Top sound for your screen: The best TV speakers of 2024

No matter how heroic your screen, every TV needs a trusty sidekick for next-level sound.

some of the best tv speakers

by Chris Duffill |
Updated on

Hunting down the best speakers can be something of a minefield, and that's before you even get into the best TV speakers category. A browse through the pages of online stores can seem like inspecting a rogues gallery instead of a line-up of audio superheroes. And this is made worse by the plethora of soundbars on the market; many of which are actually low-fi compared to the 4K 65-inch televisions they end up perched under.

Sometimes all you want are some of the best TV speakers for the job without having to invest in a bulky amp plus speakers setup. And, while a few TVs can have unpowered (passive) speakers attached to them, here we’re talking about active speakers. In other words, they’re powered and amplified independently from the television. They’re often soundbars – space-saving alternatives to needing a large separate AV amplifier; although there are complete home cinema systems here too – a great match for 50-inch or larger screens, like some of the best 75-inch TVs.

Best TV speakers at a glance:

• Best overall: MAJORITY Everest 5.1 Dolby Audio Surround Sound System with Sound Bar – View at Amazon
• Best budget: Majority K2 Sound Bar with Subwoofer – View at Argos
• Best premium: Sony HT-A5000 premium 5.1.2 channel Dolby Atmos Soundbar – View at Argos
• Best smart: Bose Smart Soundbar 600 Dolby Atmos with Alexa Built-In – View at Amazon

For us, a good TV speaker will be able to connect to your TV (normally via optical or HDMI cables) and output the sound of whatever you’re watching. They can also have other auxiliary inputs for other pieces of equipment. Many soundbars can even switch between video sources for you – handy for those with a console or Blu-ray player. As simple as this sounds, you still have some choices to make. That’s where we come in.

You’ll probably have ideas already on size and style – whether that’s a compact soundbar or a surround system with a separate subwoofer. You'll also need to look at connectivity, as some older TVs may not have HDMI ports with ARC (an Audio Return Channel). And lastly, you'll need to decide on how big you want your sound to go in terms of volume, bass and surround features. We’ve put together a buyer’s guide with more details at the end of the article, but first – here’s our pick of the best TV speakers for truly heroic sound to suit all budgets.

The best TV speakers

All prices are correct at the time of writing. Prices, stock and deals are subject to change without notice.

Best overall

This Everest 5.1 surround sound system is another piece of kit at the pinnacle of Majority's mountain of home entertainment tech. So, given some of the high-end and highly-priced options on our list, why have we chosen the Majority Everest as our best overall TV speaker? Well, that's due to the fact that this is a supreme example of a product that gets the balance right between affordability, performance and build quality. Remember, this is a full 5.1 surround sound system with Dolby Audio – and all for under £300 right now. It's a shame that it's not Dolby Atmos, but that's reflected in the price.

The soundbar has HDMI ARC so you can connect this directly to the TV and whatever else the TV has plugged into it in terms of audio. The subwoofer connects to the bar wirelessly, so you'll have plenty of choice over placement. But, for us, the real plus here is the flexibility of being able to detach the two satellite surround speakers from the main soundbar and place them wherever you like. They charge up for up to 8 hours of wireless playback while docked, so effectively you're getting the ability to turn a 3.1 setup into a 5.1 setup at will – with no extra wires to worry about.

Pros

  • Amazing flexibility
  • Competent sound thanks to Dolby Audio
  • Plenty of connections via Bluetooth, line-in, and RCA ports

Cons

  • Not as loud as more premium products
  • Design:
    4.0
  • Build:
    4.5
  • Features:
    4.5
  • Value for money:
    5.0
Speakers:Everest Soundbar, Subwoofer, 2 x Surround Speakers
Connections:Optical, AUX, USB, HDMI Arc, RCA, Bluetooth
Wall mountableYes
Power: 300w
Weight:Soundbar: 5.83 kg
Dimensions:Soundbar: 90x9.8x6.5cm. Sub: 20cm x 20cm x 25cm
Extra features:Wireless subwoofer, Dolby Audio, remote control, detachable satellite speakers

Best budget

Majority K2 Sound Bar with SubwooferMajority

Majority has a knack for making audio kits that are well-attuned to what UK consumers want. The K2 Sound Bar with Subwoofer is another great example of an ideal price matched with solid essential functionality.

