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 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 70 TVs in the past two years, 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 TV with the best sound that we've tested is the LG GX OLED. It's a high-end OLED TV designed to sit flush against a wall and comes with a dedicated wall-mount instead of a stand. It delivers excellent picture quality and good sound quality that most people should be happy with.
Its built-in speakers have a good frequency response. It has a well-balanced sound profile that makes dialogue clear, and its bass has some punch to it. It gets loud enough for noisy environments, but there's a good amount of compression and distortion artifacts at its max volume. There's also an LG GX Soundbar that's meant to be combined with this TV and sit flush against the wall. In terms of picture quality, the LG provides an infinite contrast ratio and perfect black uniformity thanks to its OLED panel. It has wide viewing angles, a near-instant response time, and it upscales lower-resolution content without any issues. There's native FreeSync variable refresh rate (VRR) support and has excellent low input lag for gaming.
Sadly, it has the risk of permanent burn-in, just like any OLED TV. This is only a real problem if you constantly watch the same content with static elements, such as the news or if you use it as a computer monitor. However, we don't expect most people who watch varied content to experience this issue. It doesn't get very bright, but if you want to use it in a well-lit room, it has outstanding reflection handling. All in all, this is the TV with the best sound with an OLED panel that we've tested.
If you don't plan on wall-mounting or simply want a cheaper TV that comes with a stand, the LG CX OLED is a great alternative. It performs very similarly to the LG GX OLED, although the built-in speakers are a bit better on the GX. The CX still has a good frequency response and decent 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 has impressive out-of-the-box color accuracy, and 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 GX, but if you want something cheaper, consider the CX.
The TV with the best sound in the LED category that we've tested is the TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED. Its built-in speakers offer the best sound quality out of any TV that we've tested, and it won't break the bank either.
The TCL has a very good frequency response. Even though it doesn't produce a bass that offers any rumble or thump, the sound profile is very well-balanced, it gets loud, and there's hardly any audible compression at its max volume. The distortion performance is great as there's only a minimal amount of distortion at loud volumes. This TV displays an impressive wide color gamut for HDR content and gets bright enough to make highlights pop. The VA panel delivers deep blacks, which is great for viewing content in dark rooms. It has VRR support, but FreeSync doesn't work properly, and we aren't able to confirm if it supports HDMI Forum VRR. It has a quick response time and low input lag, but it's not as low as other gaming TVs.
Unfortunately, the full-array local dimming feature isn't good as there's visible blooming around bright objects. It has narrow viewing angles, which is expected from a VA panel, and it has some uniformity issues, but this may vary between units. The reflection handling is just decent, and it gets very bright, enough to combat glare in well-lit environments. All in all, if you don't want to buy a soundbar, this is a great choice with good speakers.
If you want a TV with better gaming performance, then look into the Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED. It doesn't get as bright as the TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED, and there's more distortion at its max volume. However, it still has a decent frequency response with a well-balanced sound profile. It has native FreeSync support to reduce screen tearing, the input lag is incredibly low, and it has an excellent response time. This TV has a great contrast ratio that's lower than most VA panels because of the 'Ultra Viewing Angle' layer that provides fairly wide viewing angles. Still, the decent local dimming feature helps further deepen any blacks. It has excellent out-of-the-box color accuracy, it displays a wide color gamut, and it gets bright enough in HDR to bring out highlights.
If you simply want the TV with the best sound, the TCL provides good overall performance and doesn't cost much, but if you want a better overall TV with more gaming features, go with the Samsung.
The TV with the best sound in the budget category that we've tested is the Samsung TU8000. One of two entry-level TVs in Samsung's 2020 lineup, it offers good picture quality with some nice features for a budget-friendly model.
The frequency response is decent. The sound profile is good enough to hear dialogue properly, but it doesn't get very loud and doesn't produce much of a bass. There's almost no distortion at moderate listening levels, but it gets more noticeable at its max volume. In terms of picture quality, it has an outstanding native contrast, remarkable black uniformity, and decent out-of-the-box color accuracy. It removes judder from 24p sources, interpolates motion up to 60fps, and upscales lower-resolution content well. Gamers should appreciate the fairly quick response time and really low input lag.
Unfortunately, HDR content doesn't look good on it. It fails to display a wide color gamut for HDR content and doesn't get bright enough to bring out highlights. It's best to avoid well-lit environments because it doesn't get very bright, and reflection handling is just okay. If you want to use it as a PC monitor, it displays proper chroma 4:4:4, which is important for reading text. If you want to save some money, this is the best TV for sound quality that you can get.
10/20/2020: Replaced the LG E9 OLED with the LG GX; replaced the Hisense H9G with the TCL 6 Series 2020 and placed it as the 'Best LED' with the Q80T as an alternative; replaced the Hisense H8G with the Samsung TU8000.
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.
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.