Why Are TV Speakers So Disappointing?

Since contemporary TV designs prioritize thinness and minimalism, audio components have become something of an afterthought. The majority of modern televisions have speakers that fire downward or backward and are much too small to provide a powerful sound. Investing in a soundbar is the solution that is both the least expensive and the easiest to implement.

It’s unfortunate that the same can’t be said about the sound quality of modern televisions because the picture quality is better than it’s ever been. The question now is, how did we get to this point, and how much money will it take to remedy the problem?

Rarely do speakers in contemporary televisions point forward.

If you take a close look at most televisions, you can immediately identify the source of the subpar sound. Because of the trend in the industry toward designs with lower bezels and thinner profiles, most new designs do not provide space for front-facing speakers. If you can’t see any speakers (or the grille that covers the speakers), then the speakers aren’t aimed in your direction.

Instead, producers rely on speakers that emit sound in a downward direction from the base of the panel or in a backward direction from the back of the television set. Because of this, the sound will first reflect off of your entertainment center or the wall behind your TV before it reaches you, which offers a wide variety of new factors.

When it comes to speakers that fire downward, the distance that separates your television and the entertainment device can have a significant impact on the sound. In the event that you do not have an entertainment unit and have instead put your television on the wall, the sound will instead be directed downward toward the floor.

The sound will be muffled by the use of soft furniture. If your downward-firing speakers are shooting straight towards the bed or carpet, the fabric will absorb a significant amount of the sound, preventing it from ever reaching you. The same is true if your rear-firing speakers are hitting a curtain. You can utilize this effect to your advantage to lessen reverb, although it is not optimal for a lot of modern TV speaker configurations. [Case in point:] [Case in point:]

When it comes to sound, you can get an idea of which TVs sound the best out of the box by using the RTINGS Table Tool to rank TVs by frequency response and distortion levels. This will give you an idea of which TVs offer the best sound quality. Keep in mind that the measurement of frequency response and the quality of sound as it is experienced are two very separate things. When all you have to go on is a list of specifications, it’s difficult to tell if the product will live up to your expectations.

The Speakers on TVs Are Too Diminutive to Produce a Big Sound

The clarity of the sound you hear can be greatly diminished if the speakers are positioned so that they do not immediately face you; however, the size of the speakers that are included in the majority of models is also a source of frustration. This is especially obvious in the absence of a bass response, which necessitates the use of more powerful sub-woofers in order to have an effect.

The sound produced by larger speakers is typically described as “bigger,” whereas the sound produced by smaller speakers is frequently described as “tinny” and lacking in depth and roundness. You are left with an audio experience that is lacking in clarity because the speakers aren’t facing you, and that also lacks impact because there isn’t enough room for speakers that produce an impactful bass response. All of these things are factors in the disappointing end result, leaving you with an audio experience that lacks clarity and impact.

Even if your TV had superior bass, you might still experience another problem, which is rattling from the chassis of the TV. This provides still another challenge for manufacturers, the resolution of which would call for the utilization of components of a better quality, resulting in an increase in cost. Even though the TV ships with pretty small speakers to begin with, the website What Hi-Fi complained about a “slight bass rattle” in LG’s 2022 C2 OLED. This is because the website was watching the TV through headphones.

When compared to the sound quality of certain laptops, such as Apple’s MacBook Pro and Dell’s XPS range, it can be difficult to comprehend why televisions fall so far short. It is essential that these not be compared head-to-head with one another. Sitting at the optimal viewing distance from your television while using a laptop is a quite different experience than doing so while watching television.

A television has to fill a considerably bigger room than a radio does, and the sound is designed for numerous people to listen to it. Only the area that is immediately in front of the display on a laptop needs to have decent sound quality. The same problem that plagues TVs also affects many laptops, and the reason for this is the same: there is insufficient room for the placement of small speakers that are hidden from view.

