In all our years testing TVs, we've found very few that sound as good as they look.
Unfortunately, as panel technology has improved over the years, less and less space has been made available for powerful audio speakers, leading to poor performance that often sounds weak and tinny. This can make it hard to hear dialog, and makes cinematic moments less impactful than they ought to be.
The easiest way of rectifying this problem is with a soundbar. These speakers sit nice and neatly below your TV, and often offer tremendous sound without taking up much more space in your living room.
Buy one of the best soundbars and you won't just end up with better sound, but also more advanced features like virtual surround sound, Dolby Atmos support and potentially multi-room audio functionality that allows you to stream the same song to different rooms in your house. Choose poorly, however, and you might end up with a soundbar that's almost no better than your TV's built-in speakers.
What's the best soundbar?
Soundbars come in many shapes and sizes, and range in price from under £100/$100 to over £1,000/$1,500. Cheaper models have basic connections, more expensive ones add superior HDMI inputs (including 4k/HDR passthrough), wireless audio streaming (e.g. Bluetooth and AirPlay), better power, more refined speaker drivers, and decoding of Blu-ray sound formats.
A full surround setup is the premium solution to bad sounding televisions, but if you're short on space (not to mention budget) then a soundbar offers a very decent compromise. Plus, these days higher-end soundbars will also include the latest and greatest audio technologies like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
Design is also important, with some models able to sit in front of your TV on a stand while others may need a separate shelf, or to be wall mounted. However, whatever your budget, there are some cracking good acoustic upgrades to be had that can give your TV the sound it deserves.