This one comes with a capable separate subwoofer to shore up the 150 watts from the bar itself. The sub connects wirelessly via Bluetooth, limiting cable clutter. We do wish it had a little more power, but the only other soundbar that comes close to this one in terms of bang for your budget is the Denon DHT-S216 soundbar that we reviewed recently – it's a little more expensive and doesn't come with a subwoofer, but you do get the Denon brand if you're a fan.

That said, the Majority K2 does have more than just the additional subwoofer to lean on. There are plenty of extra inputs in the back panel: HDMI ARC, optical, Auxillary and USB. The handy remote lets you switch between inputs and all of the usual controls you'd expect. This is one of the best TV speakers you can buy for such a low price, and it performs admirably – outshining the budget label by quite a stretch.

Pros

  • Compact size compares to others
  • Excellent value for money
  • Wireless subwoofer

Cons

  • Low cost does mean compromising on power and bass range
  • Design:
    3.5
  • Build:
    4.0
  • Features:
    3.5
  • Value for money:
    5.0
Speakers:Two internal stereo speakers, plus sub
Connections:RCA, Bluetooth, Auxiliary, USB, HDMI
Wall mountable:Yes
Power: Speaker bar RMS output: 65 watts.<br>Subwoofer RMS output: 85 watts.
Weight:Soundbar: 4.9 kg Sub: 2.96kg
Dimensions:Soundbar: 76.2 x 5.3 x 6.9 cm. Sub: 19.7 x 19.7 x 28 cm
Extra features:Wall mountable bar, built in FM radio

Best premium

Sony is just one of the premium electronics brands to embrace the move towards compact high-quality soundbars, like the HT-A5000. If this Sony isn't the best fit for your TV, our experts have also picked some of the best TV soundbars to choose from.

Meanwhile, this surround powerhouse uses Sony's considerable technical wizardry to create a full 5.1 soundscape that also has Dolby Atmos and DTS . That's quite an achievement for any soundbar. You can even add an optional compatible wireless subwoofer and rear wireless speakers. Our only nit-pick is the lack of physical bass or treble controls, but - as with many premium systems these days – they're so well tuned to the Dolby standard it would be a minor travesty to tweak bass and treble using something as blunt as a knob on the back.

Sony amps up the tech specs with its Vertical Surround Engine technology and Sound Field Optimisation which measures your room and tunes the sound accordingly. Two integral subwoofers carry an astonishing amount of bass through them too. If you want to hook this up to a Blu-ray player and the like, the addition of 4K and 8K 120FPS passthrough technology (including Dolby Vision support) will make for fewer cables and an altogether neater solution. Bluetooth, a remote control and voice control compatibility make this a must-have and truly elevate it to one of the best TV speakers we've seen.

Pros

  • Sony build quality
  • Seriously clever Sony tech inside
  • HDMI 4K / 8K passthrough

Cons

  • Built-in sub-woofers are good, but not as good as a separate unit
  • Design:
    4.5
  • Build:
    4.5
  • Features:
    5.0
  • Value for money:
    3.5
Speakers:Passive Radiators 2 x 1.8 x 4.3", High-Frequency Drivers 3 x 0.6" / 16 mm Front-Firing Tweeter. Full-Range Drivers 2 x 1.8 x 2.1" / 46 x 54 mm Up-Firing. Dual subwoofer
Connections:Bluetooth, Wifi, Optical port, USB port, 2 HDMI ports (one HDMI eARC)
Wall mountable:Yes
Power: 450W
Weight:6.1 kg
Dimensions:1210 X 67 X 140mm
Extra features:Dolby Atmos / DTS:X; optical input, Bluetooth, S-Force PRO, Vertical Surround Engine, Dolby Speaker Virtual, Dolby Surround, Neural:X

Best smart

Amazon/Bose

There's nothing quite like that musical Bose soundstage, not to mention the reassuringly solid Bose build quality. This soundbar is quite like no other. Not only is it paired up with those small but super-powerful surround speakers that the brand is so famous for, but it's also an uncluttered system that doesn't need a separate subwoofer and associated cables to strut its considerably powerful stuff. And that power is further enhanced with Dolby Atmos capability, for an enhanced 3D soundscape filled with precisely-placed sound effects.

