What TV has good sound?
October 6, 2013 9:22 PM   Subscribe

I finally upgraded my Direct TV service, the old Tivo bit the dust. So naturally I'm looking to upgrade the television...

While I have a reasonably good sound system, I really would like to be able to just turn on the TV and watch. Most if the sets I've seen have remarkably crappy sound, and the floor salesman tries to steer me to a soundbar add-on.

I don't want another remote just for the audio, just a TV that has good pictures AND sound. Is this impossible?
posted by Marky to Shopping (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This isn't directly answering your question, but a Harmony remote will let you just push "Watch TV" and well, watch TV, with your sound system on, set to the right input, and volume control working.
posted by zsazsa at 9:50 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

You're not going to find a flatscreen TV with anything beyond decent sound. It's easy enough to get a universal remote that will control both the TV and sound bar.
posted by barnone at 9:57 PM on October 6, 2013

I have yet to hear a TV with good sound, and it's getting harder all the time since slim LED backlights now mean the whole set is about two inches deep, leaving not enough room for a real speaker.

So, I got a decent sound system, and found that it was a pain. I don't have a Harmony remote, so maybe that was part of it, but I was never able to get the TV or DirectTV remote to control the receiver, though theoretically it's possible. I think if you run everything through the TV, route the audio out from the TV to the receiver, that you'll be good, but it didn't work for me.

What did work was finding a TV with variable audio out. This won't work with surround, but if you have a soundbar or a set of powered monitors, it will. I got this TV, but there are others. Takes a bit of fiddling because the volume on the speakers is fixed, but everything goes through the TV (and I save the power the receiver was drawing while on but not driving the speakers, which was considerable).
posted by wnissen at 10:03 PM on October 6, 2013

If you already have a good sound system, really it's silly to even get a sound bar, let alone try to get by with the speakers on the TV. As the others said, just get a universal remote and be done with it. One button to turn everything on and switch it to the right inputs. I actually really think the Harmony remotes are poor products (I've had them for years, now relegated to only the TV in my gym), but they're still better than using the TV speakers or a sound bar...
posted by primethyme at 10:03 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

You can get this to work with one remote using HDMI-CEC with some brands of A/V receivers and TV's. I have a Sharp TV and a low-end ish Pioneer A/V receiver. The directv remote sends IR to the DirecTV receiver and TV. The TV then sends power on/off and volume/mute over HDMI-CEC to the A/V receiver. So the DirecTV remove doesn't hit the IR on the A/V receiver at all. You can change volume/mute on either the TV or A/V receiver and it updates the other.

In theory this is standardized, but I'm sure it there are some incompatibilities. And you have to get used to the idea of always having an a/v receiver on to watch tv, but when you can make it work with one remote you get over it.
posted by frontmn23 at 10:41 PM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]

primethyme: what's the problem w your Harmony remote? What have you replaced it with?
posted by artdrectr at 10:55 PM on October 6, 2013

The sound on my Bob's Pretty Good LCD TV was tinny, so I bought some cheap computer speakers at Target [this sort of thing] and plugged them into the headphone jack on the TV. They sound better, and don't take a separate remote.
posted by chazlarson at 11:36 PM on October 6, 2013

Best answer: FYI the soundbars use ARC as mentioned above so no extra remote and they look really nice. Takes 5 minutes to mount. Fie easiest guarantee of it "just working" get a soundbar brand that matches the TV. Soundbar is the way to go. Soundbar. Soundbar.
posted by chasles at 5:22 AM on October 7, 2013

Best answer: You don't mention anything about your budget, but high-end Sony TVs tend to have quite adequate sound. I have a Sony XBR4 from 2007 or so and the built-in speakers are surprisingly good and the picture is excellent (for 2007, anyway). Though I rarely use them I have been known to watch TV for more than a few minutes without realizing that my big Yamaha amplifier isn't even powered on. If you were to buy one of the company's 4K TV sets with built-in speakers (like the $4,000 XBR-55X900A) I think you'd probably be very happy with the sound.

Barring that expense, I did notice this Mashable write-up of more affordable JVC TVs ($799 and $899) that are reputed to have superior sound, including simulated surround effects. Maybe try to audition one of these at your local retailer?
posted by Mothlight at 6:48 AM on October 7, 2013

If you wanted good sound from a flat screen, try looking at plasmas more than LED/LCD TVs. Plasmas are thicker from from to back, which leaves more room for decent speakers. Any Panasonic plasma from mid-range and up should have decent sound. Sometimes the same screen will come in different models, with the difference being in sound quality.

Plasma vs. LCD is a different debate, but the short version is, neither is "better." They each have their merits. Plasmas tend to have richer blacks, smooth motion, and a wide viewing angle. LCDs have brighter screens (good in bright rooms with glare issues), less issues with "burn in" (which matters if you're going to be gaming), and are lighter and thinner. With either type, there will be higher end models with technology that mitigate these limitations, but that's the overview.

Anyway, my point is, LCDs and plasmas are good at different things. Because of the larger, thicker bodies, plasmas can dedicate more space to good speakers. My Panasonic sounds pretty awesome. I never miss my old speaker setup.

Make sure you read a ton of reviews for whichever model you end up deciding on. It's nearly impossible to get a read on sound quality in a store,with dozens of TVs blaring the same thing.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:17 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

artdrectr: One of my previous posts on Harmony explains my biggest complaints: http://ask.metafilter.com/234770/Questions-about-Universal-Remotes-Harmony-especially#3401133

I have a Control4 home automation system now, one function of which is a universal remote which controls everything throughout the house (except the aforementioned gym, where I didn't bother installing it). It's not perfect either, and I'm always on the hunt for something better, but it solves many of the problems I've had with Harmony.
posted by primethyme at 9:30 AM on October 7, 2013

We have the basic DirecTV system, but the remote is capable enough to control our older Pioneer receiver and our DVD recorder. There is an option to have the master volume control the stereo when the remote is switched to control the DirecTV receiver which works well.
posted by rfs at 10:04 AM on October 7, 2013

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