model from Samsung with a Full-HD 1080p screen and smart, and 3D TV features. As with the ES5500 above, this model impressed us for sound despite it’s slimline nature.

It delivers a big sound with plenty of high-quality bass, a smooth tone with great detail and clarity, though the sound at the high-end can be a bit harsh. There’s a wide stereo sound and nice dynamics.

Full Samsung UE40ES6800 review – find out how this TV rates for picture quality and its smart TV features.

Under £1,500 – LG 47LM860

47-inch LED

If you’re looking for a premium TV experience this 47-inch LG could well be on your list. It has an almost frameless design and a full-HD screen, as well as 3D and smart TV features.

It produces better than average sound – the tone as a whole is very likeable, with lots of high-frequency detail and good dynamics. The low end can be a little unrefined and thumpy but overall for such a thin TV the effect is not bad.

Full LG47LM860 review – if you plan to spend this much on a TV, make sure you know if it makes it as a Best Buy.

Under £2,000 – Loewe Connect ID 40 DR+

40-inch LED

This Loewe TV costs a packet, so can it live up to the picture and sound quality you’d expect for this price? Well, we found the sound to be good quality and it sounds natural too. It has good detail, definition and clarity on all the tracks we tested it on.

This 40-inch TV is a smart TV and you can watch in 3D if you wish. It also has a handy built-in PVR feature with 500GB of storage and a choice of Freeview and Freesat HD tuners.

Full Loewe Connect ID 40 DR+ review – was the sound the best thing about this TV? Find out here.

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14 replies

  1. Come on, we know that these TV’s are for better, bigger pictures. Mind you, some don’t even give you that over the old CRT! The ‘thin’ sound only comes from a thin box and as far as I’m concerned, if you buy a flat screen, a handful of proper speakers and an amp aren’t far behind! Although I’d get the TV last.

  2. The sound quality on most new TV models is very poor . I connected my Panasonic in the kitchen to the Bose Radio, huge improvement, and bought a soundbar for the livingroom…..again a vast improvement, but it added to the overall cost ot the TV. For me the soundquality is as important as the picture….if not more so !

  3. I recently bought a Sharp TV for the bedroom and was amazed at the poor quality of the sound. I used some PC speakers powered from the USB slot to give me a better sound. It’s a shame that the sound is so awful when other things about the TV (the picture, the connectivity etc.) are really quite impressive.

  4. It’s a real shame that most people won’t experience the excellent sound quality of the broadcast. If you splash out on a decent TV and stump up for an HD source, it’s almost criminal not to connect the TV (or eg Sky box) to a decent surround-sound system. Even just a simple amp and 2 decent speakers will leave many people amazed at the sound quality they’ve been missing. So, for me, I don’t bother at all about TV sound quality – it’s pretty much dictated by the laws of physics and the penalty for super-slim TVs

    1. It’s amazing how many people just do *not* seem to “get it” that there is a need for reasonable audio output right from a television set. There are several reasons for this:
      1) some people’s budgets do not allow for a full up surround sound (SS) system
      2) a separate stereo SS setup requires a significant amount of power
      3) SS is not necessary for many shows (news, etc., and it’s nice to listen without wasting power)
      4) one should be able to listen to one’s TV without paying extra to do so

      I use my surround sound system when watching action movies (BluRay or broadcast), some sporting events, etc., but 90% of the time it’s not needed and I don’t like to use up 200 watts+ to just watch the news. There’s a place for audiophile quality sound but it’s definitely *not* always necessary and, in my opinion, I’m buying a TV that should have excellent video characteristics and adequate audio capability… there’s nothing wrong with that attitude.

  5. Hi everyone..Tilly, I agree about the importance of sound quality!

    My own tv isn’t too bad compared with some (it’s a 3-4 year old non-superslim LCD), but when I’m watching a programme closely (instead of as ‘background’) I’ll direct the sound to my hi-fi and the sound is transformed! It really makes a difference for me when watching a football match, for example. Much more enjoyable!

  6. I picked up cheap ‘computer’ speakers by Logitech in a supermarket and plugged then into the headphone socket on a Samsung 22 in LED tv. The improvement is amazing for such small speakers, but the extra wires are a problem.

  7. My Sony has Dolby Virtual Surround sound built in. This is very good at distances of about 2 metres, but after that all sound distribution and emphasis is lost. Most new TVs today do not appear to be able to produce decent sound unless virtualised. Small speakers in slim TVs need this to be effective to give sound depth. Otherwise, best connect up any TV to an external Amp and for decent surround sound.

  8. yup can’t believe companies are producing televisions where sound is a second class citizen. So now I have to go fork out hundreds of dollars for just a screen to view a show. AND then another 100-??? dollars so I can hear it. And then if I want to stream something that’s another device I have to buy and integrate. Its exhausting and clearly a nickel and dime you to death situation.

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