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Lead image

4 ways to get great TV sound

Options for every room, lifestyle, and budget

In a nutshell: High-definition TVs offer a stunning picture and a vivid sense of realism. But the flat sound that comes from the tiny speakers inside? Not so much. Here are four TV speaker upgrades that will give you clearer dialogue, better volume, and lifelike special effects.

  • Sound bar
  • Stereo system connected to your TV
  • Prepackaged surround sound system
  • A full-blown component home theater sound system

1. Sound bars deliver big sound from a small footprint

Love great sound, but have limited room for external speakers or other equipment? Consider a sound bar.

These sleek speakers need minimal space and wiring. And many can be wall-mounted below your TV for a neat, clean install.

The beauty of sound bars is their simplicity. Most feature built-in amplification, so you don't need an external amp. And many use just a single digital cable to connect to your TV.

Sound bars with built-in Bluetooth® or Wi-Fi® make listening to music easy and fun. Love bass? Choose a sound bar that includes a wireless subwoofer.

Some sound bars can even be expanded to 5.1-channel surround sound with optional wireless rear speakers.

Check out our sound bars buying guide to find the right one for your system.

Sound bar mounted below a TV

Most sound bars can be wall-mounted below your TV for a neat, clean install.

2. Stereo speaker systems are great for both TV and music

Adding a stereo speaker system to your TV is a great way to get engaging sound. They need relatively little wiring, and offer easy speaker placement options.

Start with a stereo receiver. Choose a pair of bookshelf speakers to save space, or go with floor-standing speakers for fuller sound.

Round out your system with an optional powered subwoofer to beef up the bass. That's what we call a "2.1" system.

Use a home theater receiver instead of a stereo receiver, and you can add a center channel speaker. Now you have a "3.1" setup that's great for movie soundtracks.

Stereo speaker system

A stereo or 3.1 system is an excellent choice when surround speakers aren't an option.

3. Powered home theater systems come with everything you need

Powered home theater systems are complete solutions that deliver enveloping surround sound without a lot of bulk.

These pre-matched systems include everything you need, including amplification and wiring. Many systems even include wireless surround speakers for stealthy rear effects.

Want to play your movie collection? Choose a system that includes a disc player for DVDs and Blu-rays.

Love listening to music? Look for a system that offers built-in Bluetooth for streaming from your smartphone or tablet.

Bose 018LS650B

Powered home theater systems give you everything you need for immersive surround sound.

4. Component surround sound systems offer the best performance possible

Want the full-blown home theater experience? Nothing fills a big room with sound like a 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound system driven by a robust home theater receiver.

These traditional surround sound systems are comprised of five or more speakers. Mix and match bookshelf, floor-standing, and even in-wall or in-ceiling speakers for a custom system tailored to your space.

Power is supplied by a home theater receiver. Bass is provided by a powered subwoofer. And one or two pairs of surround sound speakers deliver wraparound special effects.

Need some help putting together your system? Start with our guide on how to choose home theater speakers.

For a deeper dive into surround sound, read about the components you need for home theater.

7.1 surround sound speaker system

Component home theater systems let you customize a system that's perfect for your room.

We can help you choose

Have questions about choosing the right equipment for your new system? Contact us today.

Our expert Advisors know the gear inside and out

Your Advisor can send specific Crutchfield pages to your screen, saving you a lot of browsing time. You'll get a shopping cart loaded up with everything you need for your new TV sound system.

Free lifetime tech support is included with your Crutchfield purchase.

  • Nelson Williams from ASHBURN

    Posted on 11/17/2020

    I'm considering adding a subwoofer to my home theater/music system and also upgrading my receiver to be able support 4K for both pass through and upscaling. My current system is in a very large room (slightly over 20' x 40') and used for both home theater and music. Which Polk subwoofer would you recommend? Is the Denon AVR-X4700H a good option for upgrading the receiver? The system consists of: Polk LSI-25 front speakers LSI-C center speaker LSI f/x surround speakers Yamaha RX-V1800 AV receiver Samsung 85" Q90T QLED tv

    Commenter image

    Colin M. from Crutchfield

    on 11/18/2020

    Hi Nelson! We think you're right on track. That Denon is going to give you more than enough power while netting you updated connections and wireless functionality. If you're looking for a Polk sub that's going to fill that room, we'd recommend the HTS 12.
  • Sid from North Palm beach

    Posted on 5/26/2020

    When I play a dvd on my tv sound is too low. Can I put inline amplifier and speaker or a tv output where I can increase the dvd sound?