The Bose Soundbar 600 is front and centre, designed to sit unassumingly below your TV. There's a custom eight-microphone array for picking up your Alexa vocal commands and integrated music services like Spotify, Amazon Music and Audible. Integration with the Bose Music App is a welcome feature that many fans of the brand will be familiar with for tweaking settings.

We would have liked to have seen a little more bass from this, but it's more than adequate – and an optional Bose bass unit is available for those who want to rattle the roof. Bluetooth and Apple Airplay 2 compatibility means streaming your music will be just as effortless as turning on the TV itself. Add to that the included remote, and you have the epitome of understated class-leading power in your living room.

Pros

  • Incredible Bose sound including Dolby Atmos for 3D audio immersion
  • Solid and sleek design and build
  • Alexa voice control built-in and Bose Music App compatible

Cons

  • Heavy bass fans may still want the optional Bose subwoofer
  • Design:
    5.0
  • Build:
    4.5
  • Features:
    4.5
  • Value for money:
    4.0
Speakers:5x full-range transducers. Bass reflex enclosure
Connections:HDMI eARC, Optical, ADAPTiQ input, Ethernet, WiFi, Bluetooth
Wall mountable:Yes
Power: Not specified
Weight:3.13kg
Dimensions:61 x 69.4 x 10.4cm (HxWxD)
Extra features:Custom mic array, Bose Music App control, Apple Airplay 2

Best surround

Sony HT-S40R - 5.1ch Soundbar with Subwoofer and Wireless Rear Speakers
Price: $448.99

If you're all about getting that all-immersive surround sound experience but don't want to go down the separate amplifier route, this Sony HT-S40R system is for you. This expertly strikes a balance between trademark Sony sound quality and discreet design that won't distract the eye away from your screen.

The real beauty of this system is the power. Not only is the soundbar one of the best here for clarity and quality of sound, but the standalone subwoofer is also capable of some room-trembling levels of bass.

And the power considerations don't stop there. Unlike the Majority model at the top of the page, the two rear surround speakers are literally amped up for more volume and range. Yes, there's a separate amplifier just for the surround speakers; And this means dedicated power and wireless connection to the soundbar. So, you can have true 5.1 sound without cables trailing from the back to the front of your room. That said, we wish the connection between that amp and the rear speakers was also wireless for a neater setup. But, Sony does know a thing or two about what makes great TV sound, so you can expect this to be one of the very best systems from this top TV and speaker brand.

Pros

  • Seriously clever surround experience
  • Independently powered rear speakers
  • Great layout flexibility as rear surround speakers connect wirelessly

Cons

  • Requires rear speaker cabling to the independent amp
  • Design:
    4.5
  • Build:
    4.5
  • Features:
    4.5
  • Value for money:
    4.5
Speakers:3ch soundbar, subwoofer and two wireless rear speakers
ConnectionsUSB port, Bluetooth, HDMI ARC, Optical, Analogue
Wall mountable:Yes (soundbar)
Power:600w
Weight:14.02kg (whole system)
Dimensions:Soundbar: 900 x 52 x 74.5 mm
Extra features:Dolby audio. Cinema, Music, Voice and Night modes. Separate wireless amp for rear speakers. Playback from USB

Best for music

KEF has made the leap into wireless stereo excellence with this versatile twin-speaker set. With a simple yet sophisticated design and build, the LS50s scream high-end quality. Yes, there are no subwoofer or satellite speakers to be found, but the scale and quality of sound are what counts here – particularly with music in mind.

As you might expect, these are Active speakers, so no amp is required. Just connect the TV via the HDMI ARC or optical port. After that, a true spacial stereo effect is at your fingertips. These are your perfect multiroom and streaming music partners – whether that's for watching concerts or smart TV music apps or the welcome integration with Amazon Music, Spotify, Apple Music and many more. Inside, KEF's Uni-Q speaker tech has been paired with its Metamaterial Absorption Technology. This eliminates 99% of unwanted noise from the rear of the driver, resulting in a more natural sound. And last but not least, these pump out 380 watts per speaker.

