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 the TV with 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 80 TVs in the past few 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 flat against a wall and comes with a dedicated wall mount instead of a stand. There's also an LG GX soundbar that's meant to be combined with this TV and sits flush against the wall. The TV 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. 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 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, like 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 that we've tested with an OLED panel.
If you want to save some money, then look into the LG CX OLED. It's extremely similar to the LG GX OLED, and the main difference is how they're built. While the GX is meant to flush against the wall and LG sells an accompanying soundbar separately, the CX comes with a stand, but it still shouldn't stick out much when wall-mounted. It has a good frequency response with decent bass. It gets loud, but you may notice some distortion performance at its max volume. In terms of picture quality, it's nearly exactly like GX with an infinite contrast ratio, wide viewing angles, decent peak brightness, and outstanding reflection handling. It has all of the same gaming features and a near-instant response time, but you may notice some stutter with lower-frame rate content. If that bothers you, it removes judder from any source and has a motion interpolation feature.
If you want the best TV for sound quality, you should be happy with the GX, but if you want to save some money and get something cheaper, look into the CX.
If you prefer LED TVs, the best TV for sound quality is the TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED. The built-in speakers have a well-balanced sound profile with clear dialogue, and they get nice and loud. While the bass is just okay, and the speakers don't really get low enough to produce a booming bass sound, the TV still has one of the best frequency responses we've tested. There's very little compression at higher volumes and almost no distortion, which is great.
Aside from having good-sounding speakers, the TV has a lot to offer at a price that won't break the bank. It has a fantastic contrast ratio, so it can produce deep blacks, and it also gets bright enough to combat glare in most lighting conditions. It has an impressively wide color gamut for HDR content and high peak brightness that should make HDR content pop. Its response time is great as well, resulting in smooth motion during fast-moving content. It supports VRR, but unfortunately, FreeSync doesn't work properly.
It also has narrow viewing angles, but that's expected of a VA panel. The local dimming feature also leaves a lot to be desired, as it results in noticeable blooming around bright objects. Despite its flaws, this is a very good flagship TV from TCL with features and specs you'd expect to find on much more expensive models. If you're looking to go without a dedicated sound system, this is the TV with the best sound that we've tested.
If you want a TV that performs better for gaming, check out the Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED. It doesn't have as high a contrast ratio as the TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED, and its speakers aren't as good with more distortion, but it has an HDMI 2.1 port for the latest consoles and can support a 4k @ 120Hz signal. Unlike the TCL, it supports FreeSync VRR without issues, and it has a slightly faster response time, resulting in less motion blur. Unfortunately, its local dimming doesn't perform well in 'Game Mode', and HDR looks dimmer too. On the upside, it has wider viewing angles than the TCL thanks to Samsung's 'Ultra Viewing Angle' layer, which improves viewing angles at the expense of contrast.
If you want the TV with the best sound quality and a higher contrast ratio, go with the TCL, but if you want the latest gaming features, the Samsung is a good alternative that still has decent sound.
The TV with best sound in the budget category that we've tested is the Samsung TU7000. It's an entry-level 4k TV that surprisingly has decent built-in speakers, and it won't cost you too much either. In terms of its speakers, it has a decent frequency response with a well-balanced sound profile, and there isn't much distortion, even at loud listening levels.
It's a simple TV with decent picture quality and performs best in dark rooms. It has a VA panel with an excellent native contrast ratio that displays deep blacks, and the black uniformity is outstanding. However, it lacks a local dimming feature to further deepen any blacks. It upscales lower-resolution content, so it's a good choice for watching DVDs or cable TV. If you want to connect a receiver, it has eARC support, and it can accept Dolby Atmos via TrueHD signals, which is a great addition to a budget-friendly option. Lastly, the built-in Tizen OS is easy to use, with a ton of apps available.
Unfortunately, it doesn't get bright, so it's not an ideal choice for use in well-lit rooms. It also fails to display a wide color gamut and doesn't get bright enough in HDR to make highlights stand out, so HDR content doesn't look all that different from SDR. It also has narrow viewing angles, so you lose image accuracy when viewed from the side. Regardless of these small issues, the Samsung is the TV with best sound that you can get at a low cost.
Apr 16, 2021: Added Samsung Q80/Q80A QLED to Notable Mentions.
Feb 16, 2021: Updated text for clarity; updated Notable Mentions to reflect market availability.
Dec 18, 2020: Replaced the Samsung TU8000 with the Samsung TU8000.
Oct 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.
Aug 21, 2020: Replaced Vizio P Series Quantum 2019 with Hisense H9G, replaced Samsung RU7100 with Hisense H8G.
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, sorted by their sound quality. 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.