How to Improve Your TV’s Subpar Speakers

Utilizing the stereo equipment you already own is the option that will save you the most money. You can aim the speakers of a home audio system to face you head-on, and they are almost probably going to be of a greater size than the speakers in your television set. Be careful, however, that many recent televisions do not include analog audio outputs. As a result, your receiver will require a digital input that corresponds to the one on your television, such as a S/PDIF or optical output.

Consider purchasing a soundbar if you are looking for a solution that is both purpose-built and cheap. Even a low-cost soundbar like the Roku Streambar will deliver a superior listening experience compared to the vast majority of TV speakers, while a more expensive alternative like the Sonos Beam will deliver excellent results in a package that is only a few inches wide and a few inches deep.

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Why Are TV Speakers So Disappointing?

Sonos Beam Gen 2 (Black)

The Sonos Beam, now in its second generation, produces a large amount of sound despite its compact size, making it an excellent choice for venues with limited space, modest budgets, and intimate settings. Despite the absence of speakers that fire upward, the Beam performs a respectable job with the Dolby Atmos audio format, which is quite impressive.

If you are willing to spend a little bit more, you will be able to get one of the greatest soundbars currently available, such as the Sonos Arc, which has speakers that fire upward and is compatible with Dolby Atmos. Make sure that your soundbar can connect to your TV with an HDMI cable utilizing the ARC (Audio Return Channel) standard on older versions of TVs or the more recent eARC standard on newer types of TVs for the best possible results.

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Why Are TV Speakers So Disappointing?

Sonos Arc

One of the most impressive all-in-one soundbars available for purchase is the Sonos Arc. If you are willing to shell out the additional cash, you will be rewarded with an immersive, high-quality cinematic experience.

A genuine surround configuration, such as a 7.1 or 5.1 system, is unbeatable if you have the financial means, the space, and amount of time to make the investment. In order to make use of any of the available standards, you will need a receiver that is compatible with those standards (like Dolby Atmos, DTS, DTS:X, and so on). You should also make sure that the same standards are supported by your TV or that it will at least “pass-through” the audio (LG OLEDs, for example, do not support DTS pass-through).

Certain models of television come equipped with Bluetooth already installed, making it feasible to utilize wireless headphones. Although it is possible to have an immersive viewing experience with this, it is not the best option when the room is packed with people. A headphone amplifier or digital-to-analog converter (DAC) that is relatively inexpensive and is connected to an existing analog or digital output might also work for a wired experience.

If you have an Apple TV and are one of the few people who use it, you can connect AirPods, a HomePod, or a HomePod mini to it (in pairs, for true stereo and home theatre sound). This will only function for content that is viewed on Apple TV.

The Software Can Only Address the Issue to a Certain Extent

A great number of TV makers employ a few techniques in the bit to improve the sound quality of their products. These include presets for the equalizer that improve the clarity of the conversation and presets for the virtual surround sound that seek to emulate the sound of a real home theater system.

You should experiment with the various sound options that are available on your TV to see if any of these can improve your experience; but, you shouldn’t expect miracles. Your experience will be improved regardless of whether you want to upgrade to a soundbar, home theater setup, or use a stereo configuration that you already have in your home.


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Zareen Khan, a writer who is dedicated to creating innovative and thought-provoking work that pushes the boundaries of the written word. I believe that writing is not just about expressing oneself, but about challenging the status quo and pushing the limits of what's possible. I strive to create stories that are both unique and meaningful, that challenge readers to think differently and to question their assumptions. I believe that writing has the power to change the world, and I am honored to be a part of that tradition.

Viggo Petersen, a writer with a wide-ranging curiosity, who is always looking for new ways to explore the world and the human experience through my work. I believe that writing is not just about expressing oneself, but about exploring the world and the human experience in all its forms and complexities. I strive to create stories that are both entertaining and enlightening, that reveal the beauty and complexity of the world and the human experience. I believe that writing has the power to connect us with others, to bring us closer together, and to help us understand ourselves and the world around us.

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