The price tag isn't to be taken lightly but is a reflection of the performance and sound engineering that's gone into them. An HDMI ARC port makes for a neater setup with a TV; ideal for those who watch concerts on the big screen. If that's you, you're in for an exceptional musical experience.

Pros

  • The sound quality is nothing short of incredible
  • Amazing design and build
  • Supports more streaming services than we've ever seen in one unit

Cons

  • Very heavy bass lovers may still want a subwoofer
  • Design:
    5.0
  • Build:
    5.0
  • Features:
    5.0
  • Value for money:
    3.5
Speakers:1x 25mm tweeter, 1x 130mm mid/low; 40Hz – 47kHz range
Connections:HDMI eARC/ TOSLINK Optical/ Digital Coaxial/ Analog 3.5mm Auxiliary, Ethernet, WiFi, Bluetooth
Wall mountable:Yes
Power: 380 watts per speaker. 108dB
Weight:7.2 kg
Dimensions:30.5 x 20 x 31.1cm
Extra features:Bluetooth, Wifi, LAN, optional floor stands

Best floor-standing

Monitor Audio excel at making speakers that marry refined looks with audiophile levels of function and performance. The company's Bronze range package takes our top spot when it comes to floor-standing TV speaker setups. The Bronze 200 speakers bring some stature and floor resonance to your TV screen. As a package with the centre, surround and sub, these are affordable and viable both for the serious home cinema fan or audiophile on a budget.

So, we hear you ask, what makes these 'TV speakers'? Strictly speaking, the Bronze 200s are not explicitly designed to plug and play with a TV. As floor-standing speakers go, you have two choices: choose a single system from one manufacturer that includes floor-standing speakers, or go for better quality speakers and buy a separate amplifier to drive them. The latter, while more expensive, is best for sound quality. For speakers that would make your TV sound absolutely cinematic, these Monitor Audio Bronze 200s take some beating.

This bundle is an incredible deal right now – it includes two floor-standing Bronze 200 speakers, two FX 6G surround speakers, a C150 centre speaker, and a W10 6G subwoofer. If you're up to connecting your TV to an AV amplifier, by getting this bundle you're investing in superbly-balanced and focused sound. The 220-watt sub is going to complement the front floor standers perfectly.

Pros

  • Amazing audiophile-level experience
  • Solid cabinets for the best sound
  • They look seriously good with a choice of finishes

Cons

  • Not a great option for smaller rooms
  • Design:
    5.0
  • Build:
    4.5
  • Features:
    4.5
  • Value for money:
    4.0
Speakers:Bronze 200: 2 x 51/2" C-CAM midbass driver. 1 x 25 mm C-CAM Gold Dome tweeter with UD Waveguide. 8 ohms. 35 - 30,000 hz<br>C150: 2 x 51/2" C-CAM mid-range driver. 1 x 25 mm C-CAM Gold Dome tweeter with UD Waveguide. 8 ohms. 66 – 30,000 Hz <br>FX 6G: 1 x 51/2" C-CAM mid-range driver. 2 x 25 mm C-CAM Gold Dome tweeter with UD Waveguide. 8 ohms. 74 – 30,000 Hz <br>W10 6G: 1 x 250 mm (10") C-CAM subwoofer driver featuring a 2" long-throw voice coil. 20 kOhms input impedance
ConnectionsStandard speaker terminals
Wall mountable:No <br>Rear C150 speakers: yes
Power:Bronze 200: 120 W 88 dB<br>C150: 120 W 88 dB <br>FX 6G: 80w 86db<br>W10 6G: 220w
Weight:Bronze 200: 12.8 kg<br>C150: 7 kg<br>FX 6G: 3.9 kg<br>W10 6G: 13.4 kg
Dimensions:Bronze 200: 166 x 886 x 265mm<br>C150: 166 x 451 x 225 mm<br>FX 6G: 287 x 284 x 124 mm<br>W10 6G: 366.5 x 321 x 364 mm
Extra features:Bronze 200 / C150 / FX 6G: Bi-wireable, Audio transparent bespoke cloth-covered magnetic grilles <br>W10 6G: Long-throw 10" (250 mm) driver featuring ‘dished’ C-CAM

Best bookshelf

The Edifier R1280DBs really do look like bookshelf speakers, ideal for bringing a loungey hi-fi feel to your TV setup. They deliver punchy audio performance for a small-to-medium-sized room. Ample volume and pleasing sonic detail come thanks to the 4-inch bass driver and 0.5-inch tweeter.

