Sound features to consider when buying a new TV

Sound quality a deal breaker when it comes to buying a new TV? Check out our guide...

27 Apr 2014

Sound quality matters when buying a TV, with consumer champion Which? finding 90% of people view it as an important factor.

Check out these tips for finding a TV that meets your audio expectations.  

Dolby Digital Plus

This is a feature you'll find on many new TVs. It's worth looking out for as it does much to improve your sound quality.

If your TV is hooked up to a surround-sound system you can enjoy movies and shows as the director intended up to 7.1 (more on this later). 

Movies and TV shows are streamed in 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus from services including Netflix and YouView, while many Blu-ray titles are shot in it.

Even without a home cinema set up, Dolby Digital Plus will enhance your TV's sound.

Caleb Denison at Digital Trends said: "To this day, Dolby Digital 5.1 is considered by many to be the surround sound standard, and is included on most Blu-ray discs."

Built-in TV speakers

Sony Bravia X9Look out for TVs with front-facing speakers. Back in the day all TVs came with front facing speakers, but as TVs have got thinner so have speakers. Sony included front-facing speakers in its X9 TVs last year and also its 2014 flagship range.  

A reviewer at What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision said the speaker arrangement in Sony's 65X9005 "produces an impressive stereo image with separation, organisation, clarity and detail aplenty" and "doesn't sound tinny, bright or boxy".

Andy Clough at What Hi-Fi? praised the sound in Sony's 2014 flagship TV - the 55W955B. 

He said it has "a 'wedge' design that creates a larger cabinet volume so they can fit an extra tweeter in to help improve the sound quality". 


Sony 2014 sets have Football Mode for boosting audio 

If you're buying a new TV to watch this summer's international football, then you may be interested in a special audio feature of a number of Sony's 2014 TVs - Football Mode. 

Sony says the speakers on relevant TVs are able to separate the natural ambient sound of the stadium and crowd from the commentary. 

As Andy Clough explains: "Football Mode changes the sound processing to emphasise the sound coming from the crowd."

Sony says Football Mode "also enhances enjoyment of other sports like rugby, tennis or motorsport".Samsung F6400

Samsung TVs

Reviewers at Which? hailed the sound on a number of 2013 Samsung TVs in a top five TVs for sound quality feature. They said the UE55F6400 offers "well-balanced sound that brings audio energy and dynamism to your television and film viewing" while the UE46F6200 was hailed for giving off a "powerful swell of sound".

Dilen Thakrar, senior product manager - TV, Samsung Electronics UK Ltd, said: "Samsung prides itself on creating TVs that offer consumers an immersive viewing experience - drawing viewers into the action. A key part of creating this  experience is ensuring that the TVs offer consumers a pure, clear sound that gives a great balance between the bass and high notes.

"Part of how Samsung ensures its TVs give consumers the best quality audio experience, is pre-setting the TV audio modes to give optimal base and treble settings. This ensures viewers not only get a balanced sound but one they can also adjust for themselves to suit their needs." 

Why sound quality is sometimes an issue...

As TVs have got increasingly slim there has been less free space for big speakers. Back in the age of CRT TVs, manufacturers were able to make TVs with large speakers whereas now they have much less space to play with.

Andy Clough, editor-in-chief at What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision, explains: "With so much focus on picture quality these days, sound is often overlooked - yet it is an essential ingredient of the viewing experience."

However, Which? said "sound quality standards are improving" in modern flatscreen TVs.

Many people beef up their set's audio performance with home cinema or a soundbar, but if that's not an option for you it's worth looking at TVs praised for their audio performance. 

After reading this article, you should be armed with the necessary info to pick out a TV with sound quality to suit your viewing style.

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