    Commenter image

    Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    on 5/29/2020

    Hi Sid, I'm sorry to hear you're having difficulty with your system. Without knowing the specifics of the gear you have, it's hard to say what the culprit is. I recommend giving us a call when you have a moment; one of our advisors should be able to help.
  • Rick from Russiaville

    Posted on 4/21/2020

    Any luck finding the maker of that cement/wood media stand in the 1st pic? Thanks

    Commenter image

    Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    on 4/24/2020

    Hi Rick. Sadly, no — I did some digging, but wasn't able to track down the make or model of the stand.
  • Dale from PENSACOLA

    Posted on 1/26/2020

    If anyone knows where I can find that wood and cement console in the first image, it's exactly what I've been searching for! Can anyone identify it?

    Commenter image

    Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    on 1/31/2020

    Hi Dale, thanks for reaching out. We're checking with the vendor who provided the photo to see if we can track down the make/model of the entertainment center for you. I'll update once I have more information!
  • David Lopez de Quintana from Washington, DC

    Posted on 1/20/2020

    How about a mix of option 2 and 4? I added a hefty center channel to the two floorstanding speakers, no need for surrounds or a subwoofer. The dialogue through the center channel is super clear, and if you crank the volume it still sounds incredible.

    Commenter image

    Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    on 1/21/2020

    Hi David, thanks for your comment. A front soundstage system is a fine option if surround speakers aren't feasible for your room (especially with tower speakers and a robust center channel). I do love bass though, so I'll always be an advocate for adding a powered sub when possible for the extra low-frequency impact.
  • Tim Elliott from Woodland, Wa

    Posted on 4/16/2019

    My recommendation... wireless broadcast to headphones. I happen to have hearing aids that can receive the signal directly, but they also sell headphones. Talk about superior sound!!

  • Commenter image

    Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/18/2017

    Hi Ernest, I hear where you're coming from. Unfortunately, built-in audio performance has been largely been left behind with the advancements of flat-panel TV technology.

    We do have some simple sound systems that you might find appealing. Check out my article on wireless surround sound for some options. Feel free to give us a call if you'd like some help putting all of the pieces together.

  • Ernest from Raleigh, NC

    Posted on 10/17/2017

    I'm looking to get a new TV for Christmas. For some reason, the current crop continues to push the visual resolution even further beyond human perception and adding even more useless streaming services. And yet, to get surround sound I have to by a separate system, most like have wires running across the floor and deal with two remotes. Are any manufacturers going to catch a clue and take my money for a package that will include a decent TV with wireless remote speakers? Do any of them realize that there is a large market of people in apartments that would like to have a TV with surround sound, but without the complication of a truckload of electronics and a rats nets of wires? 10W is enough sound power. . .because who wants the neighbors complaining?, and it's not like we're in a concert hall. Where is the consumer grade smartTV with built in wireless surround sound?

  • Commenter image

    Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 6/6/2017

    Hi Max, thanks for reaching out. We're happy to help with all of your questions. I've passed your note on to our Advisor group, who will reach out to discuss equipment options with you.

  • Max from Grass Valley

    Posted on 6/6/2017

    Hi, I'm starting life over again as a single and lost my entertainment center and tech support in the split. I now have have a fairly new Vizio Smart TV which has the usual terrible sound although I have hooked up some older Logitech speakers which helped a bit-although they echo if I don't mute the TV while using them. My problem is that, along with the poor TV sound, I no longer have a Blue Ray/DVD player, or a CD player for my large collection of music. As a baffled older woman I would like advice on creating a system that includes these as well as speakers that would project my music throughout the downstairs of my house. Since I know nothing about all of the new wireless speaker technologies I would like an efficient and cost effective solution that would fast forward me into this century. Thank you so much for your consideration.