Unusually for the world of bookshelf speakers, the tone can be manually adjusted using the treble and bass EQ controls – but we do wish this had made it onto the remote control too. Volume is controlled by the onboard control or the remote.

Once again, being active speakers, they don't require an external amplifier. So, with all the required cables included, wiring this up to your TV will be child's play. The Edifier R1280DBs speakers are well worth considering no matter your budget, as the flexibility of plenty of connection ports and their bookshelf size are more than worth it – especially at this price.

Pros

  • Very well engineered with sophisticated looks
  • Side panel with manual control knobs
  • Excellent bass

Cons

  • Included cables are a little cheap
  • Design:
    4.5
  • Build:
    4.5
  • Value for money:
    5.0
  • Extra features:
    4.5
Speakers: 4" (100mm) cone woofer, 0.5" (13mm) dome tweeter. 85dB. 75Hz-18kHz. 8 Ohms
Connections:WiFi, Bluetooth, Sub-out, Dual RCA, Optical, Coaxial
Wall mountable:Not specified
Power:21W+21W RMS
Weight:4.9kg
Dimensions (HxWxD): 234 x 146 x 196mm (9.2 x 5.7 x 7.7 in)
Extra features:Wif

Best compact

Unlike the model from the same brand that we mentioned earlier, this simply-named Bose TV Speaker carries most of the benefits but takes up even less space. For those who just like a less cluttered TV setup or those without room for a subwoofer or surround sound speakers, this is more than ideal.

If you're a Bose fan and like the simple life, you could pair this up with some Bose headphones for discreet light-time listening. But, as speakers go, this is as discreet as you'd want it to be for the best sound.

The key feature here lies in the engineering of the sound, which is balanced to favour vocal clarity. So, if you've been sitting around watching your TV and wondering why the scene sounds like a mash of mumbling, this Bose has been designed for you. Plug it into the TV via the HDMI or optical port and you'll be all set. The added remote just brings that essential functionality to your fingertips, and to top it all you have that stellar signature Bose sound quality to look forward to.

Pros

  • Bose sound engineering
  • Compact and solid design
  • Excellent bass and a mode for vocal clarity

Cons

  • Hard to find fault with a Bose at this price
  • Design:
    5.0
  • Build:
    4.5
  • Features:
    4.0
  • Value for money:
    5.0
Speakers:Bose TV Soundbar
Connections:HDMI ARC, Optical in, AUX in, Bluetooth
Wall mountable:Yes
Power: Not specified
Weight:‎1.95 kg
Dimensions:59.4 cm x 5.6 cm x 10.2 cm
Extra features:Remote control, enhanced dialogue
  • Customer review: "Wow! I have done a huge amount of research into soundbars around the price of this one and finally took the plunge and ordered this one. I read a lot of reviews and was a little worried that it might not make enough improvement to my SONY tv to warrant the price. How wrong I was to be worried! I could not be happier with it.

    "I built a garden room of 5m x 5m and I didn't want loads of wires everywhere so I Went for this more compact speaker. The difference is like chalk and cheese, I have no problem in recommending this soundbar, for the price, I could not be happier with the quality and the sound!"

Best for gaming

With the Z906 system, Logitech has presented gamers with the sort of surround sound system they'd normally see on a PC rig. And why not? With the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 doubling as hubs for streaming movies and TV shows, you can apply the benefits of a 5.1 surround system for more than just multiplayer sessions with your friends.

It's also THX, Dolby and DTS certified – which is astonishing for a complete system at this price point. If you're on a tighter budget, we've rounded up some of the best gaming speakers under £100, but for the rest of us, this Logitech is going to be a serious upgrade. 1000 watts of peak power and a 165-watt subwoofer are controlled via a very well-designed control unit with multiple inputs. So, if you have multiple consoles and devices there are up to six ways to hook them up. They've even thrown in a Bluetooth audio adapter, so you have even more connection options.

