Picture quality has historically been the most important characteristic of a TV. It doesn't matter if you're a movie enthusiast or a sports fan; image quality is usually your first priority. However, no home entertainment system can deliver an extraordinary experience without proper sound quality. Just like in a movie theater or a stadium, sound plays an important role in immersing the audience. Although TVs don't have the most complete sound systems, there has been significant progress in that area. Modern TVs can get loud, have decent bass, and deliver clear and understandable dialogue. If, however, you want a TV with the best sound, we suggest that you buy a dedicated sound system or a soundbar (see our recommendations for the best soundbars).
We've tested more than 265 TVs, and below are our recommendations for the TVs with the best sound you can buy. Make sure to check out recommendations for the best TVs, the best outdoor TVs, and the best smart TVs.
The LG E9 OLED is the TV with best sound that we've tested so far. It can get fairly loud thanks to its embedded soundbar and deliver a decent amount of body and punch to its bass. However, there's no thump or rumble, so it can't deliver a movie theater experience. Dialogue, however, is clear and understandable even at higher volumes, which is great for open spaces.
Like all OLEDs, it has excellent picture quality with wide viewing angles. It delivers perfect blacks in a dark room, so watching movies is a remarkable experience. HDR content is displayed full of rich, saturated colors and highlights that pop, thanks to the wide color gamut and decent HDR peak brightness. Motion handling is excellent thanks to the nearly instantaneous response time, and gamers should appreciate the remarkably low input lag and support for HDMI Forum variable refresh rate (VRR) for nearly tear-free gaming experiences.
Unfortunately, just like all OLEDs, this TV has the risk of permanent burn-in. It's unlikely that this will be an issue for most people who watch normal, varied content. On the upside, thee TV is equipped with support for HDMI 2.1, which currently doesn't add much but makes the TV future-proof. Overall, it's a remarkable TV that delivers excellent performance and good sound quality.
If you prefer a TV with a much better out-of-the-box color accuracy to avoid getting it calibrated, the LG CX OLED is a great alternative. It performs very similarly to the LG E9 OLED, although the built-in speaker is a bit better on the E9. The CX still has a good frequency response and okay distortion performance, so it's good enough for watching TV shows. Like most OLED TVs, it has an infinite contrast ratio, perfect black uniformity, and very wide viewing angles. Even though it doesn't get bright enough to combat glare, it has outstanding reflection handling if you want to place it in a bright room. It's also future-proof, as it has four HDMI 2.1 slots, allowing it to display 4k @ 120Hz.
If you want the best sounding OLED TV that we've tested, you can't go wrong with the E9, but if out-of-the-box color accuracy is important to you, consider the CX.
The best sounding LED TV that we've tested so far is the Samsung Q80T QLED. It's an impressive overall TV that doesn't have the burn-in risk associated with the OLEDs, and it should please people for most uses.
It has a decent frequency response, better than any other Samsung TV we've tested. Its bass gets low enough for some rumble, it produces clear dialogue, and it can get fairly loud. It also has a room correction feature that adjusts the sound according to the room's acoustics. This TV delivers a great overall picture quality with its great wide color gamut, excellent out-of-the-box color accuracy, and very good brightness. It has a VA panel that's able to display deep blacks, but not as deep as other VAs since it has an 'Ultra Viewing Angle' layer to improve its viewing angles. Luckily, it has a full-array local dimming feature that further deepens any blacks.
Unfortunately, it has some uniformity issues as the corners of the screen appear darker, but this could vary from unit to unit. If you're a gamer, you should be happy to know it has an excellent response time, VRR support, and incredibly low input lag. Overall, this TV is a great choice for any use, making it the LED TV with the best sound we've tested so far.
If you find the Samsung Q80T QLED too expensive, then consider the Hisense H9G. It's a TV that also includes a VA panel that can produce deep and inky blacks and gets bright enough to deliver a stunning HDR experience. It has a fast response time, low input lag, but sadly, no FreeSync support. Its viewing angles are sub-par, so it isn't ideal if you have a seating arrangement that requires you to view from the side. Also, its out-of-the-box color accuracy is mediocre and might need calibration to get the best viewing experience. The frequency response of its internal speakers is decent and fairly well-balanced. Dialogues sound clear, but it's a bit light on bass, which means that you won't get that deep rumbling sound. It gets very loud, and there's very little compression when playing near max volume; however, there's some distortion.
Overall, if you want the best sound quality, go with the Samsung. However, if you're shopping on a smaller budget and you don't mind a few minor compromises, the Hisense is a great alternative.
The best TV for sound quality in the budget category is the Hisense H8G. Even with its wallet-friendly price, this TV performs well enough to compete with more expensive TVs in the mid to high-end range. Like its bigger brother, the Hisense H9G, it sports a VA panel with an excellent contrast ratio. Blacks look deep, and it gets even better with the help of its full-array local dimming. It overcomes glare easily in bright lighting conditions, and its reflection handling is decent. Sadly, it has sub-par viewing angles, so it isn't the most ideal for wide seating areas.
This TV's internal speakers sound okay. It's reasonably well-balanced, and there's a hefty amount of bass. That said, there isn't enough bass extension to produce that thumping, room-shaking sound. It gets very loud and is well-suited for large or noisy environments, but there's a fair amount of compression and distortion when playing near max volume.
Response time is good, and there's also an optional Black Frame Insertion feature to improve motion clarity. Input lag is extremely low if you want to game on it or use it as a PC monitor, and it can display chroma 4:4:4 properly. It runs on Android TV, so you get access to the immense Google Play Store and voice control through the Google Assistant, which you can use to control other compatible smart devices that you have. All in all, this is a feature-rich TV that punches well above its weight.
08/21/2020: Replaced Vizio P Series Quantum 2019 with Hisense H9G, replaced Samsung RU7100 with Hisense H8G.
06/23/2020: Replaced the Samsung Q80R with the Q80T, the Vizio P Series Quantum X 2019 with the Quantum 2019, and the LG C9 with the CX. Updated notable mentions.
04/24/2020: Minor text and structure changes; no change in recommendations.
01/06/2020: Replaced the LG E8 OLED with the LG E9 OLED and the LG C8 OLED with the LG C9 OLED.
10/31/2019: Replaced Vizio P Series Quantum 2018 with Vizio P Series Quantum X 2019 and the Samsung NU6900 with the Samsung RU7100.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best sounding TVs to buy for most people with different tastes. We factor in the price (a cheaper TV wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), and availability (no TVs that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here is the list of all our reviews of TVs. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. While no TV is perfect, most TVs are great enough to please almost everyone, and the differences are often not noticeable unless you really look for them. Keep in mind that no TV can deliver the sound quality of a dedicated sound system or a soundbar.