The Best TV Speakers 2021: Top Speaker Systems For Home Theater Setup - Rolling Stone
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Speakers of the House: The Best Speakers to Upgrade Your TV Setup

An extra set of external speakers can make a huge difference, and fill the room with deep, full sound

Klipsch R-51PM

Amazon

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If you’re only using your TV’s internal speakers, you’re not getting the full experience of what your favorite movies, games, and shows have to offer.

Adding just a few good quality external speakers into the mix can alter your audio exponentially, adding dimensions to your sound, and delivering highs and lows that let you hear the little details in everything. Even a modest set of two speakers can give off the feel of a full surround sound system when placed and leveled correctly.

But finding the best sound system requires some research first. Before you start building your home speaker setup, here’s some quick tips on things to look out for.

What Are the Best Speakers For Your TV?

The best TV speakers deliver big, bright sound to amplify what’s coming from your television set. Because they can be placed anywhere — next to your TV, on a shelf, mounted on a wall — they cast a wider soundstage than you would get just using your TV’s built-in speakers themselves.

What to Look For When Buying TV Speakers

Active vs. Passive: An active speaker system means it has its own power source, like most sound bars, while a passive system requires an external unit like a receiver to fuel it. If you’re starting with a clean slate, an active setup is the way to go. If you’ve already got a powered source of sound, or are looking to build a customized larger surround system piece by piece, passive will do just fine.

Drivers: A two-way speaker has two different types of drivers – a woofer and tweeter. The woofer bumps the low-frequency sounds, while the tweeter is designed to handle the highs. A three-way speaker, however, has the tweeter and woofer, and an added extra driver for the mid-range; it’s similar to a woofer but smaller. It’s not necessary for good sound, but it’s an extra bonus that divides up the frequencies more evenly.

Bass: Bass is crucial too. Even if you’re not looking to shake the room, having a system that kicks at least a little bass can make movies immensely more immersing. A floor subwoofer separates the bass frequencies from the higher-end frequencies of the speakers, and you’ll get a better bass response with it on the ground – one that really moves the air and makes it thump. Sound will vary depending on the architecture of the room you’re using it in, so play around with angling everything and notice where it echoes off of for the best results.

Controls: Some systems include a remote, which can make things easier when adjusting from afar. But even if it doesn’t have one, there’s most likely a control panel on the unit itself. It’s not all about how loud you can crank it either – spending some time adjusting the levels on all your sound equipment will let you find that perfect balance that bounces off the walls at just the right angles.

1. Samsung’s HW-T450

SAMSUNG HW-T450

Amazon

Samsung’s HW-T450 solves the problem of upgrading your TV’s audio system if you don’t have much space.

The slim sound bar can fit comfortably under your TV whether it’s on an entertainment center, or wall-mounted. It comes bundled with a wireless Subwoofer, which can deliver additional bass and be placed anywhere.

Soundbars have become very popular, but the HW-T450 stands out because of Samsung’s Smart Sound technology. This allows the soundbar to switch between different modes (music, movie, sports, gaming) based on what you’re watching. The soundbar analyzes this on its own, so you don’t have to think about it.

It also supports Bluetooth, so you can stream music to the HW-T450 from your phone, tablet, or computer when you’re not watching TV. This multi-functionality is important if you’re trying to optimize your space.

One thing the HW-T450 doesn’t do is play audio in true surround sound. This is a 2.1 (two speakers + a subwoofer) TV speaker system. This concession makes sense if you don’t have much room in your living room, but it’s something to be aware of.

If you’re done dealing with subpar sound from your new TV’s speakers, Samsung’s HW-T450 is an excellent space-saving solution.

Buy: Samsung HW-T450 at

2. Polk Audio T15

Polk Audio T15

Amazon

Polk Audio’s T15s are a budget-friendly pair of bookshelf speakers that’re a great choice for TV or movie lovers.

These are traditional passive speakers, which means you’ll need to hook them up to an A/V receiver in order to work. To use them with your TV, you’ll connect your set (and any other home theater accessories) to the A/V receiver with the appropriate cables.