Our team here at What's The Best would have preferred these to have a softer cosmetic look for those who want to game in the living room, but gamers themselves are sure to love them the way they are. Be prepared to wake the neighbours as you lose yourself in the gaming world of your choice, in full surround sound.

Pros

  • Complete surround system
  • DTX, Dolby and THX certification
  • Powerful sound to enhance every game

Cons

  • You'll need a fairly large desk to spread these out for best effect
  • Design:
    4.5
  • Build:
    4.5
  • Features:
    5.0
  • Value for money:
    4.0
Speakers:Subwoofer, x5 Satellites
Connections:2 digital optical inputs, Digital coaxial input, Six-channel direct input, RCA input, 3.5 mm input
Wall mountable:Not specified
Power: 500 watts (RMS)
Weight:16.619 kg
Dimensions:(package) H:43.82 cm x W:43.10 cm x D:38.40 cm
Extra features:THX, Dolby &amp; DTS Certified

Best high-end

Samsung

It's certainly true that you can spend much more than this on speakers for your television. But then again, that's probably going to mean investing in a more traditional set of components – starting with a rather pricey home cinema amplifier. But even if you're not looking to fit big sound into a small space, this Q990C soundbar system from Samsung has a seriously cool card up its sleeve: 22-speaker Dolby Atmos surround sound.

Yes, you read that right – 22 speakers, that deliver astonishing eleven-point-one-point-four surround sound. It does this feat of audio engineering using, amongst other tricks, up-firing speakers that create overhead immersion. In addition, several angled speakers in the soundbar and the rear surround speakers project sound in precise tunnels to create that 11.1.4 channel surround sound effect.

You have HDMI ARC and other connectivity options, but we particularly love the Bluetooth option as Dolby Atmos over wireless is a neat, clutter-free trick and a half. There are also neat extras like Q-Symphony for teaming up with your Samsung TV's speakers; Alexa and Apple Airplay, and also SpaceFit Sound Pro which optimises the sound to suit your room. While we're not huge fans of the very angular exterior design, Samsung has given us a premium TV sound experience with a real wow factor.

Pros

  • Revolutionary 11.1.4ch surround system
  • Dolby Atmos and DTS:X
  • Alexa built-in

Cons

  • The shark angled design may not suit everyone
  • Design:
    4.0
  • Build:
    5.0
  • Features:
    5.0
  • Value for money:
    4.0
SpeakersSoundbar with dedicated built-in centre speaker, Rear Speakers and Subwoofer - 22 in total
ConnectionsBluetooth, WiFi, HDMI ARC, Optical
Wall mountableYes (soundbar)
Power656w (soundbar)
Weight:22.77 kg (complete package)
Dimensions:(package) 10 x 254 x 10 cm
Extra features:11.1.4ch Surround Sound, Q-Symphony, 3D Object Tracking Surround Sound System With Wireless Dolby Atmos DTS:X &amp; Alexa Built-In, Active Voice Amplifier

How to choose the best TV speakers for you

Decide on how much sound you want

We're not just talking about sheer volume here, although that will depend partly on the size and number of speakers you're looking at. We're also thinking about the bass and overall performance – including surround sound. While many soundbars can do an excellent job of stimulating a surround experience, nothing is better than an array of physical speakers dotted around your room. While that may suit many cinephiles with deeper pockets, others may just want a competent bookshelf speaker set for their TV, or a soundbar.

Plan your connections

There’s no point in opting for that neat little soundbar if you can’t plug anything into it. Actually, that’s not true – if you only want it to connect to your TV, it’ll work just fine. But for everyone else, you might want a system with Bluetooth for easy connections with your other devices. Consider an optical input for a CD player, or a 3.5mm jack for that old MP3 player you have lying around.

Lastly, and by no means least, if you have more than one piece of AV kit to hook up to your TV you’ll want to make sure your chosen speakers have at least two HDMI inputs. You could then switch between those inputs without needing to reach for the TV remote. Tally up your connections and buy accordingly.

