Picture quality has historically always 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 the first priority when choosing a TV. 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 in the action. 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 intelligible dialog. If, however, you want the best sound to accompany your great TV, we suggest that you buy a dedicated sound system or a soundbar (see our recommendations for the best soundbars).
The LG E8 OLED is the TV with the best sound we've tested so far. It's a TV that can get fairly loud thanks to its dedicated soundbar. It delivers a good amount of body and punch to its bass, but the sub-bass doesn't resemble a movie theater experience as there's no thump or rumble. On the upside, the TV delivers clear and understandable dialog even at higher volumes, which is great for large rooms.
Its picture quality is excellent. Watching movies in a dark room is a remarkable experience thanks to its perfect blacks. It displays HDR content full of rich, saturated colors and highlights that pop, thanks to the wide color gamut and good HDR peak brightness. It has a nearly instantaneous response time and motion looks crisp with very little blur trail. It has very good gray uniformity and wide viewing angles so you can watch the big game with your friends without worrying who'll sit on the side. If you're a gamer, you'll enjoy the very low input lag for a responsive gaming experience.
However, this TV has the risk of temporary image retention and permanent burn-in, just like all OLED TVs. It's unlikely that this will be an issue for most people who watch normal, varied content. Overall, it's a remarkable TV with very good sound quality.
If you like the performance of the LG E8 OLED but want a less expensive TV without making too many compromises on sound and no compromises on picture quality, then get the LG C8 OLED. This TV doesn't have the premium design of the E8 or the LG E9 OLED, and there's no dedicated soundbar. However, this is a remarkable TV with excellent picture quality. Its stand is designed to direct sound out of the front towards the viewer, and the overall sound quality is decent. It can get fairly loud and delivers clear and well-balanced dialog. Just like most TVs, it doesn't have good sub-bass, so it won't have the thump or rumble found in movies and video game effects.
If you want the absolute best, get the LG E8; otherwise, the LG C8 is a great alternative with a less premium design that won't break the bank.
If you find that you're too concerned about the burn-in risk of the OLEDs and want the best sounding LED TV, then get the Samsung Q80/Q80R QLED. This TV can get fairly loud, good enough for most uses. It has decent punch and body to its bass but won't deliver any thump or rumble in the sub-bass region. It's well-balanced and will deliver clear and understandable dialog. Regarding its performance, this TV has a great picture quality with deep blacks in a dark room, thanks to the high native contrast ratio and great local dimming support. HDR looks excellent thanks to the wide color gamut and excellent HDR peak brightness.
Motion handling is also excellent, thanks to the very fast response time which leaves just a tiny blur trail behind fast-moving content. The input lag is extremely low, and the TV is packed with gaming features that will please even the most demanding gamers. It has decent viewing angles, much better than most VA panel TVs, thanks to Samsung's 'Ultra Viewing Angle' technology that enhances the viewing angles at the expense of contrast ratio.
Overall, this is an excellent TV with decent sound and excellent performance in most uses.
If you want to save some cash over the Samsung Q80/Q80R QLED but still want an excellent TV with decent sound quality, then get the Vizio P Series Quantum X 2019. It doesn't have FreeSync support or the other gaming features found on the Samsung, and the viewing angles aren't as good. It is, however, an excellent TV with great picture quality and deep blacks in a dark room. Motion looks crisp and the input lag is very low. It has decent overall sound quality and can get very loud, but just like most TVs, it can't produce much thump or rumble in its bass.
Overall, for the best sounding LED TV, get the Samsung; however, if you don't mind missing some of the gaming features, the Vizio is a pretty good alternative that'll save you some cash.
The best sounding TV in the budget category is the Samsung RU7100. You won't get the perfect blacks you'll get on an OLED, or the brightness you'll find on LEDs. This is a good TV overall, with decent picture quality. It has a high native contrast ratio and can deliver deep blacks in a dark room, but lacks a local dimming feature to further improve the quality. It can't get very bright and it's more suitable for an average lit room. It has a remarkably low input lag, great for gaming, but motion isn't as crisp as on higher-end models which might disappoint sports fans. This TV has decent sound quality, can get fairly loud, and will be okay for most uses. Unfortunately, just like most TVs, it lacks thump or rumble in the sub-bass range and a bit of punch and body to its bass. On the upside, dialog is well-balanced and clear.
Unfortunately, this TV has poor viewing angles and you have to sit straight in front to enjoy the most accurate picture, so it isn't your best choice for watching the big game with a group of friends.
Overall, it's a good TV for most uses and delivers decent sound quality.
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 with their sound performance. 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.
10/31/2019: Replaced Vizio P Series Quantum 2018 with Vizio P Series Quantum X 2019, the Samsung NU6900 with the Samsung RU7100, and made changes to text for clarity.