They T15s only 7.3-inches tall, and can be wall mounted, so you have a lot of setup options if your living room isn’t very big. For the best experience, place them at least a foot away from the left and right side of your TV. If you’re setting them up on a media center, place them a few inches in front of the wall, and angle them toward the place where you sit to create a “sweet spot.”

When choosing an A/V receiver for the speakers, consider what type of audio gear you’d like to set up, whether you’d like to upgrade your system over time. The benefit to getting passive speakers like these is you can use them in a 2.0, 2.1, 3.1, 5.1, or 7.1 audio system.

They may not have been designed specifically to work with your TV, but Polks’ T15s will deliver great sound, regardless of what you’re watching, listening to, or playing.

Buy: Polk Audio T15 at $69.00

3. Klipsch R-51PM Powered Bluetooth Speaker

Klipsch R-51PM

Amazon

Klipsch’s R-51PMs are a pair of powered bookshelf speakers that have specific features that make them well-suited for use with a TV.

You’ll save space because the speakers don’t require an A/V receiver, but be mindful of the fact that they’re 13.3 inches tall. You’ll need a fairly wide media center to accommodate them. You can hook your TV up to these speakers in two ways: An optical audio cable, or a 3.5mm audio cable. We recommend going with an optical cable, which’ll give you the best possible sound.

For bookshelf speakers, thee R-51PMs have pretty big drivers, which means they’ll deliver loud, dynamic sound. This comes in handy when watching action movies with loud explosions, which can sound distorted on lesser speakers. You won’t have to worry about that here. If you want extra bass, you can plug a subwoofer directly into these speakers for added low-end. You shouldn’t need to make this tweak, but it’s nice that it’s available.

If your home entertainment center contains a turntable, you can hook it up directly to the R51PM’s phono inputs. You can use the preamp built into the speakers, or the one in your turntable if you like. This feature, along with support for Bluetooth, make Klipsch’s speakers a good all-in-one stereo audio system.

Klipsch’s R-51PM are a great set of TV speakers if you’re a stickler for sound quality, and like the idea of having a versatile compact home audio system.

Buy: Klipsch R-51PM at $369.95

4. Jamo S 807

Jamo S 807

YouTube / Jamo

Jamo’s S 807 floorstanding speakers will take up more space than any of our other TV speaker recommendations, but come with a lot of benefits.

The passive floor-standing speakers have two massive woofers and a tweeter, which means you can expect booming, balanced (not too much bass or treble) sound. These are traditional stereo speakers, but were designed to connect directly to a pair of upward-firing “height” speakers if you’re setting up a Dolby Atmos speaker system.

This is a very forward-looking feature that futureproofs the S 807s if you decide you want to hook your TV up to a multi-channel surround sound or Dolby Atmos system. We’ve never seen this feature before and it sets Juno’s speakers apart in a substantial and meaningful way.

Because the S 807s passive speakers you need to supply your own A/V receiver, which means you can tailor your TV audio system based on your needs. One thing’s for sure, though, using these speakers instead of the ones inside your TV will make a night and day difference.

If you have the space, and want cinema-quality TV speakers, Jamo’s S 807s can deliver.

Buy: Jamo S 807 at $239.00

5. Yamaha YHT-4950U

Yamaha YHT-4950U

Amazon

Yamaha’s YHT-4950U is a bundle that includes five speakers, a subwoofer, and an A/V receiver. It’s a full multi-channel surround sound system in one package.

The benefit to getting a system like this is that it’s balanced; each component is designed to sound great with one another. This is a great if you want a 5.1 speaker system for your TV, but don’t want to worry about which components to get. Yamaha did all the work for you.

One thing to consider is that you’ll need enough space to accommodate a surround sound system, which requires you to place each speaker in different corners of your room. If this isn’t an issue, and you watch a lot of movies, or play a lot of games, this surround sound system is the best TV speaker solution for you.

That’s especially true because Yamaha’s receiver can work with any speakers, so if you feel like upgrading your TV speaker setup down the road, you won’t have to replace your amplifier. It’s a small feature that may turn out to be a big deal later on.

If you’ve never had a surround sound system hooked up to your TV before, Yamaha’s YHT-4950U will make a difference every time you watch something.

Buy: Yamaha YHT-4950U at

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