Measure up for placement

Soundbars have a habit of being able to fit underneath most TVs. If your television is wall mounted, you’ll have nowhere to sit your soundbar, or non-freestanding speakers for that matter. So, if you’re concerned that your first choice of best TV speaker won’t fit, measure up. If you need to wall mount them to match your wall-mounted TV, that’s a great option all around, as solid wall mounting provides excellent sound isolation.

Beware of too much bling

Many cut-price speakers, and even some with higher price tags, are actually all about flashy looks; The cheap internals hidden inside over-stylised casings, with LEDs and plastic-chrome details to boot. All of our expert picks above have avoided the swamp of straight-to-landfill speaker tech and honed in on quality brands and solid performance. As with so much gadgetry these days, it’s a case of all that glitters…

Listen first, ask questions later

In an age of distance buying via the web, the days of in-store demonstrations would seem to have come and gone. But, if you literally shop around, you can still find showrooms where you can try these things out. If not, perhaps you have a friend who has a similar, speaker system that you can put through its paces. Perhaps the best option though is to buy from a store that supports easy returns if you’re not satisfied with the sound. After all, audio reviews and tech specs aside, there is no substitute for listening to the best TV speakers in person.

a tv speaker soundbar
You don't need a full sound system to get decent audio with a great soundbar ©Chris Duffill/What's The Best

Speaker jargon-buster

The best TV speakers come with more than their fair share of jargon. Many of our recommendations here are soundbars that don’t require an encyclopaedic knowledge of impedance and wattage. But, here are some of the most common terms you’ll come across.

Active speakers

Unlike passive speakers that have no active power or amplifier circuitry, active speakers do. This means that you can hook up any sound source directly to the speakers, usually via an auxiliary input connection; such as an audio jack or twin phono plugs in the case of speakers for a record player. In the case of a TV speaker, audio from the television is commonly passed to the soundbar via HDMI or an optical port. For connected devices like Bluray players, audio is passed to the active speakers along with the picture information which is then passed on to the TV.

HDMI ARC

ARC stands for ‘Audio Return Channel’. This is basically an HDMI connection that will feed sound information from your television to your TV speaker or soundbar. And that includes other devices attached to your TV, like Bluray players. All of this means you can easily listen to various audio sources without needing a separate AV amplifier and lots of extra cabling. In this regard, your HDMI ARC-enabled TV speaker becomes an efficiently wired hub for your connected kit.

Watt

Wattage in regard to sound output and speaker power is a measure of the strength of the audio signal that drives the speaker. A 100w amplifier will have a maximum output of that many watts and a speaker that is rated for a range of, say, 80w-120w, will be able to handle that power input. The wattage between the speaker and amp needs to be compatible to avoid potentially damaging both.

Decibels

Sound is measured in decibels (dBs). While it's an accepted measure of volume, it doesn’t correlate with wattage. More wattage doesn’t necessarily mean bigger or better volume, or quality for that matter. Usually, manufacturers specify the amount of dBs that a speaker can produce with a single watt of power at a 1-metre distance.

Drivers

A driver is a device inside any speaker, be it wired headphones or an external speaker, that converts electrical signals into sound. So it follows, that larger drivers tend to be able to deliver a more powerful sound with greater accuracy. That said, this isn’t always the case as build material quality also plays an important role.

Tweeters

A speaker has two basic component types: a woofer and a tweeter. A tweeter is responsible for producing high-frequency sounds. They're often a dome shape and may even be independently positionable.

Woofers

A woofer is part of the speaker that produces low-frequency sounds. You'll commonly see these described by the width of the cone – in inches or centimetres. This will also give you a slight indication of how much range and power they may have.

Frequency Range

This is a measurement, in Hertz (Hz) of the range of frequencies a speaker can reproduce. Our ears can perceive 20-20,000 Hz, with the lower number being a lower tone and vice versa.

best speaker setup options
REMEMBER – MOST BOOKSHELF SPEAKERS CAN BE MOUNTED ON STANDS FOR A FLOOR-STANDING SETUP ©GETTY IMAGES

FAQs

Are TV speakers good enough?

Even the thinnest and lightest of televisions can house some of the best TV speakers ever made. As speaker technology has become slimmer, lighter and ever more powerful, different manufacturers still have very different approaches when it comes to sound quality. Depending on budget, your TV might have a fantastic QLED or OLED screen, but that panel might also account for nine-tenths of the budget. Sound is often left by the wayside. Other, more premium brands, will emphasise their sound tech as part of the television’s specification. Either way, depending on how serious you are about audio, you’ll need to fire up your TV, play your favourite content and judge for yourself. In our experience, there are very few TVs out there that won’t benefit at some level from additional speakers.

What are the best external speakers for TV?

Again, this is highly subjective. What’s great for some might be totally lacking in bass or have muddy dialogue for another. Everyone’s hearing is different, so it makes sense to try before you buy or read reviews from trusted sources.

Who makes the best TV speakers?

Here at What’s The Best. we’re huge fans of Sony when it comes to the best TV speakers. Partly because they really do understand what television viewers need from their audio – unsurprising given the range of impressive TVs they release every year; but also because they’re so good at it. The Sony HT-A5000 TV speaker above is a great example. But if you’re not a Sony fan, we recently reviewed the Denon soundbar which also impressed us on a number of levels. Ultimately, choose from any of our recommendations above and you won’t go wrong.

What are the best TV speakers for a small room?

Small rooms place a couple of demands on your speaker choice. Firstly, as you’d expect, they need to fit. A 5.1 system with monolithic floor-standing speakers, a centre speaker and a subwoofer might look great on paper, but make your modestly-sized living room feel like it’s been shrunk in the wash. Having crammed everything in, you might also find the sound is just too big for the space. Secondly, go too small and you risk poor quality, thin sound. So, find a happy medium. Larger cones typically sound better and louder than smaller ones, so work out what size you can live with and choose a recommended well-reviewed brand.

What are the best TV speakers for dialogue?

In the case of a full surround system, the centre speaker is often a dedicated dialogue channel – although other sounds will emanate from it too. They’re built to reproduce vocal frequencies with clarity, so dialogue through one of these will really pop. As for others, like soundbars, many of these will favour dialogue too - but how good this really comes down to the number of speaker units inside the bar itself.

What are the best TV speakers for music?

If you’re looking to do more listening through your TV via apps like Spotify, a pair of active speakers is the way to go. You might also be using Bluetooth to connect a mobile device to your speaker for streaming music from the internet. Either way, it’s worth mentioning that the best TV speakers can handle music clarity similar to an actual hi-fi system. But, many others will be more attuned to general listening, TV shows and movies. For that reason, TV speakers tend to be great all-rounders. But if you’re serious about music, even a little, you should look at some of the best hi-fi systems on offer instead.

What are the best TV speakers for the hard of hearing?

TV speakers and those with hearing impairments are a tricky pairing to get right. It’s easy to think of extra TV speakers as extra volume, which is what you need – isn’t it? Well, not really. What you need is clarity. For this reason, choose a speaker that is well renowned for clear dialogue as that’s often what those who are hard of hearing miss out on the most. An excellent example here is the SIMOLIO Digital Wireless TV Speakers for the Hard of Hearing.

Also, it should be said that a TV's internal and external speakers shouldn’t be pushed to unsafe or uncomfortable volumes for others. For that reason, we recommend that you pair a good, clear TV speaker with your prescribed hearing aids.

How we chose these products

We selected our pick of the best TV speakers based on reliable and trusted brands, average user reviews, price, and suitability for each use case. We look carefully at the technical specifications of all products before we recommend them to ensure that they will meet buyers' needs without requiring modifications or costly additions to function as intended. With TV speakers, our main focus is on sound quality, build quality, overall design and connectivity options. Our writers also choose products based on hands-on experience where we own or have reviewed them ourselves. Retailers are selected based on price, availability and reputation as reliable and trusted sellers.

Chris Duffill is a Senior Tech Writer and Reviewer for What's The Best. His background includes writing, editorial, marketing, design, video production and photography.

He specialises in home entertainment and audiovisual tech, including speakers, amplifiers, turntables, streaming media players, and TVs. He is also one of our resident experts in computing (PCs, tablets, smartphones, smartwatches), DSLR photography and all kinds of digital cameras. He also writes about retro gaming, game consoles and various electronic gadgets. If it plugs in, lights up or makes a noise, he’ll write about it.

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